Assange ‘stands by’ US extradition offer, promises ‘big publishing year ahead’
In a press conference broadcast on Periscope on Thursday, Assange said he “stands by everything I said including the offer to go to the United States if Chelsea Manning's sentence was commuted.”
"We look forward to having a conversation with the DoJ [Department of Justice] about what the correct way forward is,” Assange said.
"I've always been willing to go to the United States provided my rights are respected because this is a case that should never have occurred,” he added.
Assange’s comments echo that of his lawyer, Melinda Taylor who told RT, "Mr. Assange stands by everything what he has said," Taylor told RT on Wednesday, although adding that Obama's decision "certainly falls far short of what Miss Manning deserves.”
Assange did however criticize those who have been pushing for him to deliver on his promise, describing the “frankly disturbing glee” that members of the establishment are showing though “trying to re-contextualise my comments, hoping, lusting for my extradition to the US.”
“Come on guys, what are you doing?” he asked, “jumping after every ball the establishment throws.”
WikiLeaks in 2017
Assange promised a “big publishing year ahead” for WikiLeaks, adding “I’m in love with the publications we have coming.”
Following the media coverage the Podesta emails garnered, Assange said “that exposure has, like it always does, encouraged other sources to come forward.”
“We have a lot of material to get through, it takes time,” he said, concluding that WikiLeaks’ decade-long record of accuracy is a valuable reputation to maintain.
When asked whether the fake news narrative makes WikiLeaks more desirable, Assange said the organization was very proud of its “100 percent record of accuracy.”
“Any such list of reliable news, we’re going to be at top of, any list of fake news, we’re going to be at bottom of,” he said. “There’s a lot of inaccurate reporting in the legacy press, and in new media.”
“We constantly see articles saying I’ve been charged,” he said as an example. “Most media doesn't do basic fact checking.”
Assange admitted that it was easier for WikiLeaks to maintain a record of accuracy than for the media. “It’s a black and white criteria for us,” he explained. “Either it’s an official document or archive, or it isn’t.”
Assange described Facebook’s attempts to stop fake news as “super interesting,” saying that as Facebook “became rich [it] has integrated with the US establishment,” adding the social media site was “more or less in that tank for Clinton” during the election.
“Organizations like Facebook are permitting many people to publish billions at the touch of a button - that’s breaking down the control structure,” he said. ”That is a new circumstance in democracy.”
A day before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Assange said he thinks the “conflict which has developed between the embryonic Trump administration and the CIA” will “lead to dissidents and sources in both camps coming forward.”
“We’ve already seen this from the CIA side and the Obama administration with information coming out about Trump,” Assange said, referring to the ‘Trump dossier’ that was recently leaked. “Perhaps in the future we’ll see high quality information [coming out].”
Assange said he is “under no illusions” that the incoming Trump cabinet will make his life any easier, as Trump’s appointees have already said “appalling things about the rights of the press and WikiLeaks and myself, personally.”
“We can see a big fight ahead, perhaps, and are looking forward to it.”
Referring WikiLeaks’ recent German parliamentary leak being falsely attributed to Russian hacking, Assange said, “There is that environment now, where you can see the incentives, so whatever, uh, y’know, propaganda Russia may be putting out, through RT or elsewhere, and it certainly has its angle on things, you can see the incentives for incumbents, like Merkel, just like we could see with Clinton to try and hype up an issue about potential Russian involvement.
“It’s not that they [the incumbents] have a genuine opposition," he continued. "It’s not that the people are annoyed with misbehavior in government, and of course there is, I’m not saying anything in particular about Merkel's government, but as a government who misbehaves, well, there’s an attempt to go, any criticism of governmental misbehavior, corruption, or incompetence, well it’s not the opposition or the people making a fuss, no it’s secretly the Russians.”