Pro-Kremlin TV channel to air WikiLeaks talk show

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 36 month(s) ago 3 readings

Pro-Kremlin TV channel to air WikiLeaks talk show

A Russian state television channel said Wednesday that it would exclusively air a television chat show hosted by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

wikileaks WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Photo: Reuters

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."

Channel head Margarita Simonyan wrote on Twitter that the first show would air in mid-March, despite Assange being under house arrest as he fights extradition from Britain over rape allegations.

"Assange will record the programme while under house arrest. It will be a fantastic television show, I am sure," Simonyan wrote.

RT's news executive Nikolai Bogachikhin said on the channel that the show would be "very hard-hitting."

"It would be any channel's dream right now to get Assange but I think it's quite natural that his show will be on RT," he said.

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.

Assange, a 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.

His WikiLeaks website has 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 Russia has played down negative reports in the cables and Medvedev said in January that he saw the impact of the WikiLeaks revelations as "quite positive" for international relations.

Putin questioned the fairness of Assange's arrest on rape allegations in Britain in December 2010, asking "is that democracy?"

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