Julian Assange on 60 Minutes

Julian Assange, left, talks to Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes.” Photo credit: CBS News
In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange likened the values of his whistle-blowing website to those of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. and said the backlash by the American government is out of embarrassment.“Our founding values are those of the U.S. revolution,” Assange told interviewer Steve Kroft. “They are those of people like [Thomas] Jefferson and [James] Madison.

The white-haired secret-spiller also maintained the website has played within the rules, saying his organization is comparable to any other publisher and should be protected under the First Amendment.

“We operated just like any U.S. publisher operates … and there has been no precedent that I’m aware of, in the past 50 years, of prosecuting a publisher for espionage,” Assange said. “It is just not done.”

He called the disparity a “flagrant disregard for U.S. traditions.”

Assange also shared a story from his childhood, back when his mother worked as a political activist who helped scientists gather information about nuclear tests conducted by the British in the Australian outback.

The two were out late one night when authorities stopped them. According to Assange, one official said, “Look, lady, you’re out at 2 a.m. in the morning with this child. It could be suggested you’re an unfit mother. I suggest you stay out of politics.”

“Which she did, for the next 10 years,” said Assange, “in order to make sure nothing happened to me. That’s a very early abuse of power and of secrecy that I saw in my life.”

Kroft spent two days interviewing Assange at his Britain home, where he fighting extradition to Sweden for questioning in two sexual assault cases.

To watch the interview in its entirety, click here.

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