Ahead of the release of Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney's new documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks on Friday, WikiLeaks posted an annotated transcript (see the full thing here) of what it says are the "factual errors and speculation" in the film. Gibney's film tracks the story of WikiLeaks' release of the Iraq and Afghan war logs and U.S. diplomatic cables and the ensuing fallout. According to a New York Times review of the film by Nicolas Rapold, in "this portrayal Mr. Assange, the WikiLeaks frontman, goes from bold, unnerving liberator of secrets ... to a paranoid creep, criticized by those who once worked with him and on the run from accusations of rape."
See the trailer below:
While it is hard to get a proper sense of the portrayal of WikiLeaks from just the trailer, clearly the whistleblowing organization is not happy with the film. In its introduction to the annotated transcript, in which it offers a point-by-point refutation of some of the claims made by the filmmaker and his interview subjects, the organization argues:
"The film is filled with factual errors and speculation, the most serious of which are set out below. The stock footage used has also been heavily edited, in some places distorting what was said. This is unprofessional and irresponsible in light of ongoing legal proceedings. It trivialises serious issues. The film implies – erroneously and when evidence is to the contrary – that Assange may be guilty of "conspiring" with Bradley Manning. This not only factually incorrect, but also buys into the current U.S. government position that journalists and publishers can be prosecuted as co-conspirators with their alleged sources or with whistleblowers who communicate information to them. This is a dangerous proposition for all journalists and media organisations — not just WikiLeaks."
Adrianne Jeffries, reviewing the film for The Verge, argues that while the film "is enlightening, artful, and well-paced [and] a well-rounded picture of the WikiLeaks saga," it lacked "the voices of any ardent Assange supporters." Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network has also criticized the film for focusing too much on Bradley Manning's personality, and not enough on the political motivations behind his actions.
The film came out Friday, not long before Manning's trial is due to begin on the June 3. See it for yourself and decide whether you think it unfairly portrays WikiLeaks and Manning.