Thursday, March 29, 2012

Transcript: Julian Assange on RadioNational, 29 March 2012

Interview originally aired on ABC RadioNational Late Night Live, 29 March 2012 at 10:05PM.
Audio is available at the ABC website.

Norman Swan:  And now an interview that we were going to do Monday, but we are now going to do tonight, which many of you were waiting keenly on, with Julian Assange. Who's nearing... What is it, Julian, 500 days in house arrest?

Julian Assange: I've lost count, Norman. I think it's 500 in 24 days.

Norman Swan: Where are you? Where are you under house arrest?

Julian Assange: I'm outside the city of London in the country. It's a bit isolating, but it's necessary for security reasons.

Norman Swan: But it's not a little shed. You're in a quite comfortable house.

Julian Assange:  It's a small country holiday house, but it's comfortable enough. And I am in a fortune position to have some good friends in this country to be cared for.

Norman Swan: Right. Getting a bit of noise on your phone there, Julian. Is there a bit of wind coming through or something like that?

Julian Assange: There is. I stepped outside, Norman, because it was breaking up again. Let me move into another room; maybe the reception will be better.

Norman Swan: Okay.

Julian Assange: Go ahead, Norman.

Norman Swan: Well, we're certainly getting an audio tour of your incarceration, Julian. So what's the situation; you're waiting on the Supreme Court handing down the appeal on the extradition.

Julian Assange: Yes. So we had a very big Supreme Court case here, which in itself is quite interesting. So the Supreme Court said the matter was of great public importance. There's concerns whether in the European Union one state can extradite a person from another state without any charges being made, without any evidence being given, and when the person issuing the extradition request is not even a judge, but is a policeman or a prosecutor. So that really goes from the mental notion of statehood. Because really a key ingredient to statehood is that you have the monopoly on the deployment of coercive force. And so if other, policemen say, in other countries in the EU, are able to take the reigns of coercive force in England or in other EU countries, then how does that redefine the state in the EU? Really it does, in fact, create an EU as a nation-state as opposed to an EU as a mechanism which permits states within the EU to cooperate. Another being part of an ideological project in the EU amounted to the Cold War to try and produce a United States of America. And that's a particular aspect in relation to extraditions within the EU came in after 9/11in response to 9/11saying that this mechanism was necessary for terrorist extraditions from one state to another, to do things very quickly, without evidence, without even charge.

Norman Swan: And if you win, putting aside the impact on you, if you win then it creates a crisis in terms of internal extradition processes within the European Union.

Julian Assange: It's hard to say. I mean, ideally that would be the case. And it would solidify more common law notions aboutto be fair, which are included in the EU constitution—that there should not be punishment before trial, that decisions that are made that effect someone's liberty must be reviewable by the courts. And so, if I win it could be within the context of simply that Swedish policemen are not able to do this. But it will set some kind of important precedent.

Norman Swan: And is there a double-jeopardy, can they reissue the extradition order from a more appropriate source and get around the finding of a Supreme Court?

Julian Assange: Yeah, so they can.

Norman Swan: So they might not end with this. 

Julian Assange: The Swedes could reform their system to be compliant with the British Law. The British Law demands that a judicial authority issue an extradition warrant. So they could bring their system into compliance with that and reissue, but that's not really the big concern. What is likely if I do win then the United States will issue its request for extradition, and they can simply do that by telephone call. And then they have 40 days to put in the actual extradition papers themselves. 

Norman Swan: Why haven't they done that yet? I mean what grounds would they have for doing that? Is that via the Bradley Manning case? 

Julian Assange: That's via this Bradley Manning case. There has been a Grand Jury meeting every month, several days a month, in Washington D.C. for the past 14 or so months, since September 2010. And that Grand Jury goes for a period of 18 months. Information has come out from several sources that this Grand Jury has a indictment against me already, but they're keeping it sealed until the appropriate moment comes to release it. And the U.S. Ambassador to the UK, Susman, said early last year that they were waiting for the Swedish case before considering their moves. So, that's all fair report that we hear back from our people in Canberra, that everyone's sort-of happy with the Swedish solution and as well to ship me off to Sweden and then Sweden has to deal with the matter. 

Norman Swan: But in fact in the United States it's over the breach of security and WikiLeaks, rather than the case in Sweden which is alleged sexual assault.

Julian Assange: The case in Sweden has no charges, it's all very odd. There is no case to that degree. There is a demand by a Swedish prosecutor from Gothenburg that I be extradited to Sweden for questioning. And she has refused to use all the standard EU mechanisms such as the mutual systems treaty or Skype or telephone call or anything elseeven though that is normally done in Swedento question me. So we believe that this questioning is in fact not a legitimate activity, if it was legitimate...

Norman Swan: So this is where your conspiracy theory, if you like, is that they're doing this so that America can extradite you directly from Sweden.

