Reality is ever-increasingly surpassing imagination. And ever-increasingly tinged with noir. The plots are many: from France to the US with Dominique Strauss-Kahn; Russia with Mikhail Khodorkovsky (on which Cyrill Tuschi presented the eponymous documentary in Courmayeur); and Sweden with genius hacker Julian Assange, the creator of WikiLeaks, on which Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Daniel Harding, protagonists of the publication of dozens of thousands of documents and authors of WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, came to Courmayeur to speak about.
“Julian Assange is a very particular character,” they told the public during a Conversation at the Jardin de l’Ange. “He broke off all ties with The Guardian for a story that makes no sense. He accused us of giving out a password that placed his life in jeopardy. Actually, he got angry with us because in our book we talk about the sexual violence of which he’s accused. We hope he’ll go to Sweden for the trial, because all he risks is a fine. Julian is a very fascinating and intelligent person, but he seems to have come from another planet. In his youth he had a lot of problems with his parents. He has fought with all his collaborators, his editor, with all of us. Like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, thanks to new technologies he was able to do extraordinary things and leave an indelible mark. He is a phenomenon of the modern age, and WikiLeaks is actually his great show.”
The story of WikiLeaks is also the story of two co-protagonists: Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo. The former risks 20 years in prison for giving Assange secret documents, the latter turned Manning in. The book talks about them, as well as the current crisis within WikiLeaks, of its financial problems, and the energy that Assange initially poured into it that he must now channel elsewhere, to save himself from court cases.
Yet the documents remain, though they probably did not reveal much that was new. But their consequences were immense, if it’s true that the majority of key players from those files have today disappeared from the political scene, in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia. Said the authors: “For us journalists, holed up in a basement with the chance to read thousands of documents, they were golden moments. Perhaps those papers didn’t reveal things that we didn’t already know, but they corroborated things that were suspected, giving new lifeblood and new force to the popular movements that have led to the fall of totalitarian regimes. And perhaps this is Julian Assange’s great merit.”