For someone who deals in illicit information, Julian Assange sure gets touchy when people share information against his will.
Last month the Times of London revealed that the Wikileaks proprietor was furious at a reporter for the UK Guardian who had published details of a police report concerning sexual assault allegations against Assange. His objection: they were private communications and the reporter "selectively publish[ed]" them.
Now Assange is upset that the Guardian would publish some of the leaked cables without the permission of Wikileaks (ironically, the info had apparently beenleaked by a Wikileaker!). According to Vanity Fair, "he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released."
The Vanity Fair piece begins with this anecdote:
On the afternoon of November 1, 2010, Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks.org, marched with his lawyer into the London office of Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian. Assange was pallid and sweaty, his thin frame racked by a cough that had been plaguing him for weeks. He was also angry, and his message was simple: he would sue the newspaper if it went ahead and published stories based on the quarter of a million documents that he had handed over to The Guardian just three months earlier. The encounter was one among many twists and turns in the collaboration between WikiLeaks—a four-year-old nonprofit that accepts anonymous submissions of previously secret material and publishes them on its Web site—and some of the world’s most respected newspapers. The collaboration was unprecedented, and brought global attention to a cache of confidential documents—embarrassing when not disturbing—about American military and diplomatic activity around the world. But the partnership was also troubled from the start.
In Rusbridger’s office, Assange’s position was rife with ironies. An unwavering advocate of full, unfettered disclosure of primary-source material, Assange was now seeking to keep highly sensitive information from reaching a broader audience. He had become the victim of his own methods: someone at WikiLeaks, where there was no shortage of disgruntled volunteers, had leaked the last big segment of the documents, and they ended up at The Guardian in such a way that the paper was released from its previous agreement with Assange—that The Guardian would publish its stories only when Assange gave his permission. Enraged that he had lost control, Assange unleashed his threat, arguing that he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released.
In other words, Assange thinks it is wrong for a newspaper to publish sensitive information obtained through a potentially-illegal leak. Unless of course that information comes through him.
And this man apparently takes himself seriously.