For many Reddit users, the much-awaited Julian Assange AMA (Ask Me Anything) was largely unsatisfying and frustrating. According to reports, the controversial WikiLeaks founder allegedly dodged a number of important issues but confirmed with definitive proof that contrary to rumors, he is alive and well.
On Tuesday, Assange faced the proverbial music on Reddit, as he took part in an AMA session, fielding questions from Reddit users from around the world. A lot of these questions centered on Russia’s supposed involvement in the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and WikiLeaks’ release of information that some pundits believe caused the favored Hillary Clinton to lose to Republican candidate Donald Trump. Other questions were related to WikiLeaks’ politics on ethics, its relationships with the Russian government and with Fox News, and how his motivations vary from those of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Guardian wrote.
— Mark Piesing (@MarkPiesing) January 11, 2017
As the Guardian further observed, the Julian Assange AMA saw him deliberately ignoring many of the above questions, or replying with just one word and no further explanation. The publication quoted a detailed query from a Redditor called LameMeme, who asked about WikiLeaks’ alleged “friendly relationship” with Russia and posted a timeline that justified this allegation.
“Since you are so adamant that Russia was not involved in the recent leaks that played a major role in the US presidential election, it would be helpful if you can make a compelling case for why Americans should trust you over their own intelligence agencies whose reason for existence is to defend the US against foreign threats and who are saying the opposite about Russian involvement.”
A question from Redditor Gddboygb about Edward Snowden’s statements about privacy being the “bedrock of freedom” and how Assange diverges from that philosophy also went unanswered at the AMA. The Redditor in question also called out Assange for referring to privacy as being out-of-date and lacking in “inherent value.”
“You’ve published the credit card numbers, social security numbers, medical information, and sexual preferences of individuals of zero public interest. Two of your most recent publications are the personal Gmail inboxes of civilians, exactly the sort of thing Snowden has tried to protect. Can you convince me that you’re right and Snowden’s wrong?”
While many publications noted how Assange ducked away from the questions on Russia, the U.S. elections, and other hot-button topics, Mashable also observed that he chose to focus on WikiLeaks’ “fight against the ruling class,” as he railed against mass surveillance, and even against Reddit not being a completely censorship-free zone. Assange’s most detailed reply came when he debunked rumors that WikiLeaks is working on a database of all verified Twitter users, particularly those in the fields of journalism and politics.
Another Redditor, Velocity_Rob, publicly called out Assange for dancing around pressing issues with his one-word answers and cagey attitude toward certain questions. According to the Guardian, this was a sentiment shared by many others who had wanted their queries addressed at the AMA.
“For someone who claims they’re all about transparency and openness, your answers here really don’t live up to those lofty ideals. Terse one-word answers, ignoring really pertinent questions, what exactly is the point of this AMA?”
It wasn’t just Redditors at the AMA who were unhappy with how Assange seemed to play it coy when it came to the questions they had wanted answered the most. A report from BGR described the Julian Assange AMA as a “train wreck,” noting that the questions that received the most upvotes were mainly the ones he preferred not to answer and that he chimed in with “a couple of mostly irrelevant comments” on the AMA thread. The publication added that the Q&A session was conducted with Assange answering via live Twitch feed instead of typing his replies, which gave him more leeway to ignore certain queries.
However, what about that other pressing question that many had wanted to ask, in the light of all the rumors that Assange may be dead, or may have been kidnapped? Answering in the same terse style he used for most of the session, Assange simply offered the following statement, while reading from the bitcoin blockchain and recent sports scores to prove his point. And with this comment, the Julian Assange AMA had officially ended, with at least that one key question being answered:
“I’m alive, and free from duress.”
[Featured Image by Carl Court/Getty Images]