Julian Assange: Well, like all rare circumstances, like a jumbo jet going down, it tends to be many unusual factors coming together. And in this particular case, there's a Swedish national election just one month after the arrest. And this guy Claes Borgström was running the Swedish election and the complainants all from the same party, the Social Democratic party. So there's national factors and there's also geopolitical factors because Sweden has run very close over the past 10 years to the United States.

Norman Swan: Let's talk about the United States for a moment and why they're going after you. I mean, WikiLeaks is an organization, it has many members, it has members who are public, not a secret, who has been involved in WikiLeaks at the top. Why do you think America would be focusing on you rather than a corporate group, you know, 5 or 6 people that could be easily identified as being involved with WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange: It's the principle of general deterrent, Norman. WikiLeaks has been going for over 5 years, we've done material from over 120 countries. But in our publications about the United States in 2010, we've reached a certain level of publicity which was of global prominence. And the United States, the Pentagon, made a 40-minute press conference demanding of me personally, by name, and the White House as well, that we destroy all our previous publications that had come from the U.S. Government, we destroy all future publications that we had in our possession that we would publish, and that we cease dealing with U.S. military employees full stop. And of course we said that those demands were unacceptable and we would not be following them and we did not. In fact, we published everything that we said we were going to publish. But look at it this way: the Pentagon made an international, public demand and said that they would coerce us in that press conference if we did not fulfill that demand and they failed. So what credibility does the Pentagon have now? To stand up and say North Korea must do something, we demand it must do something, or an African state must do something, or Thailand must permit greater importation of tobacco. It simply has no credibility in terms of its authority anymore because it couldn't apply its authority to us, so it has to reestablish its authority with the group that defied its authority.

Norman Swan: Julian, how are you sleeping?

Julian Assange: Well, I'm pretty busy, Norman. I don't sleep much, but you know that the work that we have done over the past five years and this tremendous international battle that we have been through over the past two years, I am proud, I understand the significance of what we all have achieved, and I am very proud of it.

Norman Swan: Right, but you know what I'm asking. I'm asking about your psychological state. You run the potential of... you could lose this case, you could go to Sweden, you could be extradited to the United States, you could spend a long time in jail. You're sounding remarkably relaxed on the phone. Are you really relaxed?

Julian Assange: Well, you know since July 2010 we've been going through this every week or every couple months, that someone's been seized or raid or detained or I've been arrested or imprisoned or about to be extradited and so on. Now we are reaching the end of the road, if you like, because the matter has reached the Supreme Court and there's no legal alternative left there, merely political alternatives left. But you know, you adapt to everything.

Norman Swan: So is part of this frenetic activity as distraction? 

Julian Assange: It is distracting. And I mean, what else can you do in such a situation? I believe in certain things and we're working towards those things and it is very satisfying for me to do that. We must all understand that we only live once anyway, and life is not so long anyway, so one should live your life fully and do something that you believe in. And what we have been doing I believe in and it has been successful.

Norman Swan: How are things going in WikiLeaks itself? You hear stories of internal disagreements, not being as coherent as it used to. How is the organization itself?

Julian Assange: Well, it's funny you mention this, Norman, because this is all nonsense. We had, during the sort-of big attack on us, like all organizations some people are stronger and some people are weaker. And we lost two people from the whole organization, two people. And that was in 2010.

Norman Swan: But one of them's pretty senior. Somebody who went way back with you.

Julian Assange: No, not at all. Not at all. This is simply spin. And you know when there's a big news story, people want to be in on the news story and so they start claiming authority and proximity that they never had. And that's something we have seen over the past year. And there has been no problems with the organization, no resignationsand there wasn't even a resignation; someone was suspendedthere's been no suspensions since this dramatic moment in late 2010. And yet we see these sort of issues constantly bought up by our press competitors, and we should look at it that way...

Norman Swan: Press competitors?

Julian Assange: Yes, that WikiLeaks is involved in sort-of three fields of operation. One, yes we are holding very powerful organizations to account, who of course lash back and they try and discredit the message by attacking the messenger and they want to reassert their authority.

Norman Swan: That's government.

Julian Assange: That's government and sometimes big corporations like the Bank of America which set up permission to a two-million dollar a month campaign to attack us through HB Gary, U.S. intelligence firm. And then there are our media organization competitors. So we are a media organization, we have produced more words than the New York Times in the equivalent period. And so we are a competitor in that raw sense as a competitor for providing the public information. And then in relation to individual journalists, you know we have over 90 media organizations that work with us and hundreds of journalists, but there are many more who do not. So those who do not, they are social competitors. Those journalists particularly who have tried to market themselves as protectors of freedom of the press or being on the left to the degree that they are holding governments or entrenched authority to account. Those journalists are in social competition with us. Media organizations are in economic competition; those journalists see themselves as in social competition with us, and rightly so, because their grandiloquent claims of holding authority to account in fact are rather diminutive when compared to what we have achieved over the past two years. We work with many fine journalists from around the world, and also many fine media organizations, but there are many who are more about the marketing than they are about action. And our actions have shown their marketing for what it is.

