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WikiLeaks' Assange 'paranoid and autocratic' -

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TONY JONES, PRESENTER: For three years, Daniel Domscheit-Berg was one of Julian Assange's closest
collaborators on the leaks that have made headlines around the world.

His relationship with WikiLeaks and Assange broke down last year.

He's now written an insider's account of his time with the whistle-blowing organisation.

The book's called Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous
Website.

It's a personal account in which he accuses Assange of becoming an autocrat and adopting "the
language of the powerbrokers he claimed to be combating".

Daniel Domscheit-Berg joined me a short time ago from Berlin.

Daniel Domscheit-Berg, thanks for joining us.

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG, FORMER WIKILEAKS INSIDER: Good evening, Tony.

TONY JONES: Good evening. Your book is a surprisingly personal account of a close friendship with
Julian Assange that went terribly badly off the rail.

Can you start by telling us, though, what attracted you to him in the first place?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, as I'm writing in the book and as I think everyone that has met him or
got to work with him so far would agree to, Julian is a very smart person, he's highly intelligent
and he has - he's a quite interesting person to deal with. And I think I was attracted by exactly
that in the beginning.

There's a lot of interesting things you can talk to him about. There are many interesting insights
he can give, perceptions that he has made about society. And I think we cared for a lot of similar
topics, and that's how this was established, I guess.

TONY JONES: You say you've never met such an extreme person as Julian Assange, so imaginative, so
energetic, so brilliant, so paranoid, so power-hungry, so megalomaniac. It sounds like you're
talking about two different people.

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, actually, I think you see from my perception - I'm not a psychologist
or anything - but I think every person has 100 per cent to distribute on the various negative and
positive points that person has, and with Julian my feeling was that they are just a bit extremely
distributed.

So, on one hand he's a very intelligent person and he's very good with, for example, understanding
systems, which is I think key to why WikiLeaks was created in the first place, and understanding of
how a system works, how society works, how the media works and all these things.

But on the other hand, he's not really good, as I found out, with dealing with humans and accepting
criticism, for example.

TONY JONES: You paint a picture of a true eccentric, almost the clichéd image of a computer hacker
that we see in movies, a man with odd quirks and strange habits. What was it like living with him?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, that was a quite weird experience for me too. So, he's not really -
and that is I think a very striking topic overall - he's not really a team player, and this is what
caused a couple of problems when WikiLeaks as a team was facing political pressure, was facing some
tough decisions to be made.

And in the same way living with him for some time was not really living in a team either, so it was
sort of a constant struggle who would be faster with doing whatever. So, it's a bit - it felt a bit
like in a competition constantly and that's just not the way I'm leading my life regularly.

TONY JONES: Well you talk about it as living with someone who behaved as if he's been raised by
wolves?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Yeah, that was sort of the metaphor that came to my mind at least. So, as
you said that, the story I'm telling is quite a personal one, just out of the perspective that
there are a lot of books being written on the whole issue by journalists that have a more theoretic
approach and all of that, and as I am sort of the only witness there is for what happened in
WikiLeaks in the last three years.

So over that long time span I think my personal account is also reflecting a very personal
experience that I made and I was - I tried to balance let's say the more theoretic approach that
regular journalists are taking.

TONY JONES: Yeah. Towards the end things got rather bad between you. Did you not think he might be
pulling your leg, kidding you when he said he was going to hunt you down and kill you?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, you see, actually for some time I thought he was and this is why this
statement did not make me leave immediately, but actually it still took months after that statement
for me to decide to quit the organisation or quit this project - it's not actually even an
organisation.

So, um, I was at this point in time thinking that he is pulling my leg. On the other hand, he keeps
up to today repeating that statement towards journalists that are asking him about it. And that at
least today leaves me to wonder how much he actually thinks that was a real statement.

And it was not the only threat he made, so - and I'm not the only person that was threatened. There
was someone else quite recently that worked with Julian after I left that got in touch with me and
asked me if it's possible that Julian is operating on fear and anger, and actually that's, I think,
two of these primary motors that he has to keep people in control. And to him it is all about
control, as sad as that whole approach is.

