Transcript for 'This Week': Julian Assange
Human beings' lives are at stake. What about the lives of the soldiers and the civilians involved in these conflicts? Guess what, I'm reporting civilian casualties. Countless incidents of friendly fire, this is information that the world needs to know. The scene from "the fifth estate." New movie tracking the complicated story of wikileaks founder julian assange. He's taken some shots at the film. Abc's linsey davis sat down with the actor to talk about that challenge and why he accepted the part. Reporter: Until now, british actor benedict cumberbatch has been recognized in the bbc's "sherlock." And most recently, he's captain kirk's nemesis in "star trek: Into darkness." Quite a departure from his starring role in the new film "the fifth estate." As wikileaks founder julian assange. Attempting to criticize the messenger is to distract from the power of the message. Reporter: Playing assange is complex enough. The same whistle-blower was opposed to the movie. The difficulty was trying to portray him as a three-dimensional human being. Not vilify him or glorify him. Reporter: So you reach out to him trying to get a fix on his character and how does assange respond? He slammed the door pretty quietly, but pretty firmly. Reporter: An e-mail written to cumberbatch from assange -- in which he says, I believe that you're a good person, but I do not believe that fill system a good film. By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film and endorse the talented but debauched performance that the vipt will force you to give. The story and his character and this particular moment in time was needed, wikileaks achieved great, great things. I think the film celebrates that. I think it's far more diversive than the perspective he feared it would be. Reporter: How do you play a man that refuses to meet you? It's hard. You have to make leaps of faith and you have to connect the dots. Reporter: You have said before, we're all citizens of democracy, how aware of you are the snowdens and the issues that surround this debate? Very. We're living in a time, in order to fight terrorism, we're eroding civil liberties at a rate that's alarming. It's difficult. I think it needs to debate. Reporter: Debate precisely what he believes the fifth estate will provoke. This is information that the world needs to know. Reporter: For "this week," linsey davis, abc news, new york. The fifth estate is be distributed by touchstone pictures and with that, let's continue the debate. Let's turn to julian assange. You heard benedict cumberbatch there, he said that he tried to glorify nor vilify you. Celebrate the great things that wi wikileaks has done. Do you accept that? Well, mr. Cumberbatch wrote me a charming, very polite letter and with genuine concerns about the nature of the script being used in that film. He's reported to have said to "vogue" and to "the guardian," that he had fights with his director, who wanted to present me as a quote, cartoon batty, that was mr. Cumberbatch's words. But of course, he's under a contract and he's limited to what he can say in the film. I do know that he tried to enumerate some of the worst elements of the script. But, unfortunately, with limited success. What is your biggest complaint of the film? Well, I don't know where to begin, we released the whole script well before this happened. There was no approach to us by dreamworks, other than an informal approach, by benedict cumberbatch just days before shooting began. This is a film that is based upon my life's work, the work of my organization, we have people in extremely serious situations, sarah harrison who companied edward snowden out of hong kong now effectively in exile in russia because of the terrorism investigation here. Jeremy, an alleged media source. To 25 media organizations. An ongoing grand jury investigation. What are the responsibilities for ethical filmmaking in that context? None of the suggested changes that we sent to participant media ended up even in the final text of the film. But there's been a big cashing-in that's been going on. You mentioned -- a rich organization that is -- yeah. You mentioned sarah. This is a rich organization, dreamworks, that is making a lot of money and is continuing to make a lot of money from this process. But there's no contribution to our defense fund, to the defense fund of our alleged sources and so on. Let's move on to sarah harrison, she's with edward snowden. Snowden received an award from four american whistle-blowers. Harrison, a prime member of wikileaks. She's been with snowden throughout his time in russia. What can you tell about how edward snowden is doing right now? What's next for him and sarah harrison? Edward snowden is safe. We through a lot of work, and particularly by sarah harrison, managed to gain him asylum in russia after our attempts of russia after our other attempts of gaining him asylum were denied. So, he's safe. He's working to educate people. The journalists involved in these disclosures as to what is going on, he very rightly received that award from a former nsa/cia, fbi, doj whistle blowers for integrity. It's a serious matter. It's a threat to u.S. Democracy and democracy more broadly in the west. To have a surveillance apparatus on every single person would be the dream. Of eastern -- at the same time, on those revelations of edward snowden came under strong attack from london's andrew parker who called the leaks a gift to the terrorists. Nsa chief keith alexeneder said people will die because of the leaks. Your response? Well, we have seen this for 50 years, every time the press embarrasses the security establishment shows they have been acting unlawfully, acting against what they have said to congress or to the media, they trout out this old -- when we're discussing harm that's happening right now, as a result of these abusive programs. The budget procedure you mentioned just recently, an interesting side effect of that, the national security agency has used the debate in congress to cancel, even its own internal investigation, but the people in the review panel are enumerating. It's quite interesting to see how they -- obama says, yes, we need to have a debate. But at the first instance they can, as soon as there is a distraction, they try and subvert their promises to the public. What is next for you, mr. Assange? Any chance you're going to leave that embassy any time soon? Well, I would leave this embassy, it's a bit of prison in some way, but I have good people here, but where would I go to? I would end up in the outside world. Where you are. But what is happening to the outside world? That's a much bigger consideration for me and my staff and the 12 different legal actions we have going in different countries. But it's a consideration for everyone what type of place is western democracy going to be? Is it going to be a place with a collapsing rule of law with mass surveillance of entire populations? Or the practical elements of a totalitarian regime, we don't yet have that. But we're getting pretty close. Is it going to cross over into something else? That would be a hard place for an investigation place like wikileaks to work in. It's a hard place glenn greenwald. He's in exile in brazil. Sarah harrison, in exile in russia. Edward snowden, asylum in russia. Me, asylum here. The best and brightest who hold the government in account, are in asylum or exile in other countries. We have seen it before, dictatorships in latin america and soviet union. Your fight is going to continue. Up next -- a nobel prize
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