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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Ashdown Group: C# Developer

    £30000 - £36000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: C# Developer A highly s...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Test Engineer

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A market leading software...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...