Kroft: The most persistent criticism from within the press has been that you have behaved recklessly from time to time. And the example that they cite is the fact that you've decided to release Afghan documents without redacting the names of people who had provided intelligence to the U.S. government.
Assange: There's no evidence, or any credible allegation, or even any allegation from an official body that we have caused any individual at any time to come to harm in the past four years.
Kroft: The Pentagon said that they've gone through all of these documents and they found the names of 300 people.
Assange: Well, that's new public information to us. It's possible that there are 300 names in the publically released Afghan material. We don't pretend that that process is absolutely perfect. We did hold back one in five documents for extra harm minimization review and we also improved our process. So, when Iraq came around there was not even a single name in it.
Kroft: I mean, there have been reports of people quoting Taliban leaders, saying that they had the names of these people and that they were going to take retribution.
Assange: The Taliban is not a coherent outfit. But we don't say that it is absolutely impossible that anything we ever publish will ever result in harm. We cannot say that.
Kroft: There's a perception on the part of some people who believe that your agenda right now is anti-American.
Assange: Not at all. In fact, our founding values are those of the U.S. revolution. They are those of the people like Jefferson and Madison. And we have a number of Americans in our organization. If you're a whistleblower and you have material that is important, we will accept it, we will defend you and we will publish it. You can't turn away material simply because it comes from the United States.
After the release of the State Department cables, Attorney General Eric Holder condemned WikiLeaks for putting national security at risk. "There's a real basis. There is a predicate for us to believe that crimes have been committed here," Holder said at a press conference.
Holder announced that the Justice Department and the Pentagon were conducting a criminal investigation. They are reportedly looking at the Espionage Act of 1917 and other statutes to find a way to prosecute Assange and extradite him to the U.S.
Assange: It's completely outrageous.
Kroft: Are you surprised?
Assange: I am surprised, actually.
Kroft: But you were screwing with the forces of nature. You have made some of the most powerful people in the world your enemies. You had to expect that they might retaliate.
Assange: Oh, no. I fully expected they'll retaliate.
Kroft: You took, you gathered, you stored all sorts of classified cables and documents. And then released them to the world on the Internet. They see that as a threat.
Assange: They see it as highly embarrassing. I think what it's really about is keeping the illusion of control. I'm not surprised about that. I am surprised at how the sort of flagrant disregard for U.S. traditions. That is what I'm surprised about.
Kroft: You're shocked? Someone in the Australian government said that, "Look, if you play outside the rules you can't expect to be protected by the rules." And you played outside the rules. You've played outside the United States' rules.
Assange: No. We've actually played inside the rules. We didn't go out to get the material. We operated just like any U.S. publisher operates. We didn't play outside the rules. We played inside the rules.
Kroft: There's a special set of rules in the United States for disclosing classified information. There is longstanding…
Assange: There's a special set of rules for soldiers. For members of the State Department, who are disclosing classified information. There's not a special set of rules for publishers to disclose classified information. There is the First Amendment. It covers the case. And there's been no precedent that I'm aware of in the past 50 years of prosecuting a publisher for espionage. It is just not done. Those are the rules. You do not do it.