Ex-backer denounces "cultish devotion" to WikiLeaks founder

Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:53pm EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - Jemima Khan, a celebrity backer of Julian Assange who put up bail money for him, has gone public with her frustrations about the WikiLeaks founder, saying he demands "blinkered, cultish devotion" and should face justice in Sweden.

An article by Khan published on Wednesday on the website of British magazine The New Statesman gives an insight into how Assange, whose whistleblowing website angered Washington by releasing thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010, has alienated some of his staunchest allies.

Assange was arrested in Britain in December 2010 on an extradition warrant from Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual abuse made by two women.

After losing a protracted legal battle to avoid extradition, which went all the way to Britain's Supreme Court, Assange jumped bail and sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London last June. He has been inside the building ever since.

Khan, who first rose to prominence as an heiress but is now a campaigner and an associate editor of The New Statesman, described in her article how she had gone from "admiration to demoralization" on the subject of WikiLeaks.

"The problem is that WikiLeaks - whose mission statement was 'to produce ... a more just society ... based upon truth' - has been guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion," she wrote.

Khan was executive producer of a documentary film about WikiLeaks entitled "We Steal Secrets" which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the United States.

Khan said the film, directed by Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney, sought to present a balanced view of the WikiLeaks story but Assange had denounced it before seeing it.

"When I told Assange I was part of the We Steal Secrets team, I suggested that he view it not in terms of being pro- or anti-him, but rather as a film that would be fair and would represent the truth," she wrote.   Continued...

 
Britain's Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistani politician Imran Khan, leaves City of Westminster Magistrates Court in central London December 14, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett