Julian Assange Calls Benedict Cumberbatch Film A 'Propaganda Attack' In Oxford Union Address

Julian Assange has hit out at a Hollywood film about WikiLeaks as a "massive propaganda attack" after acquiring a script of the film which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the founder of the whistle-blowing website.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange

In a controversial appearance at Oxford Union via videolink from the Ecuadorian Embassy on Wednesday night, he rebuffed questions about why he refuses to face charges of sexual assault in Sweden and denied that his appearance at the union had prompted anti-Assange protests.

Holding a copy of the script, he said the Dreamworks film, being released in the US in November, was "fanning the flames" of war against Iran.

Publicity photographs released earlier shows the actor as Assange in the movie, The Fifth Estate, which has now begun filming.

Assange appeared via videolink wearing a badge saying 'vote truth'

It traces the early days of the WikiLeaks site as he sought to bring confidential information into the public domain.

Reading from the script, he said the opening scene was inside a military complex in Iran, with documents containing nuclear symbols.

Around 200 people queued up to get into the Union, despite the cold weather

"The suggestion is that Iran is working on an atomic weapon," said Assange, adding: "How does this have anything to do with us? It is a lie upon lie. The movie is a massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff."

He quotes from the script, saying scientists are seen meeting a US agent.

"How is it that a lie gets into a script about WikiLeaks?"

Protesters outside the Oxford Union

According to reports, as many as 40 protesters turned up outside, with organisers of the demonstration saying as many as seventy or eighty arrived, despite the cold.

Student Simone Webb, who organised the protest, told the Huffington Post UK :"The protest went really well. Considering it was snowing, I was extremely happy with the turn-out of about seventy or eighty people: there was real energy and enthusiasm there, and I think that we got our message across well. I think there's quite a divide in the university over the issue; I've experienced a lot of solidarity, but also a fair amount of criticism."

One student told Cherwell: "People say this protest is quashing a form of freedom of speech. Coming to this speech and listening to Julian Assange is quashing freedom of speech because it is silencing rape victims."

Protesters outside the Oxford Union

Another added: "Why does he think he can stand as a symbol of integrity while he wont be questioned over sexual assault?"

Assange said there were 'no protesters'

The Oxford Union said in a statement it "completely supports the protesters in their exercising of their right to free speech and simply hopes they will not attempt to deprive others of this right by drowning out the Sam Adams event.

"Mr Assange has not ruled out any topics of conversation at the event and we will trust that no one will disrupt the q and a session at the event today."

According to the Guardian one undergraduate asked him: "Sweden is a free country with an independent judiciary. Why do you resist being questioned in that country?". But he refused to be drawn on the subject, replying: "I have answered these questions extensively in the past."

Another student, Rachael Savage, asked him "What would you say to the protesters outside who say your appearance tonight diminishes the seriousness of rape and sexual assault?"

He told her there were 28 supporters of him and no one else, something the security staff said was not true: no supporters of Assange had turned up all night, the Guardian wrote.

Assange protesters shout outside the Union

Prior to his appearance the Oxford University students planning to protest against the appearance of Assange at the union were branded "a gang of rabid, irrational frenzied feminists", by the WikiLeaks' founder's mother.

Christine Assange had verbally attacked the protesters previously, telling student paper Cherwell: "You silly, spiteful, naive, wilfully disgracefully uninformed little girls need to grow up.

"Not only a mans [sic] reputation is at stake but his life and liberty and the greater cause of global freedoms."

Assange, who has been inside the embassy since last summer, granted political asylum as part of his campaign to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces allegations of sex charges, which he denies.

The film's director Bill Condon said yesterday: "It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it's revolutionised the spread of information.

"So this film won't claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked."

Assange spent over an hour talking to the union, which was celebrating whistleblowers.

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