Norman Swan: So it sounds as if, I mean apart from you last comment, that you've built a fair degree of wall around yourself thinking that the world is against you.

Julian Assange: We have friends and we have enemies. A superpower like the United States is a superpower because it has its tentacles in so many different places. This is not to say that it is engaged in all sorts of secret conspiraciesalthough of course it is engaged in a vast array of secret operations—but rather the areas are sort-of a gradient of interest. And people all over the world of certain types try and curry favor with people that they perceive to be more powerful than them, is not necessarily a matter of instruction but rather people who are perceived to be powerful, others attempt to do them favors in order to get prestige or placement or patronage. And, on the other hand, we have a lot of friends who understand that system. Reuters did a survey of 24 countries involving 19,000 people looking at what their relative support for WikiLeaks was over the world. If we look at the top 5 countries, the most supportive countries, whose support was up at the 80% level, we see South Africa was the most supportive country, Germany, Argentina, Russia, and Australia. Australia is unique, but these other four countries, what do they have in common? Well, these are countries that have thrown off a regime within living memory and they understand the abuses of government.

Norman Swan: Well, and some of them, like Russia, hate America.

Julian Assange: Maybe. But why are they... you know, China wasn't up there, for example, in that front. China is a more conservative authoritarian country. These other countries, they have thrown off a previous regime and they understand the importance of things like the Stasi archives, the national archives showing the bad behavior of government, and that publishing is a way to get the truth. And in South Africa you had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process which brought out the mechanisms of government. And if we go to the other end, we have the United States as the least supportive, and Britain as the second least supportive. But nonetheless, support in these countries, support in the United States runs to 40% of the population. That is despite the sort-of domestic propaganda within the United States that revealing classified information is treason. That's not true in most cases. So the population, despite a hostile media within the United States, is incredibly resilient at seeing through deliberate attempts to try and push a particular agenda.

Norman Swan: You're listening to Late Night Live with me, Norman Swan. I'm talking to Julian Assange. Julian, is Stratfor a competitor?

Julian Assange: That's quite interesting.

Norman Swan: Well that's what people are saying, that's why you took them down because they're a competitor of yours.

Julian Assange: Well, I did think about this. I did think about this, that to a degree...

Norman Swan: I should explain to people who might not know what we're talking about, Stratfor is a subscription service, private intelligence, giving you intelligence about the world and so on. And you, I think, what is it, 5 million emails or something like that through WikiLeaks were released recently and some people believe that was a competitive action.

Julian Assange: Well, we are source-driven, Norman. We spend extra analytical attention on matters that we think will have greater impact. But we are source-driven in terms of information that comes to us. But if we look at Stratfor, perhaps describes it a bit generously, this is an organization which we have discovered and published engages in bribing people around the world to collect information, which it then uses for...

Norman Swan: But another interpretation of that is that they're like a newspaper and they're just paying people for contributions the way a correspondence would.

Julian Assange: That's not true. It didn't start like that and it's not ending like that. And now information is showing that it isn't like that. In fact it does three things with its information: Number one, it collects that information and it feeds that information on to its private clients, like the U.S. military, U.S. intelligence, Coca-Cola corporation, Dow Chemical to spy on Bhopal activists and so on. So it is, in that extent, a private intelligence organization. It also takes that information and it is attempting to use it in something called Stratcap which is its own captive investment vehicle. So it is using information gleaned from these bribes to invest in particular stocks, invest in current...

Norman Swan: I hear what you're saying, Julian, that you're source-driven, but this seems to have been a deliberate attack by Anonymous, the hacking organization, to do it for you. It looks as if it was a fairly deliberate attack to take down Stratfor by Anonymous.

Julian Assange: You have to understand, Norman, that as a source-protection organization I can't speak at all about sourcing-related matters. Only to say that our system that we have developed is one that is designed to give the maximum protection to sources by keeping them even anonymous to us.

Norman Swan: Now Julian, you talked about Russia being big fans of WikiLeaks. You've already recorded a 10-part series with Russia Today, one of the Russian television stations, is that right? 

Julian Assange: That's correct. We recorded the 10th episode two days ago. 

Norman Swan: And this is an interview-based program, I hear. 

Julian Assange: It's an interview-based program. It came out of me being isolated under house arrest, but nonetheless needing to understand the world and try and use the information from my understanding to protect our people and help run the organization and also help analyze the material we're getting. 

Norman Swan: And who are your guests? 

Julian Assange: So we thought, well, given that we need to get people anyway over to see me because I'm so isolated, and they're quite interesting people and perhaps we should film it and release the film.

Norman Swan: And can you tell us who you've interviewed?

