Swedish doc peeks behind the curtain of Wikileaks

The two Swedish filmmakers behind SVT's upcoming WikiRebels say the hour-long doc will offer an objective look at the 'information activists' behind the whistleblower website.
December 6, 2010

Two Swedish filmmakers are preparing to release an up-to-the-minute documentary about controversial whistleblower organization Wikileaks and its elusive editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, later this month. Entitled WikiRebels, the hour-long doc will explore Wikileaks’ history and operations, which are proceeding despite a campaign by the United States to take down its website.

Freelance journalists Bosse Lindquist and Jesper Huor first met Assange in Stockholm this summer at an embargoed news briefing in advance of Wikileaks’ release of more than 400,000 classified Iraq war documents. The duo were representing Swedish public broadcaster SVT and were intrigued. They immediately knew they wanted to make a documentary about Wikileaks.

‘He is a totally intriguing and fascinating person,’ Lindquist said via phone last week during a break from editing the film.

Assange, however, wasn’t as interested in opening up for their cameras. Presently, the 39-year-old Internet activist is one of the world’s most wanted men. Interpol has issued a red notice – or international wanted persons alert – against him in connection with allegations of ‘sex crimes’ brought against him in Sweden. He is believed to be in hiding somewhere in the UK.

‘He wasn’t interested in us at all,’ says Lindquist. ‘And, well, fair enough.’

Eventually Assange relented, and gave the Swedes the go-ahead to interview Wikileaks volunteers that worked on the releases of documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as the 250,000 American embassy cables that have sent the U.S. State Department into damage control mode in recent weeks. Produced entirely by SVT, WikiRebels will air on Dec. 12 in Sweden and online shortly thereafter.

‘He stated quite clearly that he believes secrecy is very corrosive,’ he says. ‘That’s why he’s reluctantly agreed to be a part of this film because he believes in his project.’

Lindquist calls the film an objective account of Wikileaks’ ‘total endeavor’. It features interviews with the organization’s key figures including Assange, Wikileaks spokeperson Kristinn Hraffnson and former German spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who quit the organization in September following a disagreement with Assange. He will publish a book Inside Wikileaks in January, 2011.

Though the film explores the ‘sex crime’ allegations leveled at Assange by two former Wikileaks volunteers in Sweden, Lindquist and Huor were unable to secure interviews with the Swedish police or the complainants. Don’t expect any juicy personal details about Assange either, Lindquist says. The film focuses more on Wikileaks’ origins, underlying strategy and its modus operandi.

‘I’m trying to unravel the underlying ideology, the underlying thoughts because they do want to change the world and my impression is they are a new type of revolutionaries,’ says Lindquist. ‘They call themselves ‘information activists’ and I’m trying to look at that and ask, what is that? And where are they going?’

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.