It was an emotional day for The Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger as he prepared to bring down the curtains on his 20-year-old run at the helm of one of the most prestigious publications in the world. Whistleblower website WikiLeaks, however, used the occasion to take the renowned journalist down a peg.
“My last day as Guardian editor. Which, after 20+ yrs, is a bit emotional,” Rusbridger tweeted on Friday after declaring in December last year that he was stepping down after “quite an extraordinary period” at the British newspaper.
WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange -- holed up in the UK’s Ecuadorean Embassy since 2012, avoiding extradition to Sweden over sex crime charges – replied to the tweet:
@arusbridger Even more emotional than 5 years of our editor being detained without charge after you invited him to the UK to be your source.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 29, 2015
The anti-secrecy website began releasing thousands of confidential United States documents in 2010 with the help of news organisations including The Guardian. The move embarrassed the US with many also alleging the revelations put national security and people's lives at risk.
Assange has been unable to leave Britain, living in the Ecuadorean embassy's quarters in central London over fear of extradition to Sweden or the United States, where authorities are investigating his disclosures of secret information.
Sarah Tisdall, a former Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) clerical officer, was jailed after she leaked classified British government documents to The Guardian.
WikiLeaks also posted the link to an article written by Assange titled “How The Guardian Milked Edward Snowden’s Story”. The website did not immediately respond to Hindustan Times’ request for a comment on its tweets.
The Guardian newspaper has appointed Katharine Viner, currently editor of Guardian US, its 12th editor-in-chief after Rusbridger.
Under Rusbridger’s leadership, the London-based newspaper expanded its online presence and international influence. The publication shared a Pulitzer Prize with the Washington Post last year for stories based on files leaked by Snowden and WikiLeaks.
The Guardian’s decision to publish the documents led to a standoff with British intelligence services, but Rusbridger said the move prompted international discussion on poorly regulated snooping by governments.