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Julian Assange's secret chat with Google's chairman

Eric Schmidt met with the WikiLeaks founder for five hours in 2011 for material for a book expected to be released next week.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read
Julian Assange speaks to the public while under house arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in August 2012. Charlie Osborne/CNET

Eric Schmidt met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in secret in 2011, according to the transcript of a wide-ranging discussion published late Thursday by the document-leaking organization.

The transcript of the meeting, which occurred while Assange was under house arrest in the U.K., was published just days before the scheduled release of Schmidt's new book, "The New Digital Age," on Tuesday. The book's co-author, Google Ideas director Jared Cohen, was also present during the discussion, according to the transcript.

The interview, offering an intimate look into the thought processes of two of the tech world's most influential individuals, was apparently conducted to provide material for that book, according to Assange.

"I have been given a guarantee that I will see the transcript and will be able to adjust it for accuracy and clarity," Assange says on the transcript.

During the wide-ranging five-hour interview, Schmidt expressed interest in WikiLeaks' inner workings and Assange's role in developing the technology behind it. Assange said the genesis of the site was in response to what he saw as a "crippled" information distribution system.

"I fundamentally believe that disinformation becomes so easy to generate because of, because complexity overwhelms knowledge, that it is in the people's interest, if you will over the next decade, to build disinformation generating systems, this is true for corporations, for marketing, for governments and so on," Assange said. "And it makes the job for a legitimate journalist that much harder, right."

Just as Bitcoin is a distributed currency, Assange suggests creating a distributed publishing system.

"Every reference to some other part of human intellectual content, is precise, and can be discovered if it exists out there anywhere at all, and is not dependent on any particular organization," he said.

Schmidt also broaches the subject of WikiLeaks' alleged threat to national security, asking for Assange's version, "which obviously we are sympathetic to."

During another exchange, near the end of the interview, Assange volunteers, "We wouldn't mind a leak from Google, which would be, I think probably all the Patriot Act requests."

"The answer is that the laws are quite clear about Google and the U.S.," Schmidt responds. "We couldn't do it. It would be illegal."

Read the entire transcript at WikiLeaks.org.

CNET's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report.

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