Julian Assange: And other people shared in that. So some of the guests have said that they had been interviewed, for example the President of Tunisia, and Alaa, a famous Egyptian revolutionary, and the leader of the Bahrainian democratic movement, and David Horowitz, a right-wing Zionist from the United States. There's quite a range.

Norman Swan: And so how do you live with yourself, given that Russia is about 142nd on the world's list of press freedom and this is a Kremlin-run station. 

Julian Assange: Well, you're talking about the license that Russia Today has bought. So, we have our own production company, we produce everything, and we sell licenses to any media that wish to buy licenses for the production. There is no editorial input from any of the licensees, including Russia Today. 

Norman Swan: But they've instigated it, haven't they, they're the primary... 

Julian Assange: The BBC didn't chose to buy a license, you know. No, they didn't instigate it; that is absolutely false. 

Norman Swan: So you offered it to them. 

Julian Assange: That's correct. We offered licenses and others such as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian are also requesting licenses. But it's interesting, Norman, that you have this perception, this deception that somehow Russia Today is producing this, when this is just a licensee. Why do you have this deception? Because we released the press release that we were engaged in this very interesting production and then some days later Russia Today said they had proudly bought a license. Now, that you have the perception that you have because certain groups wish to spread an attack on us saying, 'Look, oh Julian Assange the great defender of press freedom, WikiLeaks the great defender of press freedom, has gotten into bed with the Kremlin, is employed by the Kremlin, is working for the Kremlin,' when that is false. This is another example of how traditional media dynamics are used to distort what the actual picture is. And if we look more broadly, because I want to pull out of this now, and look at the different media organizations. So, in terms of penetration to United States for foreign media network, the BBC has number one penetration, Russia Today has number two, and Al Jazeera has number three. So from our perspective, Russia Today has the second best penetration into the United States and therefore is a good deal to us if the BBC wouldn't buy a license, and of course they won't. 

Norman Swan: We only have a couple minutes left, Julian, and I can't avoid talking about your discussion of running for the senate. I mean, is this just words or do you think you can really do it? 

Julian Assange: I think we can do it. We've looked closely at the legal situation. 

Norman Swan: Which state would you run in? 

Julian Assange: Well, I've lived in in fact every state in Australia, but have particularly strong connections to Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. So picking between those states is sort of a strategic matter. There's interesting reasons for different states that we need to look at, say, the senate make up within those states and the fraction that is required and the relative existing sort-of preference swaps that are occurring. That's a strategic matter, but I do have... my father lives in New South Wales, my mother's in Victoria and so on. 

Norman Swan: We will watch with interest, Julian, and good luck in your court case. 

Julian Assange: Okay. Thank you, Norman. 

Norman Swan: Thank you very much.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Transcript: Julian Assange speaking in War on Drugs debate

Transcript of Julian Assange speaking during the Versus War on Drugs Debate, 13 March 2012. Full video of the debate is available here.

[Beginning at 1:37:12]

Geoffrey Robertson: Well, what we need obviously and what politicians need is more information. Ask for information, go to WikiLeaks. Are you there, Julian Assange?

Julian Assange: I am, Geoffrey.

Geoffrey Robertson: How are you hanging out?

Julian Assange: Well, I'm here in some secret hotel room, not far from where I'm under house arrest.

Geoffrey Robertson: Right. And not for drugs. Let me ask you, what can you tell us from WikiLeaks cables about how the War on Drugs puts pressure on countries not to decriminalize, not to end imprisonment.

Julian Assange: Look Geoffrey, any situation which has clearly come to an impasse where there's a clear failure needs experimentation in trials and limited models around the world. And there have been steps to do that. But we see that the United States, though its diplomatic core, has been exercising its force to prevent those sort of trials. We see that sort of situation with Libya, with the interaction with the DA in 63 countries.

Geoffrey Robertson: The drugs enforcement authority part of the US surveillance, I think it's got offices in 63 countries, hasn't it?

Julian Assange: Yes, in 63 countries and we even see cables from Paraguay showing how the DA agreed to allow the Paraguayan Government to use DA surveillance facilities to surveil some of its political opponents in Paraguay.

Geoffrey Robertson: And, as far as you're concerned, how does it come down for you? Is there a question of individual rights here, of the right to change your own mind, to decide what you put in your own body? The right to decide how you'll think and imagine?

Julian Assange: Well I think we must start at basic principles and basic principles say that we, as individuals, have a right to our own self-determination. We have the right to freedom of thought. We have the right to freedom of speech. And provided that we do not engage in some sort of violence to others, then our rights to do what we will with our own thoughts and our own body are sacrosanct. And the state should not be interfering with those rights. In order to keep our freedom of thought we should have the right to control our own mental states. And that gives some people extra creativity and that is something that we need all across the world. 

