Julian Assange, the man behind the WikiLeaks government expose website, is back in the news again. On Monday, October 27th, Assange began a publicity tout to promote his new book “When Google Met WikiLeaks“. The book provides a detailed account of an unexpected visit Assange received from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt, his girlfriend and two others, and the eye-opening two-hour plus discussion that ensued.
The passages from the book claim the two men debated the political problems faced by society today, as well as the technological solutions made possible by a global information network. Assange says he and Schmidt outlined diametrically opposed perspectives. Assange sees the liberating power of the Internet as based on its freedom and statelessness. Schmidt, on the other hand, is aligned with US foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting as many non-Western countries to American companies and markets as possible.
Google cooperated with State Dept to set up meeting with Julian Assange
When writing about the meeting between him and the Schmidt party back in June 2011, Assange said that it dawned on him that his reasoning for holding meeting was apparently different than the other attendees’.
“At this point, the delegation was one part Google, three parts US foreign policy establishment, but I was still none the wiser,” said Assange. He notes that when the conversation turned to WikiLeaks, he fifured out what was going on.
“It was at this point that I realised Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, DC, including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton‘s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel,” he wrote in the book.
“While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the US State Department, the US State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command centre and hit me up for a free lunch.”
Assange sums up his perspective: “Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. Schmidt’s tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of US power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive mega corporation. But Google has always been comfortable with this proximity.”
Google has not responded publicly to date, but the search engine giant has taken a number of swipes at Assange over the last couple of years.
“He’s of course writing from the, shall we say, luxury lodgings of the local embassy in London,” Schmidt said earlier this year. “The fact of the matter is Julian is very paranoid about things. Google never collaborated with the NSA and, in fact, we’ve fought very hard against what they did.”