Legal experts have speculated that the site may not be covered by Swedish legislation shielding journalists’ sources unless it obtains a licence. Assange said WikiLeaks had already been offered protection by two Swedish newspapers but would still press ahead with obtaining a licence, though he also suggested that the safeguard might not prove sufficient.
“We’re dealing with organizations that don’t obey the law. We’re dealing with intelligence agencies,” he told news agency TT.
Assange highlighted the importance of Sweden to WikiLeaks’ work during his stay in the country as a guest of the Swedish Association of Christian Social Democrats.
“Sweden is vital for our work. We have had long-term support from the Swedish people and the Swedish legal system. Our servers were initially based in the United States and moved to Sweden early on in 2007,” he said.
Assange also indicated that WikiLeaks was not alone in benefiting from Swedish freedom of expression laws.
“There’s actually a small industry in Sweden; a new sort of refugee exists in the world, which is publishers. It is I think something for Swedes to be quite proud of: that they are facilitating a strong and free press,” he said.
The pentagon recently called on WikiLeaks to halt the publication 70,000 leaked classified documents from the US-led war in Afghanistan. But Assange has instead vowed to press ahead with the publication of a further 15,000 secret documents.
“We understand that there are no easy choices for this organization. We have a duty to get the truth out to the world, the truth out to the Afhani people. We have a duty to people who are mentioned in the material. We have a duty to our sources, and it has hard to balance all those duties. It is a very expensive and difficult process.”
Assange said he was aware of foreign minster Carl Bildt’s assertion that Sweden and the United States were not engaged in formal talks over the leaks. But he added that informal talks surrounding WikiLeaks were “standard procedure” in other countries.
“I would imagine that informal talks have been established in Sweden but we’re waiting for proof of that.”