WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a packed press conference at the Frontline Club in London today why he had chosen three media partners - the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel - to simultaneously release military intelligence on the war in Afghanistan.
Assange said he wanted a small media coalition that could work together as equal partners, share resources and techniques. He described the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel as the "three best research publications".
He told the press conference that the New York Times had approached the White House for a response on behalf of the media partners last week and today had been chosen to jointly publish the leaked material because "Monday is a good day to release something big and set the agenda for the rest of the week."
Assange added: "We as a media group have only scratched the surface of this." He said WikiLeaks had held back 15,000 reports on Afghanistan which would not be released until it was safe to do so.
Asked about White House claims that WikiLeaks had put lives at risk by releasing the intelligence data, Assange said groups often "criticise the messenger to distract from the power of the message." He added: "We have tried to make sure that this material does not put innocents at harm. All the material is over seven months old so it is of no current operational consequence, even though it may be of very significant investigative consequence."
- In April, WikiLeaks released a classified US military video which it said depicted the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad - including two Reuters news staff.