Women, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks – Border Sessions

Women, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks

The most controversial activist organization of the 21st century, WikiLeaks has attracted strong, divergent opinions from across the political spectrum. Lauded by its supporters for its indispensable role in holding governments, corporations, and human rights abusers to account, its advocates and journalists have been excoriated by opponents as traitors, threats to legitimate governments, and misogynists. Yet so much media attention is focused upon founder Julian Assange, and his ongoing confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, that the broader dimensions of WikiLeaks are rarely aired. Especially critical in these omissions is the role of women, both in the organization and the more general struggle for information freedom.

Women, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks presents a conversation between three extraordinary advocates who have been at the forefront of such activity: acclaimed journalist and human rights advocate Sarah Harrison, Croatian-German theater director, activist and author Angela Richter, and Renata Avila, a celebrated Guatemalan human rights lawyer and digital rights expert. Ranging widely, from the dishonesty of the mainstream media and its contrasting treatment of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning to the terrifying monopolization of personal data under tech behemoths such as Facebook and Google, this book is a crucial intervention in the ongoing debate around digital activism.


Sarah Harrison is a British journalist who was WikiLeaks’ Investigations Editor for several years after joining for its groundbreaking 2010 publications. In 2013, Harrison helped Edward Snowden safely escape to Moscow, and in 2015 she was awarded the Willy Brandt Prize for political courage. In 2014 Harrison co-founded Courage, an international organisation that supports those who risk life or liberty to make significant contributions to the historical record, where she worked for several years before moving to its Advisory Board in 2018.

Sarah Harrison is the co-author of the book Women, Whistleblowing and Wikileaks which she will talk about at Border Sessions with co-authors Renata Avila and Angela Richter.

Angela Richter is a German author and theater director, currently living in Berlin. In 2006 she founded the Fleet Street theatre in Hamburg, which she ran until 2010, and was a director in residency at the Cologne National Theatre between 2013 and 2016. In recent years, Richter has worked with such digital activists as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden. In 2012 premiered her piece Assassinate Assange, which was shown in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Vienna. Since then, she not only visited regularly the WikiLeaks founder in London, but has engaged in panel discussions and various print media including Der Spiegel, Monopoly, Interview Magazine, Revue Magazine for the Next Society for internet activists and hacktivists.

In the season 2014/15, Richter has staged a large scale transmedia-project „Supernerds“ in co-production with german national TV WDR dealing with Massurveillance. The Text was based on Interviews with Digital Dissidents and Whistleblowers, such as Edward Snowden, whom she visited in his Exile in Moscow, as well as Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake and Jessely Radack and many more. She Published the Interviews in her book „Supernerds – Conversations with heroes“. „Supernerds“ has received the „Eyes & Ears“ Media Award, was nominated for the SXSW Innovation Award in Texas and is nominated for the BANFF Award in Canada. In 2017, Angela co-authored the book „Women, Whistleblowing, Wikileaks“ with Renata Avila and Sarah Harrison.

Renata Avila, Guatemalan, is an international lawyer and digital rights advocate. Specializing in Intellectual Property and Technology, her work addresses the crucial intersection between human rights, information, technological change and the power disparities between the Global North and South. As a lawyer in Guatemala, Avila has represented indigenous victims of genocide and other human rights abuses, including the prominent indigenous leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum.

As part of her longstanding advocacy work in the field of Internet and Human Rights, she leads with World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners – Lee a global campaign to uphold human rights in the digital age in more than seventy-five countries. Avila sits on the Board of Creative Commons – and is an advisory board member of Diem25, exploring the potential of decentralised technologies in Europe. She is currently based in Belgrade and Guatemala, and is writing a book about Digital Colonialism and advises the Web Foundation on their new Digital Equality strategies. She also represents Civil Society at the OECD’s Committee on the Digital Economy Policy.


Arno Wielders is the co-founder and chief technical officer of Mars One. He currently divides his time between Mars One and working at the European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) of the European Space Agency as a payload study manager for new planetary mission studies.



Thursday 14 June


16:30 - 17:30

Session type



Theater aan het Spui – Galaxy