News Archive - 2012-06 (June 2012)

2012-06-01 The hidden, human cost of the EAW

Since its 2004 debut, use of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has exploded; in those eight years, its flaws have already destroyed or destabilized many lives. Although high-ranking EU officials now admit that the current EAW system is a "threat to human rights," EAW reform may not happen soon enough to prevent it from snaring more victims ... including Julian Assange.

The faces of injustice

"Edmond Arapi was tried and convicted in his absence of killing Marcello Miguel Espana Castillo in Genoa, Italy in October 2004. He was given a sentence of 19 years, later reduced to 16 years on appeal. Edmond had no idea that he was wanted for a crime or that the trial even took place. In fact, Edmond hadn't left the UK at all between the years of 2000 to 2006. On 26 October 2004, the day that Marcello Miguel Espana Castillo was murdered in Genoa, Edmond was at work at Café Davide in Trentham, and attending classes to gain a chef's qualification. Edmond was arrested in June 2009 at Gatwick Airport on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) from Italy, while he was on his way back from a family holiday in Albania. It was the first he knew of the charges against him in Italy ... A British court ordered his extradition on 9 April 2010."

"Andrew Symeou, a [20-year-old, British] student ... was on holiday with friends in Zante, Greece in 2007. One night while Andrew was in Zante, another young Briton fell off an unguarded stage in a night-club, tragically dying two days later from his head injury. Andrew insists he was not even in the club at the time - and many witnesses have since confirmed this. He was never sought for questioning at the time, and knew nothing about the incident when he flew home at the end of his holiday. A year later, he was served with an EAW seeking his extradition to Greece to stand trial for murder. Only during the course of his legal challenge has it emerged that the EAW is based on completely flawed evidence, much of it extracted through the brutal mistreatment of two witnesses who have since retracted their (word-for-word identical) statements. Despite this, in October 2008, the Westminster Magistrates court ordered his extradition to Greece. Andrew appealed to the High court on the grounds that British courts should refuse to execute a European Arrest Warrant when evidence has been obtained through witness intimidation and police brutality. Unfortunately, the High court refused his appeal and he was extradited to Greece in July 2009. Andrew was held for 10 months in appalling prison conditions before his release on bail."

"Andrew was detained for almost a year in filthy, overcrowded prison conditions alongside convicted murderers and rapists, and was forced to spend his 21st Birthday behind bars. [C]onditions in his cell were so unsanitary that he awoke each morning covered in cockroaches and was frequently bitten by fleas in his bedding. The shower room floor was covered in excrement and the prison was infested with rats, cats and mice. He was finally released on bail but had to remain in Greece to await trial, enduring continuous delays before the trial finally commenced in March 2011; four years after the events in question."

"Jacek Jaskolski, a retired schoolteacher living in Bristol[, was] sought on a European Arrest Warrant to stand trial in Poland for an overdraft debt he paid off many years ago. ... In July 2010 the British police suddenly and with no prior notice arrested Mr Jaskolski. He [was] threatened with a trial for theft [and up to] 5 years in prison. ..."

A cursory internet search reveals numerous similar cases, all demonstrating the human cost of the flawed EAW system: Deborah Dark, a grandmother of two, was repeatedly arrested and detained pursuant to an EAW, for a drug-related offense on which she was acquitted more than 20 years ago. 51-year-old fireman and football fan Garry Mann -- arrested near the scene of a riot while attending a football match in Portugal and convicted less than 24 hours later -- was released in 2004 on the condition that he stay out of Portugal, but was then re-arrested, extradited, and imprisoned under an EAW in 2009 on the same charges; a British High Court judge called the case "an embarrassment." 27-year-old British businessman Michael Turner was extradited to Hungary under an EAW in 2009 and held in prison for four months, even though he was not being prosecuted and investigations were ongoing. British citizen Tracey Molamphy was strip-searched and imprisoned in Germany for two weeks after authorities arrested her under an EAW for a "counterfeiting" allegation against her former boyfriend from 12 years earlier. 18-year-old "Patrick Connor" (not his real name) was arrested in Spain with two friends in connection with two counterfeit €50 Euros in his friends' possession; the men were all released and returned to the UK, but four years later Patrick was arrested under an EAW arising from the incident, extradited to Spain, and held in a maximum security prison in Madrid. Fearing two years of pre-trial detention, he instead pled guilty and spent two months in prison before returning home with a criminal record.

The EAW's heavy hand

Recently described by one MEP as "like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut," the EAW is the blunt-edged and scandal-prone instrument that may soon be wielded against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. As with some of the case studies above, the issuance of an EAW against Assange has been criticized as a disproportionate abuse of process. Like Michael Turner, Assange has not been charged with any offense, but is only wanted for questioning regarding an ongoing investigation. His legal team objects that this violates the purpose of the EAW, which can only legally be issued for the purpose of conducting a criminal prosecution or enforcing a sentence.

But Assange is not alone in criticizing the current EAW system. Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has called the overuse of EAWs a threat to human rights, citing common problems such as "the imprisonment of innocent persons, disproportionate arrests, violations of procedural rights and the impossibility in some countries for an innocent person to appeal against a decision to be surrendered. The problems appear to have worsened with the increase of the number of EAWs - there are now an average of more than one thousand per month, the overwhelming majority of which relate to minor crimes. ... It is thus high time to reform a system that affects thousands of persons every year."

The EAW under attack -- but too late?

Use of the EAW has indeed grown quickly in its eight years of existence. According to the NGO Fair Trials International, in 2010 more than 1,000 people were extradited from the UK to another EU country; the year before, the number had been 699. The House of Commons Justice Select Committee expects these numbers to rise soon by about 250%. From 2005-2009, 54,689 EAWs were issued in the EU. But as UKIP MEP Gerard Batten commented, out of this number, so far only "a handful" have involved "serious criminal or terrorist suspects. These people could have been extradited under national systems that protected the entire population who are now unprotected from unjust extradition."

Problems lie not only in the EAW's frequent use, but also in its inconsistent application. Poland, for example, requested 4,844 extraditions in 2009; France, whose population is nearly twice that of Poland, issued only 1,240 EAWs; while the UK made just 220 total requests. Rushed through Parliament just months after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the EAW has been criticized for containing numerous textual errors and "a degree of vagueness that may be considered surprising in a formal legal instrument."

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have expressed concern about the disproportionate use of EAWs for petty crimes. Another worry is that attention to human rights has been abandoned in favor of expediting EU extraditions; although EAWs fast-track the extradition process, they also severely restrict individuals' rights to challenge EAW orders. Acknowledging serious problems with the extradition device, reports by the European Commission and the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that the EAW system is deeply flawed. In December the UK Parliament unanimously voted after debate that the UK Extradition Act 2003 and the EAW require "urgent reform."

But it's still unknown whether much-needed reform will come quickly enough to benefit Julian Assange and other victims of the EAW.

2012-06-02 Senator Ludlam confronts DFAT over plans to extradite Julian Assange to the US

On the 30th May 2012, Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam raised concerns over Julian Assange's looming extradition to the US before Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The response he obtained regarding the protection of Julian Assange's rights as an Australian citizen (fully transcribed here) was quite vague and evasive.

In particular, DFAT made efforts to avoid stating clearly whether it has sought evidence pertaining to the existence of a sealed indictment against Julian Assange, issued by a US Grand Jury that has been investigating WikiLeaks for over 600 days. This indictment was mentioned by US intelligence firm Stratfor in private email exchanges, which were published by WikiLeaks in February as part of its Global Intelligence Files release and where members of the private contractor discuss the intent to undermine WikiLeaks' publishing activities by cutting off its donations and keeping its editor-in-chief Julian Assange involved in legal processes of indefinite duration ("Move him from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years", one of the emails read.)

Although DFAT minders have attended Julian Assange's extradition court hearings for a year, no advice, information or consular assistance has been provided to him to this day. In fact, the DFAT has refrained from communicating with Julian Assange during these occasions.
A statement released by WikiLeaks through its twitter account points out that any DFAT requests for information on plans to extradite Julian Assange to the US were done with the explicit purpose of obtaining information ahead of the media, and with the intent to manipulate public opinion.

Through documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request in Australia we know that the Australian Government keeps regular contact with the US concerning the investigation on WikiLeaks and plans to charge Julian Assange for conspiracy and espionage.
Other documentation on the subject was requested by Senator Ludlam and has been on hold for months as it is pending approval from the United States before eventual public release, Mr Rowe reveals in the following exchanges.

The discussion took place shortly before the UK Supreme Court dismissed Julian Assange's extradition appeal, allowing nevertheless for his legal team to submit an application to have the case reopened. Mr Assange's legal counsel Dinah Rose QC must do so before June 13.

A full transcript of the Estimates session quoted below is available here.


Senator LUDLAM: Okay, you did cover that. Minister, my question was whether you had been briefed, so I think we can take that as a yes—you have got relevant material right in front of you there. What can you tell us about the existence or otherwise of a sealed indictment issued by the United States Department of Justice, which would presumably come with an extradition order back to the United States?

Senator Bob Carr: We have seen no evidence that such a sealed indictment exists.

Senator LUDLAM: Have you sought such evidence?

Senator BOB CARR: We have not sought evidence, but we have seen no evidence that it exists.

Senator LUDLAM: Well, of course you haven't.

Mr Richardson: And we have talked to the US. The US is aware of our expectations in respect of due process, but when we say we have seen no evidence that such a sealed indictment exists we are not using neat bureaucratic words to avoid an answer. I know there are claims out there, but we are simply not aware of the existence of such an indictment. We have talked to the US about these matters, and we are simply not aware of the existence of such a sealed indictment.

Senator LUDLAM: Have you asked whether such a document exists, of your colleagues either in the DOJ or the state department?

Mr Richardson: We have had discussions, of which I cannot go into the detail, but none of the discussions we have had—

Senator LUDLAM: It is a pretty simple question: have you asked? You have seen rumours, you have seen speculation, you have seen reports. But did you ask?

Mr Richardson: As I said, we do not know of any evidence of the existence of such. We have obviously asked the US; we have talked about it. But we are not aware of any evidence that such a sealed indictment exists.

Senator LUDLAM: You are making it sound a bit forensic. I am just putting to you whether you have asked your colleagues whether such a document exists.

Mr Richardson: We have made inquiries about all of that.

Senator LUDLAM: What were the responses to those inquiries?

Mr Richardson: I am not prepared to go into the detail of the discussions we have had.

Senator LUDLAM: Why is that?

Mr Richardson: They were confidential. I can simply say that we are not aware of any sealed indictment and we are not aware of any evidence of the existence of a sealed indictment.

Senator LUDLAM: Mr Richardson—or Minister; if I stray into politics I will trust you to answer the question—were you aware of the release of quite an abundance of material from the US private security firm Stratfor, some months ago now, which contained explicit reference to such a document?

Mr Richardson: I am certainly aware of that. That was released, I think, out of Texas, from memory.

Senator LUDLAM: On the WikiLeaks website.

Mr Richardson: Yes.

Senator LUDLAM: Indeed. So did that release—you would not call it evidence, but it is certainly a release of material indicating that such a document exists—cause you to go back to your US colleagues and make inquiries?

Mr Richardson: It is release of material claiming the existence of it. We have talked to the United States since then, and I refer back to my earlier answers.


Senator LUDLAM: This is our great and powerful ally, the United States. Has your department done its due diligence so that we know what to expect tonight, depending on the outcome of the Supreme Court findings? Are you satisfied that the government has made itself aware of the facts?

Senator Bob Carr: I can answer that. We have no advice that the US has an intention to extradite Mr Assange.

Senator LUDLAM: Have you sought such advice?

Senator Bob Carr: We have discussed the case with the US, and nothing we have been told suggests that the US has such an intention. The US is aware of our expectation of due process, if they do decide to take legal action. And we understand that the United Kingdom's agreement to extradite would also be required. That probably answers your question.

Senator LUDLAM: While we are on the subject of due process, one of the other matters that came forward in the Stratfor releases was the intention by this private security firm that contracts to the United States government to shop Mr Assange and his colleagues through serial legal jurisdictions and tie him up in legal processes until the end of time, effectively. Whether he ends up in prison or not is kind of beside the point. Are you confident that due process is being followed in this case?

Senator Bob Carr: I do not think the US can be sheeted with the responsibility for the process underway in Sweden.

Senator LUDLAM: That was not actually the question I put to you.

Senator Bob Carr: You did talk about an intention of the US, as alleged by one source, to tie Mr Assange up in legal process.

Senator LUDLAM: It is a fairly informed source.


Senator LUDLAM: I am not sure that we can do that in here! I will be the one asking the questions, if that is all right. Minister, are you aware of the freedom of information request that I put to the department—and I acknowledge that it would have been before you took your place in here—on this matter? I think it was in November or December, or thereabouts, last year.

Senator Bob Carr: I am aware in broad terms, yes, that there is an FOI request.

Senator LUDLAM: Have you availed yourself of any information on that request, which has been delayed over a series of months?

Senator Bob Carr: I think I have signed a piece of paper related to that request. I will get advice.

Senator LUDLAM: Okay. Perhaps you could get advice on the nature of the piece of paper you have signed, and whether or not any documents will be forthcoming. I know it is extremely labour intensive blacking out page after page after page, but I would have thought that after six months it would be an appropriate time to put some of this material onto the public record.

Senator Bob Carr: We will check the record and answer the question to your satisfaction.

Mr Rowe: As you mentioned, Senator, we have your request under the FOI provisions to provide information in relation to a number of matters—including, of course, the Assange issue. As you would be aware, this is a very complex and very large request. As with previous requests in relation to other matters we have been in contact with you about the scope and the time lines for that request. We are actually engaged in processing it as expeditiously as we can. But these are very large requests in terms of the documentation, the complexities and the need to consult, under the FOI regime, third parties where necessary. Not surprisingly, it is taking some time just to work through all the documentation and get the request finalised so that we can provide it to you.

Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. And the matters that I am seeking to have released under this government's new regime of transparency do relate to foreign policy matters, particularly our diplomatic relationship with the United States. Is it normal practice that you would seek advice from your US colleagues before releasing that material into the public domain? Is the US government clearing this material for release as well as your own department?

Mr Rowe: Under the Freedom of Information Act, as you are aware, there are provisions that we are obliged to take account of, particularly that relating to any material that relates, as I said, to a third party. In that regard it is normal practice to consult the third party about the content and the sensitivity or releasability of particular information. We are applying the act in that regard.

Senator LUDLAM: Is that kind of a yes?

Mr Rowe: Yes. We need to do that and we have the statutory obligation to take that consultation process fully into account.

Senator LUDLAM: Would the material that you are subsequently, I hope, going to release to me, to the parliament and to the public, all have been cleared by the United States government as well as the Australian government?

Mr Rowe: Not all cleared. It is where there is material such as particular communications between the Australian government and a third party, for example. Where that third party is involved in the material or it relates to that third party, we have the obligation to consult that party.

2012-06-03 Open letter to the Australian people from Christine Assange, mother of Julian Assange

The following is an open letter to the Australian people from Christine Assange, mother of Julian Assange.

There have been numerous public statements made about WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange that are factually inaccurate.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said about WikiLeaks, "It's illegal." Attorney General Nicola Roxon said my son "fled Sweden." The media repeatedly states, "Assange is charged or facing charges" in relation to Swedish sex allegations.

Some of these inaccurate statements are due to misinformation, but others are designed to smear Julian, to erode his public support, and to discredit WikiLeaks in order to prevent the further publishing of uncomfortable truths.

