Wikileaks founder Julian Assange defended his whistleblowing website and told Cambridge University students that ”history” will judge.
Controversial Assange, 39, arrived at Cambridge University yesterday after students queued for hours to hear him speak publicly for the first time in months.
He discussed the importance of Wikileaks and why it was a vital tool for freedom of speech.
He said: ”All over the world information of civil importance and historic importance is disappearing because it is owned and controlled by private companies.
”While the internet does have some ability to let us know on an unprecedented level what governments are doing, it’s also the greatest spying machine the world has ever known.
”It is not supportive the freedom of speech, it is not supportive of civil rights.
”The battle between those who want to use the internet as a tool of liberation and those who want to use the internet as a tool of control, mass control, is not over, it’s only just beginning.”
He added: ”In our work there are many amateur supreme court judges.
”They often have badges which say general on them, they are often CEO’s of corrupt banks, they are often journalists with no story to write, so they write critical opinion.
”These people do not know what the law is.
”The rule of law is a very important thing but when the rule of law starts to break down and human life is on the line, then it is time to operate within a system of ethics.
”I believe there are many circumstances where you must do so and then it is up to history to decide whether one was right to do so.”
Assange went on to criticise the control of the media in the United States and the private companies who have publicly dropped their support of Wikileaks.
He said: ”Censorship by the US is every bit as pernicious as well documented censorship in the Soviet Union.
”Wikileaks is facing attacks from the very peak of the United States media and media in the western world more generally.
”They (the companies who have dropped Wikileaks) were acting at the behest of a global system of patronage which has its centre of gravity in Washington.”
Assange answered a question about US soldier Bradley Manning who arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified information to Wikileaks.
He said: ”I have to be very careful about speaking about Mr Manning for obvious reasons, one is that we can’t voice our support for Mr Manning loudly.
”He is clearly embroiled in legal trouble due to our publishing activities, we have no idea if he is source.
”If Bradley Manning has been held for reasons owing to us – then we have a responsibility for his welfare
He added that Wikileaks had played an important role in Egypt, he said: ”As a result of releasing cables about Suleiman, the US and Israeli preferred successor, it was not possible for the US to support him.
”We and others like us ruled out Suleiman as Mubarak’s puppet.”
More than 700 people queued to hear controversial Assange speak at the Cambridge University Union Society.
The whistleblower was welcomed by university dignitaries and entered the debating chamber at 5pm.
Mr Assange brought 10 security guards with him, the union hired eight more and police were stationed outside the building.