WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to Host TV Talk Show

PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media outside the High Court in London, Dec. 5, 2011.Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media outside the High Court in London, Dec. 5, 2011.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced this week that he will be hosting a ten-part series of TV interviews with "key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries" on an English-language Russian TV network that has been accused of spreading anti-U.S. propaganda.

The show, which launches in March, will air on Russia Today, or RT, a Kremlin-run group of news channels that has been criticized by a wide range of Western media outlets, from the Economist to the Guardian, for allegedly airing pro-Putin and anti-U.S. propaganda, as well as conspiracy theories.

"This is an exciting opportunity to discuss the vision of my guests in a new style of show that examines their philosophies and struggles in a deeper and clearer way than has been done before," Assange said in a statement released by RT.

"Obviously it would be any channel's dream right now to get Assange, but I think it's quite natural that his show will be on RT," the network's news executive Nikolay Bogachikhin said in an interview aired on RT. "RT always tries to go beyond, to see other sides of any news story and show the real reasons behind any news that you would see on mainstream channels."

According to RT, its five channels, three in English, are available to 600 million cable, broadcast and satellite subscribers around the globe.

Assange will conduct the interviews from a mansion in the British countryside, where he lived under house arrest since 2010 while fighting extradition to Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

RT Correspondent Laura Smith said on RT that the first episode will be filmed just one week before Assange goes to the British High Court for an appeal hearing, currently scheduled for March.

The show's guests have been kept secret so far. However, Smith said that the show will focus on Assange's "favorite topic, which of course is controversy."

The series will consist of 10 weekly half-hour episodes, in which Assange says he will "explore the possibilities for our future in conversations with those who are shaping it."

Asked about the alleged anti-American bias of the RT channels, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said, "We present different opinions, also different [from the] mainstream media. This is why more and more people both in the U.S. and outside watch RT to see other side of the stories."

Simonyan said she thought RT and Assange had a lot in common. "RT was one of the first channels to cover the Wikileaks story and to interview Julian Assange a long time ago, way before it made headlines around the globe," said Simonyan. "We're open for different opinions, and Julian's show will bring them to our audience."

Over the past few years, Assange has thrust himself into the spotlight as the man behind some of the largest intelligence leaks in U.S. history.

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"We all only live once," Assange said in a 2010 interview with German magazine Der Spiegel. "So we are obligated to make good use of the time that we have and to do something that is meaningful and satisfying."

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