Many Australians, including leading lawyers, academics, and journalists believe WikiLeaks is a legitimate, ethical, and courageous media organisation, and that Julian is an innocent man, a political prisoner, persecuted for exposing the complicity of the U.S. Government and its large corporations in war crimes, fraud, corruption, the exploitation of the third world, bullying, and diplomatic manipulation, that is lying to the public and other shady dealings.

Many of us were appalled watching the Australian Government stand by in silence as furious US politicians and commentators called for the brutal murder of my son.

Many of us were appalled watching the Australian Government stand silent when Julian's personal bank accounts were frozen, and when the US Government cut off 95 per cent of WikiLeaks funding by pressuring credit card companies to refuse to process voluntary donations. This was done despite the US Treasury stating there was no reason to blacklist WikiLeaks.

Many of us are deeply concerned that the Australian Government refuses to protest against the many documented abuses of Julian's legal and human rights in the Swedish extradition case, or his right to a fair legal process in an imminent US extradition application.

Moreover, many feel his treatment signifies wider concerns that the Australian Government has become an echo chamber of the US Government and its big business, which increasingly dictated Australian policy, including newer legislation that is against the interests of Australian security, the privacy and civil rights of Australian citizens, Australian businesses, and Australian democracy.

I implore you as a mother and urge you as an Australian citizen to look at the facts I have listed below and to make up your own mind.

Included below are even more links to factual information.

Thanking you,

Christine Assange


PLEASE NOTE: Julian has not been charged by Sweden regarding the sex allegations, or by any other country in the world in relation to his work at WikiLeaks.


WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit legally-constituted online news publisher which is funded by voluntary donations and has been recognised for quality investigative journalism, with many prestigious international journalism and human rights awards (Wikipedia).

  • Sam Adams Award 2010 was unanimously awarded to Julian Assange for "integrity and intelligence" for the release of the Afghan War Diaries and Iraq war logs by a panel of senior US military and intelligence officers (ret.). Awards ceremony: "It has been said that: 'You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.' WikiLeaks is helping make that possible by publishing documents that do not lie."
  • 2011 Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism "Today journalists and editors around the world are concerned about the attacks on WikiLeaks. This is an issue of the freedom of the press, people have a right to information through the opportunities provided by the web, journalists remain ready to fight for the principle of exposure journalism. His organisation has done nothing more than hold Governments to account and we should stand by him and his right to do so".

WikiLeaks acts in accordance with traditional journalism. It publishes information given by various sources but protects its sources with a secure anonymous dropbox.

WikiLeaks redacts its documents, so to date not one person has been physically harmed by its publications.

WikiLeaks has a perfect record with information reliability. No Government has denied authenticity of any documents.

Swedish Sex Allegations and the Swedish Extradition Case

After the Afghan War Diary release 25/7/10 Julian visited Sweden to obtain residency and base WikiLeaks there because of the good whistle-blowing laws. The US was aware of more WikiLeaks releases to come and wrote threatening letters. Julian was warned of entrapment plans.

Woman A.A. invited Julian to speak in Sweden at a seminar about Afghanistan in mid-August 2010. Woman S.W. stated she went to the seminar to meet Julian. Both women have stated to the police and media that sex was consensual and non-violent. Exculpatory evidence (texts to friends) show women had no complaints regarding sex until finding out about each other and 100+ texts between A.A. and S.W. speak of revenge, making money and ruining Julian's reputation by going to the press.

Woman S.W. was so upset police were going to allege rape she does not finish her interview or sign her witness statement, which was then altered again without her consent. She stated she felt railroaded into making a complaint.

In Sweden, consensual non-violent sex can be legally defined as rape.

Contrary to Swedish police procedure the women's interviews were not video or audio taped and the first prosecutor, Maria Häljebo-Kjellstrand, unlawfully told the press Julian was wanted for rape. Julian was not interviewed or informed - he found out in the tabloid newspaper Expressen that he was "being hunted down for double rape". Within hours, there were millions of website hits for Assange plus rape, causing irreparable harm to Julian's reputation.

The next day after reviewing the file, Stockholm's chief prosecutor Eva Finné threw out the rape allegation. "I consider there are no grounds for suspecting he has committed rape," she said.

For the last three years, the political advisor to the Swedish Prime Minister has been Karl Rove, a notorious, disgraced former Bush administration advisor who orchestrated vicious smear campaigns against political opponents. Karl Rove is a personal friend of the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrick Reinfeldt and of the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt.

Sweden has close ties to the US and was the major arms supplier to the US-Iraq War.

Around a week after the dropping of the rape allegation by the chief prosecutor, a politician/lawyer named Claes Borgström appealed the decision. Claes Borgström and his business partner Thomas Bodström run a thriving legal practice based on representing claimants in sex cases.

Woman A.A., Irmeli Krans (interrogating police officer of woman SW) and both Borgström and Bodström are members of the Swedish Social Democrat Party. They all stood together for elections at the same time, one month after the sex allegations were made against Julian, with one of the platforms being widening the definition of rape within consensual sex.

Woman A.A. produced new evidence for the appeal. She submitted a condom which she states Julian tore deliberately. Forensic tests showed there was no DNA evidence in the condom from either Julian or herself.

Julian was not informed of the appeal and had no chance to make a submission. The appeal was successful.

Julian Did Not Flee Sweden

He remained in Sweden for five weeks seeking an interview with the new prosecutor Marianne Ny. She made excuses not to interview him and gave him permission to leave Sweden for business on September 15th (meeting with Cablegate media partners). He offered to fly back into Sweden for interview on October 9 or 10. Ny refused because it was a weekend. He offered to fly back on October 11th. Ny refused because it was too far away.

During October and November Julian stayed at the journalist's club in the UK preparing for the release of the US diplomatic cables (Cablegate). During this period, he offered to be interviewed by Marianne Ny via the normal protocol for this situation called Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) (via Skype, phone or videolink). Marianne Ny refused all offers.

Around the time of the release of Cablegate in late November, Marianne Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for questioning, stating that Julian had fled the country, and a public Interpol Red Notice for his arrest.

For the entire 16 months that Julian has been under house arrest in the UK, Marianne Ny has refused all his offers to be interviewed at the Swedish Embassy or in Scotland Yard.

Marianne Ny has misled the Swedish and UK public by stating that she was legally not allowed to interview Julian by mutual legal assistance or in the UK. Sweden is a signatory to MLA.

Many legal people investigating the case are of the opinion that the Swedish extradition case is not bona fide but merely a holding case awaiting a US extradition.

The European Arrest Warrant

The European arrest warrant is only supposed to be issued for prosecution, not for questioning. Under the terms of the European Arrest Warrant, no allegations can be tested (including the sex allegations against Julian).

The European Arrest Warrant was initially meant for the fast-track extradition of bona fide terrorists but has been misused. It has been subject to much criticism since its inception as it results in the abuse of many citizens' legal and human rights (1000 people per month extradited from the UK).

The Supreme Court Appeal

Julian is appealing the UK High Court's decision to extradite him in the only way he can, not on the evidence of the allegations but on a point of law of public importance. This point of law refers to the fact that a public prosecutor is not a judicial authority and that there is a conflict of interest in a prosecutor having the final say in the issuing of an European Arrest Warrant. Marianne Ny acted as both prosecutor and judicial authority on the issue of the European Arrest Warrant for Julian.

If Julian loses the Supreme Court appeal he will be sent to Sweden in ten days.

If Julian wins the appeal he is free to return home to Australia, unless the US immediately applies for a US extradition from the UK before he has a chance to leave.

What Happens If Julian Goes To Sweden

There is no bail in Sweden for foreigners and he will be held in indefinite detention in a Swedish remand prison incommunicado except to Swedish lawyers and in solitary confinement.

If and when the case proceeds to trial he will be tried in secret (no media or observers) by four judges. Three of the four judges will be "lay" judges, that is, they have no legal training and are appointed by political parties.

The other alternative is that the US will immediately unseal its Grand Jury indictment against Julian and from any point that he arrives in Sweden he could be extradited to the US. Many people falsely believe that the UK would have to sign off on an onward extradition to the US. This is true, if it is by way of a normal European extradition. However, under a separate US/Swedish Bilateral Treaty, Julian can be legally rendered to the US via a component of that treaty called the Temporary Surrender Regime. This is a secret, fast-track, no-test rendition.

What Happens If the US Applies for an Extradition From the UK

The extradition hearing will be public and take longer, but the UK/US treaty is unbalanced, that while a prima facie case (evidence) is required to extradite a person from the US to the UK, no prima facie (evidence) is required to extradite a person from the UK to the US. So any allegations that the US is making about Julian cannot be tested prior to extradition.

The US Grand Jury Indictment

The US Grand Jury has been sitting for 16 months and it is believed to have reached a verdict to indict Julian and has a sealed subpoena ready to unseal at the most beneficial time to the US. The Grand Jury is a flawed, unjust legal process, consisting of four prosecutors but no defense evidence is allowed. There is no judge and the jury pool is drawn from Alexandria, Virginia which has the highest percentage of military contractor families in the US.

The Trial of Bradley Manning

Private Bradley Manning, the whistleblower, who is alleged to have provided the US documents to the WikiLeaks dropbox, has been held in a US military prison for the last two years without trial. The last straw for Bradley Manning was when he was asked to arrest 15 Iraqi civilian protesters and to send them to the Iraqi police for torture. Their "crime" was to hand out flyers upon which was written "Where has the money gone?" referring to corruption by contractors involving post-war construction. When he expressed his concern that this was unethical behaviour for a US soldier he was told to "shut up and go and get 15 more".

Bradley Manning has been subjected to ongoing no-touch torture in an attempt to break him so that he will falsely incriminate Julian in criminal conspiracy. This is because under the First Amendment to the American Constitution Julian, as a journalist, is protected - even when publishing classified government documents.

2012-06-05 Transcript: Julian Assange on 2UE Radio; Supreme Court verdict, lack of support from Australian Government

Julian Assange interviewed on 2UE Radio, 4 June 2012. Full audio is available via the 2UE website.

Tim Shaw: Well, I'm really pleased to say, as promised, joining me live on the line from London is founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. Good morning from here, good afternoon/evening to you, Julian.

Julian Assange: Good morning.

Tim Shaw: I want to thank you very much for your time. Before we get started I just wanted to say what a remarkable woman your mother is, Julian.

Julian Assange: She's great. She's a real fighter, isn't she? I think we're all lucky to be in a position like I am, to have family rally around like that.

Tim Shaw: You know family's really important. I spoke to Senator Bob Carr, the Foreign Minister of Australia, and said to him, 'Bob Carr, if a member of your family or my family was under house arrest in a foreign country as an Australian citizen, I know I'd be doing everything I could to get to the bottom of this.' Can we go right back to Sweden. My friend, I've read documents that your mother has sent me, I've read reports from all over the world, but just remind my listeners: you were invited to Sweden to attend a conference and to speak at a conference, is that right?

Julian Assange: That's correct. But I suppose if you're wanting this big background picture, you have to look at the context. The context was: I was trying to play a very precarious game with the United States and had 251,000 U.S. diplomatic cables in my back pocket, and was doing things like trying to get out of Australia at that stage because we had intelligence that the Australian Labor Government was hostile, and that proved eventually to be correct. Went into the European Parliament to give a talk about censorship; made sure I flew through Hong Kong, so I was less likely to be seized by the United States. Eventually wound up in England preparing our big releases about Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Cablegate release. And we discovered that—in fact, it was in The Daily Mail—that FBI agents had arrived in the United Kingdom and had raided Bradley Manning's mother's house. Bradley Manning is a young soldier, young intelligence officer, who the U.S. Government accused of being one of our sources, who they put in prison—who they have kept in prison to date. And they raided him. So I was in London, FBI officers were in Wales cooperating with the British police, and under that circumstance I needed to get out again. So we arranged an invite to speak at a political gathering about Afghanistan and Sweden, thinking that would afford me safe passage out of the country.

Tim Shaw: So when you arrived in Sweden there was an offer, I think, to stay at the home of a Swedish national and you chose to do so.

Julian Assange: The political organization that invited me there, which was part of the Christian section of the Social Democrats in Sweden, arranged for a place for me to stay; yes, that's correct.

Tim Shaw: Okay. In your own words, Julian, just tell my listeners—and we're going right around the country—just tell us what happened.

Julian Assange: Well I can't go into the details of the case for obvious reasons, because it's before the courts. But you can look online and see what the Swedish police say what the allegations at their strongest against me. And I think anyone reading that will think the case is completely and utterly absurd. As for what my version of events is, that's something that we'll leave for the court, for strategic reasons. But also for another reason, which is this concerns my private life and it's not something that I should be forced to talk about, unless I am charged and put before a court.

Tim Shaw: And the important thing about that very clear point: there are no charges. These are assertions that are being made by authorities from Sweden, but am I correct in understanding that neither woman has signed any form of document asserting or alleging that you raped them?

Julian Assange: That's correct. We know, in fact, that what is said, what is admitted by the Swedish prosecution in its filing to the UK Supreme Court is that both women went into the police station to ask for advice, they say, about getting STD tests. And then, within a few hours, that had gotten to the Swedish Prime Minister's residence, and was picked up by a reporter, they say—the reporter said at that residence—and then was splashed all over the world. But the younger girl refused to even... aborted the sort-of conversation with the police once she had heard that they were intending to arrest me and refused to even sign her statement. And later on, in even the police documents, she says that she was railroaded by police.

Tim Shaw: Julian, you've spent over 500 days under house arrest in the United Kingdom. Senator Bob Carr, repeating the Ambassador to Australia from the United States Jeffrey Bleich—I've spoken to Jeffrey Bleich on my program specifically about you and about WikiLeaks. Jeffrey Bleich said last week, the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, there is no 26th of January of 2011 sealed file of indictment, that there is no grand jury, and that there is no interest in extraditing you to the United States. What do you want to say to my listeners about that statement?

Julian Assange: I don't know what he said to you precisely, but I have noticed a delicate game that Jeffrey has been playing. Jeffrey Bleich is a lawyer [Shaw: Yes] and so he says things like, "There is no such thing as a secret warrant." Well, he may be correct about that. But we're not talking about a secret warrant, we're talking about a sealed indictment issued by the grand jury. They're playing this word game to try and suggest there is no grand jury. In the past three weeks, two people flying out of the United States have been detained by the FBI and interrogated about me. The evidence of the grand jury is all over. People have stood on—witnesses who have been dragged into that grand jury have stood on the steps in Washington and described what they've been interrogated about. Subpoenas that have been issued by that grand jury. There are multiple court cases currently before the U.S. courts fighting those very subpoenas that have been issued by the grand jury. There are nine—at least at the time witnesses were reporting on it—nine prosecutors involved from the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuting that grand jury.

Tim Shaw: Let me also get clear this point: did you wait for a number of weeks, in Sweden, waiting, ready, and willing to be questioned by Swedish authorities, and did the Swedish authorities make any effort to question you in that time whilst you are in Sweden.

Julian Assange: They did not. I was there for 4 or 5 weeks. I was only intending to be in Sweden for less than one week, but because this came up I thought it would look bad if I left the country. So I stayed there and demanded to give my side of the story. The entire case was dropped within 12 hours, when the chief prosecutor of Stockholm came onto it, reviewed it, and said, 'there is nothing to show, nothing to suggest that a crime of rape has been committed.' And the whole case was dropped. And then there was the involvement of a Swedish politician, Claes Borgström, who was running for the federal election, which was just one month down the track. And he went to a friend of his, a prosecutor in Gothenburg—which is kind of like Ballarat, in Sweden—and got her to take this case back up. And we demanded that she interview me so I could get my side of the story, so I could leave the country, because I had many, many things to do, with preparing enormous revelations about Iraq, Afghanistan, U.S. diplomatic cables. She refused to give me a date to be interviewed, and eventually she admitted to my lawyer I was free to leave Sweden. And I did.