Geoffrey Robertson: And so the 166 million people who take cannabis, according to Mr. Costa's report, they have a certain basic liberty to decide how they're going to think and imagine, and what drugs they're going to use for relaxation, for pleasure, perhaps to reduce pain.

Julian Assange: Well Geoffrey, we should look at marijuana as a good example. I mean, this is a drug that is about as addictive as potatoes, and yet it is being swept up into this so-called war on drugs. We have to remember, we really do have a war on drugs, and like all wars it is a racket. It is a racket which has bought up huge industries that fight and lobby to keep the money flowing.

Geoffrey Robertson: Richard Branson, last words from you. Is civil liberty part of the demand to end the war on drugs? Part of the reason?

Richard Branson: Absolutely.


Eliot Spitzer: I want to go to Peter Hitchens because Peter was so effective at winning over the audience earlier this evening. [audience laughs] So Peter... But I want you to make and close tonight, and Lord Blair, I'm sorry we're just running out of time, but Peter make the moral argument. This is not just a matter of mechanistic policy, there is a moral imperative from your view, what is it? 

Peter Hitchens: Well, the main point is that taking drugs is itself wrong and that is why they are illegal. [audience laughs] And one of the reasons we don't address this is because of the extreme selfishness of our society in which so many people imagine that their own pleasure trumps everything else. Julian Assange said that he was sovereign over his own body. Well maybe he doesn't have anybody who cares about him. But if your family has to put up with you after you've destroyed your mental health or in some other way deeply damaged yourself by taking drugs, then you and they will discover that you are not an island and you have responsibilities to other people. And if there is no other force apart from the law which will deter you from taking that semi-suicidal step, then the law needs to be there. That's the main and fundamental point. The other things I hear Sir Richard Branson talking about the taking of drugs, and particularly of that especially dangerous drug cannabis, sordidly promoted as safe and soft, as a freedom comparable apparently to the freedoms of thought, speech, and assembly, which make this and others a free country. How can that be? The purpose of drugs is to befuddle us, to cloud our brains, to make us passive. If we are discontented with the society in which we live, surely it is utterly wrong and immoral to turn away from that, to dope ourselves into passivity, to make ourselves perfect fodder for dictators, despots, and propagandists, rather than to criticize, change, and reform the society which we find repulsive. And I turn to people on the other side and I mean to be polite to them, and I say the politest thing that I say about them, is that they are defeatists, dupes, and profoundly irresponsible. And I very much hope that their message fails and fails and fails again.

Eliot Spitzer: Thank you all. [audience applauds] 

Emily Maitlis: Thank you very much. We are going to bring you the result now, I think. Is that right? We're not going to bring you the result yet, we're going to have a little bit more free-flowing conversation, and I think the best place to pick up is... Julian Assange. What do you make of Peter Hitchens' statement [audience laughs] that taking drugs is wrong and that is why they're illegal, if you're still there.

Julian Assange: Well, I was just about to say, I couldn't believe that you gave that twat the last word. [audience laughs, applauds] But apparently, it's not so. Look, there's a certain form of Calvinism about the different types of drugs that we see. For example, nicotine which makes one work harder and work faster and burn out faster, that's perfectly legal. So is coffee, it is perfectly legal and makes one work faster and harder. But those drugs which make one relax or make one more imaginative, those drugs are made illegal. And that's some Western, European Calvinism. Of course, we can all see the problems with severe heroin addiction, but we can all see the solutions so far have not worked. So we need a time of sensible, scientific, regulatory experimentation to see what works and what doesn't work, and if it works in one place perhaps it can be cloned in another. At the moment we have an enormous drug war lobby, that is the fact, billions of dollars spent every year by that lobby pushing its desires to keep the drug war going. As a result, corrupting bureaucracy and producing restrictions apply which causes cartels which themselves corrupt other countries near drug suppliers.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Transcript: Julian Assange on ABC Radio, 9 March 2012

Interview originally aired on ABC RadioNational Breakfast, 9 March 2012 at 7:33AM.
Audio is available at the ABC website.

Fran Kelly: While no formal charges have been made, but Julian Assange has waged a year-long battle in Britain to avoid extradition to Sweden to be questioned by authorities about sexual assault allegations made by two women back in 2010. The WikiLeaks founder now awaits the judgement of the British Supreme Court to his appeal against a lower court's decision to uphold the validity of the Swedish arrest warrant. Quite apart from concerns about how his case may be handled within Sweden, Julian Assange also fears extradition from Sweden to the United States. And giving credence to some of those concerns, late last month a confidential internal email from within the U.S. intelligence community revealed that American authorities have a sealed indictment of conspiracy charges waiting for Julian Assange. And the WikiLeaks founder joins you now from Britain: Julian Assange, good morning.

Julian Assange: Good morning, Fran.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange, how soon do you expect that ruling from the Supreme Court to come down?

Julian Assange: It could come down any moment. The Supreme Court told us it would not come down before the 4th of March, and we're already there, so any time this month we're expecting the ruling.

