When I try to question him about the morality of what he’s done, if he worries about unleashing something that he can’t control, that no one can control, he tells me the story of the Kenyan 2007 elections when a WikiLeak document “swung the election”.
The leak exposed massive corruption by Daniel Arap Moi, and the Kenyan people sat up and took notice. In the ensuing elections, in which corruption became a major issue, violence swept the country. “1,300 people were eventually killed, and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak,” says Assange. It’s a chilling statistic, but then he states: “On the other hand, the Kenyan people had a right to that information and 40,000 children a year die of malaria in Kenya. And many more die of money being pulled out of Kenya, and as a result of the Kenyan shilling being debased.”
It’s the kind of moral conundrum that would unnerve most people, that made some wonder last week what the potential ramifications of the latest leak might be, but it is a subject on which Assange himself is absolutely clear: “You have to start with the truth. The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere. Because any decision-making that is based upon lies or ignorance can’t lead to a good conclusion.”