Fresh off accusing Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard of being an “embarrassment”, the cantankerous Julian Assange has — on separate occasions — launched attacks against the UK press and railed against questions about his status as a journalist.
After accepting a Walkley Award for journalism (Australia’s version of the Pulitzer) on behalf of Wikileaks, Assange has yet again faced questions about whether or not he is a journalist.
Speaking via Skype to the News World Conference in Hong Kong, where he gave a talk titled “The Wikileaks effect: the rebirth of investigative journalism,” the former hacker did not take kindly to some of the questions coming at him.
When asked if he was a member of the journalism profession by a moderator at the conference, Assange reportedly answered with “affected frustration”, “Of course I’m a goddamn journalist”. He added that the only reason people continually ask him that question is because the US government was looking to silence him.
Assange also let loose on the “arbitrary and unlawful” banking blockade which has lead to Wikileaks “temporarily” shutting operations. Assange believes that it is proof that VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, the Bank of America, and Western Union are merely tools of the US government’s foreign policy.
He also declared the internet to be “the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen”, because of the unprecedented amounts of personal information people place on it. This would seem to indicate that the internet has unseated Facebook in Assange’s eyes. Earlier this year he declared the social network to be “the most appalling spying machine ever invented”.
UK media are credit-stealing, credit-whoring backstabbers
The same day Assange addressed the Hong Kong conference, The Independent published an article on an upcoming documentary on the falling out between Wikileaks and its former media partner, The UK’s Guardian newspaper.
The Independent says the documentary reveals “the depth of distrust between Mr Assange and senior journalists at The Guardian.” In it, Assange is quoted as labelling the entire UK media establishment as the most “credit-stealing, credit-whoring, backstabbing industry” he has ever encountered. He includes Nick Davies, the publisher of his unauthorised memoir, as part of this cabal of credit-whores.
After having accepted the advance for his memoir and writing it, Assange decided to fight its publication, allegedly refusing to return the advance. This led to Davies describing Assange as an “extraordinarily dishonest man”.
When Wikileaks first started releasing its biggest secrets in 2010, it shared them with The Guardian in the UK, The New York Times in the US, and Der Spiegel in Germany.
Since then, Assange has fallen out with senior writers and editors of The Guardian and The New York Times.