WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has told the Australian national broadcaster that Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding invented a quote attributed to him in the book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, and that he is suing The Guardian.
On the ABC's 7.30 programme, presenter Leigh Sales asked Assange about exchanges he had had with Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding. In WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, Sales said, the authors said they wanted Assange "to redact the names of informants mentioned in the Iraq War logs and they claim that you said, 'Well, they're informants, so if they get killed, they've got it coming to them, they deserve it'. Did you say that?"
Assange described this as "completely fabricated", saying "we are suing them for libel and we have witnesses to show that is a libellous claim, and is an ongoing dispute, so there's a lot of vitriol in the top end of the news business and a lot of back-stabbing, and unfortunately we happen to be on the receiving end of it from this individual."
The Guardian's David Leigh, now a regular Assange antagonist on Twitter, responded that Assange's claim was itself a fabrication. “#Assange tries to mislead Oz media. Claims he is suing #Guardian #Wikileaks book for libel. It’s a lie. No lawsuit."
Assange has previously claimed to be suing The Guardian, but as yet no lawyers have been spotted.
Assange also repeated his claim, made on the ABC’s Q&A programme on 14 March, that the Australian government is providing information to "foreign powers" about "me and other individuals working for WikiLeaks".
At the time, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard denied that WikiLeaks was the subject of such information exchanges, saying: "I don’t know anything about exchanging information about people who work for WikiLeaks ... To my knowledge it hasn’t happened."
In the 7.30 interview, Assange declined to back his claim with evidence, saying that to reveal his information "would be to reveal the sources of it". Although his complaint about information-passing to the American government has already been denied, presenter Leigh Sales didn’t seem inclined to press Assange for proof. ®