Published on 23 Jul 2012 by m mcetera
Extended interview with Julian Assange from Four Corners episode “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange”, which aired on ABC1, 23 July 2012.
AF: Ok, What would you think is indicated by your supporters being questioned when they enter or leave the United States.
JA: We know there has been a US investigation of unprecedented scale and nature occurring at least the last year and a half to two years, [technically?] part of an [FBI?] investigation.
AF Geoffrey Barter just said that there is no secret sealed warrant for your arrest, why do you think he used that particular turn of phrase?
JA: Geoffrey Barter is a lawyer; he denied that there were secret warrants, that such a thing existed. However, that wasn’t the question. The question is about a sealed indictment and, under US law, a sealed indictment cannot be revealed by a US official to the public, until, the person under sealed indictment is about, is in custody. It is an offense to do so, and a criminal offense. Of course US officials are not able to communicate that.
AF: What do you specifically want the Australian government to do?
JA: Our lawyers have written to Roxon and to the Prime Minister detailing exactly what we want them to do and it is a very reasonable request by international standards, other counties do this all the time and the Australian government has shown in its diplomatic correspondence to have done this in other cases which is simply to ask, ask, that the UK or Sweden agree not to extradite me to the United States, to ask that the UK not prosecute me [it is] not a request on the judiciary, it is not interference with the judiciary, it is a request of the executive government to not pursue such a prosecution.
AF: It’s right then that you would go to Sweden if the Swedish government would say, promise in writing, that they would not extradite you onwards to the United States.
JA: If we had guarantees that made us feel comfortable that I would not be extradited to the United States, these could include for example that the US had agreed to drop its investigation and it could not necessary have to be onto Sweden, there could be onto the UK to force Sweden to not extradite me onwards, it could be on Sweden itself.
There are other issues in relation to Sweden. I mean, for example, the Swedes have said publically that the will detain me without charge. That’s not acceptable either.
AF: The Attorney General of the United States has said that people will be prosecuted and it doesn’t matter how long it takes and that he is indicating that the charges could be at any different level, so it may not be the espionage act itself, is that your understanding?
JA: Yes, looking at the subpoenas that have come out of the Grand Jury, they detail in some case what the Grand Jury is investigating, and one of these subpoenas states that it’s investigating conspiracy in relation to espionage, it is also investigating computer crimes of various types, so that the transfer of information worth more than $1000 belonging to the Federal Government, [… ?] to different jurisdiction.
JA The reason that is likely to be done is a) so that the DOJ can have two bites at the apple, […] also b) because extradition…sorry…espionage is a classic political offence and there some exemptions to the extradition for political offences, so that would be a way around those exemptions if we tried to use these exemptions to resist.
AF: It would also drop the capital offence category out of it too wouldn’t’ it?
JA: It would remove the capital offence. The capital offence is unlikely to get off the ground, when I’m in Europe. Under the current political conditions Europe would probably require that the United States guarantee that it does not require the death penalty in my extradition. However there could still be life imprisonment or 30 years of imprisonment, and the conditions might be very severe.
AF: Is there any one particular incident that occurred which made you make up your mind, finally, to seek political asylum?
JA: Yes, there are a number of dramatic events that occurred just before hand. First of all, the Swedish Government publicly announced that it would detain me without charge in prison under severe conditions for which it has been criticized for by Fair Trials International. That meant that if I was suddenly taken to Sweden I would not be in a position to apply for a political asylum […] In relation to United States it would be the end of the road. I would just be taken from one jail to another. Secondly, on the same evening (x2) the UK government security contractors that maintain the electronic manacle around my leg turned up unannounced at 10:30 pm and insisted on fitting another manacle to my leg, saying that this was part of routine maintenance, which was not found to be credible, then, the next day, that security contracter filled a section 9 bail breach against me, and that, run the risk that my bail would be revoked. And they did so, they claim, under the basis that we refused to let them in at 10:30 pm unannounced, because of security reasons, and said that they should come back next day with an appointment. The next evening the security contractors re-appeared and fitted a new electronic manacle to my leg. The, the same day, the Crown Prosecution Service, acting we believe on behalf of the Swedish government, at least it meant to act on behalf of the Swedish government, requested that the 14 days I had to apply to the European Court of Human Rights, be reduced to zero.
AF: Ok, so, I understand that you expected that they were trying to end your bail and that they were trying to stop you getting any further court time, and taking the matter to the…
JA: That is correct.
AF:…Human Rights Commission
JA: So, these were, a number of independent data points, all puching in the same direction, that my bail would be terminated and that I could not proceed with any further legal action, in practice.
AF: Do you still think it is still possible to get passage out of the Embassy, with the Embassy’s protection, because everything I am reading suggests that, it’s a very difficult obstacle course that you set yourself.
JA: It’s all a matter of politics, provided that there is the political will to do so, then the situation will resolve. If there is enough oversight into what’s been happening in this case, then, I believe the Swedish or UK governments will [relent ?] and provide some guarantees.
AF: I’ve read that the US State Department is saying that you are not entitled to protection under the First Amendment, I mean, is that what they are saying? Is this what the State Department is saying?
JA: Well, you know of course any, any rational person reading the First Amendment can see that it would entitle me to protection, but words are interpreted by judges and judges in the Supreme Court are politically appointed and as we all know from the history of Supreme Court cases, that the Supreme Court tends, almost always to [swing ?] on political lines where the appointees were from the Bush, where the appointees were from the Republicans or from the Democrats.
AF: Sure, but, if, I mean, as you are a journalist, you are protected by that First Amendment, on the basis that you are acting fairly and reasonably…
JA: We say that my activities and the activities of the organisation are protected by the First Amendment and it seems that most other civil rights groups do and civil society does, and the average person in the street does, and even a couple of the US Congressmen had the courage to come forth and say that as well. But, in the end this is a political matter and it would be decided along political lines in the Supreme Court.
AF: If you could say one thing to the Australian people, you have a lot of support in the country, what would that be?
JA: But, first of all that, thanks for the support, I mean, the support from the Australia, the Australian people and the Australian media, Australian volunteer lawyers has been tremendous, one thing that has really kept us going. There are […] support from other countries as well but Australia is the strongest.
AF: Let me ask you a personal question, how are you bearing up at the moment, confined as you are in a rather small space, and not being able to go out and about, your peripepatic nature has been curtailed, what is it like for you dealing with this?
JA: I like a good fight and I have the opportunity to have a good fight, I admit it is confinement to a very small space at the moment but on the other hand our supporters are able to roam the world.
Any corrections would be most welcome.