Assange tells Google Chief, "I don't use e-mail"

Eric Schmidt met with the WikiLeaks founder for five hours in 2011 for material for a book expected to be released next week

by The Commentator on 19 April 2013 11:42


The diminishing Wikileaks group, famed for its large-scale official documents disclosures, has this week released a transcript of a meeting between its figurehead, Julian Assange, and the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.

The meeting is reported to have taken place in 2011 and apparently lasted a whopping five hours, wherein Assange and Schmidt discussed WikiLeaks' inner workings and Assange's role in developing the technology behind it. Assange said the genesis of the site was in response to what he saw as a "crippled" information distribution system.

The meeting was also attended by Jared Cohen, who was an advisor to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Cohen has been working with Schmidt on a book called "The New Digital World" due to be released next Tuesday.

At the time of the meeting, Assange was under house arrest in Norfolk, England, with Vaughan Smith, the founder of the Frontline Club. Assange remains in the U.K. today, holed up in Ecuador's London embassy although Britain has approved his extradition to Sweden related to sexual assault allegations.

Topics ranged light-hearted discussions over the concept of Bitcoin, Schmidt's bad experiences with Delta Air Lines, and Assange's endless stream of "crazed" female visitors, but Schmidt also queried why WikiLeaks publishes more information on Western democracies than more oppressive regimes, asking "Why are you not getting enormous numbers of anonymous USB drives about the bad documents in African countries that are run by these evil dictator types?" Assange replied, "we have gotten some decent African stuff," but makes the point that a lot of these countries don't use English for government business or "are not as networked."

Schmidt also broached the subject of WikiLeaks' alleged threat to national security, asking for Assange's version, "which obviously we are sympathetic to."

During another exchange Assange volunteers, "We wouldn't mind a leak from Google, which would be, I think probably all the Patriot Act requests."

"The answer is that the laws are quite clear about Google and the U.S.," Schmidt responds. "We couldn't do it. It would be illegal.

Near the end of the transcript, Schmidt asks Assange how he is able to communicate with Wikileaks' staff. Assange went on to say that he tends to meet people in person.

"I mean I assume you can do email and all that, no?" Schmidt asks.

"I don't use email," Assange responds.

"Why not, because it's...?" Schmidt asks.

"Too dangerous," Assange said. "And encrypted email is possibly even worse, because it is such a flag for end point attacks ... but we do have encrypting phones. Unfortunately they don't work in all countries, but the SMSs work in all countries."

The release of the transcript is timed to coincide with the launch of Cohen and Schmidt's new book, The New Digital Age, which is released in a few days time.

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