Now that shadowy organization Wikileaks has unleashed another wave of military field reports, people want to know more about its founder, Julian Assange. According to a Times profile today, he's running Wikileaks with an iron fist.
Even remotely, his style is imperious. When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. “I don’t like your tone,” he said, according to a transcript. “If it continues, you’re out.”
Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest,” he said. “If you have a problem with me,” he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should quit.
A reported twelve Wikileaks members have left. And though he sat down for lunch with the Times, Assange is basically a fugitive:
He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts. He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.
“By being determined to be on this path, and not to compromise, I’ve wound up in an extraordinary situation,” Mr. Assange said over lunch last Sunday, when he arrived sporting a woolen beanie and a wispy stubble and trailing a youthful entourage that included a filmmaker assigned to document any unpleasant surprises.
Another thing he runs from: questions about his personal life. When asked on CNN today about the former rape and sexual-harassment charges against him, as well as questions about his character, he said:
It's completely disgusting, Atika. I'm going to walk if you're going to contaminate us revealing the deaths of 104,000 people with attacks against my person.
But of course people care about his personal life (slash criminal charges). Hi, this is America, and you just made yourself a hugely powerful public figure, and even indicated that the Pentagon made up those rape charges against you because they were mad at you, anyway. Still, he made good on his promise to walk off the set, exiting mid-interview after a brief apology, thereby only giving more substance to the idea that he's a jerk. Check it out below: