WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's interview show airs on Kremlin-controlled RT on April 17 and the television station has promised that the first guest will be so controversial it will lead to calls to shut it down.
RT is heavily promoting the show with a dedicated page
and slickly produced promos juxtaposing images from the Occupy movement with the Arab Spring.
"For 500 days now, I've been detained without charge," Assange says, "but that hasn't stopped us. Today we are on a quest for revolutionary ideas that can change the world tomorrow."
But who will the guests be?
Assange has said the show, which will be broadcast in English, Arabic, and Spanish, will give a voice to those "who normally simply would not be given a voice on TV at all."
"What is fair to say is that the majority of what they have said to me they could not say on a mainstream TV network," he added.
According to "The New York Times's" Lede blog
, guests will include "politicians, revolutionaries, intellectuals, artists, and visionaries" and the first guest was "particularly controversial and, according to Julian in the wake of the interview, highly charismatic."
In an interview with RT a day before the premiere
, Assange said that he will be called out for being a traitor for interviewing radicals:
The single biggest criterion is that they would come on the show. And that’s quite interesting, because there were a number of guests that we couldn’t get. There is this kind of hidden censorship. We are still trying but – Ai Weiwei.
He is currently imprisoned under house arrest in China. His view is that his political situation makes it extremely difficult for him to speak to the media at all. Khodorkovsky, in prison in Russia, was a billionaire oligarch who has been imprisoned.
We would like to speak to him, but we can’t, he is in prison. Then, if we look at some of the big U.S. insiders in some giant U.S. corporations that we have indirect personal contact with, some of them say, “No, that’s too dangerous, as far as the U.S. government is concerned. Yes, I would love to help you; yes, I would like to do the show but politically it’s just too dangerous.”
So, then we go to the other groups that we have chosen. And we did actually get most of those. Those are people who normally don’t get a voice.
Taking Assange at his word, it's possible that guests would include the likes of Kremlin critic and blogger Aleksei Navalny. And he might well tap the pool of dissidents throughout the world happy to share their plights.
But given RT's reliance on guests who tend to be critical of "Western imperialism" and Assange's past focus on the United States, a big-name first guest would perhaps more likely to be someone like Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, or Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who all hold strident anti-Western opinions. (Unless, of course, someone like Khodorkovsky or Navalny decided to publicly recant and confess the error of their ways.)
Someone like Noam Chomsky or Slavoj Zizek might be a safe bet -- although that would hardly shake the establishment to its core. Or he could go tabloidy with, say, an exclusive tell-all with former Russian spy Anna Chapman.
If the interviewee really was so controversial that there would be calls for the station to be shut down, that could mean a senior Taliban or Al-Qaeda official or a terrorist wanted by the United States. But then again, all this talk of secret guest lists might just all be bluster.
Another possibility might be Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Assange might draw certain parallels between the rape charges against Kahn -- subsequently dropped -- with his own situation, in which he faces rape allegations in Sweden.
The real scoop, however, would be Joseph Kony, the Uganda guerrilla leader at large and the target of a phenomenally successful U.S. viral campaign. Now that really would be something.
Let us know who you think it might be in the comments.