Sputnik discussed the timing of the appointment with Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, an independent Wikileaks commentator and human rights campaigner.
Sputnik: Do you think the timing of this appointment comes due to the fact there was hope Assange was able to reverse the latest measures that blocked his access to the world?
Peter Tatchell: When the restrictions were initially imposed by the Ecuadorian embassy and government, the presumption was that they would be temporary and that he would give certain assurances and that access to the internet would be restored. That hasn't happened, and I think this is really the dawning now in terms of Julian Assange's own perception, and indeed the whole Wikileaks organization, that he can't really be an effective editor-in-chief under these conditions of being effectively held incommunicado, I would say for the future of the organization that this is definitely a good move.
Sputnik: Do you think this could actually backfire and be a good move fore Julian Assange as well, perhaps if he's no longer the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks there will be less pressure on him (exerted) by various governments?
Peter Tatchell: Well I would like to think, so but I'm sad to say what Wikileaks and he did in the past in terms of exposing human rights abuses by the US government and military, people there in the US have got really long memories and the people who are critical and opposed to him still seem as determined as ever to nail him and jail him.
Sputnik: Let's move to Kristinn Hrafnsson, now very interesting, Iceland's journalist of the year several times. What can you tell us about Kristinn Hrafnsson, the new editor-in-chief of Wikileaks and what do you think he will bring to that organization?
Peter Tatchell: Well I can't tell you a lot, other then the point you've made, Kristinn is a very noted, highly prized and highly regarded investigative journalist who fits exactly with the Wikileaks mold. He is someone who has never pulled back from investigating and seeking up the truth, he has been a very effective spokesperson for Wikileaks for a number of years and so Kristinn is quite naturally, quite obviously and clearly the right person to take over from Julian Assange.
Sputnik: And yet the fact that he has been named journalist of the year in Iceland almost makes you think that, perhaps, there is more support for him or perhaps less resistance to him by the government that he is officialy legitimatized, does this differ from the position Julian Assange was in?
Peter Tatchell: Kristinn comes out of a very strong journalistic tradition and he has won these respective prestigious press awards, and that does give him a great deal of credibility; probably, to be fair, more then Julian Assange has ever had. So I think this is an astute move by Wikileaks and by Julian Assange, which I think will probably further enhance the reputation of Wikileaks, and give it a new sense of credibility and legitimacy that, of course, has been very much under fire in the last few years that Julian has been held up in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Sputnik: By legitimizing Wikileaks, perhaps, this will become more dangerous to some of the powers that are not happy with the leaks that have come out…
Peter Tatchell: Certainly the critics of Wikileaks would rather someone with a lower public profile and less credibility in the world of journalism take over as editor-in-chief. They would've preferred that, but they've got the result they have, Wikileaks has decided that Kristinn will take over, and I think he's going to be under a lot of pressure now to move Wikileaks forward and, to be fare, to overcome the perception among some people that Wikileaks is biased against some governments while acting rather favorably to others, so of course I'm not making assumptions or claims, but there are allegations that Wikileaks and Julian Assange, in particular, have worked in cahoots with the Russian government and security services.
That's never been proven but there's some evidence that points in that direction, and I hope that Kristinn will be able to clear that up and to start afresh and to perhaps redress some of the imbalances. I'd like to see a big expose of Donald Trump like Wikileaks did on Hilary Clinton, I'd like to see human rights-abusing governments around the world exposed, not just the United States and Britain, but Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, lots of governments have got secrets that Wikileaks could and should be exposing, I think that if it has a more well-rounded approach, its credibility will be enhanced and strengthened.
The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.