Richard Stallman: "WikiLeaks is a way of resistance against states that hate our freedoms"

Richard Stallman, an international leader in free software activism, and the founder of the Free Software Foundation, consider Julian Assange a hero. But he disputes the usefulness of the latest diplomatic leaks because - according to Stallman - they do not reveal any crime and could hinder free communication on the net.


By ANDRES HAX - ahax@clarin.com

Richard Stallman is a sui generis being. A kind of anti-Bill Gates, in the sense that he has a huge influence on the development of software worldwide but his goal is not personal enrichment, or the creation of a capitalist product, but to liberate the software to make a better world through through its Free Software Foundation. Yes, it is utopian. Born in 1953, the American hacker has a way of being both surly and open (listen to the audio of the full interview that accompanies this note). He vehemently emphasizes the difference between "free software" (the movement he supports) and "open source," which for him is something else entirely. Ñ ​​Digital considered him a fundamental source to follow the debate about the WikiLeaks event, since he is one of the American activists who bases his militancy for freedom on and with the Web.

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What do you think of the role WikiLeaks is playing? 

What I think of WikiLeaks is that it is a defense against the murderous lies of the states.

From all states, or from the United States?

Of the states. Because not only the United States lies. Many states lie. And many states kill. But the United States is the richest and the most powerful yet. And it has recently launched wars that have killed a million people in Iraq.

Do you think this can change anything in the reality of US politics? 

I dont know. Because the politics of the United States seems local to me. And although Bush has admitted that he ordered the torture, people are not pushing to investigate and indict him as they should. We already know, because he has admitted it, that he is guilty of torture. So if the United States doesn't charge it, it must be done in an international court.

What did you think of the contents of the leaks? 

So far I haven't seen anything very interesting in the latest WikiLeaks articles [ed. The interview was done last Tuesday, November 30]. And because of that, I am not convinced that these leaks should have been published. I don't think it was a good decision (by WikiLeaks). I don't see a reason to post them.

As for the documents about the wars, there are scandals that the government hid from the public because of their shame I suppose, or because of their desire to avoid being punished for their crimes. In the case of diplomatic cables it is not the same. Perhaps it is because I have not seen all the documents ... It is possible that something important is yet to come.

I don't think it's desirable to create disputes between states or expose all communication just to expose it. But when there is a scandal or a crime that the state hides, in this case it is important to expose it.

Otherwise it's just gossip? 

Yes, exactly. I don't see the point in publishing what American diplomats think about certain presidents of other countries.

It appears, simply, that the diplomats were fulfilling their duties. They gave their opinions and evaluations privately… But it is correct that they informed the ministry of the things that seemed important to them.

One point I am not entirely sure about is the point of countries like Saudi Arabia that asked to attack Iran. I don't see any scandal. The United States did not attack Iran anyway. There are two attacks that have happened: that of the Stuxnet virus, for which someone is killing several scientists, but we do not know if it has something to do with this communication. Anyway, it seems, what the Saudis asked for was not this, but a military attack. And there was not. So the relationship between the actual events and that request is not clear to me. I don't think these latest posts have helped us.

I think WikiLeaks would have to stay closer to scandals, of which there are many. I think that publishing private communications between diplomats, when there is nothing important behind them, implies a risk of hindering all communication. And this is not desirable.

Could it be the fault of the WikiLeaks founder's ego? 

I don't want to look for psychological explanations… When I don't think that someone has chosen well, that does not imply that they have a personal fault. I don't totally agree with your decision, but everyone makes decisions that you can criticize. I consider Julian Assange as a hero, but in this case I think he missed the mark.

Well, thank you very much for your time ... 

I think WikiLeaks plays a role in resisting tyranny, in defending our freedom against states that hate our freedom. But if it will be enough to maintain a freedom, I do not know. It is a very difficult challenge.

Source: Magazine Ñ - Clarín


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  1.   Santaklaus said

    They say that secrets must be kept for the security of the countries, but it is not true: it is because that truth is uncomfortable and shameful; because the leaders of the world commit atrocities and they don't want the rest of us to know how monstrous they are. They are ashamed of themselves, their actions and their ideas. So they want to keep it a secret.

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  3.   Germail86 said

    It is interesting what Ricardo thinks. To bear in mind, personally, I like the curtain of hypocrisy to be pulled down and they take charge of what they think does not mean to throw everything to hell but to set the record straight and establish sincere adult relationships.

    On the other hand, it's not just gossip: the United States violated many international treaties by making its gossip reports.