Tim Shaw: When you left Sweden and arrived in England, how quickly after your departure from Sweden was the International Arrest Warrant issued.

Julian Assange: Let's see... They issued it in very, very late November; I think it was two days before Cablegate. And this was an extraordinary thing for there to be an Interpol Red Notice when someone hadn't even been charged, let alone for the type of allegations these were. As an example: another Swedish prosecutor from Stockholm was investigating a case last year where a Swedish man had been beaten by two Irish musicians nearly to the point of death. It was all caught on CCTV camera. The Irish musicians confessed to doing it and then they went back to Ireland. And the Swedish prosecutor dropped the case and was questioned, 'Why on earth did you drop the case?' and he said, 'Well, we can't just be issuing European Arrest Warrants all the time. We only do that for really serious offenses like murder.'

Tim Shaw: Australians are listening to this, Julian, and it belies belief, you know. The fair-minded Australian believes that if there are charges to be answered, let's answer them. But there are no charges and as Christine spoke to me earlier—your mother—just reaffirmed that if you were willing, which you are, to be questioned by the Swedish authorities at the Swedish Embassy in London, you're prepared to answer any questions of those, and if charged, they would be required to provide the evidence as part of that charge, and that's where it seems the evidence is lacking. Would you agree with that?

Julian Assange: Right. So it seems this is what's been happening. I have been demanding, in Sweden, to be able to give my side of the story. When I got to the UK, have been demanding to give my side of the story in the UK. For over 540 days, I've had an electronic manacle around my leg, being under house arrest, being forced to be in this country because of one reason: The Swedish Government will not come to this country and interview me. They will not interview me on the phone. It is perfectly within their legal entitlements –there are standing treaties to do this, called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty—and it is done, in other cases in Sweden. So the case has not progressed because I am suspicious of what is happening in Sweden and the Swedes will not provide us sure answers. The obvious thing to do—the Swedish Government was criticized in the high court—is simply to pick up the telephone and call me. Or if they want to do it in person, to meet me. Or if they want to do it on Swedish soil it can be at the Embassy. Or they can use standard treaty techniques like the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. It makes you wonder what the hell is going on? And is this how a Government operates, is operating in good faith?

Tim Shaw: I am looking at a letter written on the letterhead of the honorable Nicola Roxon MP Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management, it's addressed to Jennifer Robinson, one of the legal team. You've got a copy of the letter, so have I. She met with the Attorney-General on the 2nd of May, some 30 days ago. Just take us through what that meeting was like for Jennifer Robinson and what Jennifer was seeking on your behalf.

Julian Assange: Well, look, what Jen tells me, my lawyer, is that she met on the 2nd of May with the Attorney-General for about 40 minutes; the Attorney-General with two other people—on her left her national security political adviser, on her right the departmental national security adviser—and the Attorney-General is responsible for the Australian intelligence services. Why are these two guys there? What have they got to do with the Swedish sex allegation? Why are they there? And now we look, now we have the response from Nicola Roxon about that meeting. My lawyer made various demands such as if the Australian Government demands that if I went to Sweden that I would not be incarcerated without charge. And the response back is it refused to do so. And if Robinson demanded to the Australian Government of the Swedes that they use a standard European mechanism and come to England to interview me or drop the case. The Australian Government refused to do so. Similarly, the language here in this letter can only be described as a declaration of abandonment. This is not even the usual mealy-mouthed weasel words that bureaucracies use. For example, it says, "Australia would not expect to be a part of any extradition discussions that may take place between the United States and United Kingdom, or the United States and Sweden." So it's simply aggregating any sort of involvement whatsoever. "In the event that Mr Assange were to stand trial for an offence in the United States, he would be subject to the usual procedures and due process in the United States constitution and United States law," i.e. nothing. "Should Mr Assange be convicted of an offence in the United States and be sentenced to imprisonment, he may apply for international prisoner transfer to Australia. His application would be considered on its merits and in accordance with the relevant legislation."

Tim Shaw: I can't help but thinking, Julian, that if a citizen of the United States or a citizen of Sweden was under house arrest in our country for more than 500 days, Australia, the democracy that we live in, that there would be representations at a diplomatic level and I would suggest also at a political level saying to the Australian authorities, if the situation were reversed, 'Put up or shut up.' Charge our citizen or release our citizen. This is what the Australian people just can't seem to get to the basis of. I put to the Federal Foreign Minister Bob Carr, what your mother Christine told me in the interview was that consular support has been provided at the highest and fullest level. Julian, you're the target. Tell us exactly what Bob Carr's, the Foreign Minsiter's, consular support has or has not been.

Julian Assange: Well, Bob Carr's trying to redefine consular support as a cheese sandwich. I mean, these are just empty words. The last time U.S. consular officials met with my lawyers was back in the past December and they didn't provide anything at all. We were just handing over these demands to them. They have provided us with no legal advice ever. Whatsoever. The last time that I met with any persons from the Australian Embassy, any person claiming to be related to consular support, was when I was in prison in 2010. December 2010, locked in solitary confinement and they gave me a notepad. So when Bob Carr says "consular support," what he means is the Foreign Minister's office coming to court and observing what's going on so that he can write a brief to the minister in order to best prepare the minister's press lines. None of that information comes back to us. And when we've tried to get hold of it, for example through the Freedom of Information Act or when the Sydney Morning Herald has tried to get hold of it, 95% of it is entirely blacked out, with FOIs being withheld in some cases for 18 months. Even though legally they should only be held for 40 days.

Tim Shaw: Julian Assange, what do you think is going to happen in the next 8 to 10 days in relation to quite a fair argument your lawyer made in the court of appeal, that specifically that the reference of the judgment was not related to the case that was argued? What do you actually think is going to happen in the next 8, 10, 12 days, since last Wednesday's decision.

Julian Assange: Look, it's a matter of politics. When a case becomes this political and this prominent, it ceases to sort-of fall under the normal procedural standards or just the wheel of the justice system grinding and in a way it becomes intimately political. In the current matter before the Supreme Court, four of the judges based their decision on a point that wasn't even made in court and that breaches sort-of the basic right that you are able to argue the case. Two of the judges, by the way, found in my favour, two of the Supreme Court judges. So we'll be trying to shift some of those remaining four onto our side. Another point that maybe Australian listeners don't realize is that the head of the Supreme Court said in reading his judgment summary, falsely, that I had been charged. It was a mistake, everyone ignored it, it was a mistake. But how can one have confidence in the Supreme Court under the situation where it can't even get basic elements like that in the case correct.

Tim Shaw: Julian, you had your critics. There are listeners to my program that have no interest in a website called WikiLeaks, but what Australians believe, fair-minded Australians want, is a due process, a fair process, but arguably some 500 days later we are no further ahead in really getting an outcome from the assertions being made by those in Sweden. Just tell my listeners, just finally, how do you feel, as an Australian citizen under lock-and-key house arrest, if you were not under house arrest in Britain, where would you like to be? Back in Australia?

Julian Assange: Well, right now I'd come back to Australia immediately. But back in December 2007, Australia was a dangerous place for me. The Labor Government in Australia, under Gillard, started up a whole Government task force against me and my organisation, publicly declared involving the A-G's office, the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Defence, both internal and external intelligence agencies, publicly declared the A-G threatened to cancel my passport. You have to understand, this particular government and people who surround Gillard are deeply — perhaps "in bed" is not the right way to put it — but they are deeply involved in getting patronage and friends within the United States. And as far as I can see, what the Australian Labor Government is doing now, it understands that ship is sinking. So it's just going to use the rest of its time in office to make as many pals with powerful people as it possibly can, so when the whole thing goes down, they'll have another ship to jump to.

Tim Shaw: Julian Assange, just finally in your heart of hearts, and, I'll take you at your word, do you believe any of the actions caused by yourself as the publisher of WikiLeaks, the broader publishing in some of the biggest newspapers in the world, from Der Spiegel to American, British, and even Australian newspapers, that anything published from documents that were provided and published on WikiLeaks has led to the risk of or the causing of death of any American or Australian servicemen?

Julian Assange: Not even the U.S. Government is alleging that. It doesn't even allege that a single person has been physically harmed anywhere in the world as a result of our publishing activities. Now, we're doing something big at a grand scale, and just like someone who makes cars or introduces a new invention into the world, there's always a potential for harm. But thus far, there hasn't been any, and neither is anyone formally alleging.

Tim Shaw: Are you a technology terrorist or a titan of transparency, Julian Assange?

Julian Assange: [laughs] Yeah. So, Joseph Biden, the U.S. vice president, back in the heat of things in early 2011, said that I was akin to a high-tech terrorist and it's just crazy. The only people being terrorized by our publications are politicians that have got something to hide.

Tim Shaw: I want to thank you very much for joining me on the program, and I particularly through you want to thank you mother, Christine Assange. She's been a guest on my program twice. She's a fearless fighter, not just for her own son, Julian, but in my view, just what I believe fair-minded Australians want, which is truth, some honesty, and for those that believe that something's gone wrong or being done wrong, put up or shut up. And just from my point of view, whether I agree or disagree with the conduct of WikiLeaks and its publishing organisation as you run it and founded, I can't help but think that what you've been telling my listeners now, what your mother's been telling us, and certainly those journalists—Dorling particularly from the Sydney Morning Herald—have been telling us is that you are not getting the kind of support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, from the Foreign Affairs Minister, or from this Government led by Gillard.

Julian Assange: Look, I don't even have the rights of the defendant, because I haven't been charged. I don't have a right to see any evidence against me, see the detailed allegations against me, to counter these matters in a legal way, because I am not even a defendant. We have a basic motion in Australia that you are free to go about your life as an adult until the Government charges you with an offence. And then you must have your day in court, and it's the Government's responsibility to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you have done something wrong. But until at least being charged, let alone convicted, you are free to go about your life as a free citizen. For the last 540 days, I have been detained without charge.

Tim Shaw: Final word to Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, please, Julian.

Julian Assange: Well, I guess to Mr Carr, you are a new Foreign Minister and therefore we are watching very closely to see what you do with this case. I think everyone deserves a fair go in a new job and there's lots of misinformation flowing around about this case. But what we've just heard in this interview is suggestive that Mr Carr is not going to be any different than his predecessor, in fact far likely to be worse.

Tim Shaw: Julian, thank you...

Julian Assange: He's unelected.

Tim Shaw: It's true, it's true, it's a political appointment. Julian Assange, thank you for your time and I'm sorry, your mother sounds very similar to my mother so give her a big hug from me, will you?

Julian Assange: [laughs] Will do. Thanks, b-bye.

Tim Shaw: Thank you. Julian Assange, live from London. We spoke with Christine Assange on my Legal Matters program. Bob Carr, the Foreign Minister of Australia, made it perfectly clear that as far as he was concerned that there was the highest level of consular support for Julian Assange. You read Mr Assange as you will. And that was live and un-interrupted, I'm taking your calls now on this. Tell me what you think.

2012-06-05 WikiLeaks News Update: Assange and Cypherpunks; No access to Manning documents

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 549 days.
Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 546 days.
Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without trial for 743 days.
A secret Grand Jury has been active in the U.S. without transparency for 629 days.

WikiLeaks News:

  • Friends of WikiLeaks, a social network for people who promote the missions and values of WikiLeaks, is almost ready to open. It is currently available in 12 languages.
  • Cabledrum released a "GIFiles Matrix" which displays a graphic depiction of how the Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks were covered in 24 select countries. Based on this information, WikiLeaks Press published a detailed analysis of media coverage of the Global Intelligence Files by country.

Julian Assange News:

World Tomorrow banner

  • "The World Tomorrow" Episode 8: Cypherpunks premiered, featuring Jacob Appelbaum, Jérémie Zimmermann, and Andy Müller-Maguhn. Watch the full episode on YouTube. Full, unedited transcript of the entire 1.5 hour interview is also available.
  • Julian Assange was interviewed by Tim Shaw on 2UE Radio about his extradition case and how the Australian Government has practically abandoned him. Full audio of the interview is available, as well as transcript. Shaw interviewed Julian Assange's mother, Christine, and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr the previous day about similar issues.
  • Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam confronted Foreign Minister Bob Carr during a Budget Estimates session regarding Julian Assange, the lack of Government support, and the sealed indictment against him in the U.S.
  • Investigative journalist Danny Schechter interviewed retired CIA officer Ray McGovern and NYT eXaminer editor Chris Spannos about the British Supreme court ruling in favor of Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden.
  • Swedish Prosecutors reactivating dismissed allegations, such as in Julian Assange's case, is an occurrence which has only happened in 0.04% of all prosecutor rulings.
  • An open letter has been drafted to Prime Minsiter David Cameron concerning Julian Assange and the delay of extradition reform in the UK. Citizens are encouraged to sign the letter and mail it to their MP.
  • The Guardian awarded the "Star of the Week" to Dinah Rose QC for her incredible feat of halting Julian Assange's extradition last Wednesday.
  • NPR corrected four instances where it falsely stated Julian Assange had been charged. The Guardian also corrected itself shortly after publishing the same falsity. For more information regarding press corrections and Julian Assange, see his submission to the Leveson Inquiry.

Bradley Manning News:

  • The U.S. Government refuses to allow Bradley Manning's lawyers access to 250,000 pages of documents related to the transmission of cables to WikiLeaks.
  • An article at the Bradley Manning Support Network looks into the continued secrecy surrounding Bradley Manning's legal proceedings, which have now been going on for over 2 years.
  • Vigils for Bradley Manning are scheduled worldwide during his next motion hearings, June 6-8. Locations include Fort Meade, Phoenix, Tuscon, Ventura, Salina, Lawton, Camp Parks, London, and Chester.


Upcoming Dates & Events:

June 5-8: Worldwide vigils for Bradley Manning.

June 6-8: Bradley Manning motion hearings

June 10: SEP meetings to defend Julian Assange in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.

June 13: Julian Assange defence submission to Supreme Court due.

July 16-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

August 27-31: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

September 19-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

September 21-October 12: Bradley Manning's court martial.

2012-06-06 Transcript: Julian Assange on LNL Radio -- What's next?

Julian Assange interviewed on Late Night Live Radio, 6 June 2012. Full audio is available via the RadioNational website.

Phillip Adams: Good day, beloved listeners. Last night on this little wireless program, I was talking to Shapiro about the Obama kill-list. It's pretty dangerous being deemed an enemy of the American people these days, because at any moment a drone will come in and take you out. And of course tonight we've learned that another member of Bin Laden Proprietary Limited has been killed by one of those precision attacks. I think if I was Julian Assange, I'd be more concerned with a drone attack than with mere extradition, but let's see how Julian is feeling at this time of, well, endless strife. Julian, who's talking to us from his hideout in the English countryside where he's under house arrest, joins us on the program. How are you coping with this incredible stress level?

Julian Assange: Good day, Phillip. Well, over the last few years we've gotten used to it. I've gotten used to it. It's not necessarily a good thing, I suppose. Y'know, people in quite adverse conditions get used to those conditions and they start to normalize.

Phillip Adams: Of course, it's not only your physical and mental health that's been under attack; your financial health has taken a bit of a dive, hasn't it?

Julian Assange: Yes. That's been one of the most interesting aspects of all we've done. So we released a lot of information about how the US empire works. And I don't want to use that word 'empire' in a sort-of classic 1960's Latin American radical way, because people close their minds. But if you read the State Department cables, for example, you see that that is the brain of the US empire's relationships with its foreign counterparts. And that's got everything from how it conducts its business relationships to arms sales and various procedures to get young leaders from around the world embedded into Washington think tanks and then send them back out. Now, it's not just information that we've released that's interesting, but the back reaction to that. So everything we've released is some degrees in the past, but the reaction to our publishing is happening right now. And that defines certain contours of power relationships in the United States and between the United States and the UK and England which were unexpected to a lot of people.

