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We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks


Stars: Featuring: Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, James Ball, Donald Bostom, Nick Davies, Mark Davis, Jason Edwards, Michael Hayden, Adrian Lamo, J. William Leonard, Gavin MacFayden, Smari McCarthy, Iain Overton, Vaughan Smith

Director: Alex Gibney

Best Documentary Oscar-winner (for Taxi to the Dark Side) Alex Gibney’s fascinating, cleverly made and thought-provoking documentary about the “biggest leak of secret material in the history of the planet” makes a double impact because it focuses not only on Julian Assange and his creation of his controversial Wikileaks website and its effect on the various nations whose secrets were exposed to the world, but also centres in parallel on the fate of American soldier PFC Bradley Manning, a brilliant but deeply troubled man who downloaded hundreds of thousands of secret documents from classified US military and diplomatic servers, revealing the behind-the-scenes manipulations involved…

Australian-born Assange, finally arrested in Britain and currently living in the safety of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, is exposed as a multifaceted character whose various faces don’t always ring quite true. But he remains an extraordinary character who, stating at one point, “I like crushing bastards”, seems to ready to rise to the various challenges he faces.

Manning, who helped make WikiLeaks famous (or notorious, depending on your political bent) is a less complex but still vivid character.

“I was attracted to the WikiLeaks tale because it was the classic David-and Goliath story. One man, armed only with a computer, against the world. By creating a transparency machine, Julian Assange was going to hold governments and corporations to account” states Gibney, adding, “And the story turned out not to be just about Julian Assange. It is also about Bradley Manning, the forgotten PFC who was the source of all the all the documents that WikiLeaks is famous for”.

There is clearly a great deal more to learn about both men and their ultimate influence. Let’s hope Gibney decides to fill in his story at some time in the future.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
130 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 10 Jul 2013