Assange defends 'desire to know'

Messenger Newspapers: Julian Assange told a special Thought For The Day on BBC Radio 4's Today that 'knowledge is power' Julian Assange told a special Thought For The Day on BBC Radio 4's Today that 'knowledge is power'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suggested he is unapologetic about his role in helping to disclose government secrets.

Mr Assange, who has been forced to take refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since he was granted asylum by the South American country in June 2012, said that seeking knowledge was one of the "most basic" human endeavours.

He said: "To be alive to a human being is to know in the same way that it is to have a heart that beats.

"Documents disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that governments dare to aspire, through their intelligence agencies, to a god-like knowledge of each and every one of us. But at the same time they hide their actions behind official secrecy."

Speaking on the subject of knowledge and its relationship with power, he said: "As our governments and corporations know more and more about us, we know less and less about them.

"We must be unapologetic about that most basic of humanity - the desire to know."

During a special Thought For The Day on BBC Radio 4's Today, guest-edited by musician PJ Harvey, Mr Assange said: "Knowledge is power.

"To keep a person ignorant is to place them in a cage. And so it follows that the powerful - if they want to keep their power - will try to know as much about us as they can, and they will try to make sure that we know as little about them as is possible."

This insight, he said, was seen both in "religious writings which promised emancipation from political oppression and in the revolutionary works promising liberation from the repressive dogmas of the Church and the state".

He added: "The powerful throughout history understood this."

Mr Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy while he faced extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations, in the aftermath of WikiLeaks' release of confidential US diplomatic cables.

Mr Assange's slot was broadcast as an alternative Thought for the Day (TftD), which went out close to the end of the programme, just before 9am.

The traditional TftD slot featured former A rchbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who recited one of his own poems.

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