Here’s the interview on SBS Dateline just aired in Australia.
And here’s the gist of what Julian Assange said:
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says the whistleblowing website’s influence on events in Tunisia was the “example” for the political upheaval in Egypt.
The material leaked by WikiLeaks which was then published through a Lebanese newspaper, Al Akhbar, was significantly influential to what happened in Tunisia, Mr Assange told SBS’s Dateline today.
“And then there’s no doubt that Tunisia was the example for Egypt and Yemen and Jordan, and all the protests that have happened there,” he said.
WikiLeaks released cables showing that then Tunisian president Ben Ali would not necessarily have the backing of the United States, instead indicating that the army would have the support of the US.
Mr Assange said it was his “suspicion” that this information gave the army and people around the army in Tunisia “the confidence that they needed to attack the ruling political elite.”
These cables also stopped surrounding country intelligence agencies and armies intervening to support Ben Ali, according to Mr Assange.
The Tunisian leader resigned and went into exile in Saudi Arabia in late January.
After more than two weeks of protests in Egyptian cities against the 30-year-old regime of president Hosni Mubarak, his government fell on Friday.
On a possible return home to Australia, Mr Assange said the federal government was more interested in keeping the United States happy than welcoming him back.
“The support from the Australian people is very strong. So in that sense Australia is a very good option,” he said.
“On the surface it will be all ‘give the Australian people what they demand’. Underneath it will be ‘give the United States everything it wants,” he added.
He said the ALP had been “co-opted in key positions by the United States since 1976” and that he believed Australia would extradite him if there was an American request.
While he was not being investigated by the Australian Federal Police, the government had been assisting the US in in the case against WikiLeaks, he said.
“Gillard, McLelland, need to disclose all the assistance they have afforded foreign countries against Australians involved in WikiLeaks, and the Australian registration of WikiLeaks as an entity,” Mr Assange said.
He also elaborated on claims that London newspaper The Guardian had breached agreements they had made with WikiLeaks not to publish material the website had given them as a back-up copy.
Mr Assange said he had been aware the US intelligence sector was “pulling favours” from around the world and thought they would be able to prevent publication of this material.
Mr Assange gave a back-up copy to The Guardian to be used if WikiLeaks could no longer publish it.
A written contract between the Guardian and WikiLeaks allowed them to view the material but not to publish it or give it to anyone else.
However, Mr Assange said the UK paper went ahead and gave copies to the New York Times and published some of the material itself.
While he has expressed a desire to return to Australia, Mr Assange said it won’t stop him publishing more material on his home country that involved “a number of large companies and politics, international politics”.