Tony Eastley reported this story on Thursday, February 2, 2012
TONY EASTLEY: Writer John Pilger has been intimately involved in the case. He’s one of a number of prominent people on the Assange Defence Committee.
He’s not banking on a happy outcome from the Supreme Court appeal in London and he says the only other avenue of appeal, via the European Court of human rights, would be unaffordable.
John Pilger claims that the US is working secretly to have Assange extradited, and there’s little hope that the Australian Government will intervene.
John Pilger, good morning. You’re not confident of Julian Assange’s prospects, why?
JOHN PILGER: Because what is happening in London is really only the tip of this iceberg.
If Julian Assange loses this appeal in the Supreme Court and ends up in Sweden he’s very likely to be what they call “temporarily surrendered” to the United States. Sweden and the US have an agreement, not very well known, that somebody like Assange can be sent on to the US.
And if he ends up in the US then he’s very likely to end up in the same black hole that Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower, has endured over the last year or so.
TONY EASTLEY: You’re making some assumptions there, have you got proof that that’s what’s going to happen of course?
JOHN PILGER: Well no, I’m not saying that it will happen but it’s certainly threatened to happen. His, Assange’s lawyer – Gareth Peirce, is probably Britain’s most celebrated human rights lawyer – has written to the Australian Government describing how, in so many cases, the US has synchronised this onward extradition when a case has concluded.
I think the fact that for the last year a secret grand jury has been meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, the home of the national security establishment in the US, trying to concoct a charge against Assange. Assange has committed no crime in the US, no crime in Britain, no crime in Australia, but especially, no crime as far as WikiLeaks is concerned in the US, where it’s protected under the US Constitution.
I mean the freedom of information documents that have been revealed in this country, Australian Government documents which show Australian diplomats saying that the investigation in the United States against Assange has been unprecedented. There’s no question that there’s a campaign in this administration to get Assange and to close down WikiLeaks.
TONY EASTLEY: Alright, let’s go back to what the US is doing. Do you think the US is expecting to get him within the next few months?
JOHN PILGER: Well they’re certainly putting in a lot of effort. It’s not a done deal, of course not. He’s going to a sovereign country, Sweden, if he loses but Sweden has a record of sending on people. It’s already colluded in rendition cases.
TONY EASTLEY: He does have one more form of appeal through the European Court, but as I understand it he’s fallen out with his previous legal team. Does he have the money to lodge an appeal via the European Court of Human Rights?
JOHN PILGER: No he didn’t fall out with his previous legal team, he went to another legal team and I was involved in that transfer. This legal team is the appropriate legal team. He’s had to use lawyers that are skilled in extradition now …
TONY EASTLEY: Is there some controversy over him paying his bills from his previous one or not?
JOHN PILGER: There’s certainly controversy. There’s controversy over the size of the bills. That’s the real controversy.
TONY EASTLEY: Writer John Pilger speaking there.