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Published on May 13, 2010
Julian Assange is a spokesman and advisory board member of WikiLeaks, a transparency website whose mission is to "open governments" and expose human rights abuses. It has a core focus on protecting dissidents, whistleblowers, investigative journalists, and bloggers who face state threats, and it largely operates by publishing leaks of sensitive documents. Winners of Amnesty International's 2009 Media Award for exposing extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya, Assange and WikiLeaks have recently launched www.collateralmurder.com, a website that hosts a leaked video of U.S. military forces in Iraq apparently slaying over a dozen people indiscriminately. In his speech, Assange chooses to focus specifically on WikiLeaks's work against censorship and human rights abuses committed by Western governments. Paraphrasing Orwell, Assange explains that he who controls today's internet servers controls the intellectual record of mankind. He warns us that Western governments, large corporations, and certain wealthy individuals are increasingly able and increasingly trying to remove material permanently from the historical record using sophisticated methods. Assange reviews WikiLeaks's work in uncovering human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo, and discusses the dangerous irony in the U.S. military's conduct as it decorates its detention centers with "Honor Bound to Defend Freedom" signs. If the West doesn't reverse its course of increased censorship and rights abuses, Assange warns, it will lose all of the ideals that it once stood for.