Anti-WikiLeaks film is propaganda from the outset - Kristinn Hrafnsson
Voice of Russia, 10 September, 2013.
Transcript from Voice of Russia Interview
The release of the the new Hollywood film titled The Fifth Estate describing the early days of the WikiLeaks organization is "shockingly historically inaccurate" and is aimed at damaging Jullian Assange and his team's reputation, stated the official spokesperson for WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson. The VOR’s John Robles spoke with him about the film and The Spy Files 3, the latest release by WikiLeaks.
This is John Robles. You're listening to an interview with Kristinn Hrafnsson, he's the official spokesperson and the No. 2 at the WikiLeaks organization.
Robles: Hello, sir!
Hrafnsson: Hello, John!
Robles: How are you?
Hrafnsson: I'm fine, thank you, and how are you?
Robles: Pretty good, pretty good. Can you tell us a little bit about the Spy 3 Files that were just released? What could readers and people on the Internet find in those files?
Hrafnsson: Well, this is an addition to our previous releases on material pertaining to this private spy companies, companies that offer, on a very secret market, tools to buy on individuals. They have put together promotional material that we have had our hands on and we have been releasing that ever since 2011.
The third phase of that project that came this week in collaboration with 19 media organizations around the world. It was an addition to show how unregulated this industry is.
We have proven contracts showing that the European-based companies, some of them are selling technology to governments and countries where human rights abuses are notoriously common and the crackdown on dissidents in the Middle East, in Africa and many other countries and where there is a strong suspicious that this technology is used to crackdown on dissidents in prison and even torture and kill them.
So it's a very serious unregulated business which probably has a turnover exceeding 3 to 4 billion dollars. And it is quite shocking to see how blatantly this is being sold to regimes that do not honor human rights at all."
Robles: How much of this is going on against American - let's call them - dissidents?
Hrafnsson: Well, we do have some private companies that have been assisting in basically spying upon human rights groups or even environmental groups that came out in the Stratfor files, for example, but we of course in the United States that the Government has the biggest spy operation on individuals and what they are doing.
They do branch out and they spend enormous amounts of money in contract to private companies to do some other work for them. That is a reality. But a very important revelation by Edward Snowden, it is important to focus on this private industry which has vast capabilities and is quite scrupulous in selling the technology to spurious regimes.
So this can all be seen in context. And it's very important to put a focus upon that this is an attack on privacy and the security and even life of individuals in some countries where it can be a death sentence involved when you oppose the political establishment and the regime."
Robles: I see. And a lot of these companies, are they've been used to skirt or bypass existing laws or oversight or they are they just opportunists trying to make some money?
Hrafnsson: Well, the fact of the matter is that there is absolutely very little oversight and laws pertaining to the sales of this technology. It of course should be monitored and viewed in the same way as we view arms sales to foreign countries, but the fact of the matter is - this not the case. And even though these companies claim on the surface that they are only selling to legitimate organizations, law enforcement agencies, etc. - there is strong suspicion that this technology has been used to crackdown and imprison dissidents and those who are opposing regimes in countries where human rights are not honored."
Robles: Can you tell us a little bit about the film 'The Fifth Estate' and, if you could, at the same time, tell us what’s Julian’s situation right now is? How is he doing? - Especially with the elections going on right now?
Hrafnsson:Well, none of us have actually seen that film. We have actually asked for a copy to view, but they have … refused for us to have … not given us the opportunity to see the film. So Julian hasn't seen the film.
We, of course, have seen the script which was used in the beginning of shooting the film earlier this year and, not surprisingly, it was shockingly negative portrayal in many respects of what WikiLeaks is about. It is grossly historically inaccurate. And the most serious allegation that this dramatization basically is putting forth is suggesting that people were put in grave harm’s way as a result of the leaks of 2010 and 2011.
Robles: They mean the war criminals that were never tried for their crimes, right? I'm being sarcastic here.
Hrafnsson: Yes, I understand that. It is being portrayed in the film that individuals were almost killed or put in harm’s way because of this, which is absolutely outrageous and is not even anything that prosecution tried to maintain in the Chelsea Manning Trial, where there was no evidence that had any vitality introduced to support such a claim.
This is simply something that is propaganda from the outset. And now it has found its way in Hollywood production which it claims to be balanced in its approach, but when you think of the fact that it’s based on two books by individuals who hold a grudge against the organization, especially former colleague of Julian Assange which had to be suspended from the organization and damaged material and wiped out important material that..
Robles: Who was that, can you say who that was?
Hrafnsson:We're talking about Daniel Domscheit-Berg. One is not surprised that the film has this outcome. Now, of course, you cannot always quarrel about what the artists are doing and how they portray their interpretation of reality that is something justifiable as artistic license. But in this instance, this is a very-very serious thing, because it will shape public opinion.
It has the aura of being a true portrayal of reality, wherein in fact it is absurdly lame and wrongful portrayal of what happened, according to the script. And this is not happening in a vacuum.
This is not like the criticism against the film Zero Dark Thirty, about the Osama bin Laden killing. It is recent history which is ongoing history this is influencing individuals that have an interest at stake.
Chelsea Manning has an interest here - an individual who has been sentenced to 35 years in prison and is now fighting for a pardon or an appeal. WikiLeaks staff and Julian Assange have a direct interest because we are still under a very serious criminal investigation and a blatant persecution by the US government in their attempt to find any way possible to charge the WikiLeaks staff."
Robles: You were listening to an interview in progress with Kristinn Hrafnsson, the official spokesperson for WikiLeaks. You can find the remaining parts of this interview on our website at english.ruvr.ru.
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