Phillip Adams: Julian, I'm talking about your personal bank account which was shut down. I understand that you're now technically bankrupt. Your bank accounts have been closed, many people associated with you have lost their jobs, even some who were quite indirectly connected. You've been... You're under the hammer, aren't you?

Julian Assange: Yes. I've been declared a PEP, a politically exposed person, and that means in practice that I can't open any bank accounts. So they have to go through extra steps to do that. There's a worldwide financial blockade completely outside the law by Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, American Express, Moneybookers, Western Union, Bank of America - all US organizations. They closed my Swiss accounts that we were using publicly to raise legal defence money and my personal ability to move money - even as far back as September 2010 - from Australia into Sweden, was also blocked on the network. The Vienna to Australian blacklist, a US watch-list, at that time, back in 2010.

Phillip Adams: I wonder whether you weren't prepared for the verdict the other day; you must have thought it was on the cards.

Julian Assange: Yeah, we did, and we planned as best we could. But y'know, if you believe strongly in something then there comes a time where you have to choose to take the risks and go with your ideals or be a hypocrite. And we took the risk, and I'm proud of taking the risk. And now we suffer a bit from it, but I think in the medium to long term we'll be alright and I think we'll be seen to have been the right thing to do.

Phillip Adams: Julian, what chance do you have of the appeal being successful.

Julian Assange: The situation in the British Supreme Court is really interesting. So the case itself concerns... It doesn't sort of concern any of the trivial allegations. It concerns a really central tenet of the relationship between European states and the use of coercive force. So if you say that a state is defined by an area of land - well maybe not land, even, these days - where there is some governing body that has monopoly use on coercive force, then who can use coercive force defines the powers in the state. And the UK has got itself wrapped into post-9/11 agreements, an inter-extradition agreement with other European states, that is wasn't really aware of. And even the Supreme Court justices who ruled against us, for technical reasons, and the Supreme Court said explicitly the parliament was misled about what they were buying into, and that it was quote, "disturbing", unquote, what had happened. So the current situation, if their current interpretation is allowed to stand, is that any individual in the United Kingdom can be extradited by any bureaucrat anywhere in Europe without going through a court, without any evidence, and without any charge, from any 27 EU countries.

Phillip Adams: I was talking to our mutual friend Pilger the other night about you and he felt the need to remind the listener that you haven't been charged with anything, that you made yourself available for interviews in Sweden, and that in fact you were also more than happy to be interrogated, y'know, in the UK via Skype or some of the new technologies which are now so common. And yet, many people, many of your erstwhile supporters, see you as in some way avoiding confrontation with your accusers.

Julian Assange: Well, I'm not sure 'more than happy' is the correct word, Phillip, I think 'mightily pissed off', but I'm understanding it might be necessary to resolve the situation. Yeah, so I was given... I only visited Sweden because the FBI came to the UK and raided one of my alleged source's mother's house, Bradley Manning, in Wales. So the FBI was here in the UK, stomping around the UK, and we thought I'd better get out. And I managed to get some people to write an invite to a talk on the first casualty of... Sorry, the first casualty of the war is the truth, in Sweden, and use that invite as sort-of a safe passage to get out through UK customs to Sweden. And then everything blew up while I was there for a week. And I didn't leave, rather I deliberately stayed in order to try and clear things up. They dropped everything, and then the prosecutor - the new prosecutor, that went through a whole bunch after some political involvement by someone who's a bit equivalent to the shadow Attorney-General, in Sweden - said that I could leave. And so I left, went about my business preparing the Iraq War Logs release and the US diplomatic cables release. And then they said, 'Oh, actually we want you back here', and we said, 'OK, we'll prepare to do that'. And then other things started happening and they put out an Interpol Red Notice for me. They didn't even do that for Gaddafi until a very, very late stage. Then a European Arrest Warrant. And so I said, 'This is absurd. I'm not even charged, I'm perfectly willing to speak', but what is happening in Sweden makes us suspicious of how impartial this process is. 'So you can come to the Swedish Embassy in London to interview me or use the standard European procedure', which is the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, 'if you want to talk to me, or you can speak to me on a video-phone', etc etc. And they had refused this entire time to do that, and, more importantly, they had refused to even explain to the British courts why they refused, saying that they do not have to explain why they refuse to follow standard, basic EU procedure. And as a result, I've been detained, without charge, for over 540 days now, under house arrest.

Phillip Adams: Pilger tells us that you've been demonized to a great extent in the Swedish media, and I take... I haven't actually read the British attacks on you of late, but apparently you're not exactly a poster boy in London these days.

Julian Assange: There was a Reuters survey of 24 countries back in March last year - 18,000 people, the error margin 3% - about support for WikiLeaks and support for me. The number one supportive countries was South Africa, Germany, India, Australia, and Russia, and Argentina. And at the other end of the spectrum, the least supportive was the United States, but we still had 40% support in the United States, despite all the vitriol from people like Joseph Biden, saying I was a hi-tech terrorist. Within the United Kingdom, we had a legal dispute with The Guardian newspaper. Now, that would be normally in a position ideologically, in terms of its audience, to go in to bat for us, because it often takes stands against the US. But The Guardian, as a result of a legal dispute, completely flipped sides at its senior management level and came out relentlessly, day after day, attacking us. So that poisoned the UK environment. Within Sweden, something else is happening. The British executive - wisely, I think - made no comment on my legal case. They did make one comment early on saying they deplored leaks, but otherwise they have made no comment to date at all on my legal case. In contrast, the Swedish executive, although it is unlawful to do so under Swedish law, the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, and the Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, including up into 2012, have come out and attacked me. There has been front page fabricated stories in Sweden about how we were spying on Swedish journalists' homes with private detectives, collecting classified Swedish documents, we're going to surround all the Swedish Embassies, we're going to release information to show that Carl Bildt was a US spy, etc etc. So the environment there is as toxic. A new book has come out about this by a Swede called "A Brief History of Swedish Sex", looking at how Sweden used to be perceived to be a libertine environment back in the 1960s 1970s, and that it has swung the other way, to be the most sort-of sexually conservative and erotic environment in all of the Western world now. And there's a whole bunch of crazy cases that are permitted, and these are very political because the sort-of sex politics in Sweden is real political currency, such political currency that it involves - and not just women - that involves the careers and political destinies of senior men in cabinet.

Phillip Adams: Whilst you are now a pariah to the likes of The New York Times and The Guardian, it's interesting that you've collected some new fans and supporters. I'm a great admirer of Dan Ellsberg, and I know he's been helping out.

Julian Assange: Dan's been great. I mean, through this process it's brought out the worst in some people, but it's also brought out the best in others, and Dan is one of those. Y'know, whenever you're in a particular niche of society - and let's say my niche is sort-of aggressive journalism, exposing the state, and in some kind of battle - there's competition within that niche, and sometimes people react on competitive tendencies. For example, The Guardian newspaper is competitive with us for that social/political niche. But Dan Ellsberg, John Pilger, Amy Goodman: all these people have completely risen above any sort-of competitive instinct.

Phillip Adams: Well, Pilger, I think, Pilger's performance has been particularly commendable because you haven't always been kind to John in the past. Another recruit that was of all people Ron Paul, who did make a quite impassioned and rational speech, didn't he?

Julian Assange: Ron Paul, a right-wing Libertarian from the US - part of this great tradition, actually, of strong, right-wing Libertarians in the US - made an impassioned speech from the floor of the Congress, back in the heat of the moment, when it was almost aa sort-of Neo-McCarthyesque feeling about attacking us, when it was almost every man and his dog was coming out and saying that I should be assassinated and hung up, hunted down like Osama bin Laden. Ron Paul, in the middle of that, stood up and said, 'Look, what we need is the truth. Look, right here is a cable about the meeting that took place with representatives of Saddam Hussein right before the Gulf War. And it shows that the US gave tacit permission for it to go ahead'.

Phillip Adams: I'm talking to Julian Assange on a pretty bad line from the UK and this is LNL on RN. The pseudo-left, as you might describe them, haven't been so good, have they? In fact many, many, if not most, seem to have run a mile.

Julian Assange: Yeah, it's this interesting tendency, and I was just speaking to my mother the other night and, y'know, there's this classic grid where you draw the vertical axis as authoritarian to libertarian, and the horizontal axis left to right. And so you have the libertarian-right, the libertarian-left, and the authoritarian-right, and authoritarian-left. But if we look at the strong libertarian-right and the strong libertarian-left, and even the strong libertarian-centre, [Adams laughs] this group has been overwhelmingly supportive on all sides of politics. But the sort-of soft liberal-left, well I've come to develop a great disrespect for these people, because they have certain values which they espouse, but then when push comes to shove, when they actually have to risk something, when they have to risk alliances, when they have to risk reputation, where they have to risk being swept up in a financial blockade, or something like this, they turn in exactly the opposite direction.

Phillip Adams: I think Salman Rushdie had much the same experience as you did, you must be extremely elated that you aren't on the kill list of the President because we heard from his US Ambassador here that the United States isn't vaguely interested in extraditing you. Do you take comfort from that at all, or are you deeply suspicious?

Julian Assange: [laughs] Well, deeply suspicious. Jeffrey Bleich is a lawyer, so what he was saying is, 'We have no interest in the Swedish extradition', so that was the context of his statement, not 'That we have... and that there is no action against him'. But in fact the US, for the past nearly 18 months - oh yeah, nearly 18 months - has been running a grand jury against me in Virginia, meets every month for several days, nine prosecutors involved, Department of Justice spilling out subpoenas to Google, Twitter, Facebook, to any one of my friends or associates, or rumoured friends or associates who entered into the United States. There were, just in the past three weeks, Jérémie Zimmermann, the free speech activist who visited me a month or so ago, was detained on his way out of the US by the FBI, interrogated about me, asked to become an informant; Smári McCarthy from Iceland, just two weeks ago, going to the US - in fact the same thing happened - followed around Washington DC, approached at 1:30AM in the morning by three people who said they were FBI officers, asked him to become an informant. So, y'know, it's not that the Australian Government doesn't know this; it knows it perfectly well, in fact the Sydney Morning Herald has gotten hold of a bunch of FOIs through the good work of one of their journalists, Phillip Dorling, and... I need to find that... [shuffling through papers] So yeah, they speak about Bleich. So this is from the SMH, about five days ago: "A highly qualified lawyer, Ambassador Bleich..." So, Bleich has denied that there even exists such thing as a secret warrant. But that wasn't the question; the question was about a sealed indictment. "A highly qualified lawyer, Ambassador Bleich, knows that a warrant is not the same thing as an indictment. If a formal accusation or crime is issued by a US grand jury; a grand jury hearing is held in secret and an indictment may also be sealed, that is kept secret until the arrest warrant has been issued and the defendant is taken into custody. To say that secret warrants don't exist is true, but that is not the point".

Phillip Adams: Julian, your mother has... Well, many of us would believe that the Australian Government has done precious little to help you. How do you rate their performance currently? There are loud protestations that they're on our side.

Julian Assange: They're absolutely abysmal, absolutely abysmal. I haven't met with a representative of the Australian Government in any kind since late 2010. Now, what they do, they pen little emails across saying, 'Oh, we might want to know if you have any concerns', dadadadada. And in every single one of these SMSs that they send to my lawyer, looking to make an appointment to get more intelligence back from us that they can use to prepare their media lines, they then say that's a consular communication, or a consular visit. The last thing that happened is that one of my lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, met with Nicola Roxon, the Australian Attorney-General, just about three weeks ago, and presented to her a list of extremely reasonable (by international standards) request, that is, for example, that the Australian Government request that the Swedish Government not extradite me to the United States for anything to do with WikiLeaks publishing matter, or that I be... If I did end up in Sweden, that I not be placed in custody without charge. [Adams: Yeah.] I've been 540 days here under house arrest, I've kept to my house arrest - without charge - but the Swedish prosecutor refuses to agree to that. So our lawyers have asked, they've refused. They will apply to hold me in custody without charge while this so-called investigation continues. The Australian Government refused to do that. If I wind up in the United States, or wind up in Sweden, can I serve my sentence in Australia. And they refused to ask them to do that. The attacks by the executive in Sweden... It seems to me that if you have the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, repeatedly attacking me... By the way, Hillary Clinton just spent the weekend with Carl Bildt and the Swedish executive, this, y'know, two days ago; the first visit since 1976 of the Secretary of State. So Carl Bildt and the Prime Minister, Reinfeldt, have been attacking me in 2012 publicly against Swedish procedure. So it seems to me, that if an Australian citizen is attacked by a Foreign Minister of another country when they're in judicial process, that the Foreign Minister of Australia or the Attorney-General of Australia should say, make representations to please do not do that, because it's impossible to have a sort-of fair process while that is occurring. They have refused to do that. In fact, the only way that you can describe this recent letter of refusal to do anything at all, whatsoever, in any area, by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, is a declaration of abandonment.

Phillip Adams: Julian, people forget that you've been in jail. You had 10 days in solitary, and I remember you suggesting that everyone should have 10 days in solitary, especially politicians. [Assange: Especially politicians.] And you have a lot of sympathy with Bradley Manning as a result. Now worst-case scenario: you're in prison in Sweden. You've done some research on it and apparently Swedish prisons are - surprise, surprise - regarded by many as the worst in Europe.

Julian Assange: Well, not by me. Fair Trials International, just a week ago, released their description of what Swedish remand prisons were like. And yes, they are some of the worst in Europe. The immediately former-head of the International Prisons Chaplains Association, the guys who visit more prisons in the world than any other people, themselves Swedish, said that Swedish remand prisons are the worst in Europe. And the reason is because they hold people without charge, in incommunicado detention; they're allowed to speak to their lawyers and no one else. The prosecutor, who is partisan, has total control over the conditions. So they, y'know, they use this as part of sort-of an interrogation process: 'Well, you want to see your mother, well sorry, y'know, you haven't been cooperative this week'.

Phillip Adams: Have you found a media outlet that's allowed you to discuss the allegations about your sexual molestation charges - I'm sorry, allegations? Have you have a good chance to put your case?

Julian Assange: No, I mean, this is the really sort-of pernicious situation that we've fallen into where, because I haven't been charged, I do not have even the rights of a defendant. So I have no rights to any of the full accusations against me, any of the evidence against me, I have no rights to protest any of that. Under the basis that I haven't been charged... Y'know, if we look at this from sort-of legal philosophy that we've become accustomed to in Australia - and actually as all common law systems have become mostly accustomed to, and even continental systems - which is, as an adult, you are a free individual, free to go about your business in life, without being deprived of your liberty by the state, unless a formal accusation has been made against you, unless you're formally charged, unless you're indicted. And at that point you are still innocent until proven guilty, but you are forced to go into a process to establish that, and that might require going up to court hearings, maybe it will require being on bail, but until that point - until the point of being charged - you are a free man. But I haven't been charged. And so, until I am charged, I don't think that my private affairs - my completely legitimate private affairs - are of any business to the state. It is not my responsibility to prove the innocence of my private affairs. It is the state's responsibility to take an accusation, turn it into a charge, charge me if necessary, and at that point prove its accusations.

