Assange hails Wikileaks role in Middle East revolt

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today said his site was "significantly influential" in the fall of Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, an event he said "no doubt" sparked a Middle East revolt.

Last Updated: Feb 13, 2011, 21:11 PM IST

Sydney: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
today said his site was "significantly influential" in the
fall of Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, an event he
said "no doubt" sparked a Middle East revolt.

Assange, 39, said cables leaked on his whistleblowing
site questioning US support for Ben Ali gave citizens the
confidence to rise up and influenced the decisions of
surrounding nations on whether to intervene.

"It does seem to be the case that material we published
through a Lebanese newspaper, Al Akhbar, was significantly
influential to what happened in Tunisia," Assange told the SBS
programme Dateline.

"And then there`s no doubt that Tunisia was the example
for Egypt and Yemen and Jordan, and all the protests that have
happened there," he added.

Mass protests sparked partly by poverty and unemployment
erupted across Tunisia last month, resulting in Ben Ali`s
overthrow, while an 18-day revolt in Cairo ended 30 years of
autocratic rule by Hosni Mubarak.

Similar demonstrations have taken place in Yemen and
popular unrest has also flared in Jordan.

Australian-born Assange, currently awaiting a London
court`s decision on whether he should be extradited to Sweden
to face sex assault claims, said the tide of popular
discontent with autocratic regimes was "extremely gratifying".

"Yes, I`ve had all these troubles in London, but to see
this happening elsewhere, it`s worth every cent of time wasted
on the other thing," the former hacker said.

In a wide-ranging interview given on the sidelines of
last week`s legal hearings Assange said he had cut his long
hair and started wearing suits in an attempt to dim attention
on him and keep the focus on his work.

PTI