A WikiLeaks job interview: Julian will see you now…

WikiLeaks might be the world’s biggest threat to government secrecy, but its HR department needs some work. Aled John goes for a job interview with Mr Assange

What would you do if you had to kill one man to save a hundred?” Long pause. “That’s an impossible question to answer,” I say.

“You’ve got two minutes to think about it before they all die,” he says.

I am near the end of a somewhat unconventional job interview.

WikiLeaks is the organisation. My interviewer is Julian Assange.

It’s hard not to feel self-consciously Tinker Tailor… about the whole affair. As I head to an imposing west London address, I wonder what I am walking into.

“You have no connection to either group of people.”

I think I know the answer Assange wants. This is the climax of his questioning, covering my family background, parents’ upbringing, religious beliefs, economic and social philosophy.

After about 30 seconds of silence, I muster a response.

“Well, if I could rationalise that the greater good would be achieved by saving more lives, then… I guess the man would have to go,” I say, lying; unconvincing to myself, but maybe less so to my audience.

How strange to utter the death sentence of an unknown innocent for the “greater good” of the many, to impress in a job interview. This reductionist, moral utilitarianism seems ethically unjustifiable, but what do I know?

I wonder if I’m glimpsing the fringes of Assange’s philosophy and it’s unsettling. The idea is dangerous.

I look at him, perplexed. The claustrophobia of his house arrest and the siege mentality provoking this philosophy are reflected in his constant talk of being “at war” and echoed by the Stockholm Syndrome-lite relationship between him and his disciples. What risks are we to take for Assange’s goal of ultimate transparency?

“Good answer,” he says.

A few months ago I was forwarded an email, titled “Recruiting for WikiLeaks”. I’ve worked as a junior journalist for a prominent news organisation for the last year, as WikiLeaks’ impact has burned across the world. They were involved in big, interesting movements – cultural shifts, imperious challenging of authority for the notion of complete transparency. It was the sort of work I probably thought I wanted to be involved in: “Successful candidates will be disciplined, articulate, quick-witted, capable of multi-tasking and accustomed to lack of sleep. Ability to start immediately is essential.”

This notice, to join the “press office of WikiLeaks London”, was vague.

Not so sure how my CV would reflect how little sleep I get, however. It seemed strange they would interview a recent graduate with no PR experience for a role in an organisation that consistently gets attacked from big hitters, such as the US State Department.

Sitting there with Assange, it strikes me how small and disorganised the operation seems. Fewer than 10 people work there full-time and my role would consist largely of trawling through media reports about WikiLeaks and Assange. Do I want to spend my day monitoring public sentiment for and against this former hacker? Not really.

I suggest that Assange’s profile and ego, compounded by his notorious court case, have overshadowed the work they do. He spoke of a desire to become recognised as a viable media publishing brand, bitterness that, not since the initial releases, have the British press taken on its stories for front page splashes and anger at its portrayal by the BBC. I suggest that people would be less suspicious if WikiLeaks revealed its workings and exemplified the transparency for which it calls. This was not an idea to which they warmed.

For all the initial excitement, I leave bewildered and deflated. Realising the vanity that had driven me to think of becoming involved in WikiLeaks, I resolve not to pursue it.

The Independent


About elaineonyc

HR generalist who is passionate about the benefits of good HR practice. Experienced in delivering strategic and operational HR initiatives to clients in both public and private sectors. Specialises in working with SMEs.
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2 Responses to A WikiLeaks job interview: Julian will see you now…

  1. zls2011 says:

    No one understand this question? The thing he actually want to know or want you know if more correctly is: would you like to cover my “junk” since we’re (I’m) doing good for the world? If you don’t get this, you should’t go there. And even if you know this, it’s far from enough. The daunting task you need to fullfill if you get the job is helping him asyou k the big question-why do get inot the public? To take responsibility for or take advantage of? The answer is quite obvious and mixed. That’s not a big deal since everyone wants to be recognized for their work.
    And everyone has sth they cherish most and will never share with others. The whole world knows who gave him the documents while he denies always even wasn’t being asked directly. Looks as if he is protecting the guy while actually he is trying to derecognize him.

    Transparency of information is definitely useful. This can be proved by his own story. What do you think if things like “cat hater”, “preferring girl under 22″………get out before last July? The Swedish girls may hesitate before contacting him, and nothing would have happened, he would still be a free man.

    So if you can do the job and still want to do the job, Go Go!

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