Phillip Adams: Julian, in the few moments we have left, let's move to the Bradley Manning hearing, which I understand was attended by US Justice Department representatives specifically to see how it might impact on their investigation into WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange: That's right, it was - the next hearing by the way is tomorrow - but the ones in December were attended by three people - at least three sort-of figures who would not identify themselves, who were not part of the military prosecution - we know at least one of them is from the Department of Justice, the others might be from CIA or other interests who have some equity - remember, there is a publicly declared CIA task force into WikiLeaks, the WikiLeaks Task Force - and yeah, so the overlap between these two hearings - between the grand jury process and Bradley Manning's ongoing procedures - is there. And Bradley Manning's lawyer has found 250,000 pages of material that exists - that is part of the grand jury proceedings or various other investigations into WikiLeaks - that are not part of the case against his client, and he is trying to get hold of those in order to see if they help with the case against his client, and that has been refused. He says, Bradley Manning's lawyer, back in December, that the terrible conditions that Bradley Manning was placed under, that the UN declared as cruel punishment akin to torture - that was the finding of the UN special Rapporteur into Torture - that he was put through that in order to coerce him into testifying against me. Similarly, that he was given a death penalty charge of aiding the enemy - which is absurd, because they say that the aiding of the enemy, the military's allegation is that he aided the enemy by conveying information to the public - that death penalty charge is absurd and cannot survive, but it's there to put pressure on him to rat on us.

Phillip Adams: Oh what a tangled web. Look, Julian, thanks for your time, and I know it's been...

Julian Assange: Just one more thing, Phil. We just got this letter from the Attorney-General's office: "The Government has stated that the debate about the WikiLeaks matter, not about censoring free speech or preventing the media from reporting news, the Government's concern relates to the reckless disregard of the potential damage that could be caused by unauthorized disclosure of classified materials". OK, well that's their standard suck-up to the US party line. But now let's look at who it came from: Anna Harmer, Assistant Secretary, International Crime Cooperation Central Authorities.

Phillip Adams: We've got to wrap it, I'm afraid, Julian, and thanks for your time, and you have of course my best wishes. WikiLeaks founder, the besieged and beleaguered Julian Assange, on LNL on RN.

2012-06-09 WikiLeaks News Update: Bradley Manning's motion hearings; U.S. Government's leak hypocrisy

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 553 days.
Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 550 days.
Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without trial for 747 days.
A secret Grand Jury has been active in the U.S. without transparency for 633 days.

WikiLeaks News:

  • Foreign Policy published an article about "good" leaks and "bad" leaks; how WikiLeaks has been prosecuted, while the people who leaked the Kill List, Stuxnet, and the bin Laden raid have not. Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain (R) attacked the Obama administration for aggressively pursuing Bradley Manning and former CIA whistleblowers while sanctioning the leaks by officials.
  • 40 prisoners who have been cleared for release are still imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. WikiLeaks' Gitmo Files contributed largely to Andy Worthington's research which revealed this.
  • Sibel Edmonds of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition was on RT discussing the war on whistleblowers and how the attacks on WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning are being used to set an example and deter future whistleblowers. Watch the interview below.
  • An article in Digital Journal analysed WikiLeaks cables on Monsanto, which comes as France attempts to ban GMO corn.
  • Swedish state radio has created a WikiLeaks-style platform for uploading files called "Radioleaks", but it lacks basic protections of anonymity.
  • A 20-minute Tor-enabled World Online Whistleblowing Survey has been released by a research team led by Griffith University and The University of Melbourne. It is the first international survey testing public views about whistleblowing to be run online in multiple languages.
  • Twitter user @Jaraparilla recounted his meeting with his local MP Steve Ciobo during a rally for Bradley Manning, asking him questions about the alleged whistleblower as well as WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
  • An op-ed in On Line Opinion discusses the significance of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, what their work has done for key freedoms, and what surrounding events have taught us about the nature of justice.

Julian Assange News:

  • Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E Samuelson gave an interview in which he discussed why Mr Assange's concerns regarding extradition to Sweden are justified. An English translation is available via Rixstep.
  • Julian Assange was on RadioNational Late Night Live discussing his extradition case and the Australian Government's abandonment of him. Transcript of the interview is also available.
  • Full video has been released of the May 24 Q&A panel on "Shadows of Liberty", where Julian Assange addressed the crowd wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Watch the video below.
  • Emails from Anna Harmer, official of Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, related to Julian Assange's extradition have been disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. (PDF)
  • Oscar Swartz wrote a blog post commenting on a recent article by Aftonbladet on his new book, "A Brief History of Swedish Sex". He says he was inspired to write it when he saw all the conspiracy theories surrounding Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
  • An analysis from UK Human Rights Blog looks at how the UK is not bound by "The Pupino Rule" and how this affects Julian Assange's case.

Bradley Manning News:


  • The third set of pre-trial hearings in Bradley Manning's case spanned June 6 to 8. Here are the major developments of the proceedings:
    • The judge ordered the U.S. Government to hand over documents to Bradley's lawyers related to the disclosure of classified information by WikiLeaks.
    • The judge denied a motion by the defence to dismiss 10 of the 22 charges related to unauthorized transmission and exceeding authorized access. But the judge did say the prosecution would need to provide more evidence to prove the charges of exceeding authorized access.
    • Three witnesses from the U.S. State Department testified regarding damage assessments related to WikiLeaks disclosures. Groups such as the "WikiLeaks Working Group" and "WikiLeaks Persons at Risk" group were created before the cables were released. The damage assessment report has not been updated since August 2011, even though all the State Department cables were released unredacted the following month.
    • The defence and prosecution argued LIOs, or "lesser included offenses", which is what Bradley would be charged with if more severe charges cannot be proven.
    • The judge denied a motion by the defence to record or transcribe the secret conference "802 sessions" that are held nearly every day of the hearings.
    • Due to issues with discovery, the amount of future pre-trial hearings has doubled from three to six, and Bradley's trial is postponed from September 2012 until either November 2012 or January 2013.
    • A previously unscheduled 39A hearing will be held on June 25.
  • Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola covered the first two days of Bradley Manning's motion hearings via live-blog (Day 1, Day 2). He wrote in-depth articles on the defence's fight for relevant evidence, the testimonies from State Department employees, and the secrecy games by the prosecution. He also appeared on Democracy Now! (shown below), The Alyona Show, and RT America to discuss the proceedings.
  • Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network published detailed notes from Day 1 of Bradley's latest motion hearings.
  • Denver Nicks, author of the book on Bradley Manning "Private", analysed the treatment of Bradley, asking whether the U.S. Government is bungling the prosecution proceedings. He also appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss his book and Bradley's childhood.
  • An article at Techdirt analysed whether Bradley Manning would be facing the same charges had he allegedly leaked to The New York Times rather than WikiLeaks.
  • David House was on The Dylan Ratigan Show discussing Bradley Manning's motion hearings and the stonewalling and destruction of evidence by the military. Watch the interview below.
  • Kevin Zeese of the Bradley Manning Support Network was on The Alyona Show discussing Bradley Manning's motion hearings and how it seems like a kangaroo court, but the judge is starting to wake up.
  • Reports from vigils for Bradley Manning in Chester and Ft. Meade have been published.


Upcoming Dates & Events:

June 10: SEP meetings to defend Julian Assange in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.

June 13: Julian Assange defence submission to Supreme Court due.

June 25: Bradley Manning 39A hearing.

July 16-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

August 27-31: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

September 19-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

November 2012 ~ January 2013: Bradley Manning's court martial.

2012-06-12 WLC Q&A: Oscar Swartz

Oscar Swartz is a Swedish writer, entrepreneur, and Internet veteran. He founded Sweden's first independent ISP in 1994, has a degree from the Stockholm School of Economics, and was a Fulbright Fellow as a PhD student at Columbia University in New York. He divides his time between Stockholm and Berlin.

On 1 June 2012 Oscar released his book Swedish Sex to critical acclaim. The full title of the book is:

'A Brief History of Swedish Sex: How the Nation that Gave Us Free Love Redefined Rape and Declared War on Julian Assange'

Oscar researched the history of Swedish sex from the early 1950s and through to the arrest of Julian Assange in 2010. Written as a timeline, the book shows clearly how Sweden descended from one of the western world's most sexually liberated nations to its most repressive.

The full reality of what is going on in the 'duckpond' has been already reported to bring on Orwellian shivers. And when one finally gets to August 2010, it is hardly a shock to see what difficulties Julian Assange encountered and is still dealing with to this day.

Oscar's book cannot be too highly recommended. WL Central caught up with Oscar to get answers to a few key questions.

WLC: What prompted you to write the book?
Oscar Swartz: Sex is being increasingly used to control communications - and as a political weapon. A couple of high-profile cases took place in Sweden just before the Assange case broke. They are in the book.

I have long been a critic of Sweden's ever increasing fight against sexual activity which does not occur in a context that is regarded as romantically correct. Sex has come to be seen by the establishment as dichotomous: either it is connected with deeper feelings and then it is wonderful - or it is abuse and criminal and awful.

Sweden's use of legal means is commonly seen as overreaching in the Assange case. Why don't they just interview him at the Embassy or something similar, is a common question. It may however be logical given Sweden's official position on sexuality. Sweden is extremist. But internationally we still have a reputation from the 1960s and 70s as a sexually liberal nation. I want to add knowledge about the state of affairs in Sweden and add one perspective to other theories in the Assange case. People who read the book seem to be stunned. They should be!

WLC: What do you think precipitated the change in sexual politics in Sweden?
Oscar Swartz: It is clear, and here I have the great anthropology professor Don Kulick with me, that it is connected to 'feminism' in some sense. But there are wildly different forms of feminism. A dear friend and a feminist of my own kind, scholar and author Petra Östergren, is mentioned in my book. She went from celebrated to shunned feminist in Sweden when she questioned the radical feminist view that women must hate all porn and prostitution. Radical feminism is an extremist branch but in Sweden its supporters have filled the highest positions in society and have managed to control the discourse. Claes Borgström is one of them. People may be shocked internationally when they read all these mind-boggling quotes from speeches and writings by top politicians and legislators in my book.

WLC: Do you think the politics in Sweden now are anti-male... or anti-sex in general... or both?
Oscar Swartz: First: Do we believe there are average differences between males and females when it comes to sexuality. I do. It seems probable that males are less discriminating and have a higher capacity to separate deeper feelings from sexual expression. There is a political war on such sex. Therefore it affects males disproportionately.

WLC: Do you see the same kinds of attacks on homosexual sex as on heterosexual sex?
Oscar Swartz: The homosexual world is a culture filled with porn, escorts, quick sex without deeper emotions - all the 'bad' things according to official doctrine. But there are very few rapes or sex crimes. This is a phenomenon that radical feminism never addresses. Instead they regulate homosexual sex in the same way as they do heterosexual, despite their analyses being based on male dominance of women. Even those who believe in the radical feminist worldview should be honest enough to admit their intellectual failure. In the book we find e.g. the case of the Sex Purchase Act (unilateral criminalization of a person who pays for casual sex, while allowing anyone to charge for such sex) which was simply applied to homosexual sex although two governmental inquiries, preparing the legislation, concluded that homosexual prostitution works in an entirely different way.

WLC: What do you think it would take to change the direction that sexual politics is taking in Sweden... eg can Sweden be restored to the level of freedom that it experienced in the 1960s? What would it take to make that happen?
Oscar Swartz: I see no such signs. Sweden claims that males have power over females. Only. It lacks an understanding that females also have power over men, sexual power. Camille Paglia should be required reading. We cannot achieve a less hostile sexual culture until we acknowledge and discuss both men's and women's roles when it comes to sexual interplay. I think there are solutions based on knowledge about sexuality. But sex is strictly ideology and politics in Sweden today. I'd like to go into this in another book, a cultural critique of our view of sexuality.

WLC: Do you think that the change in attitude towards sex is a grassroots movement or a top-down directive from the government?
Oscar Swartz: There is radical ideology from the top. But not only. I show how the Penal Code is now used to enforce pure and simple morals. I am not talking about rape here (although we are in for the fourth redefinition of rape in 20 years now). Let me give a quote from the book to show what I mean. Ulrika Messing, the cabinet minister who formally presented the Sex Purchase Act that criminalizes anyone who 'obtains a casual sexual relation in return for payment'. Her private comment was: 'I don't believe that prostitution has anything to do with sex - at least not as I see sex, as something that belongs in a love relationship. Those who visit prostitutes obviously have a need for sex - but not for the kind of sex they would have with their wife or partner. It is slightly forbidden - and now it actually becomes totally forbidden'.

Visit the official website of 'Swedish Sex' for information on how you get your copy. Currently priced at £5/$7, the book is available as an electronic download, may be read on Kindle or the software equivalent.

You'll be scared!

2012-06-13 Sen Ludlam on extradition & #Assange in light of expanding US military presence in Asia Pacific #WikiLeaks

"Between 70 and 80 per cent of Australians
support the work of WikiLeaks..." Senator Scott Ludlam

Earlier today, I spoke to Greens Senator for Western Australia, Scott Ludlam, about the threat of extradition for WikiLeaks Editor in Chief, Julian Assange, in light of expanding US military presence in Asia Pacific and broadening military ties between Australia and the United States.

2012-06-14 Supreme Court rejects appeal to reopen Assange case

The UK Supreme Court has rejected the appeal by Julian Assange's legal team to reopen his case. The appeal was submitted in written format on June 12, with the decision coming the morning of June 14.

The original decision to extradite Mr Assange was made by the Supreme Court on May 30. But Mr Assange's team argued that, since the ruling was based on the Vienna Convention, a point not discussed in the February hearings, the case should be reopened to allow further submissions on this point. The Supreme Court rejected this notion, saying that Mr Assange's lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, had the opportunity to challenge this point.

The 10 day period in which Mr Assange will be extradited begins 14 days from today. This means his extradition will happen between the 29th of June and the 8th of July.

Julian Assange has currently been detained for 555 days without charge, including 10 he spent in solitary confinement at Wandsworth Prison.

Swedish prisons have been largely criticized for their harsh pre-trial detainment methods. When extradited, Mr Assange will be immediately placed in prison. He will not be able to make bail. In prison, Mr Assange is subject to the following conditions (via Fair Trials International):

  • isolation: meaning that he is held in his cell for up to 23 hours a day;
  • no visits from anyone other than his lawyer or a priest;
  • restrictions on phone calls and written correspondence;
  • limited contact with other detainees; and
  • lack of access to newspapers, radio and television.

The decision by the Supreme Court to extradited Julian Assange further means that anybody can be extradited from the UK to any EU country without charge, evidence, or proper judicial oversight.

Mr Assange's last outlet of appeal is to the European Court of Human Rights, though this is unlikely to stop his extradition.

For further information on the case, see:
Justice for Assange
Justice for Assange - Supreme Court Appeal
Justice for Assange - Irregularities in the Prosecution
UK Supreme Court Agreed Facts of the Assange Case
Jennifer Robinson's Briefing to Canberra MPs re Julian Assange
Christine Assange's Talking Points
Common Misconceptions of the Assange Case
A Brief History of Swedish Sex

You can assist Mr Assange with his legal fees by donating to him via credit card, PayPal, cash, cheque, or bank transfer.

Supporters around the world are planning rallies for July 1.

2012-06-14 WikiLeaks News Update: Supreme Court to decide on Assange appeal; US Gov responds to CCR petition

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 558 days.
Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 555 days.
Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without trial for 752 days.
A secret Grand Jury has been active in the U.S. without transparency for 638 days.

