Assange defends WikiLeaks record

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange today hit out at critics of his organisation's record on exposing secrets in a live broadcast on Swedish TV channel SVT.

The WikiLeaks founder was speaking to a gathering of journalists at a press conference in Stockholm yesterday.

Assange hinted at a strengthening of ties between his organisation and Sweden - and even at the possibility of WikiLeaks setting up a permanent base in the country.

The Australian hit back at critics of the site by defending WikiLeaks' modus operandi - a process he refers to as 'scientific journalism' - and emphasising its reputation for uncovering the truth.

"We never verify sources. We verify documents," Assange said .

Assange contrasted the whistle-blowing site's techniques with those of many conventional journalists, highlighting the reporting of claims concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in 2003 by New York Times reporter Judith Miller, during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Pulitzer prize-winning Miller came in for fierce criticism when it was revealed that her reports that Saddam Hussein was building up an arsenal of WMDs had been prompted by false information supplied by US security services.

Administration officials Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell all later cited Miller's articles as contributory motive behind the Iraqi invasion.

Assange said that Miller had confirmed the sources behind her information, but that those sources had been feeding her incorrect information.

WikiLeaks, he said, concentrated on verifying that the documents themselves are legitimate, employing aspects of forensics to do so.

"We have become specialists in verifying official documents," Assange claimed. "To date, we have never been wrong. No one else alleges that we have been wrong."

Assange currently faces charges of sexual molestation in Sweden, which he has denied. He alleges that they form part of a smear campaign against his organisation for its release of 76,000 classified documents concerning the war in Afghanistan.

Police are continuing their investigations.