“WE STEAL SECRETS is as brilliant as you’d expect,” James Robinson wrote for The Lumière Reader after seeing Alex Gibney’s WikiLeaks documentary at its Sundance premiere earlier this year. “It’s a hypnotic, absurd human drama and Gibney turns it over expertly and from all sides. No one has put this story together in such a complete fashion.” Via Skype from his New York office on Friday, the enduring documentarian talked passionately with Alexander Bisley about Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and inspiration Martin Scorsese. …
ALEXANDER BISLEY: Here’s the rub. Two Swedish women including Anna, a WikiLeaks supporter you interview in We Steal Secrets, have made credible allegations of significant sexual crime against Julian Assange. How do his supporters maintain he should be above the law?
ALEX GIBNEY: I don’t know how they make that claim. I don’t know how he makes that claim either. In my view this is a big problem. I don’t think he should be above the law, or above criticism. Now he maintains that if he goes back to Sweden he’ll be extradited to the United States, and that’s why he’s not going. But there’s no evidence of that. In fact there’s evidence of just the opposite, that it’s harder to extradite him from Sweden than it is from the United Kingdom.
I think that is a key point. The UK has an extradition treaty with the US. Assange has not been charged by the US Government. What he faces in Sweden is not extradition, but arrest and a trial for rape.
Now I happen to think the rape allegations are certainly not beyond reasonable doubt. But that is not the point. The accusers deserve a day in court, and Assange is not above the law.
AB: This seems to me the definition of power without accountability, which is supposedly Assange’s big thing.
AG: I agree with you. I think he’s all about holding others to account, holding the powerful to account. And he, in relation to these two Swedish women, has power. He has a huge pulpit and a large number of supporters, and he has allowed them to vilify these women without attempting in any way, shape, or form, to stop that. So yes, he’s not willing to be held to account in any way, shape or form, and that’s one of the issues I have with Assange and WikiLeaks.
AB: At first you too thought the Swedish story was a CIA honey trap? But having researched it thoroughly, you don’t believe that to be the case?
AG: I can find no evidence that it was a CIA honey trap, absolutely no evidence. So, people can say what they want, or imagine whatever they like, but until they produce evidence, as far as I’m concerned it’s a matter between one man and two women.
AB: You spent ages, including one six hour in-person session, talking to Lord Transparency about doing an interview, he suggested money, demanded control over the article, that you spread the gospel according to Assange, and then most extraordinarily, he then asked you to spy on your documentary’s other subjects in return for an interview?
AG: Correct. It was the last part that really staggered me. Julian likes intrigue, and he likes the idea of espionage. Julian likes to involve himself in all sorts of intrigue as if he’s in some kind of spy thriller, and suddenly he’s asking me for “intel”—he keeps calling it “intel”. He reprimanded Daniel Domscheit-Berg with language that was taken straight out of The Espionage Act of 1917. It’s this cloak and dagger stuff where Assange loses credibility, let’s put it that way.
He seems a control freak.
An interesting intreview.