WikiLeaks News:

  • The Washington Post published an article on the U.S. expanding its secret intelligence operations in Africa, piecing descriptions of the surveillence network together from government documents, including those released by WikiLeaks.
  • A WikiLeaks panel entitled "Don't Shoot the Messenger" will be held at Coombs Theatre, A.M.U., Canberra on June 27 at 7PM. Speakers include Christine Assange, Scott Ludlam, David Hicks, Bernard Keane, and Humphrey McQueen.
  • A new bill is circulating in the UK Parliament which, if passed, would likely deter whistleblowers. Watch RT's report on the proposed bill below, with WikiLeaks' Kristinn Hrafnsson providing insight.
  • Accountability website ML Implode recently recieved the "WikiLeaks treatment" -- Wells Fargo froze its bank account without any warning.
  • Whistleblower Peter van Buren, a State Department employee currently in the process of being forcibly separated, was on RT discussing the Obama administration purposely and selectively leaking information. Watch the interview below.
  • Whistleblower William Binney will be giving a keynote this year's HOPE conference in New York, July 13-15. The other keynote will be given by The Yes Men, who partnered with WikiLeaks for The GI Files.

Julian Assange News:

[EDIT] BREAKING: The UK Supreme Court has rejected Julian Assange's appeal to reopen his case.

  • The UK Supreme Court met on June 13 to discuss reopening Julian Assange's case based on a submission from his legal team made the previous day. The decision, in written form, is expected within a few days.
  • Lord Kerr gave a lecture on European Arrest Warrants and "judicial authorities" in relation to Julian Assange's case, despite the fact that the case may be reopened.
  • McClatchy issued eight corrections regarding the false statement that Julian Assange has been charged with a crime.
  • Julian Burnside QC wrote on Australian PM Julia Gillard's refusal to answer whether or not she has asked the U.S. if they will try to extradite Julian Assange from Sweden. This comes after Mr Burnside asked her the question on ABC Q&A last Monday. Watch the clip below.
  • As a follow-up to his chat with Julian Assange from June 6, Phillip Adams of Late Night Live Radio will be presenting a story on the evolution of attitudes toward sex in Sweden next week.
  • Alexa O'Brien interviewed Greens Senator Scott Ludlam on the threat of Julian Assange's extradition in light of the expanding U.S. military presence in the Asia Pacific and growing military ties between the U.S. and Australia.
  • Supporters of Julian Assange rallied outside an Economic Forum in Brisbane where Australian PM Julia Gillard was speaking.
  • Blogger Jaraparilla wrote a fictional story about Australia's future invasion of Sweden in order to rescue Julian Assange.

Bradley Manning News:

  • The U.S. Government responded to The CCR's petition regarding public access to documents in Bradley Manning's case. They say that, since the public can file FOIA requests to get the information, they already have access.
  • The Bradley Manning Support Network issued a news update which covers a recap of last week, Kevin Gosztola on Democracy Now!, and a look into what leaks reveal.
  • Alexa O' Brien published a rush transcript of Bradley Manning's June 6 motion hearings.
  • An updated version of ABC Four Corner's "WikiLeaks - The Forgotten Man", a film focused on Bradley Manning, will air on June 18 at 8:30PM. The new version contains an interview with UN Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez.


Upcoming Dates & Events:

June 15: Melbourne rally for Julian Assange, UK Consulate, 3PM.

June 18: Updated version of "WikiLeaks - The Forgotten Man" airs on ABC1, 8:30PM.

June 25: Bradley Manning 39A hearing.

June 25: London vigil for Bradley Manning at the US Embassy, 3PM.

June 27: "Don't Shoot the Messenger" panel with Christine Assange, Scott Ludlam, David Hicks, Bernard Keane, Humphrey McQueen & more. Coombs Theatre, A.N.U., Australia at 7PM.

July 16-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

August 27-31: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

September 19-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

November 2012 ~ January 2013: Bradley Manning's court martial.

2012-06-17 A Brief History of Swedish Sex: The rise and fall of "Swedish Sin"

In 2008, University of Chicago Chair and former Stockholm University professor Don Kulick observed: "From being admired and envied by many as beacons of sexual enlightenment in the 1960s and '70s, the Scandinavian countries today have some of the most repressive sex laws in the Western world. Sweden is the most draconian. ... The message conveyed by [recent laws] is clear: your sexuality is the property of the state, and the state will claim its right to regulate and punish that sexuality, wherever you may be. So whatever, indeed, happened to sex in Scandinavia?"

Although it does not directly answer Kulick's question, Oscar Swartz's new book, A Brief History of Swedish Sex: How the Nation That Gave Us Free Love Redefined Rape and Declared War on Julian Assange, traces the change that Kulick describes. Structured as a timeline, the volume vividly illustrates how a political coup by a group of radical feminists at the highest levels of government caused the free-love era of "Swedish sin" to give way to a wave of anti-sex and anti-male hysteria that vilified heterosexual sex and villainized men. It was into this morass that WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange waded when he had consensual sexual relations with Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilén -- and then became the target of a Sweden-initiated international manhunt.

From "Swedish sin" to sexual repression

The notion of "Swedish sin" springs from the days of the country's sexual revolution, which started earlier than in most other Western societies. Beginning in the 1950s, a wash of Swedish erotic culture included pornographic films, books, and magazines; clubs where audiences could view live sex acts; mandatory sex education for all children from age seven; early legalization and public acceptance of homosexuality; and contraceptives and abortion on demand.

How did this sex liberalism give way to a Christian moralism that devolved into a War on Sex and then a War on Men? One irony shown in Swedish Sex is that the very openness and moralism of Swedish society -- which allowed women entry into the upper echelons of politics -- ultimately permitted that society to be dominated by a bloc of female political actors who espoused sexual repression, as well as oppression of the other half of the country's population. At the height of the sexual revolution, these disgruntled radical feminists spearheaded a backlash: by claiming the moral high ground and casting women invariably as victims in any sexual encounter, they swung the country's moral fulcrum and almost unilaterally imposed their own agenda on this small nation.

The rise of radical feminists

A major actor in this drama, according to Swartz, was former Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Margareta Winberg. Winberg also chaired the militant National Federation of Social Democratic Women; she surrounded herself with radical feminists and routinely unleashed virulent anti-male diatribes in public. In 2004 she published an article asking Swedish women: "Why do you put up with it? Why can't you bear witness about men as oppressors, wife-beaters, members of the Taliban and unpleasant types in general? ... For who are a burden to society and us women? Who is in prison? Who is a soccer hooligan? Who abuses women at home? Who is most expensive when he is ill? ... Who neglects his children? Who requires too much space in the public arena - without having anything to say? Who starts and wages war? ... Do men want to be such a burden? Do they know they are?" Later that same year Winberg gave a public speech portraying prostitutes as victims and johns as abusers: "Men buy living beings, men beat, men degrade, men run away from responsibilities, men own more, men earn more money, men grab, men shoot, men rob etc. Sometimes I'm really wondering why more women do not really hate men. The way they behave!"

Such attitudes, viewed as marginal in other countries, became the Swedish norm. In the radical feminists' worldview, pornography and prostitution are always the same as "degradation, abuse, torture and rape" propagated by men. in 2007 prominent Social Democrat Katrine Kielos opined in print that "what we regard as 'normal' male sexuality actually [presupposes] systematic abuse of women". One female politician in the Moderate Party recounts her experience at the annual congress of ROKS, a government-backed women's advocacy group: "There was such an aggression and hatred and such unpleasant attitudes against half of the Swedish population ... In the evening the Board sang songs - it was a party evening. But when you sing a song about 'we shall boil them' and 'we shall burn them' and it is all about men... I must distance myself." At the Left Party's congress, Chair Gudrun Schyman made a speech comparing Swedish men to the Taliban. Winberg's advisor Gunilla Ekberg equated prostitution with violence and opined that no woman "can endure" being "subject to penetration four to five times a day".

The extremism of this anti-male, anti-sex bloc became clear when, in 2005, a government-supported group of two dozen feminists attacked employees of a Stockholm porn club with "baseball bats, bottles, umbrellas and a bag of pebbles as weapons". A newspaper later reported that "traces of the riot" included "blood drenched clots and dried pools of blood". The government financed a live production of the SCUM [Society for Cutting Up Men] Manifesto, a theatrical staging of a 1967 publication by radical feminist Valerie Solanas. Solanas, who infamously shot Andy Warhol a year later, espoused "selectively destroy[ing] property and kill[ing] men". Swartz notes: "The kind of hateful radical feminism, that a mentally unstable Valerie Solanas developed, is internationally regarded as marginal extremism. in the 2010s of Sweden it has become normal feminism."

Male hatred codified

This anti-male, anti-heterosexual-sex agenda was intended to be reinforced by legislation; at their 2001 congress, the Social Democrats vowed to politically overturn the "Gender Power Order, the systematic subordination" of females by males. In 1982 the government introduced an anti-prostitution bill that "proposed that all of society join in the goal of changing men's sexuality: boys must learn that sex should only occur in conjunction with emotional relationships." The proposal included "propaganda activities" that would reinforce this message. Bans on live-sex clubs and sauna clubs soon followed. "Rape" was drastically redefined, and now included acts that did not involve sexual penetration. Radical feminists even insisted that "pleading sex" -- i.e., "when a partner begs and pleads for sex so insistently that the woman agrees to sex just to end the nagging" -- is rape. This position later served as the basis for a government propaganda campaign encouraging females to report their lovers to the authorities. Prostitution, according to the radical feminists, is always rape; therefore only the [mostly male] purchasers of sex, and not the prostitutes themselves, are subject to legal punishment. Sexual offenses were more harshly prosecuted. Swedes could now be punished for sexual violations they committed while outside the country. Not surprisingly, this state of affairs has led to a false rape figure reportedly as high as 80%. Police spokespersons quietly acknowledge that false rape accusations are "an enormous problem and we are deadly tired of it".

Sweden's Achilles heel

Why did all this happen? Swartz' timeline indicates that both the rise and the fall of "Swedish sin" resulted from the Swedes' perpetual eagerness to be seen as morally correct. U.S. intellectual Susan Sontag notes Sweden's desire to "see [it]self as morally leading other nations" and its citizens' "strong conviction of their country's moral superiority". It was this quest for the moral high ground that led to the sexual revolution and the flowering of gender-egalitarianism; and it was the same moralist bent that, 20 years later, withered into a neo-Puritanism admonishing that sex is wrong unless it occurs in the context of a traditional, "healthy" romantic relationship.

Ultimately, however, the true goal is state control of all aspects of the lives of citizens. Swartz' book depicts a contemporary Sweden in which Swedes' sexuality is treated as "the property of the state"; in which tourist-industry businesses like hotels and taxi operators are subject to prosecution if they fail to report the sexual activity of their customers to the police; and in which a woman dressed in a "provocative" manner or receiving males guests is assumed to be a prostitute. British journalist Robert Huntford perceived this trend in Sweden as early as 1971, when he published his book The New Totalitarians. Swartz reports: "The book was a scathing criticism of a country governed by social engineers where every aspect of life would be regulated." Huntford writes: "'The State, anxious to control the citizen absolutely, has taken sexuality in hand as well. Even in the fundamental human act, the welfare mentality has intruded, and the Swedes, while encouraged to release their political frustrations through the reproductive procedure, are yet admonished to do so decently, hygienically, and properly."

Focus on Julian Assange

After detailing a number of sensational sex scandals that call into question Sweden's new stance on sexuality, Swedish Sex finishes with a focus on the Assange case. Swartz examines the complainants' significant involvement with the Social Democrats' radical feminist wing -- and the later manipulation of evidence following the first prosecutor's initial assessment that, in regard to the women's rape allegation, "the content of the interrogation does not support any claim that a crime has been committed".

A Brief History of Swedish Sex is available via Kindle download at

2012-06-17 WikiLeaks News Update: Assange appeal rejected; Worldwide rallies planned; Updated events

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 561 days.
Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 558 days.
Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without trial for 755 days.
A secret Grand Jury has been active in the U.S. without transparency for 641 days.

WikiLeaks News:

  • For Cyber Safety Week, Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam published an article about "Who Watches the Watchers", which discusses surveillance, including revelations from WikiLeaks' Spy Files.
  • The Alyona Show discussed the U.S. plans to deploy 3,000 troops in Africa next year, information that came out partially through WikiLeaks cables. Watch the video below.
  • Somerset Bean has created new badge designs for supporting WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning.
  • The Wikipedia article for OpenLeaks is in the process of being deleted, as the website is yet to activate after its promised January 2011 launch date.

Julian Assange News:

  • WL Central is collecting birthday greetings for Julian Assange's 41st birthday on July 3. We will publish all the messages. You can send them to us at or via Twitter using the hashtag #JA41.
  • The UK Supreme Court rejected Julian Assange's appeal to reopen his case. This means his extradition is upheld and will take place between June 29 and July 8. Mr Assange may further appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
    • For more information see the UK Supreme Court's statement and rulings, Justice for Assange - Supreme Court Appeal, and the press release from the Swedish Prosecution Authority.
    • UK Government security contractors came to Julian Assange's house arrest location "demanding to fit [a] new tagging device "because [the] battery is low signal"" around 11PM on June 14, the same day his appeal was rejected.
    • Sweden has not paid for any of the legal proceedings in Julian Assange's case; most of it is paid by Mr Assange, but UK taxpayers are the ones paying for Sweden.
    • According to official sentencing equivalents of the UK, Julian Assange has been incarcerated for over 286 days without charge.
  • Swedish feminist Helene Bergman wrote an article about Swedish state feminism in relation to Julian Assange's case.
  • U.S. Attorney Kevin Zeese was on RT discussing Julian Assange's case and his potential extradition to the U.S. RT also published an article on the same topic. Watch the video below.
  • RT interviewed journalist Afshin Rattansi about Julian Assange's extradition.

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  • Next week's episode of "The World Tomorrow" will feature Pakistani presidential candidate favorite Imran Khan. The episode airs Tuesday, June 19 at 12:30PM London time on RT.
  • WL Central reviewed the new e-book "A Brief History of Swedish Sex". Also see our Q&A with its author, Oscar Swartz.

Bradley Manning News:

  • The Bradley Manning Support Network issued a news update which covers the U.S. Government rejecting a transparency lawsuit, a Nobel Peace Prize petition, and international solidarity actions.
  • A new play about Bradley Manning entitled "Desert" will be showing at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter from 21-23 June.
  • There is an official contingent for Bradley Manning in San Francisco Pride on June 24, 9:30AM.


Upcoming Dates & Events:

June 18: Updated version of "WikiLeaks - The Forgotten Man" airs on ABC1, 8:30PM.

June 18: "Manning Mondays" at Brecht Forum, New York, 7:30PM.

June 19: "The World Tomorrow" featuring Imran Khan airs on RT, 12:30PM London time.

June 21: Rally for Julian Assange, DFAT, Sydney, 5PM.

June 21-23: Bradley Manning play "Desert" showing at The Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter.

June 23: Overnight vigil for Julian Assange at Occupy Frankfurt, 9PM.

June 25: Bradley Manning 39A hearing.

June 25: "Manning Mondays" at Brecht Forum, New York, 7:30PM.

June 25: London vigil for Bradley Manning at the US Embassy, 3PM.

June 27: "Don't Shoot the Messenger" panel with Christine Assange, Scott Ludlam, David Hicks, Bernard Keane, Humphrey McQueen & more. Coombs Theatre, A.N.U., Australia at 7PM.

June 29-July 8: Time frame for Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden.

July 1: Worldwide rallies for Julian Assange.

June 3: Julian Assange's 41st birthday.

July 14: Global 4 Julian Assange day.

July 16-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

August 27-31: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

September 19-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

November 2012 ~ January 2013: Bradley Manning's court martial.

2012-06-20 Swedish extradition facts from Christine Assange

Julian Assange's mother Christine recently tweeted the following facts about extraditions involving the US, the UK, Sweden, and Australia.