Fran Kelly: And, if you lose what would happen? Will you be immediately detained and under what conditions? What do you know?

Julian Assange: If we lose then formally we have some seven days to file an appeal with the EU. However, the EU never issues injunctions in relation to inter-EU extraditions. It's the view of the European Court of Human Rights: you can sort it out at the other end, given that you are already in the EU. So, essentially we have about ten days after the Supreme Court decision is made and then I will be seized and taken by force to Sweden. Now, that's a situation which you would think wouldn't be too concerning, given that no charges have been laid, and the sort-of investigation has already been dropped multiple times. But since the London Indepedent has revealed that the U.S. and Sweden have been in informal talks about onwards extradition since the 8th of December and recently we have seen this information about an indictment in the Grand Jury proceedings in Washington for espionage. And that, presumably, would then be activated in Sweden. It's not to say that matters here in the UK are safe either, however. The UK/U.S. extradition treaty is quite favorable to the United States; it does not need to present evidence. So every day that it sort of ticks by here in the UK, we also run the risk that the U.S. warrant will be served on me in the UK.

Fran Kelly: Have you had any indication from authorities in the UK that there are negotiations or talks with the U.S. about that? Or that that is underway?

Julian Assange: None directly in relation to the UK. However, we have tried to get out information under the Freedom of Information Act within the UK and it has been blocked under the basis that it might interfere with the diplomatic relations of the UK and another nation. Normally that information should be revealed. There is information there. It is not being released under the basis that it has something to do with the UK's international diplomacy.

Fran Kelly: So is this why you're talking now? Are you afraid this might be one of the last chances before the Supreme Court rules and, as you say, you are seized and taken by force to Sweden?

Julian Assange: Well, it's one of the reasons, but remember that the Australian Government really has failed to act here. But it hasn't just failed to act for me, it has failed to act for WikiLeaks, the organization. WikiLeaks is an Australian organization, registered in Australia. It's an organization that a lot of Australians have something to do with. It's an organization that Australiathe Australian Governmentshould be proud of as an export industry. And the Australian Government is not just sort-of unconcerned about my fate, it is also unconcerned about the fate of other Australian journalists, such as Austin Mackell who is now trapped in Egypt with very little support from the Australian Government. And, why is that? It seem that the reason is that once politicians get to Canberra, they then essentially remove from the Australian community and they start to enter into a diplomatic community and start developing connections with persons in other countries around the world. And of course, the largest sort-of diplomatic power that Australia deals with is the United States. So, Australian politicians enter into developing a new form of patronage network that extends overseas into Washington. Many of these politicians have been good at sort-of rising up through the ranks of power, in Australia, by sucking up to the next most powerful person. And when they get to the height of Australian power they continue that same basic methodology into the United States. And that is why Australian politicians have not stood up for Australians in the past. And that's why they're not standing up for WikiLeaks and it's why they're also not standing up for Austin Mackell.

Fran Kelly: You're listening to AM Breakfast. Our guest this morning is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He's joining us from Britain where, as I say, he's been for a long time now under essentially house arrest, waiting currently for a decision by the British Supreme Court on an extradition order to Sweden. Well, as you say, Australian politicians certainly haven't been standing up for you. Some of them are concerned though, I mean they don't agree with the action you and WikiLeaks have taken in leaking those cables.

Julian Assange: Well, some have actually stood up. And it's very interesting to see who does and who doesn't. For example, Malcolm Fraser has stood up, John Howard has stood up. So it's those politicians who are in Canberra busy trying to keep their relationships going, trying to climb the ladders of power. Those who are already out of it, like Malcolm Fraser and John Howard, take a different approach. And similarly to other people in Australia. So we've had extensive support from Australian media and Australian lawyers. The Australian community is extremely supportive. It's just not most politicians in Canberra. There are some notable exceptions; some Green politicians have really stood up for us over time.

Fran Kelly: Behind the scenes, as an Australian citizen, are you or any of your team in contact with the Australian Embassy officials? Are you getting any support from Australia and are you seeking it?

Julian Assange: Well look, frankly they're almost completely useless. They say that they have provided us... had extensive contact with us, but every sort-of SMS or email about possibly meeting us, possibly sometime in the future, they list down in response to center questions about this subject as contact with us. There has been essentially... Well I mean, I don't consider any of this support that the Foreign Ministry claims to have provided, apart from in one small area to be of significance. It's certainly not the sort of thing that they're claiming. I notice in the Austin Mackell case they're saying they're providing extensive higher-level consulate support, etc. But I know what this means. This just means a few sort of form letters that have gone from one place to another. It's all about box-ticking. It's not about doing anything, because to do something would interfere with the sort-of cocktail part circuit that these guys like to maintain themselves on going into the United States. It should be understood that, I mean the U.S.certain sections of the U.S.... I mean, we do actually have over 40% support of the U.S. population. But certain sections of the United States are actively campaigning in Canberra. One week before Obama turned up, the U.S. Ambassador Jeff Bleich said to the Australian media in relation to my extradition, if I was to end up in Australia, Australia will have to reconsider its extradition obligations. And we get reports back from Canberra MPs that people from the U.S. Embassy have been lobbying them in relation to us. It's simply unacceptable that we keep getting back these reports about U.S. lobbying against us in Canberra. Neither is acceptable.We have high-level journalists working for respected Australian media outlets having gone in to Canberra to visit the Prime Minister and visit the Department of Foreign Affairs, coming out and telling me personally, "Whatever you do, you must not go into custody. You must not."

