Agence France-Presse | Jan. 25, 2012
A Russian state television channel said Wednesday that it would exclusively air a television chat show hosted by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, an English language channel funded by the Russian government, said in a statement that Assange “is launching his own talkshow, to be broadcast exclusively on RT.”
Assange had announced the show on Tuesday on the WikiLeaks website saying that it had licensing commitments covering more than 600 million viewers across cable, satellite and terrestrial networks.
A spokeswoman for the channel told AFP that RT had the rights to air the episodes of the chat show first.
The channel did not elaborate, saying that “details of the episodes and the guests featured are secret for now.”
Russia launched RT in 2005 with the aim of broadcasting the Russian point of view on current affairs to international audiences. It cannot be viewed on Russian terrestrial television.
Its head, Margarita Simonyan, recently attended a meeting of media chiefs with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in which he poured scorn on independent media.
WikiLeaks has earlier released confidential US cables reportedly calling Russia “a virtual mafia state” ruled by “alpha dog” Putin, who is seeking a third Kremlin term in March elections, and not incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev.
However Medvedev said in January that he saw the impact of the WikiLeaks revelations as “quite positive” for international relations.
The 40-year-old Australian former computer hacker is fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden where prosecutors want to question him over allegations that he raped and sexually abused two Swedish women.
England’s highest court will next week hear Assange’s appeal against his extradition.
Assange insists the allegations are politically motivated.