Wikileaks leader talks of courage and wrestling pigs

27.10.2009

"I think this shows people what happens when they take us on," Assange said. "We will go all the way. We will fight it inside the court and outside the court.

"It's like the aphorism, you should never wrestle with a pig," he said, referring to a remark often credited to the playwright George Bernard Shaw, the idea being that you'll both get dirty but only the pig will enjoy it.

Still, the world is littered with organizations that have been crushed for exposing fraud. India's did an exposé of government corruption in 2000, at a time when many were looking to the Internet as a bold new channel for press freedom. The public uproar that followed did not prevent police from throwing several Tehelka journalists and investors in jail. The Web site was soon ruined, its staff gone and its office equipment sold off in a bid to stay afloat. It has since returned but in a slightly tamer form.

Wikileaks' rising international profile could help protect it from a similar fate. Its recognition has grown as more news articles appear based on documents leaked on the site, and awards have enhanced its reputation. Amnesty International presented Wikileaks with the for the reports on extrajudicial police killings in Kenya.

According to Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism at City University London, Wikileaks plays a sorely needed role in protecting the public interest. "Their site is a valuable read for us and for most investigative reporters in the U.K.," he said. "It has provided extraordinary material and prompted a number of investigations."