Video: On the 13th Anniversary of WikiLeaks’ Release of the Guantánamo Files, My Interview with the Julian Assange Defence Committee


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13 years ago today, on April 25, 2011, WikiLeaks and a host of international newspapers — the Daily Telegraph, the Washington Post, McClatchy, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais, La Repubblica, L’Espresso and Aftonbladet — published, or began publishing “The Guantánamo Files,” a treasure trove of classified US military documents from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, the last of four significant releases, in 2010-11, of classified material leaked by Chelsea Manning, the first three being the Afghan and Iraq War Logs, and a vast archive of diplomatic cables.

I was also a media partner for the release of the files, having been asked by WikiLeaks, as an independent expert on Guantánamo, to investigate them, and to brief journalists from the mainstream media partners about their significance, which I did in the days following the release of the files on April 25. The publishing date had been brought forward abruptly, from an intended release date in May, after we heard that the Guardian and the New York Times had obtained them from another source, and were intending to preempt us with the files’ publication.

I still vividly recall getting a call about this on the evening of April 24, and then having to write an introduction to the files in a matter of hours, explaining their significance. This ended up on the front page of “The Guantánamo Files,” on the WikiLeaks website, as “WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners,” and I also posted it on my website as “WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Guantánamo Files, Exposes Detention Policy as a Construct of Lies.”

Yesterday evening, I was delighted to talk to Emmy Butlin and other members of the JADC (the Julian Assange Defence Committee) about the significance of “The Guantánamo Files,” to mark the 13th anniversary of their release, and the video of our interview is posted below.

I began by discussing how I became involved with Guantánamo, in 2006, when I pieced together a coherent narrative about where and when the men held at Guantánamo were seized, and who they were, largely from a bewildering jigsaw of government documents that were released through Freedom of Information legislation. This research formed the basis of my book The Guantánamo Files, published in 2007, and four subsequent and relentless years of work as a prolific independent journalist.

Moving on to 2011, I explained how I became involved with WikiLeaks, discussed the release of “The Guantánamo Files,” and their significance, and how it seems beyond coincidental that, just a week after their publication, the US government assassinated Osama bin Laden, shutting down all further discussion of the files, and allowing supporters of the prison to lie that it was the use of torture, and the existence of Guantánamo, that had led to bin Laden being located.

At the end of the show, I provided an update about the sad state of Guantánamo today — now over 22 years since it first opened, and with 30 men still held — and how fundamentally lawless it still is.

The above is an extremely brief synopsis, and I do hope you have time to watch or listen to the whole show, because of the opportunity I was given to explain all of the above in great detail.

I’m also pleased to note that, at the start and the end, Emmy played ‘Warriors’, the song I wrote about Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, recorded with The Four Fathers, which is available here on Bandcamp, and which I’ve also embedded below.

For more information about “The Guantánamo Files,” see my Democracy Now! interview, see this article I wrote for the 10th anniversary of their release, in 2021, and also see the 34-part series of articles I wrote in 2011-12, investigating the stories of 422 of the prisoners, based on their files.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (see the ongoing photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and, in 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to try to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody.

Since 2019, Andy has become increasingly involved in environmental activism, recognizing that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to life on earth, and that the window for change — requiring a severe reduction in the emission of all greenhouse gases, and the dismantling of our suicidal global capitalist system — is rapidly shrinking, as tipping points are reached that are occurring much quicker than even pessimistic climate scientists expected. You can read his articles about the climate crisis here.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, featuring the video of my hour-long discussion, with Emmy Butlin and other members of the Julian Assange Defence Committee, about the 13th anniversary of the release, by WikiLeaks, of classified military files about the Guantanamo prisoners, leaked, along with other classified documents, by Chelsea Manning.

    I was a media partner for the release of the files, along with numerous major newspapers from the US, the UK and the EU, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss my Guantanamo work in general, my work on the files released in 2011 and their significance, and also to provide an update about the sad and shameful situation at Guantanamo today, where 30 men are still held.

    I hope you have time to watch it, and that you’ll share it if you find it useful. Thanks to Emmy and the JADC for having me, and thanks also for playing my song about Julian and Chelsea, ‘Warriors’, at the start and the end of the show:

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Thank you, Andy. The Gitmo Files are so important. Your work is so important.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks so much for your unparalleled support of my work, Natalia. I do hope people watch the video and perhaps learn something new and important about both Guantanamo and the files released by Wikileaks in 2011.

    To be frank, I only wish that there were more organizations involved with the injustice faced by Julian who would take an interest in the Guantanamo Files, and in my knowledge and expertise.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Andy, I think the same … so many Assange supporters don’t care about Guantanamo. I have seen, through this 14 years of support for Julian, that many supporters that joined the cause in the past few years are not really involved, don’t know everything that has happened for the past decade, like it’s just from Belmarsh to now. And everyone should read you and know the importance. I always post about you in my Mexico4Julian page.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I hadn’t really thought about it that way before, Natalia – how many Assange supporters are all for evidence of US war crimes, but not those which involve the torture and abuse of Muslims. Interesting, too, that you note that more recent converts to the cause aren’t even necessarily aware of much of the back story at all.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Denise Longman wrote:
    Everyone forgets that all the papers published the WikiLeaks evidence. And even Chelsea Manning has been released from prison. But not Julian Assange – he has been in jail for years with the US waiting like a gigantic vulture to get its claws into him.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, well said, Denise.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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