This is a terrific interview of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange by the terrific interviewer Jian Ghomeshi of CBC’s Q. Naturally, the hook is that Assange’s new book, When Google Met WikiLeaks, is out and he’s drumming up some interest in the media. The fact is that his lawyers are simultaneously pursuing an appeal of the extradition order to Sweden (for questioning relating to sexual assault allegations) under newly revised UK extradition laws that forbid extradition in cases where charges have yet to be laid. Those changes have him hinting for a month now that his departure from the Ecuadorian Embassy could be imminent. So, it’s an excellent time to check in with the world’s most-and-least-favorite leak facilitator, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.
In the interview he demonstrates a strenuous avoidance of the first person singular, and a laser focus on his vision of Google as an organization that may have started out not to be evil, but which has become evil over time. In fact, he says it has become one of the greatest threats to our freedom, simply by pursuing its business model of omniscience for profit. He compares Eric Schmidt to the CEO of General Electric, the military-industrial-retail behemoth which manufactures both military weapons and consumer appliances. He goes on to say that, because the US State Department used Schmidt’s girlfriend as a go-between when Assange sought to contact the Secretary of State, that Google was “in bed with” the State Department. So, the interview is at once feisty and dispassionate, a state of being that comes naturally , one assumes, only after prolonged residence in the women’s washroom of the embassy of a Central American republic in Knightsbridge. One imagines the second meeting of Assange and Schmidt will be somewhat less cordial, and possibly more contusion-producing.