Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been named as a juror in London's Raindance Film Festival, though he will have to watch the entries more than a mile from the venue, on a DVD player in his sanctuary in the Ecuadorean embassy.
Festival organisers said Assange, 42, had been chosen because of his impact on the way information was received and transmitted. "He is a subtle political thinker, a radical democrat, and an audacious dissident of the digital age," festival director Elliot Grove said in a statement.
The silver-haired Assange burst into global prominence in 2010 when his website WikiLeaks released secret footage, military files and diplomatic cables about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting a furious response from the United States. He fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London last June to avoid extradition to Sweden, which wants to question him about allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denies. He says he does not want to answer the allegations in person because he believes Sweden would hand him over to the US authorities, who would try him for helping facilitate one of the largest information leaks in US history.
The Raindance Film Festival, now in its 21st year, will host 100 feature films and over 150 short films from over 50 countries in London's Piccadilly Circus from Sept. 25 to Oct. 6. Five are short films made in Syria since April and it is screening a documentary that Assange produced, "Mediastan".
Other Raindance judges include British actor Sean Brosnan, the son of the James Bond star Pierce Brosnan, Beth Gibbons, singer in the British indie rock group Portishead, and fantasy author Robert Rankin. Raindance founder Grove said the festival would sent Assange copies of the films on DVD.
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Andrew Heavens)