But, as he described once, "I'm dangerous whenever I feel that I'm independent or that I should
take a decision all by myself, and this is when I'm trapped in this German bubble," as he once
called it, a "Germanic bubble," and, "Whenever I start floating in that bubble," he felt like he
had to get me back in control and this was by making threats or by just alleging me of doing
something malicious.

TONY JONES: Why do you use the term "megalomaniac". I mean, it appears a few times in your
assessment of Assange's motives, for example. You talk about the fact that he deliberately chose to
take on the world's biggest superpower and you see that as a sign of megalomania.

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well Julian is very much thinking in some kind of a weird hierarchy where in
that hierarchy he is on top, because he's the smartest and the most experienced person and anyone
below him is not allowed to criticise him.

So that, I think, is already a sign for something similar to megalomania. So, other expertise or
other experiences we made were going in that same direction. So, there were similar or other
occurrences in that respect and I think one of them was even on Australian television in the
Dateline documentary where he's actually said that he had become untouchable now, and I think you
see that whole approach of trying to be untouchable, of trying to be immune to any sort of
criticism, to not listening anymore to what inferior people are telling you. That whole approach is
just dead wrong.

TONY JONES: Why don't you trust his stated motives for taking on the United States? He says it's
about exposing abuses of power and about US hypocrisy?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, I would not doubt that these are his motives too. So, Julian on one
hand likes to - not likes to get in touch - or in a fight with anyone that he feels is not up to
him. So I think it's just out of that perspective that he wants to take on a very powerful nation.
And on the other hand, and I've repeatedly stated that as well, the United States just have a lot
to expose. And given their role as the only remaining superpower, besides China maybe, that is just
natural and that's just something they have to face.

TONY JONES: You say that he was your best friend, but that WikiLeaks turned him into a pop star or
a kind of guru to his followers. Are you saying that that process poisoned him in some way?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: It did, I think, and this is what is the saddest part of the whole story to
me.

So, you know, for two and a half years or more than two years at least we've been working in a
very, very small team and everyone has just been very committed. And because of the small scale of
that team, we were very close to each other and we had to rely on each other and that was when
there was a mutual feeling of trust where we've been all pulling on one string. And towards the end
when we actually were voicing some criticism about the way he was running that project, the way he
was behaving, the only reaction to that that came back from him was that we were just the idiots
from a chat room and that he had 100 other horses in his stable and we just shouldn't think we were
too important.

And that I think was when there were just too many people around telling him all the time that he
was the latest and the greatest that were just willing to do whatever he wanted and where he just
wouldn't have to face any kind of criticism. And it was very sad to see that he preferred working
with all these people instead of relying on the team that had built up WikiLeaks together with him
and that actually was - were people that - where he had an experience of being able to trust them.

TONY JONES: Do you think it's that aspect of Julian Assange, the emerging guru, the pop star that
led him into the sexual misadventures, if we can call it that, with the two Swedish women?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, as I've stated before, I don't know what happened there, but - and my
personal feeling is it is just a misunderstanding between people. So, I think probably there were a
lot of women around and basically he probably just got involved with the wrong ones, or ones that
didn't match his view of the world or his view of a men-women relationship or whatever in that
respect.

So, it's very unfortunate to see that this is something that has developed. And we've tried to give
him some recommendations on how to deal with it efficiently. I think an apology and getting in
touch with these women in the beginning when the allegations faced would have been the best
strategy there. It's just sad to see what this is turning into at the moment.

TONY JONES: Julian Assange obviously believes that the Swedish investigation is part of a broader
conspiracy against him and that he'll be nabbed from Sweden and perhaps spirited away to Guantanamo
Bay or some jail in the United States if he goes there.

Do you think that's - I mean, he's right to be paranoid in some respects because the United States
is trying to formulate charges against him, but do you think he's right about this conspiracy?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well I'm not aware of any sign of a conspiracy and that's something we've
all said from the beginning. You shouldn't cry - or call something a conspiracy if you do not even
have the slightest fact that you can show to the public to prove your point. So I'd be very careful
in dismissing such allegations so easily.

On the other hand, I feel - and that is what the UK court has just stated as well last week - is
that if he should be extradited from the UK to Sweden, then actually in order to have a extradition
to the US, the UK and Sweden would have to acknowledge such an extradition.

