WikiLeaks: banking war with giants – interview with Kristinn Hrafnsson
WikiLeaks is trying to take the major financial powers to court and have them pay compensation for the massive damage they have caused. In an interview for The Voice of Russia the official spokesman for WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, says it’s for the sake of all other organizations including media that could face such a blockade. He also talks about the Syria files and Assange waiting for the Ecuadorian reply after the Olympics are finished.
Opening and greeting.
I was wondering if you could tell our listeners a little bit about the current situation with WikiLeaks, with the latest release and the banking scandal?
We’re fighting a big fight on many fronts at the moment. We’re of course monitoring from a distance the attempt of the US government to prosecute members of WikiLeaks. That has become apparent in the last few weeks that this is a very-very serious attempt. People have been subpoenaed to grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, on the basis of possible breach of the Espionage Act of 1917 in the US which carries up to the death penalty.
It’s also been revealed that the FBI has gathered more than 40,000 documents in the investigation into WikiLeaks, in the last 2 years. So, we’re very worried about the trend there and we believe that an indictment is imminent against Julian Assange and possibly others associated with WikiLeaks. You mentioned, of course, the banking blockade which we have been putting a great emphasize on fighting, not just because of WikiLeaks, but because of all other concerns. It’s the first time that the major financial powers: MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Western Union, Bank of America, all team up up to lash out against an organization that is simply fighting for transparency and accountability. So the banking blockade is of serious concern. We have been spending a lot of our resources and time in fighting back. And we’re now seeing the first indication that that fight is going to deliver us a good result.
Only a few weeks ago we won a court case in Reykjavik, Iceland, against Valitor, which is formerly Visa Iceland. It was by court order to open up the processing gateway. They appealed to the decision and we will take them on in the Supreme Court in Iceland. A week later and associate of ours opened up a credit card gateway in France, through Carte Bleue, which actually allows for every individual with a credit card, anywhere in the world, to transfer donations to Wikileaks through that gateway. The legal environment in France is such that it’s extremely difficult for the America-based giants to close it down. And if they attempt, we’re ready with lawsuits and we’ll take them on in the court in France. So this is still open. The opportunity is there to donate to WikiLeaks. We, of course, have other lawsuits pending, one in Denmark this fall and in England, in the States, in Australia and elsewhere.
Our ultimate aim of course is to take the giants to court and have them pay compensation for the tremendous damage they have caused to the organization. But let me emphasize, this is not just for WikiLeaks’ sake, it’s for the sake of all other organizations, even media organizations that could face such a blockade, without any judical process. It is the privatization of censorship, because this is being done because of extreme pressure by the U.S. Government. It’s extremely important to fight back and stop this process right here and now so that we won’t see in the future, uhm where we have the financial giants deciding who lives and who dies in this field.
Can you answer a question that might be interesting for our listeners, I’m sure? I’ve kind of wondered about this myself: How does the United States of America apply a US law such as the Espionage Act, to citizens of other countries?
We simply know that people had been subpoenaed on the basis of this act. When politics come to play, laws can be twisted. So it is of serious concern. How they will try to carry it out against citizens of other nations than the U.S. is beyond my understanding. But I’m sure that they will try to find a way to do that.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release? And I know you have probably been asked about Julian many-many times; if you could tell our listeners a little bit about something you might know about the case right now, that would be very interesting.
As for your question about the current release, which you are referring to, the Syria files, it is a cache of e-mails pertaining to the Syrian government shedding a light not just on the internal workings of the Syrian government and the officials, but also about the opposition in Syria. What we, of course, hope with this release, as any journalist would, is that the information would add to the knowledge base about the current situation in Syria which is very grave, and of great concern. And as with all information and knowledge it would possibly lead to an outcome in that situation which could be acceptable.
You asked me about Julian Assange. Julian Assange is still in the Ecuadorian Embassy waiting for the decision of the Ecuadorian authorities on whether they will grant him political asylum in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian authorities have indicated they will wait until after the Olympics to give their final reply. They have been using the time to gather information about the imminent threats from the US, about the Swedish case and about the position of UK authorities. So we don’t know the outcome until the Ecuadorian authorities are ready to announce their decision. As for Julian, he is in fair condition, it is of course not an easy thing to be locked inside for weeks, but he’s holding out pretty well.
You can give our listener’s regards to Julian if you speak to him. One more question. You said that members of WikiLeaks are being harrassed, or they are being targeted by the US government.
We of course know that seven individuals, which are described as founders and members of WikiLeaks, are under investigation by the FBI. That was revealed in grand jury, I’m sorry, the Bradley Manning hearing. We don’t know any more details of who they are, and what that’s all about. But we do know that people who have been associated with WikiLeaks even just as volunteers or supporters, they have been harrassed at the U.S. borders, they have been detained, their computers have been confiscated etc. So this is an extremely serious situation.
You mentioned the grand jury, did it take place?
We have confirmation that it is taking place and it’s been in operation for quite some time. Of course, it’s in secrecy so all the information that has sort of seaped out there is coming from people who have been subpoenaed there. But it has been confirmed. It’s sitting there, it’s an archaic part of a judicial system that is… that can only be called corrupt. And it should be strange for any healthy democracy to keep a system where those who are under investigation have absolutely no representation at the venue and have no idea or possibility to monitor what is being done.
Or to defend themselves. Right?
Parting and close.