Fran Kelly: What do you want the Australian Government to do? Do you want them to say that if you came to Australia you would be safe from extradition? Is that what you want?

Julian Assange: The Australian Government should say to Sweden, that if I go to Swedenshould demand of Sweden—that if I go to Sweden, then I will immediately return to Australia following any sort of legal proceedings there. The big issue is whether there is some onwards extradition from Sweden. So far the Australian Government has refused to do that. In Sweden there is an extraordinary media climate that people should look into over the last week. This year alone, we have beenand myself personally—have been attacked by the Swedish Prime Minister, the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. There has been numerous front page stories attacking this organization, saying that this organization is planning to—has been, in fact—spying on all the editors in Sweden, that it plans to surround Swedish embassies, that it plans to drive a smear campaign on all of Sweden. That is what is in Sweden right now. That is front page news in Sweden. Those editors refuse to provide their sources, refuse to enter into debate on Swedish public TV, even though Swedish public TV has offered that. So there's a sort of build-up campaign in Sweden right now for my onwards extradition. Sweden is not a country at the moment where one can feel at all comfortable about having either a fair trial, but more importantly, the political atmosphere in Sweden is developing such that politically it is possible for Sweden to re-extradite me to the United States. And that's a fact and the Australian Government should be looking into that.

Fran Kelly: So basically, you're thinking that all roads point to the U.S. Are you frightened of being sentenced to life in a U.S. jail? Is that what you're frightened of?

Julian Assange: Well, we've seen this week the UN Rapporteur on Torture denounced the treatment of Bradley Manning, one of our alleged sources, who was held in solitary confinement for nine months straight. The United States Government has refused to cooperate under the UN torture mandate with the United Nations to investigate what has happened in that case. Bradley Manning's lawyers say that Bradley Manning was treated that way in order to force him into a confession in relation to me. That's the public record, that is what his lawyer is saying, that is what has come out in the pre-trial hearings in the United States. So, this is an embarrassed superpower and those elements of it will do everything possible to try and look like they still have still control, to try and look like they still have authority. The Pentagon stood up in a 40-minute press conference and demanded of me personally on international TV for 40 minutes that we must destroy all our previous work, we must destroy all our upcoming publications, and we must never deal with U.S. Military sources or whistleblowers again. And we negated those demands. We kept to our promises. We published everything that we said we were going to publish. And there were world-wide reforms and debates as a result, which is what this organization was started for. But that has humiliated certain sections of the United States Government and they are after revenge at any cost.

Fran Kelly: So, Julian Assange, it sounds as though you expect, or anticipate, you might lose this extradition order, you might end up in Sweden, and end up in the U.S. If you are suddenly taken away, if you are suddenly, as you say, seized and taken by force to Sweden, and we don't hear from you again, or for a long time, what's your message to supporters?

Julian Assange: My message is, you know, you can lock up a person, but the idea continues. We have had strong support from the Australian public and Australian media for which I personally and the organization is very thankful. And I'm certain that support will really ramp up in a significant way. Bob Carr has still yet to show his colors. He's a strong character and a strong individual. He's a historian and a journalist. So perhaps he will come out swinging for us. On the other hand, perhaps not. It is something I think that all Australians should be angry about. That I would say, don't wait for me or someone else to be extradited. Y'know, to a degree everything's too late by then. If people are going to stand up, they need to stand up now, to protect me, to protect our organization, to protect our work. We also have another forty or something supporters who are involved in various court cases, we have an extrajudicial banking blockade, and so on. The war on WikiLeaks is an all front, it is not just on me, but I am the most visible sort-of victim of it.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange, thank you very much for joining us on Breakfast.

Julian Assange: Thank you, Fran.

Fran Kelly: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. And any day now he will get that judgement from the British Supreme Court on whether he will be extradited to Sweden to face questions on sexual assault charges.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stratfor's blatant hypocrisy toward WikiLeaks

Stratfor wants Assange arrested but has no qualms using WikiLeaks material

(All G.I. Files email ID numbers in footnotes)

It’s no secret that Stratfor hates Julian Assange. On February 27, WikiLeaks began the release of over 5 million emails from the global intelligence company. Within the first 400 or so emails, roughly 70 of them mention WikiLeaks or Assange. The most consistent thing in these emails is a strong hatred for the WikiLeaks founder.