So I think if he goes to Sweden, he's actually in a better position, because there would need to be
two countries to agree to such an extradition to the US, whereas while he's in the UK, it would
only be one, which is the UK.

So, I think he should - and that is again what we recommended him for quite a while: to go there
and just face these allegations and then make sure that the public - and I think we are all on the
same side there, that an extradition to the US would just be outrageous and unjustified.

So, I think if he faces these allegations in Sweden, it would be much easier to defend him from
being extradited to the US, because he's actually showing that he's committed to facing something
he is being charged of or being accused of.

TONY JONES: Let's go back to the material that this is all about, particularly the leaked US
documents, the cables and the other documents. How much more of them are there still unpublished?
How much more does WikiLeaks actually have?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, as I've left WikiLeaks in December 2010, I don't know what happened
since then and what kind of material they have received or have not received. I'm also not entirely
aware of what kind of material was there at the time that I left.

So, I don't know, so I'm not aware of anything major that is still there from my perspective. But
then again, I really can't tell if there's anything.

TONY JONES: Sure. You personally - it's reported anyway that you personally copied the WikiLeaks
1.4 gigabyte insurance file, which evidently you sent out to dozens of trusted people. I mean, what
is in that insurance file, for example? What is the material so explosive that WikiLeaks keeps it
as an insurance file?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well you see that insurance file was created in summer 2010. I don't know
what was in there, but I'm not entirely sure how much of that has been published by now and what is
still in there that has not been published. So I was just relaying that file because I had a lot of
trustful contacts, especially within the media.

And the sole purpose of that insurance file was to make sure that if, for whatever reason,
WikiLeaks and the people running it disappeared, that this material would still come to light. That
was the only reason for spreading that material. It was not to blackmail the Swedish authorities or
whoever with a possibility of publishing that file, or at least the passwords to that file.

TONY JONES: It's been reported by the journalist John Pilger, who's now quite close to Julian
Assange, that the insurance file contains significant revelations, for example about Rupert Murdoch
and his international operations?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: I'm not aware of any material that ever was there in my time on Rupert
Murdoch or his operations.

TONY JONES: OK. Julian Assange describes himself as a publisher. Now since doing your job as a
journalist is actually a defence against charges under the US Espionage Act, it's an important
title.

Do you believe he's a publisher? Do you believe he's a journalist? Because the New York Times
editor, for example, challenges that?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well I think it all depends on how you define these terms in the 21st
Century. I think the internet has challenged that - the whole old-school definition of these terms
anyways.

And in that respect I think WikiLeaks is sort of stuck in a grey area, similar to a lot of other
people that are actually writing content, producing content, publishing content, and therefore it's
hard to say what the proper definition there is.

From my personal perspective, WikiLeaks has always been a press operation. At least that is why I
involved in WikiLeaks, because I thought it was exactly that and that's what we were working on
establishing. And as it is publishing materials that are important for the media, that are used by
the media, that are consumed by the public, it is publishing material, and that means it is a
publisher out of my perspective.

TONY JONES: Were - Daniel, we're right in the middle of this strange, complex story right now, but
how do you think history will treat Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, I don't know about Julian. This all depends I think on how he's going
to - or what's going to happen next. There's anything in the possibilities there, from someone that
had a great idea and just gone hopelessly wrong to him becoming a hero and maybe getting the Nobel
Prize, as we've seen as he has been nominated for that.

So I think the range of possibilities there is just about as broad as it can get.

In respect to WikiLeaks, I think - and this is what I hope it goes down as - is that it is - it was
a project that has created something so tremendously important for the future, that has raised a
couple of very important questions about the state of transparency, the state of secrecy in this
world, what kind of - where's the line that we need to draw between what has to be secret and what
must not be secret for the future.

And I think these are very important questions as we are heading into a globalised information
society. It's probably - these are a few of the core questions that we have, and I hope that
WikiLeaks will always be remembered as that project that has actually brought these questions into
the living rooms with the eight o'clock news of an entire globe.

TONY JONES: Daniel Domscheit-Berg, we're out of time. I'm afraid we'll have to leave you there. We
thank you very much for taking the time to come and talk to us on Lateline.

DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, thanks a lot for having me.