The world’s leading whistleblowing organisation is certainly not going to lie down quietly and die
The High Court’s ruling that Julian Assange shall be extradited to Sweden to face an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and rape by two Swedish women was not entirely unexpected, considering how things have gone before this. His extradition is not likely to take place immediately, unless a decision is taken not to appeal; his lawyers are expected to press before the High Court the right to appeal before the Supreme Court.
But as Mr. Assange pointed out in a short statement he made on the steps of the court, no charges have been laid against him in any country, including Sweden. He added that many attempts would no doubt be made to “try to spin these proceedings as they occurred today but they were merely technical. So please go to swedenversusassange.com if you wish to know what is really going on in this case.”
Extradition to Sweden is a distinct possibility, even a probability, and if it happens, the charismatic founder and Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks will face the situation bravely and is confident of coming out clean. He, his core team, and supporters have their concerns. But considering that Mr. Assange has been under house arrest at Ellingham Hall for 330 days — electronically tagged, having to sign in at a nearby police station every day, and required to be back inside the house by 10pm – they are prepared for worse and are nothing if not resilient.
WikiLeaks has been fighting attempts to intimidate, muzzle, and kill it on more than one front. It announced recently that it had been “forced to temporarily suspend its publishing whilst we secure our economic survival.” It revealed that the unlawful, U.S.-directed financial blockade imposed against it through powerful financial intermediaries and some banks had choked 95 per cent of its revenues, running into tens of millions of pounds, and that this blockade threatened its very existence. It has launched a ‘WikiLeaks Needs You’ campaign, which provides for perfectly legal practical ways of donating and beating the financial blockade.
The good news is that through this time of troubles, it has been working on new things — new projects, innovative technology, and creative ideas — and has interesting publishing and partnering plans for the future. It is due to launch on November 28 a new submission system, a platform for “principled leaking” that will be more advanced and more secure than anything seen before.
WikiLeaks is certainly not going to lie down quietly and die.
This became clear to me during a three-hour informal conversation with Julian Assange and some members of his core team as recently as Saturday, October 29. Our meeting, at Julian’s invitation, was over lunch at a small pub near Ellingham Hall. Many subjects, including the extradition case, the way out of the crisis imposed by the financial blockade, the future of WikiLeaks as a journalistic publisher working with cutting-edge digital technology, its relations with the global news media, and attitudes towards it in different countries, came up in our conversation. Obviously, there is no question of revealing details of our off-the-record conversation.
But what I can say is that while the concerns are serious, the spirit and morale of Julian and his team remain strong. His commitment to the idea that information wants to be free and the world must be democratic and just is as intense as it has ever been in five years of WikiLeaks’ existence as a unique whistleblowing source and as a generous publisher that has transformed the rules of the media game. And I can also report from Julian and his team that in terms of expressions of support to WikiLeaks, India is the No. 1 country in the world, followed by Brazil.