WikiLeaks founder accuses media of libel

Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website, recently told a UK-based inquiry that he is the victim of “extensive press libels.”

“People who find themselves caught up in particularly newsworthy events or, as in my case, politically controversial circumstances face a stark choice: either to engage in prohibitively expensive litigation or to seek protection and redress through complaint to a press standards body or regulator,” Assange wrote in official testimony submitted to the Leveson Inquiry.

”For members of the public and those lacking the resources to take the matter before the courts – or where the scale of inaccurate or unfair reportage dictates exponentially high cost to do so – the latter will be the only available option.”

According to Assange, his work with WikiLeaks – both as an activist and journalist – was geared towards “helping everyone spread the truth” about the world we live in. 

“The truth has positive social utility because it helps us to understand the world around us, and the right to speak that truth must be defended. However, the same reasons that give the truth positive social utility also mean that lies have negative social utility; they undermine our understanding of the world. 

“For people to support those wonderful protections that help us tell the truth, we must develop a way to discourage opportunistic liars or negligent journalists from abusing such protections to spread falsehoods,” he added.

Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006. The website has published controversial material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumping in Côte d’Ivoire, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer, as well as classified documents pertaining to the Iraq and Afghan wars.

A European arrest warrant was issued for WikiLeaks founder in 2010, after Assange was accused of a sexual assault in Sweden, a charge he denies. Assange was subsequently arrested in the UK and conditionally freed on bail with a number of stipulations, including the wearing of an electronic tag and reporting to a police station on a daily basis.

Assange later appealed a February 2011 decision by English courts to extradite him to Sweden, claiming the allegations of wrongdoing were “without basis.” However, the High Court upheld the extradition decision and rejected all four grounds of appeal. Assange remains on conditional bail as of April 2012.