1. Australian PM Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbot backed new Extradition Act Amendments making it easier for U.S.A to extradite Aussies. The Greens fought it.

2. For the FIRST TIME Aussies can be now be extradited for minor offences.

3. The protection of "political" motives has been weakened. If the charge is "terrorism" then "political" cannot apply to prevent extradition.

4. The U.S.A. recently expanded its definition of "terrorist" to include peaceful protesters - "Low level terrorism".

5. Under the new NDAA legislation, the U.S became a police state - citizens and foreigners can be arrested without warrant and indefinite detention applies.

6. In 1971 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it legal to publish classified documents. Obama is now trying to label media who do so as terrorists.

7. Modifications to the act included changing "protection from death penalty" to "likelihood the death penalty would be carried out".

8. Note that the U.S.A is in the top 5 countries for killing its own citizens, and the only Western country in that top 5.

9. Even Minor Offences under the new Extradition Amendments are punished with up to 12 months imprisonment.

10. The UK/US Bilateral Treaty allows the U.S.A to extradite from the UK without any prima facie case (i.e. evidence).

11. The Swedish/US Bilateral Treaty gets around safeguards of normal extradition with a fast-track "Temporary Surrender" clause.

12. The US Grand Jury convenes in secret. There are 4 prosecutors, no defence, and no judge. It can issue indictments for Extradition with no proper legal process.

13. Sweden has not refused an Extradition request from the USA for over 20 years.

14. In 2001 Sweden gave two innocent Egyptian refugees to the CIA for rendition to Egypt, where they were tortured.

15. The Swedish Justice Minister who signed off on the CIA rendition torture flight was Thomas Bodström.

16. Thomas Bodström is now the business partner of Claes Borgström, the politician/lawyer of the two Swedish women in the Assange case.

17. The Australian Greens supported a motion by Senator Scott Ludlam to protect Julian from "Temporary Surrender" to the U.S.A via Sweden. Both Labor and the Coalition opposed it.

Follow Christine Assange on Twitter: ‏@AssangeC
See Christine Assange's earlier talking points here.

2012-06-20 WikiLeaks News Update: Assange seeks asylum; WikiLeaks to challenge VISA in court

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 564 days.
Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 561 days.
Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without trial for 758 days.
A secret Grand Jury has been active in the U.S. without transparency for 644 days.

WikiLeaks News:

  • The first WikiLeaks trial against the VISA banking blockade begins on June 21 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Background on the banking blockade is available via the WikiLeaks website.
  • WikiLeaks released new Global Intelligence Files which relate to Egypt, Venezuela, Iran, and the U.S.
  • U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman called for a stronger Espionage Act which would see more people behind bars for leaking information. RT interviewed EFF's Trevor Timm (video below) and Government Accountability Project's Jesselyn Radack about Lieberman's statements.
  • The FBI has claimed full denial on all FOIA requests for documents related to WikiLeaks. News about WikiLeaks FOIA requests can be followed on Twitter via hashtag #WLFOIA.
  • The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division implied that WikiLeaks is a physical threat in a response letter to a FOIA request.
  • WikiLeaks requested that information about the WikiLeaks Grand Jury be hashtagged with #WLGrandJury on Twitter.
  • An Anonymous member alleged to have organized "Operation Payback", the DDoS attacks against corporations blocking donations to WikiLeaks, says he has no regrets and would do it all again.
  • WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson wrote a chapter entitled "WikiLeaks, Disclosure, Free Speech and Democracy: New Media and the Fourth Estate" in the new e-book, "More or Less: Democracy & New Media".
  • ABC Four Corners documentary "WikiLeaks - The Forgotten Man" is available online, along will full transcript.
  • Ciaron O'Reilly reported from recent solidarity actions for Julian Assange and Bradley Manning which took place in Sydney and Brisbane.
  • Green Left Weekly is set to launch an online program inspired by Democracy Now! and Julian Assange's The World Tomorrow. The first episode will feature WikiLeaks supporter and activist Cassie Findlay and Cairo-based Australian journalist Austin Mackell.
  • Former assistant Secretary of State P. J. Crowley stated that leaks aren't the problem and we should know more about our government, not less.

Julian Assange News:

  • Julian Assange requested political asylum from Ecuador and is currently under protection of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London while it is considered. Please see our live-blog for details and continuous updates as the story develops.
  • American Free Press talked to John Pilger, Gavin MacFadyen, and extradition expert Douglas McNabb about Julian Assange's potential extradition to the U.S.

World Tomorrow banner

  • Episode 10 of The World Tomorrow aired featuring Pakistani presidential candidate Imran Khan. The episode is available to watch in English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. Full, unedited transcript is also available.
  • Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who stated "no Australian has received more consular support in a comparable period than Julian Assange", is headed to Libya to plead for the release of lawyer Melinda Taylor.
  • Late Night Live Radio discussed the changing legal views in Sweden toward sex in Sweden, with "A Brief History of Swedish Sex" author Oscar Swartz and Monash University Senior Lecturer in Journalism Dr Johan Lidberg. This was a follow-up to LNL's June 6 interview with Julian Assange.
  • The UK House of Commons will be holding a meeting on extradition, June 20 at 6PM. Julian Assange's lawyer Gareth Pierce will be present.

Bradley Manning News:

  • U.S. Senator John McCain condemned the Obama Administration for aggressively pursuing Bradley Manning, while sanctioning leaks by senior administration officials. Watch the video below.
  • The Bradley Manning Support Network issued a news update which covers the military setting an example, a Bradley Manning play in Exeter, and "Manning Mondays" in New York City.


Upcoming Dates & Events:

June 20: UK House of Commons meeting on extradition, 6PM.

June 21: WikiLeaks trial against Visa banking blockade begins.

June 21: Rally for Julian Assange, DFAT, Sydney, 5PM.

June 21-23: Bradley Manning play "Desert" showing at The Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter.

June 23: Overnight vigil for Julian Assange at Occupy Frankfurt, 9PM.

June 25: Bradley Manning 39A hearing.

June 25: "Manning Mondays" at Brecht Forum, New York, 7:30PM.

June 25: London vigil for Bradley Manning at the US Embassy, 3PM.

June 27: "Don't Shoot the Messenger" panel with Christine Assange, Scott Ludlam, David Hicks, Bernard Keane, Humphrey McQueen & more. Coombs Theatre, A.N.U., Australia at 7PM.

June 28: Vigil for Julian Assange, Swedish Embassy, London, 3PM.

June 29-July 8: Time frame for Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden.

July 1: Worldwide rallies for Julian Assange. Melbourne rally midday at State Library feat. Rap News.

June 3: Julian Assange's 41st birthday.

July 14: Global 4 Julian Assange day.

July 16-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

August 27-31: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

September 19-20: Bradley Manning motion hearings.

November 2012 ~ January 2013: Bradley Manning's court martial.

2012-06-21 Transcript: Julian Assange's first interview from Ecuadorian Embassy

Julian Assange interview on ABC Radio National Breakfast, 21 June 2012. This is his first interview conducted since he applied for political asylum in Ecuador. At the time of this interview, Mr Assange had been at the Ecuadorian Embassy for three days. Full audio is available at the ABC Radio website.

Fran Kelly: And let's head straight to Britain where Julian Assange is about to spend his third night holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, as he awaits a decision on his bid for political asylum. The 40 year old Australian walked into the Embassy on Tuesday in a dramatic bid to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations. Even if he's granted asylum in Ecuador, British police say they will arrest him as soon as he steps foot outside the embassy, accusing him of being in breach of his bail conditions. Julian Assange joins us now live from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Julian, welcome back to RN Breakfast.

Julian Assange: G'day, Fran. Good to be with you.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange, why did you walk into the Ecuadorian Embassy?

Julian Assange: Well, I just noticed in your promo, Fran, you said 'dramatic bid to do something about Swedish'...

Fran Kelly: To avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning?

Julian Assange: Yeah, and that's... I don't know where you get that from. We've never said that's the case, and that's simply not the case. The issue is about a very serious matter in the United States and an announcement was made by the Swedes and the Swedish Government that I would be detained, without charge, in Sweden, immediately on extradition. They tried to cancel the 14 days that I had here to apply to appeal the matter at the European Court of Human Rights. So my opportunity to exercise my asylum rights in the United States was at an end. And this is not a matter of onwards extradition from Sweden to the United States. The situation here for me in the UK is extremely, has been extremely precarious. And the refusal by the Swedish prosecutor has led to a technical... the refusal by the Swedish prosecutor to come to the UK for the past 18 months, despite that being absolutely normal procedure, and the refusal of her to explain it in any matter whatsoever to the British court, has kept me trapped in the United Kingdom while the United States has prepared a case against me. We now have intelligence, public record, that the FBI file in its case preparation now runs to 48,135 pages.

Fran Kelly: Okay, let's break this down a bit just in the name of complete accuracy, Julian. Yes, I did say that you had sought political asylum in Ecuador to avoid extradition. What you're saying is, you did it because the Swedish Government had made an attempt to truncate your curtailed freedom as it already is there in the UK, but you are not prepared to go to Sweden under the terms that you believe you would be held in there. Is that what you're saying?

Julian Assange: That's right. My ability to exercise an asylum right would be at an end, and even to exercise rights of appeal, would be at an effective end because the Swedes announced publicly that they would detain me, in prison, without charge, while they continued their so-called investigation, without charge. So we had heard that the Ecuadorians were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the stuggles of the organization with the United States. And the ability to exercise that option was at an effective end and we had the surprise news that the Crown Prosecution Service here suddenly objected to the 14 days we were meant to have to file an EU appeal and were asking for zero.

Fran Kelly: Okay, I'll come back to those bigger issues, but just in the short term people, I think, are very interested in what indications you're getting from the Ecuadorians there in terms of the success of this application for political asylum.

Julian Assange: Well the Ecuadorian people have been quite supportive; I saw the Ecuadorian Ambassador in Australia was making supportive comments. Ecuador, back in 2010, suggested that perhaps I should come to Ecuador and be given residency. So they are sympathetic over a long period of time. So we hope the asylum application will be viewed favorably. Now it's a matter of gathering alleged sort-of extensive evidence about what has been happening in the U.S. and submitting that with a formal request for asylum. There's Ecuadorians on the outside of the Embassy, together with Londoners, protesting in the street, demanding that Ecuador accept the asylum application.

Fran Kelly: Have you gotten any indication of the timing of this?

Julian Assange: We have no indication of the timing.

Fran Kelly: When this happened, it took a lot of people by surprise, including many of your own supporters, and for some people, I believe, it made you look more guilty, it made you look like you're on the run, desperate to avoid questions about those sexual assault allegations.

Julian Assange: Well, this Swedish prosecutor, if the intent is really to proceed with the technical requirements of this case, she is perfectly entitled to come to Embassy, the Ecuadorians have said she could come to the Embassy, she could pick up the telephone, like she could've picked up the telephone for the past 18 months, if that's really what she is interested in.

Fran Kelly: And did you have legal advice suggesting you seek asylum in another country, including Ecuador?

Julian Assange: I spoke to several lawyers about the situation. In relation to sureties and other supporters, because of the sort-of legal requirements there, for their own protection I was not able to speak to them before I have to.

Fran Kelly: So your position is that you don't believe that the evidence suggests that the Swedes are really interested in having you there for questioning, because they could come to Britain to question you, and that's been your position all along. So you're more concerned, as you say, with what's been happening in the U.S. What makes you so worried about the Americans, because repeatedly the Americans are saying they are not interested in extraditing you?

Julian Assange: Well, they are being very, very careful with their words, Fran. They now have a 48,135 page FBI file, there's official statements made in court in the prosecution of Bradley Manning, the next date which is on Monday, saying the founders and managers of WikiLeaks are among the subjects of the grand jury proceedings, which has now been going since 2010. Their careful statements reflect that the Department of Justice is not able to formally confirm or deny the existence of the grand jury, a policy with all grand juries. But there are subpoenas everywhere, there are witnesses who have come out on public record about how they've been dragged into the grand jury, we have received subpoenas, the subpoenas mention my name, in the past months two people have been detained at U.S. airports by U.S. officials and interrogated by the FBI, asked questions about me and my organization, asked to become informers - one of those has gone on the public record, he's a prominent free speech activist of France, Jérémie Zimmermann - and the other, Smári McCarthy, who has worked with me in Iceland. This is a hot, ongoing, active investigation. And as of two weeks ago.

Fran Kelly: It's a quarter past six on Breakfast, our guest this morning is Julian Assange. He's currently inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he arrived three days ago now seeking political asylum. In terms of the public record, the Australian Government says they've received no indication that the U.S. would seek your extradition from Sweden if you were to go there. Can I just play you - we spoke to the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon about this yesterday - let's have a listen.

Nicola Roxon (recording): We have, I've made clear that I've made representations... [Kelly: And the answer was?] Let me tell your listeners who those have been made to - because it's not just the Ambassador - the Minister for Homeland Security, the Deputy to Attorney-General in the U.S.; we have from all of those conversations no indication that they are about to take action, and we have also said that we don't believe, now having taken advice from the federal police, that we have any evidence of Mr Assange having committed any offence that would breach an Australian law.

Fran Kelly: So that's the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon speaking to us yesterday, no indication that the Americans are about to take legal action. That doesn't reassure you? And is that what the Australian Government is telling you?

Julian Assange: But they are taking legal action. There have been nine prosecutors working this case, the evidence is everywhere, they've been issuing subpoenas to our ISPs, to the people I've been meeting, etc. It's a matter of public record. They are taking legal action. They've taken action against Twitter. We've been fighting a legal case in the public record in relation to the Twitter subpoenas for over a year now; it involves the ACLU, etc, etc. So they're playing word games here. The games that they're playing is that the grand jury needs to conclude. On the conclusion of the grand jury process, they... The grand jury is a device, a judicial device, if you like - it does not seem to be part of the executive - and so they can say they are not about to extradite, because the grand jury has not yet concluded. On the conclusion of the grand jury, the Department of Justice will take the indictments of the grand jury and pursue the matter. They are certainly spending vast amounts of resources; I mean, just today it was discovered that a contract put out by the Department of Justice for one to two million dollars to maintain the WikiLeaks computer systems that the Department of Justice is running - one to two million dollars contracted to MANTEC as a matter of public record, just discovered today.

Fran Kelly: So, you're clearly agitated, understandably, if you believe that the U.S. is preparing this extradition treaty for you. Therefore, your future is very much up in the air, you're waiting to hear whether the Ecuadorian Government will give you protection. Do you feel cornered? Because the British police are saying if you set foot outside that Embassy, you will be arrested.

Julian Assange: Well, there's, I think, an important question is why aren't I in the Australian Embassy?

Fran Kelly: Why didn't you seek protection in the Australian Embassy?

Julian Assange: Because Nicola Roxon, after very reasonable requests made by my lawyer Jennifer Robinson to her in a half an hour meeting, and following reasonable requests by one of the most celebrated human rights lawyers who represents me here in the UK, Gareth Pierce, asking them to ask for very simple conditions of the Swedes - such as that if I was imprisoned in the United States and I could serve my sentence in Australia - refused any of those requests, refused to consult in any extradition to the United States, refused to be involved in any of those discussions, refused to ask that the Swedes come and solve this matter by simply coming and speaking to me in the UK, etc. So this is has been an effective declaration of abandonment; there is not a single matter of concern under which the Australian Government, as represented by the Attorney-General, would ask other governments to be reasonable or just in this case.

Fran Kelly: Again, I put that to the Attorney-General yesterday. Do you want to hear her - let's hear her response.

