Why Julian Assange Hates "We Steal Secrets"

Mother Jones

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Julian Assange already hates this movie. That six-word review may be all that his diehard supporters need to know about We Steal Secrets, Alex Gibney’s exhaustive and exhausting new documentary on the rise and fall of WikiLeaks. Apparently without having seeing the film, which hits theaters tomorrow and will be available on demand on June 7, Assange has condemned it as a hatchet job, starting with its name. “An unethical and biased title in the context of pending criminal trials,” WikiLeaks tweeted in January when the movie screened at Sundance. “It is the prosecution’s claim and it is false.”

Assange’s preemptive attack one of the film’s main themes: What happens when an admirable cause is headed by a thin-skinned, combative prick?

Like many observers of WikiLeaks’ short, chaotic history, Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer) starts out sympathetic before souring on Assange. At first, We Steal Secrets seems enthralled with its subject. When Assange quotes a favorite Midnight Oil song, Gibney obligingly blasts the tune—a haranguing one even by the band’s standards—over a title sequence that ricochets through cyberspace.

What follows is a complimentary look at Australia’s “most infamous hacker,” a peripatetic cryptographic whiz who recognized the promise and threat posed by a site that could publish anonymous leaks from around the globe. Robert Manne, a professor of politics at La Trobe University in Melbourne, gushes that Assange is “a humanitarian anarchist, a kind of John Lennon-like revolutionary, dreaming of better world.” Or as Assange declares with casual bravado, “I enjoy crushing bastards.”

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Why Julian Assange Hates "We Steal Secrets"

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