Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told the New York Times that he no longer trusts Iceland to protect him or his site, as he believes the government is too cosy with the US government.
Iceland’s relationship with Wikileaks began comfortably enough. Last June, parliament passed a proposal to create a “media haven” in Iceland, to protect whistleblowers from persecution should they expose the practices of the rich and powerful. However, this was after Assange accused Icelandic authorities of spying on him on the behest of the US government. The Icelandic government denied engaging in any such spying or surveillance.
Assange’s relationship with Iceland did, however, inspire the rage of right-wing politicians in the US. Republican senator John Ensign, upset over Wikileaks’ release of thousands of documents related to Afghanistan, temporarily blocked US President Barack Obama’s nominee for US ambassador to Iceland. Former US vice president Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz called upon US president Barack Obama to compel the Icelandic government to shutdown Wikileaks.
In more recent days, Wikileak’s release of thousands of pages of classified documents relating to the Afghanistan War and now the Iraq War has been strongly condemned by the US government as endangering the lives of US soldiers.
Assange feels the walls are closing in, the New York Times reports. In an article released last Saturday, Assange says that “[Iceland’s] government, like Britain’s, is too easily influenced by Washington.”
Other Icelanders have grown disillusioned with Assange, as much as Assange has grown suspicious of them, the article reports, stating in part, “’About a dozen’ disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified ‘bad behavior.’ Many more activists, Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.”
Even some members of parliament who were vocal advocates of Wikileaks have shown concern. “We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards,” said MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, referring to the Afghanistan documents that included the names of troops. “If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.”