“The attacks on us are extraordinarily revealing”
By Richard Phillips – 16 March 2012
Julian Assange spoke with the World Socialist Web Site this week about the US-led attacks on WikiLeaks, freedom of the press and other basic democratic rights, and the impending British Supreme Court ruling on his appeal against extradition to Sweden on bogus sexual assault allegations.
The WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief has not been charged with a single crime in Sweden, Britain or any other country. Nevertheless, Assange has been held under house arrest for over 450 days, forced to wear an electronic ankle tag, observe a 10 p.m. curfew and report to police on a daily basis.
Julian Assange leaving Royal Court of Justice in London last July (photo: acidpolly)
Richard Phillips: Can you comment on the latest details on the United States grand jury indictment and what happens if you’re extradited to Sweden?
Julian Assange: The new evidence that emerged from the Stratfor files—emails from Texas-based private intelligence agency—show that the US government has obtained a secret grand jury indictment against me. The US ambassador to the United Kingdom, Louis Susman, stated in February 2011 that the US government would wait and see what happened with the current Swedish extradition case as to whether it would pursue extradition itself.
The US ambassador to Australia [Jeffrey L. Bleich], one week prior to Obama’s recent visit, also told the Australian media that the Australian government might have to consider its extradition obligations in relation to me, presumably in case I returned to Australia. And while WikiLeaks has many of its people under legal attack, the organisation itself is also under an extra-judicial financial blockade. There are some 40 people who have been swept up in operations by the FBI, Scotland Yard or other police forces.
Regarding the pending Supreme Court decisions in Great Britain over the Swedish extradition case, if we are unsuccessful then I’m expecting to be extradited to Sweden within 10 days and then possibly re-extradited to the United States. Even if we are successful in the Supreme Court, the situation will be similar because the United States is likely to unseal its espionage charges through the grand jury and apply directly for my extradition from Great Britain.
Of course, none of these things will happen if it’s not possible to do so politically. When a legal case reaches a sufficiently high public profile for the government, then it becomes a matter of politics.
RP: Do you have any detailed information on direct collusion between Britain, the US and Sweden over your extradition?
JA: What we can say publicly is that on December 8, 2010, the Independent newspaper published a report about informal contacts that were already occurring at that stage between the US and Sweden in relation to my extradition. The Australian embassy in Washington also sent a cable to Canberra round this time, stating that the US intelligence and criminal investigation into WikiLeaks was of “unprecedented scale and nature.” It also said that the criminal prosecution into relation to me was “active and vigorous”. That material was the result of a Freedom of Information request and printed in the Sydney Morning Herald a few months ago.
The UK crown prosecution service has also refused a request under the Freedom of Information Act in relation to communications over potential extradition arrangements, stating that it would affect Great Britain’s diplomatic relations with other countries. In the middle of last year, the UK’s extradition reform panel, which was appointed by the home secretary, met with Eric Holder, the US attorney general, and a number of members of the defence department in the United States. In addition, there have been other recent meetings between Carl Bildt, the Swedish minister of foreign affairs [and close friend of Karl Rove], and William Haig, the UK foreign affairs minister.
RP: Can you comment on the role being played by Australia’s Gillard government?
JA: The reaction by the Gillard government to WikiLeaks activities, in particular our release of the US diplomatic cables, was publicly the worst of any nation. Gillard falsely stated that our organisation was engaged in illegal activities. This was found to be false by an Australian Federal Police investigation. Continue reading