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More ‘Blow Your Mind’ Wikileaks Material To Come, says Hagar

Article – Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): WikiLeaks has only released one or two percent of the US embassy cables that made worldwide news last year – and the rest of them “will blow your mind”, says New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager.More ‘Blow Your Mind’ Material To Come From Wikileaks, Says Hager

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http://www.pmc.aut.ac.nz/pacific-media-watch/2011-04-12/nz-more-us-blow-your-mind-material-come-wikileaks-says-hager

By Alex Perrottet

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): WikiLeaks has only released one or two percent of the US embassy cables that made worldwide news last year – and the rest of them “will blow your mind”, says New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager.

Speaking to AUT University journalism students, Hager told how he was exclusively invited to England late last year to observe and work with Julian Assange in the week leading up to the release of the cables.

“It was the stuff of spy novels,” he said, adding that he thought they may have gone a little too far in their caution.

Hager had only a mobile phone number to call when he boarded a plane from New Zealand to London at a day’s notice. On arrival he was instructed to catch a train and alight at a given station, where he waited in the freezing cold for a man to approach him and take him to a “quaint country manor”.

Hager had been invited to attend to sift through thousands of cables, helping to strain out information that might be incriminating to third parties.

Uploading ‘made history’
He witnessed the lead-up and the actual uploading of the leaks, which was an intense “battle between uber-geeks who were furiously focused”.

Hager said that as soon as the information began to upload, there were denial-of-server attacks by hackers who were obviously on stand-by for the event.He said the group of IT professionals who had volunteered their time eventually won the day and the information was successfully released.

“It was geeks versus geeks,” he said. “It got out and it made history.”

Hager spoke about the role of the media and said he was disappointed that the majority of the news generated by organisations has focused on the allegations of rape, and the story of Assange’s falling out with former colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

He said the WikiLeaks members that he lived with for a week were a dedicated group of six people.

“They are a tiny group of people, with supporters around the world,” he said.

He also said they had not been sidetracked by the adverse media they have received, which he likened to the “year’s or more worth of stories about stolen emails” about him after his publication of The Hollow Men in 2006.

“They are focused on the job, of getting maximum, useful, change-the-world publicity for that information, like every journalist should do.”

More ‘drip-feeding’
Hager said each country that was represented at the Wikileaks headquarters entered into an agreement that they would vet the 251,000-odd cables to avoid damage coming to people who might have been embassy informers.

He said this was one of the reasons behind the “drip-feed” approach they were taking, as well as the intention of not releasing too much important information at one time.

Hager said he was disappointed that the Sunday Star-Times didn’t run a second article he had written in December last year, as the Herald on Sunday had somehow attained the New Zealand cables and released them online the night before his article was due to be published, scuttling Hager’s story.

“It was a case of media competition affecting journalism,” he said.

“New Zealand was the one country in the whole world that wasted the cables.”

Hager spoke about the New Zealand US Embassy cable that quoted chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair, and is still surprised there hasn’t been more attention given to it.

No ‘El Dorado’
In it, Robert Clarke of the US Embassy in Wellington says Sinclair believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not the “El Dorado for New Zealand’s commercial sector” that it had been made out to be.The cable also said “New Zealand needs to manage expectations in this regard”.
“That blew me away,” Hager said.

“That was the biggest news story for New Zealand in my opinion.”

Hager said he had a “quiet fear” for Assange’s safety, should he be extradited to Sweden. However, he added that he held a strong hope that he would be able to stay in England.

The High Court in London last week granted Assange a two-day hearing starting on July 12 for his appeal against the extradition.

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