During the AMA, which was livestreamed via Twitch, the WikiLeaks editor explained he took issue with the fact that the Panama Papers revelations were framed as being all about Putin by the “usual idiots in the ruling class press.”
The Putin angle was “pushed as the leading story” rather than focusing on the many Western figures who were implicated, with Assange mentioning David Cameron as an example, as part of an effort funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Soros. “That is no model of integrity” he said.
Assange detailed the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s role in the Putin framing and how the Maryland-based organization is funded by George Soros and USAID and “focuses exclusively on negative stories about Russia and former Soviet states.”
“We don’t like it when we’re competing with narratives that are funded by Washington,” he said.
Assange drew comparisons between those narratives and that of WikiLeaks in relation to trust. “One is funded by a government attacking another government,” while WikiLeaks is “funded by readers” and has a track record of publishing accurate information.
Assange also expressed “great sadness” at the loss of video evidence of US war crimes committed in Granai, Afghanistan in 2009, which he said was stolen in a Swedish intelligence operation in 2010.
“There is a disappeared video and that video is of Granai massacre,” he said. “Over 80 children are killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan... quite a serious video.”
Assange said Swedish authorities seized “three laptops, not the highest security laptops, backup laptops, that were encrypted but which ended up being the only copy that we had of that video. We had other copies, and they were also attacked."
“That’s also a great sadness from us that this terrible proof of a war crime has been possibly lost to history as a result of very difficult attacks on us,” Assange said. “It’s something we’re less susceptible to know, because we have a bigger infrastructure."
When asked about the Snowden documents and the way in which they were released by journalists, Assange said “more than 97 percent of the Snowden docs have been censored,” as a result.
“Enormously important material [was] censored,” Assange said. “And while there have been some pretty good journalists working on them, Glenn Greenwald I think is one of the best journalists publishing in the US, you have to have hundreds of people working on material like this.”
Assange said the media organizations have “effectively privatized that material and limited it.”
Information from the Snowden files, which was released after the initial media coverage, “included ways to find sites in the US used by the National Security Agencies, and procedures for visiting those sites,” Assange said. “If those had been released in 2013, investigative journalists and individuals could have gone to those sites before there was a cover-up.”
“So I’m a bit sad, in some ways, about how the impact of the Snowden archive has been minimized as a result of not having the greatest number of eyeballs.”
Reddit users also quizzed Assange about his safety and the conspiracy theories that he is in fact dead, with WikiLeaks boss noting that the live video feed itself would be one form of proof of life. He did, however, read out bitcoin blockchain hash as evidence, while also urging everyone not to reduce their levels of concern for him and other members of WikiLeaks.
“I am in a difficult situation, that’s a reality,” he said, adding that he and other WikiLeaks associates are “still constantly spied on and harassed.” Assange told Redditors not to wait until something happens, urging them to “make sure we’re strong now, going into difficult situations.”