Yesterday SXSW announced that controversial figure Julian Assange will take the stage via satellite interview on Saturday, March 8. He will engage in a “live conversation” with The Barbarian Group’s Benjamin Palmer.
On the off chance you’re unaware of this saga, Assange is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, started in 2006 but made famous in 2010 when the site posted American diplomatic cables containing classified information. Living in England at the time, Assange was served a European Arrest Warrant from Sweden on charges of rape and sexual assault. When his appeals to English courts were finally defeated in June 2012, Assange took refuge, saying he feared that Sweden was just trying to turn him over to the US.
Presumably, he will be addressing the SXSW crowd from his current residence in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Whatever your thoughts on the twists and turns of this case, the inclusion of Assange in the SXSW lineup is perfect timing. Since his publication of classified documents, Americans have become familiar with terms like PRISM, MUSCULAR, Edward Snowden, and the NSA. We’re also suddenly aware that before too long the government could even know what temperature we like our homes to be.
Considering all the discussion of privacy and government encroachment, it’s safe to say Assange’s session will be well attended.
You can find a full lineup for the 2014 SXSWi here.