पूरे विश्व में तहलका मचाने वाला विकीलीक्स आर्थिक दिक्कतों से जूझ रहा है. जूलियन असांज ने विकीलीक्स का प्रकाशन अस्थाई रूप से बंद करने का ऐलान किया है. वे किसी भारतीय बैंक में अपना खाता खोलने की कोशिशों में जुटे हुए हैं ताकि विकीलीक्स को मिलने वाले अनुदान को जमा कर सकें. असांज ने विकीलीक्स को सपोर्ट करने वाले लोगों का आभार भी जताया है. असांज से एनडीटीवी ने कई मुद्दों पर विस्तार से बात की. वहीं से साभार लेकर असांज का साक्षात्कार प्रकाशित किया जा रहा है.
Sonia Singh : Mr Assange, it's been a year since the blockade, which you linked to the publication of diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks. Why have you been driven to this stage where you have to suspend operations?
Julian Assange : Well, according to a 24 country poll that had 18,000 people, WikiLeaks has the support of almost 75 per cent of the world's population. And, in fact, one of the strongest supporters is the Indian population. But despite that, these US-based financial services companies – Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America and Western Union – have continued, since December last year, to conduct an extra judicial blockade, entirely outside of any administrative or judicial process. In fact, there has been only one formal US government enquiry into the issue and that was by the US Treasury and the US Treasury found, in January this year, that we should not be added to any kind of US government financial blacklist. But this blockade by these corrupt financial institutions continues.
Sonia Singh : And of course, in India you made the point that the huge support you got after this cash-for-votes scandal, that whole cable which talked about a trunk being found in some aide of a Congress politician's house, we have seen the revelations of Mayawati, and the more interesting ones, the ones which NDTV had also sourced with the Pakistani, the Pakistani-US diplomatic cables, trace key points on contradictions. Now you said the whole attempt to target WikiLeaks. You yourself are, of course, currently under virtual house arrest, under a court decision in Great Britain on an extradition in Sweden on alleged rape charges. You said those charges are politically motivated. Now you have had to suspend WikiLeaks operations. If WikiLeaks does shut down permanently, will this mean that the establishment that you fought against has won?
Julian Assange : Well, it is a possibility that the establishment will win. Certainly, it has been difficult for us for the last 11 months; we have been removed from 95 per cent. We have been surviving on cash reserves and the last 11 months, because if the situation continues, it can continue, if it does continue their need is inevitable. Sometime during next year, Wikileaks would completely run out of money and that would be the end of the organisation. So, we have decided to take this moment to fight back, to put everything we have got and to call on the world population to help us fight back, to try and attack this blockade, work out ways to get out of this blockade and politically demand that the blockade be removed. To investigate into these organisations, the European Commission has already launched investigation of MasterCard and Visa and to push past it, if Wikileaks is not successful, in defeating the blockade, then yes, the forces of darkness, sorry to speak, will have won the elimination of Wikileaks. They would not have won the battle. The big battle was to get this information out. For the past four months, we have been almost completely victorious in that big battle, but to do that battle cost the institution itself. That is a possibility, unless we all successfully, put everything we have got, into knocking down this blockade. Now we have put up some new mechanisms – You can send SMS donations, in some countries international bank transfers through some banks. Not through the Bank of America, and now we are in a process of setting up a local Indian bank account, so our strong Indian support can be represented. We are doing the same in similar countries. We are also looking for ideas from other people about how do you get around this problem. Personally, what we would like to see is that Visa and MasterCard and the Bank of America are simply banned for engaging in this sort of activity. They should be banned from India. The Icelandic Parliament is looking into banning them and European Commission, as I said before, is looking into whether they could start the prosecution against them.
Sonia Singh : Well, of course, that being an important decision soon. You made the point that the local bank account coming up in India – in so many ways WikiLeaks has touched revolutionary movements around the world – the Arab Spring, the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement in India, Occupy Wall Street that started in America and spread around the world, and many have linked it to WikiLeaks and the way it challenged the traditional government structures. Does that hearten you? Do you think it will live on much beyond the WikiLeaks sight and institution?
Julian Assange : Well, this movement which we have been a part of, in the Arab spring, of the movement in India, for the anti-corruption movements in Madrid, which spread into Wall Street – some of our people are directly involved in the Wall Street movement as well. Yes, they may eliminate WikiLeaks, although, of course, we hope not. It is too late to stop some of the changes WikiLeaks has brought about, but cannot undo the movements. We would like to say that the courage is contagious. And we can say, that in occupying Wall Street and the movement in Arab spring, courage is contagious. On the other hand, the defeat of courageous people and courageous institutions is also contagious. So we have to be careful to make sure that this encouraging example is not set through the attempted elimination of WikiLeaks. It's important for us, it's important for other institutions in the movement, to make sure that the other banks do not win. I do not think that they will win. I actually think that this press conference and the support they were trying to stage today will continue on in the weeks and people will rally together and we will attack these institutions and it is a successful attempt to occupy Wall Street. And the other US corrupt financial institutions need to be held to account. I think we can all pull together and we can knock them down.
Sonia Singh : Right, of course, in internet we have already seen support pouring in for you and WikiLeaks after that press conference. But the larger issue, if you are fighting for open government, you are fighting to strengthen democracy, but why don't you let the democratic process do its job? You are under criticism for releasing this unredacted cables… a short while ago people asking whether that endangers security…why don't you let the democratic government function? The elected governments are voted in, if you don't like them, vote them out. Does WikiLeaks impede democracy? Is it anarchist?
Julian Assange : Well, this seems to be not true. You know, as the publishing organisation, all the fruits of our labour are public. Everything that we do goes to the public. And the public chooses to support us with their wallets and thousands and thousands of people have done so. The average donation to WikiLeaks is 25 dollars. It is simply that we have very broad public support. So that interaction between us and the public occurs weekly. Weekly the public demonstrates their support for what we do. Not every four years, not as a result of huge corrupt campaigns but weekly, as a result of our publishing activities. So to that degree WikiLeaks is an expression of the democratic process and we can't say that everything, you know, the traditionally-elected governments do is an expression of the people's will. Is it an expression of the people's will that these parliamentarians have their huge fat pensions? That is not the expression of the people. No one actually votes for that, rather it is an expression of the power that these people have and the corruption of their position of power to take money and use it for their own interest. Courtesy : NDTV