Thursday 30 December 2010

Nick Davies: 'I cut contact with Assange in August'

The Guardian's Nick Davies has written an article on The Huffington Post defending the paper's publication of the Swedish police file on sex allegations made against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

In the article Davies hits back at criticism from Bianca Jagger and reveals that he has cut all contact with Assange, who he persuaded to give WikiLeaks material to the Guardian.

Davies writes: "It is true that at the beginning of August, I cut off contact with him [Assange] in order to protest at several things he had done -- the first time I have cut off a source in 34 years as a reporter. This was nothing to do with the sex allegations in Sweden.

"His supporters tried to brief newspapers that it was an act of vengeance on my part to go out and find this police file. That fell at the first fence, because the file came to me: I never spent a single second looking for it.

"As an alternative decoy, Assange suggested in his interview with David Frost, that some malign force, possibly an intelligence agency, chose me as an outlet for the file, knowing that I could be relied on to write a negative story. That also falls at the first fence. The reality is that I didn't write the story which the Guardian published. The copy which I filed was completely re-written in the Guardian office, a commonplace event in a newsroom."

Davies also writes: "Assange's UK lawyer tried very hard to persuade us to suppress the file. He argued that since Assange had been a source for our stories, we should 'protect' him. I reckon that that is an invitation to journalistic corruption, to hide information in order to curry favor with a source. We were right to publish."

He adds: "Finally, I should mention what Jagger does not -- that I was the journalist who took it on himself back in June to track down Julian Assange and to persuade him not to post his latest collection of secrets on the WikiLeaks website but to hand them over to the Guardian and other news organizations. The publication of the Afghan and Iraqi war logs and then the diplomatic cables all flowed from that initiative. I did that because I think journalists should tell the truth about important things without being frightened, for example, by the government of the most powerful state on the planet."

Pic: Nick Davies (Jon Slattery)

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