Google's Schmidt says Assange detainment is 'luxury lodgings'

On the eve of the release of the WikiLeaks founder's new book, titled "When Google Met WikiLeaks," the Google executive chairman goes on the offensive.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt sits down for an interview at the 2013 All Things D mobile conference in New York. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

Eric Schmidt appears to be doing some damage control. The Google executive chairman appeared on ABC News on Tuesday and called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange "very paranoid."

Assange, the notorious document leaker, is coming out with a book this week titled "When Google Met WikiLeaks." The book recalls an encounter when Assange met Schmidt in 2011. In the book, Assange aims to show that Google is tied to the US government when it comes to the openness of the Internet. In other news interviews, Assange has also said Google is basically a privatized National Security Agency.

Schmidt adamantly denied Assange's allegations in the ABC interview Tuesday.

"Julian is very paranoid about things. Google never collaborated with the NSA and in fact, we've fought very hard against what they did," Schmidt said. "We have taken all of our data, all of our exchanges, and we fully encrypted them so no one can get them, especially the government."

Assange has been huddled in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for more than two years, as he waits for diplomatic asylum. He's avoiding extradition to Sweden over alleged sexual offenses, which he has denied. Assange also has said he fears extradition to the US, where he believes he could be tried for espionage crimes for his involvement in the release of classified documents.

The Ecuadorian embassy is made up of a series of converted apartments. Ecuador occupies only the ground floor of the building, and British police remain in the hallways and elevators where Ecuador's reach does not extend. If Assange leaves his apartment, he can be immediately arrested.

In the ABC interview, Schmidt also blasted Assange's living arrangement.

"He's of course writing from the, shall we say, luxury lodgings of the local embassy in London," Schmidt said.

Schmidt is on a book tour of his own. The executive chairman wrote a book, along with former Google product chief Jonathan Rosenberg, that's titled "How Google Works." The book centers on Google's management and was released Tuesday.