Man of the moment: Julian Assange of Wikileaks

Julian Assange is an interesting character. The founder and face of Wikileaks is in London promoting the Afghan War Diary – a safer place for him than the US, where he’s been advised he could get arrested or detained as a material witness. He’s smart and self-confident (as you’d expect), but he has some wit too, of the dry and wry variety, and he’s far less geeky than you might imagine.

The personality he displayed during a talk at the Frontline Club in London on 27 July was far distant from what I'd expected to see after after reading the New Yorker profile of him in June (which he made a slight dig at, accusing the mag of being slightly "tabloid" when it was doing profiles).

He was defensive at times, particularly when asked whether the leak of files posed a national security threat for the US or its troops, but he has a philosophy to justify his actions, which boils down to: trying to make a positive difference is better than doing nothing, even if there are risks - you just need to do what you can to minimise potential harm.

Ironically, given his reliance on the internet for his organisation, Assange said he’s pretty careful about using technology – he doesn’t carry around a mobile phone with a fixed number and was non-committal about whether he has his own laptop.

He gave a tutorial on how best to dig into the phenomenal amount of data in the reports, most of which hasn’t yet been properly explored – Assange reckons that between them The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel have explored around 2% of the information.

The importance of this leak / publication is only going to get larger as the weeks go by and more dirty secrets are unearthed.

You can watch the whole event here:  Assange at the Frontline Club - 27 July