Speaking via Skype before an audience of thousands at South by Southwest, Julian Assange made the case for a new golden age of national security reporting, conducted largely by Americans in exile. "National security reporters are a new kind of refugee," Assange said, then ran down a list of American reporters and activists who have left US borders in order to continue their work, including Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Wikileaks' Sarah Harrison, and Tor researcher Jacob Appelbaum.
"Even those with $8 billion are not free anymore."
"I see this as quite a positive phenomenon," Assange told the audience, "that where people would have been completely crushed and not able to work anymore, they are able to use these basic tenets of classic liberalism like freedom of movement... to keep working." Assange also commented on First Look Media, Glenn Greenwald's new venture funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, saying Omidyar has realized that "even those with $8 billion are not free anymore."
"I am able to exist in...a land without police."
Assange described the trend as part of a broader political consciousness that's been created by the internet. "The internet, about four years ago, was a politically apathetic space," he said, "but whenever you start to engage in any space, you run into state powers, you run into the deep state." Now that those working with Wikileaks or the Snowden documents face persecution, as witnessed most recently in David Miranda's detention, citizens have grown more aware of the immense power wielded by otherwise secret organizations like the NSA.
The list also includes Assange himself to some degree, as he addressed the audience remotely from his current home in London's Ecuadorian Embassy. "I am able to exist in a situation which is every national security reporters dream, which is a land without police," he said. "It is a no man's land, as far as coercion is concerned."