In a pre-emptive (and very meta) strike, WikiLeaks on Friday released a transcript of Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney's new film about the organization, We Steal Secrets, which was released into theaters that same day. Along with a published account of the various voiceovers, archival footage and interviews in Gibney's film, the document is marked up with annotations, offering what the organization says are corrections and notes that discredit the movie.
Gibney, whose previous subjects have included Enron and Eliot Spitzer, did not receive the cooperation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in producing the film but interviewed on camera many of his former associates. He says that what didn't make the transcript discredits the entire effort.
"It's missing all of the words of Bradley Manning," he told BuzzFeed. "And I suspect the reason for that, and again I don't know this for a fact, is that I suspect that the transcript is based on a bootleg audio recording at a recent screening. And because Manning's chats are seen not heard, they're all eliminated."
Manning, who is awaiting trial for leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks, is represented on screen in Gibney's film in large part by chat logs archived from conversations he had with whistleblower Adrian Lamo.
"Either Assange edited them out, which would seem pretty pernicious, or it belies the sort of secret hacking capability of WikiLeaks, and that's a big deal," Gibney speculated. "This whole press release is a glimpse of the way Julian Assange really operates. It's in a very tendentious, sneaky manner."
In the press release, WikiLeaks alleges Gibney of portraying "Manning's alleged acts as failure of character rather than a triumph of conscience," and criticized other aspects of the film as well.
Gibney noted on Twitter that the transcript was from a non-final version of the film that was missing other segments.
WikiLeaks wrote in a tweet to Gibney that, "It is the version you have been showing to reviewers this week. Own it. Own your film. Own it."
The director added to BuzzFeed he hadn't had any sort of communication with Assange since he sent him fact checking questions through his associates.
Gibney praised WikiLeaks for its effort to bring to light controversial military and government documents, but like in his film, he made the case in the interview that the organization must be considered a separate entity from Assange himself, who is currently stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain; should he leave, he would be arrested and extradited to Sweden, where he is facing allegations of sexual assault.
We Steal Secrets was produced by Universal on a $2 million budget and hit theaters on Friday.