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WikiLeaks founder Assange to make debut as talk show host

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Tue April 17, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Assange is under house arrest in Britain while fighting extradition to Sweden
  • His new talk show will debut Tuesday on a state-funded Russian network
  • The network and WikiLeaks have suggested his first interview will be controversial

(CNN) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's talk show, "The World Tomorrow," is expected to make its debut Tuesday on a state-funded Russian television network.

Assange and RT, an English-language international satellite news channel, have not released the guest lineup in advance, but have hinted that the first interview would be controversial. WikiLeaks has asked followers on Twitter if they can guess who the first guest on the show will be.

Assange will present the show from the country estate in Britain where he is under house arrest while fighting extradition to Sweden. He will interview the show's guests either via satellite feed or in person.

"Being under house arrest for so long, it's nice to have an occasional visitor and to learn more about the world," he said in a preview for the show posted on RT's website.

101: WikiLeaks revealed

He said that the experience of interviewing guests -- described by RT as opinion formers, some of them dissidents -- while under house arrest brings a different dimension to the process.

The talk show has created a stir in global media circles.

Commentators outside Russia have questioned the apparent link the show creates between Assange and the Kremlin, given RT's government-funded status.

But Assange said in the preview that that kind of criticism was "trivial" and insisted he had "complete editorial control."

He said the "obvious" reaction from his critics would be to say, "There's Julian Assange -- an enemy combatant, a traitor -- getting into bed with the Kremlin and interviewing terrible radicals from around the world."

Britain's Supreme Court is weighing whether Assange should be sent to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault lodged by two women in the country.

Assange has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

"RT is rallying a global audience of open-minded people who question what they see in mainstream media and we are proud to premiere Julian Assange's new project," RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said in a statement on the television network's website.

"We provided Julian a platform to reach the world and gave him total editorial freedom. He is absolutely the right person to bring alternative opinions to our viewers around the globe."

"The World Tomorrow" will be broadcast [simultaneously] on three RT channels, in English, Arabic and Spanish.

The WikiLeaks website for "The World Tomorrow" says there will be 12 shows in total, each featuring a 26-minute edited interview.

A financial blockade imposed by U.S. banks on WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has been running for about 500 days.

This week also marks 500 days since the allegations of sexual assault were first made against Assange, WikiLeaks says.

WikiLeaks gained global fame in 2010 with the Iraq and Afghanistan war leaks, and then followed up by leaking nearly a quarter million State Department cables.

In February this year, it began releasing 5 million e-mails it said belonged to Stratfor, a Texas-based private company that produces intelligence reports for clients.

CNN's Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

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