Julian Assange, allegedly a slave to transparency, threatened to sue the Guardian if it printed stories based on cables leaked without his permission, according to a lengthy Vanity Fair investigation of WikiLeaks' troubled relationship with its media partners. The threat came after a disgruntled WikiLeaks volunteer gave the newspaper documents Assange hadn't authorized. "Assange’s position was rife with ironies," notes reporter Sarah Ellison.
The Guardian became the first of WikiLeaks' media partners after investigative reporter Nick Davies tracked down Assange last summer, shortly after the site had published a classified video showing a US helicopter shooting civilians in Iraq. Assange later invited other papers, including the New York Times and Spain's El Pais, to join the collaboration, but the uneasy marriage quickly became troubled, particularly over the issue of editing out sensitive information. "Everyone's a cheat," complained one editor.