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In-Depth Interview: John Kiriakou and Ai Wei Wei Talk About Alcatraz Film, Assange, and more

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CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and Ai Wei Wei talk about new documentary on Alcatraz art exhibit on political prisoners, and comment on Julian Assange’s arrest.In 2015, Ai Wei Wei mounted an impressive exhibition called “AT Large” on Alcatraz, the prison island in San Francisco Bay. The Chinese activist/dissident/artist/filmmaker and former political prisoner in China focused on over 170 political prisoners who were then imprisoned. Visitors were invited to sign artistic postcards that were mailed to the prisoners.

One of those honored was John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who confirmed that his agency had tortured terrorism suspects, and was imprisoned in retaliation.

In the first part of this podcast, Kiriakou comments on the hundreds of postcards he received, and how they affected him.  We also discuss the recent arrest of Julian Assange, who Kiriakou knows well.  Kiriakou asserts that Assange cannot get a fair trial in the US, based on his own dark experience in the Eastern District of Virginia court presided over by Judge Leoni Brinkema.

The second portion is drawn from Q&A that followed the premier screening of the documentary “Yours Truly” at the San Francisco International Film Festival, which chronicles the creation of the art exhibition under the guidance of Cheryl Haines, who also produced the film and appears in it.  Kirkiakou and Ai share their own prison experiences, and offer strong support for the recently arrested Julian Assange, and for Chelsea Manning, who appears in the movie and has been re-incarcerated for refusing to testify before the Assange grand jury.

There’s a great website supporting the documentary with pictures of the Alcatraz exhibit, and information on screenings, here.