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Assange interviews Hezbollah chief on Russian channel

France,Media,Defence/Security, Wed, 18 Apr 2012 IANS

Moscow, April 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange kicked off his new career as an interviewer on a Kremlin-funded TV channel by hosting Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah for a 45-minute discussion.

 

Nasrallah, speaking by video link-up to Assange, who is under house arrest in London, told the world's most famous whistleblower Tuesday that Hezbollah supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he had "served the Palestinian cause vey well".

 

The Lebanon-based, Shia militant group Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organisation by the US and Britain, but not by Russia.

 

Nasrallah also revealed, in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on the Moscow-based, English-language Russia Today news channel, that Hezbollah had contacted the Syrian opposition to urge them to enter into talks with Assad.

 

"But they rejected dialogue," he said.

 

"Right from the beginning we have had a regime that is willing to undergo reforms and prepared for dialogue. On the other side, you have an opposition which is not prepared for dialogue and it is not prepared to accept reforms. All it wants is to bring down the regime," he said.

 

Nasrallah said "civil war is the only alternative" to dialogue in Syria. "And this is exactly what America and Israel want".

 

Russia Today is widely seen as a Kremlin project in image enhancement, and Assange predicted he would face media criticism over his decision to work with the channel.

 

"There's Julian Assange, enemy combatant, traitor, getting into bed with the Kremlin and interviewing terrible radicals from around the world," he said when asked what reaction he expected to the show.

 

"But I think it's a pretty trivial kind of attack on character. If they actually look at how the show is made: we make it, we have complete editorial control, we believe that all media organisations have an angle, all media organisations have an issue," he said.

 

Russia Today has not revealed the identities of Assange's interviewees.

 

WikiLeaks said Assange's guests for the 10-episode show are an "eclectic" selection, including politicians, revolutionaries, artists and intellectuals.

 

Assange said he chose to interview people who "normally don't get a voice".

 

--IANS/RIA Novosti

 

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