WikiLeaks G.I. Files logo
(modified, original image via WikiLeaks)
The attacks against Assange come in a wide range, from simple name-calling—“douche,”1 “fucking idiot,”2 “delusional nut”3—to multiple claims that he is a terrorist.4 He is called “anti-American” more than once,5 with one Stratfor analyst claiming that he “hates America more than [Osama bin Laden].”6 While claims of Assange’s anti-Americanism are widespread, they are unfounded, as WikiLeaks does not target specific countries but publishes the material it receives. Assange has also spoken favorably of America’s Founding Fathers and First Amendment. (For a good analysis on this issue see “Debunked: WikiLeaks is Anti-American.”)

Beyond the insults come threats and wishes for harm against Assange. After his arrest in December 2010, Australian ex-Senator Bill O'Chee writes “Hooray!” then comments, “Sadly he didn't have a car accident on the way there.”7 The threats continue: “he needs to be water boarded,”8 “He'll be eating cat food forever,”9 “He needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at Gitmo,”10 “tactical nuke solves everything,”11 and so on.

It is one thing to insult and threaten, but another to discuss plausible methods of capturing someone. Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton offers multiple ways in which he thinks Assange may end up in U.S. prison. He discusses bankrupting Assange, taking down his infrastructure,12 moving him from “country to country to face various charges” for 25 years,13 and charging him with “7-12 [years] for conspiracy.”14 He mentions using the same tools used to dismantle Al-Qaeda to “nail and de-construct” WikiLeaks.15 When Assange was planning to speak at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) conference in Las Vegas (an appearance he cancelled due to security concerns), Burton suggested revoking his travel status and having him taken into custody as a material witness.16

Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton.
(image via quarkbase)
Burton then begins to discuss the idea of using a sealed indictment to imprison Assange,17 commenting that he would “be easy to indict.”18 He says the Department of Justice won’t seek prosecution itself, but that Congress would press for criminal prosecution.19 Stratfor analyst Sean Noonan then references20 Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments on the matter, which attest to Burton’s viewpoint: “[P]eople would have a misimpression if the only statute you think that we are looking at is the Espionage Act […] [T]here are other statutes, other tools that we have at our disposal.” Burton then confirms, “We have a sealed indictment on Assange.”21 Assange has since commented that they had three sources of information about the indictment before the Stratfor email.

Despite their intense hatred for Julian Assange and beliefs that he should be imprisoned, Stratfor holds no issues with using the information WikiLeaks has released. On numerous occasions they have sent the contents of various cables to each other via email.22 With the release of the Afghan War Logs, Burton asked that DSS surveillance reports be “culled out.” 23 Stratfor CEO George Freidman, while having previously said WikiLeaks was, “dumpster diving and only getting the top layer of the garbage and thinking it was gold,” 24 said that Stratfor needed to be prepared to go through Cablegate once it was released, noting “this stuff seems important.” 25 He subsequently tasked the analyst staff to do so. 26

Not only that, but Stratfor mirrored 27 Cablegate as it was released for its own private research, commenting that the mirror “definitely should not be ma[de] available to the public, or to our subscribers.” 28 While debating possible legal issues of storing classified information, they quelled their concerns by simply “throw[ing] a password on it.” 29

While this hypocrisy has been seen in many other organizations such as the New York Times, Stratfor has truly set a new standard. Despite their hatred for Assange and their wish for legal action to be taken against him, they still found much use in WikiLeaks' material, and even received increased web traffic by featuring articles on the organization. 30 But, no matter how many times WikiLeaks is attacked, the fact stands that its releases have fueled thousands upon thousands of articles across the globe and continue to do so to this day.

Footnotes: G.I. Files email ID numbers:
1. Email ID: 1050427  
2. Email ID: 1633932  
3. Email ID: 1630947  
4. Email ID: 1056988, 1649125, 1067796  
5. Email ID: 1633932, 1657261  
6. Email ID: 1050427  
7. Email ID: 370352  
8. Email ID: 1628042  
9. Email ID: 1056988  
10. Email ID: 364817 
11. Email ID: 1646125  
12. Email ID: 1067796  
13. Email ID: 1056763  
14. Email ID: 1057220  
15. Email ID: 1067796  
16. Email ID: 391504  
17. Email ID: 391504  
18. Email ID: 1056763 
19. Email ID: 1056763  
2O. Email ID: 1084229  
21. Email ID: 375123  
22. Email ID: 364817, 968422, 5192411, 5114800  
23. Email ID: 364732 
24. Email ID: 1078864  
25. Email ID: 1025066 
26. Email ID: 1029168  
27. Email ID: 1029237  
28. Email ID: 1044386  
29. Email ID: 1039924  
30. Email ID: 5211776