I scooped Julian Assange, now I’m on his enemy list

A few weeks ago I awoke to find out that from a professional journalist I had overnight turned into an “information mule”.

A few weeks ago I awoke to find out that from a professional journalist I had overnight turned into an “information mule”.

This unusual definition appeared in a press release sent by WikiLeaks in regard to a cyber assault and exposure of emails from Stratfor, a Texas-based private corporation which, according to its website, provides “geopolitical analysis of international affairs”.

It was a clumsy effort by Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to smear my name and my reputation by portraying me as someone who has “channeled tips to the Mossad”.

I have known Fred Burton, a senior researcher at Stratfor, since he contacted me four years ago to ask my views regarding a book he was writing on the mysterious murder in July 1973 of Colonel Joe Alon, Israel’s Air Force Attaché in Washington.

That was enough for Mr. Assange, who awaits a court decision in London to be extradited to Sweden to face charges of rape. As a professional propagandist who believes in conspiracies, he is a master of innuendo.

My “relations” with Mr. Assange began a year ago. He phoned and offered me an interview for my paper, the Israeli daily Haaretz. I agreed. A few days later he called again and attached strings and conditions. He demanded that he would be granted the right to censor the interview before publication and that no questions would be asked about references he had made about the nature of Jews. In return he promised to provide me and my paper with new documents which were yet not published.

My editors and I rejected his offer. Instead I was assigned by Haaretz to try to get the WikiLeaks documents from other sources. Within a few weeks I succeeded. I brought back to my newsroom a disk containing all the documents which were in Julian Assange’s possession – 250,000 U.S. State Department cables which contain nearly 30 million words. I gained access to them by hard-working journalism without violating any law in any country.

In April 2011 Haaretz published a series of articles of more than a hundred stories of interest to Israel, Israelis and the Middle East.  In Mr. Assange’s paranoid view this was paramount to a conspiracy to “move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel”.

Hours before publication Mr. Assange called me and my editors and demanded to stop the publication. He had the chutzpah to claim that the documents belonged to him and if we published them we would be infringing his “intellectual property”. No less. In between his calls he cursed my mother and called me an S.O.B.

Because of our legitimate and professional journalistic work I am now added to the long list of Mr. Assange’s enemies. The list not only includes governments, armies, intelligence agencies and corporations but also prestigious media outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian and others.

I am proud to be on this list.

Yossi Melman is an Israeli ICIJ member who specializes in security and intelligence matters.

Six mug shots from the Xinjiang Police Files
IMPACT

UK, US and Germany say Xinjiang Police Files offer ‘shocking’ new evidence of China’s human rights abuses

May 24, 2022
RUSSIA

New US sanctions target trust companies and corporate service providers for the first time

May 12, 2022
European Parliament
Accountability

Pandora Papers shed light on ‘gatekeepers’ of dirty money says European watchdog

May 09, 2022
MONEY LAUNDERING

As US pledges renewed fight against dirty money, head of financial crime agency says funding shortfalls have caused delays

Apr 29, 2022
Pandora Papers on screen
AWARDS

Pandora Papers investigation receives National Headliner Award, other honors

Apr 27, 2022
IMPACT

Lawmakers in US push to uncover riches shielded by state secrecy laws

Apr 21, 2022
ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.