WikiLeaks now targeting the business world

Michael Calderone
WikiLeaks Assange on Forbes cover
WikiLeaks Assange on Forbes cover

Julian Assange is already all over the news because of WikiLeaks' latest trove of documents, which offered numerous revelations about U.S. foreign policy and backroom diplomatic dealing.

Now Assange says he ready to take on corporate corruption.

Assange, in a lengthy interview with Forbes' Andy Greenberg, said WikiLeaks has obtained documents that will be comparable to the Enron emails in terms of impact on big business.

He told Forbes that WikiLeaks has documents concerning a host of industries, including pharmaceuticals, energy and banking. Revelations about at least one major bank will come early next year, he said.

"It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume," Assange said.

Assange spoke about past releases and hinted at future ones during the two-hour interview, conducted before State Department document dump.

On Iraq, Afghanistan, and State Department "megaleaks": "They're an important phenomenon, and they're only going to increase. When there's a tremendous data set, covering a whole period of history or affecting a whole group of people, that's worth specializing on and doing a unique production for each one, which is what we've done."

On the upcoming bank "megaleak": "It's not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it's either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it."

On BP material in WikiLeaks' possession: "We've got lots now, but we haven't determined how much is original. There's been a lot of press on the BP issue, and lawyers, and people are pulling out a lot of stuff. So I suspect the material we have on BP may not be that original. We'll have to see whether our stuff is especially unique."

On reputation for being anti-establishment: "It's not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I've learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I'm a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free. WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical."

On getting too many docs: Assange said that WikiLeaks shut down its document submission system in October because the organization couldn't handle the amount of information it was receiving. "Our pipeline of leaks has been increasing exponentially as our profile rises," he said.

On potential impact next year: He said the documents "could take down a bank or two."