Nicola Roxon (recording): I totally reject that he has been abandoned by the Government. We've offered support to him through consular services, we've made representations to the British Government, to the Swedish Government, to the U.S. Government.

Fran Kelly: That's what the Attorney-General said yesterday in terms of... and the Government has also said that you have received as much or more consular support as anybody else has in matters like this.

Julian Assange: There is no matter like this at all, everyone knows that. But y'know, maybe that's up until this recent case in Libya, maybe that's true even. The Australian Government simply does not support it's people. There's a journalist, Austin Mackell, who's trapped in Egypt and he also has exactly the same complaints I have. These are empty words. When you hear this word "consular assistance" - I haven't met with anyone from the Australian High Commission since December 2010. What are they talking about?

Fran Kelly: So you've had no consular contact with the Australian High Commission since 2010?

Julian Assange: Well, they send SMS messages, 'Does Mr Assange have any concerns?' But we know what this is for: this is so they can just tick off a box. And yes, we formally put our concerns to the Attorney-General and the response was dismissal in every single area.

Fran Kelly: And have you formally put to the Australian Government, ask them to seek reassurances from the U.S. about any plans to extradite you and what those answers are?

Julian Assange: Yes, we have formally put requests to Nicola Roxon and DFAT to ask that the United States... I can't remember the exact request, but for instance for the prisoner transfer arrangement and so on. And she rejected this in every single area. In relation to the sort-of clever rhetoric that's being used at the moment, when they say that there is not... we have not received evidence from the United States that they plan to extradite - of course not. At the moment the matter is before the grand jury and until it comes out of the grand jury there will be no such evidence afforded. And you look at other questions of Gillard, for example, where the follow-up question... Sorry, sorry, to the Foreign Minister - 'Is there any indication, any evidence from the U.S. that they will try to extradite Mr Assange' and the Foreign Minister says, 'Oh no, no, of course not'. Follow-up question, 'Have you asked for any evidence?' - no!

Fran Kelly: So, Julian Assange, let's go to what's next for you. If Ecuador doesn't grant you asylum, what's Plan B?

Julian Assange: Well, we're in the position to draw attention to what it happening. Y'know, the Department of Justice in the United States has been playing a little game, and that little game is they refuse to confirm or deny the existence of a grand jury. And as a result, the press goes, 'Oh well, they don't confirm it, and therefore we can't really write about it'. That's not true; there's public record everywhere, there's multiple witnesses everywhere, there's testimony in military courts about the existence of what is happening in these 48,000 pages, and that the founders and managers of WikiLeaks are amongst the subjects. So, we hope what I am doing now will draw attention to the underlying issues. In a case where the truth in on your side, what is most against you is lack of scrutiny. So, y'know, I welcome the lack of scrutiny - welcome the scrutiny. People should go to and they can read about some of these issues. Good journalists in Australia, such as Phillip Dorling who's been heroic in exploration of the FOI traffic between Australia and the U.S., are also showing that there are serious issues here, and they are being hidden through slimy rhetoric coming out of the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, by Gillard, and by the Foreign Minister. And that really needs to stop.

Fran Kelly: Is scrutiny really what you're after here, rather than a life and a future in Ecuador? What if you're granted political asylum? Are you ready for a life in Ecuador? And also, back to that original question, do you think you'd ever make it there given what the British Metropolitan Police are threatening: to apprehend you if you stepped foot outside the embassy?

Julian Assange: Well, a life in Ecuador, I mean these are friendly generous people, is much better than a life behind bars in the United States under SAMS restrictions which are Guantanamo Bay-like restrictions, which they routinely apply to people accused of espionage. You can't speak, can't communicate, because I might communicate some password or something. And this is a routine matter that is applied in these sorts of cases.

Fran Kelly: And in terms of a life in Ecuador, amongst more than friendly people - no doubt they are - but Ecuador's justice system and record on free speech has been criticized by Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Boarders, Amnesty International... You know, it seems ironic, really, that you, the founder of WikiLeaks, would be seeking protection in a country which is criticized as limiting free speech.

Julian Assange: Well, it's free speech issues are certainly no worse than ones in the UK. I mean, this is the country with hundreds of gag orders, so let's keep things in perspective. I mean, I would enjoy campaigning for the rights of journalists in Ecuador.

Fran Kelly: Do you think you'd have the freedom to do that? I mean, Human Rights Watch says journalists get locked up for doing that.

Julian Assange: Well, look. Human Rights Watch is based in New York. Ecuador has an issue with Chevron, which is a U.S. company, and so on. There's been a lot of tussles between the U.S. and Ecuador which is one of the reasons why Ecuador, I presume, would be happy to grant me asylum because they understand the difficulties when you square off with the United States.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange, thank you very much for joining us on Breakfast.

Julian Assange: Thank you, Fran. B-bye.

Fran Kelly: Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks. He's currently taken refuge, sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he's made an application for political asylum, and he's still waiting, as we heard, for that decision by Ecuador. And as he does, the world watches.

2012-06-23 Dissecting the Smears: Assange's asylum bid

Julian Assange arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on June 19 to apply for political asylum. Since then, there has been mass coverage by the media, which often contains false and misleading information about his reason for applying, the threat he faces in the U.S., and the reaction from his supporters.

False: Julian Assange is seeking asylum to avoid facing allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden.

Julian Assange applied for asylum because of the threat of U.S. extradition and prosecution, not to avoid the allegations in Sweden.

But why do it now, when his extradition to Sweden was set to happen shortly?

The Swedish Prosecutor, Marianne Ny, issued a statement that said Mr Assange would be placed in prison immediately upon arrival in Sweden. This means he would be unable to enter an Embassy to seek asylum after his extradition.

Originally, Mr Assange was to have 14 days to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, after the UK Supreme Court ruled his extradition to Sweden. But the Crown Prosecution Service, under orders from the Swedish Prosecution, attempted to completely dispel this period of time to zero days, giving no opportunity to prepare an appeal submission.

The Swedish prosecution has refused all offers over the past 18 months to question Mr Assange via telephone, webcam, or in person at the Swedish Embassy in London, despite it being a perfectly legal and normal procedure. Mr Assange upholds his offer to be questioned while he is staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy as well.

Mr Assange has received no assurances from the Swedish, Australian, UK, or U.S. Governments that he would not be extradited to the United States after Sweden.

False: There is no evidence of a U.S. threat to Julian Assange.

Many people try to trivialize Julian Assange's concerns because an indictment has yet to be made public, but the evidence of U.S. legal action against WikiLeaks and its founder is overwhelming.

A Grand Jury into WikiLeaks has been active in Alexandria, Virginia since September of 2010. Grand Juries are a secret process which determine whether a criminal indictment will be issued. People such as David House, founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, have received subpoenas requesting their testimony before the Grand Jury. Because the Grand Jury is still active, an indictment cannot be made public.

Despite this, an email from the intelligence company Stratfor states that there is currently a sealed indictment against Julian Assange. In an interview with L'Espresso, Mr Assange said, "We already had three sources of information [on the indictment] before the information coming from the Stratfor emails."

Other subpoenas have been issued outside of the Grand Jury as well. There is an ongoing legal case involving the U.S. Department of Justice requesting that Twitter hand over records of WikiLeaks volunteers Jacob Appelbaum, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and Rop Gonggrijp. The information requested by the subpoeana includes: "mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the 'means and source of payment,' including banking records and credit cards".

Furthermore, multiple supporters of WikiLeaks and friends of Julian Assange have been stopped and interrogated at U.S. airports. This includes Jacob Appelbaum, David House, and, most recently, Jérémie Zimmermann and Smári McCarthy. Both Mr Appelbaum and Mr House have had electronic possessions seized, while Mr Zimmermann and Mr McCarthy have been asked to become informers for the U.S.

Julian Assange has also been the subject of multiple death threats from high-level U.S. political figures including former presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and talk show host Rush Limbaugh. A full list of these threats is available at "People OK with Murdering Julian Assange". And, while it's not a death threat, the U.S. Vice President labeled Julian Assange as a "high-tech terrorist", which also warrants reasonable concern.

Many people have agreed that Julian Assange's concerns regarding U.S. extradition and prosecution are justified. This includes, but is not limited to: Australian journalist Phillip Dorling, U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, human rights activist Bianca Jagger, and all signatories of this letter requesting Mr Assange be granted asylum, including directors Michael Moore, Danny Glover, and Oliver Stone, author Naomi Wolf, journalist Chris Hedges, and many, many more.

False: Those who put up bail for Julian Assange are upset because they will lose their money.

First of all, there is currently no evidence backing up the claim that the money provided for bail is going to be forfeited.

Secondly, those who provided sureties for Mr Assange have spoken out in support and understanding of his decision to seek asylum.

Tariq Ali:

I totally approve. Why the double-standards? A Chinese dissident becomes a folk-hero for reaching the US embassy, but a Western dissident doing the same re a South American embassy is not kosher. Fuck the money.

Phillip Knightly:

I would [provide bail] again. He felt as I do that he’s a victim of a conspiracy. He’s been found guilty of nothing. The Swedes want to plug him in irons as soon as he arrived.

Jemima Khan (who tweeted about misleading headlines about her statement):

For the record, in response to those asking about Assange & bail money....

I personally would like to see Assange confront the rape allegations in Sweden and the 2 women at the centre have a right to a response.

BUT there is no doubt that Assange has a real fear of being extradited to the US nor that the US gov is out to get WikiLeaks.

Michael Moore:

The Ecuadorian embassy in London has just given sanctuary to WikiLeaks' Jullian Assange. He is asking them for political assylum (which they had offered him in the past). Well, thank you Ecuador! IMHO, there is no doubt that if the UK sends him to Sweden, Sweden will send him to the USA. Sweden says they "just want to talk to him" about the accusations leveled at him (he has still not been charged with any crime). If Swedish police want to question him, there is an SAS flight that leaves Stockholm at 7:55 tomorrow morning (flight #525) to London. I'm sure the British authorities would have no problem with the Swedish police questioning Mr. Assange. Then Sweden can decide if it wants to charge him with a crime. Any and all allegations of sexual abuse by anyone and to anyone MUST be treated very seriously, and Mr. Assange should cooperate with the inquiry. But it appears that Sweden has little interest in these charges - what they really want is the ability to extradite Assange to America. And that, simply, must not happen.

Vaughan Smith:

We seem to welcome it when a Chinese dissident goes to an American embassy, but when an Australian dissident in London goes to an Ecuadorean embassy we try to suggest it's nuts.

I don't think we should be blind to [the possibility of U.S. prosecution]. He clearly believes that. We can't comment whether that's realistic, but I think we can accept that it's reasonable for him to believe that.

He is no fool. He is a clever man, and he is very committed to his work at WikiLeaks which he is convinced serves a social purpose. I can assure you that he's committed to carrying on, and that's what I believe is his main motivator.

Why should we automatically assume that justice is freely available to Assange in Sweden?

Considering the uniqueness of his situation, the Swedes could have attempted to reassure him and they haven't. They've done absolutely nothing to reassure him.

While John Pilger hasn't made a statement, he visited Mr Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy yesterday and commented on him being in "great spirits".

2012-06-25 Assange, Diplomacy, and Duplicity

We are all forced by logic to respect this dichotomy:

Either the US threatens Julian Assange's freedom, or it does not.

However, the Washington Post editorial board, reflecting the US diplomatic position, prefer to have it both ways in the same article.

First, in current political circumstances, the US is no threat to his freedom:

"The WikiLeaks man claims, after all, that he is resisting extradition to Sweden because he believes he will be subsequently turned over to the United States and exposed to the death penalty. That no US charges or extradition case are open against him is irrelevant to this fantasy."

Second, in current political circumstances, the US will severely punish anyone who guarantees his freedom:

"There is one potential check on Mr Correa's ambitions. The US "empire" he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr Correa seeks to appoint himself America's chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange's protector between now and then, it's not hard to imagine the outcome."

Unfortunately for the Washington Post and all it speaks for, the consistency of its menacing contempt is no cover for that glaringly equivocal logic. The US would like to:

1) Pretend that Assange is not threatened by it; and

2) Crush everything to do with him, by all local and offshore means.

In the temporally, conceptually, and territorially boundless "war on terror" the US indefinitely imprisons and tortures innocents in obscurity, unless they happen to be whistleblowers like Bradley Manning, who has the honour of being a public example, receiving this treatment for years as the alleged source of Assange's publications.

So there is nothing trivial about US Vice President Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell speaking of Assange as a "high-tech terrorist".

Nor can it be insignificant that recent presidential candidate Newt Gingrich declared Assange as engaged in warfare and terrorism, and specifically to be treated as an enemy combatant.

We cannot dismiss it as a minor coincidence that Assange's supporters are often detained, questioned, and harassed by US officials due to their association with him.

It would only be obtuse to call it incidental that prominent figures in the US including Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill Kristol have publicly advocated Assange's assassination.

So Assange has all these crystal clear objective reasons to fear for his freedom at the hands of the US.

What is perhaps most frightening is the chilling diplomatic pretence of the US, without tangible assurances, that Assange has nothing to fear from it regarding politically motivated harm.

This cynical posture distresses all who value the right of freedom from fear, mentioned in the Atlantic Charter. Antithetical to respect for that right is the disingenuous bullying approach on display.

The US can easily change from producing fear to dispelling it simply by providing a diplomatic guarantee that it will not prosecute Assange on charges of espionage or conspiracy.

If we are to take it that the US has no such interest in prosecution, then nothing should be easier, more natural, or appropriate than provision of such a guarantee.

Countless millions, who fear this war on terror increasingly tramples human rights and the flow of accurate information, are as desirous and deserving of this one effortless gesture as Mr Assange.

Nor should there be any diplomatic frictions if the head of state of Ecuador, Australia, Sweden, or the UK would provide any guarantee precluding extradition to face such charges, since that would not preclude anything the US is interested in.

So let's have no more of the mannequin-stiff diplomatic postures and gestures. Let's have some worthy statesmanship.

Whoever moves first to break the duplicitous spell will earn the most respect.

Though it would take a radical pivot, like millions of Australians including Assange, I wish it would be Julia Gillard, though Rafael Correa seems hard to beat.

2012-06-27 Transcript: Why Ecuador needs Assange - LNL Radio

Late Night Live Radio had Thiago de Aragao and Donald Rothwell on the program 26 June 2012 to discuss Julian Assange and his application for political asylum in Ecuador. Full audio is available at the ABC Radio website.

Phillip Adams: We've often talked about special relationships on this program - like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, or our beloved John Howard and George W Bush - but on this occasion it's a special relation between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the President of Ecuador. Because, as I said a little earlier, they've got a lot in common. They belong to the so-called, or they see themselves belonging to the so-called 'club of the persecuted' and they're not huge fans of the United States of America's imperial overreach. Joining me on the blower from São Paulo, Brazil... No, I'm sorry, that's not the case. Joining me on the blower from Paraguay to tell us how journalists in South America are analysing this special relationship is Thiago Aragao. And as well as that, we've got Donald R. Rothwell in our northborn studio. Donald's professor of international law at the A.N.U. Thiago, as a South American journalist who's been following these developments, does Ecuador need Assange?

Thiago de Aragao: Hi. It's a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with you. Well, of course for Ecuador it's a good deal to have Assange. But for Assange it's way more important. Apart from the UK, the U.S., or Sweden, any place would do for Julian Assange in the current situation he's facing. For Ecuador, it's interesting, because it offers a little gambling power to Ecuador and it puts them back on the map. And with the ability to talk, at least in this particular issue, in a higher voice, in a higher level with certain countries.

Phillip Adams: Ecuador doesn't have a lot of international spotlight shining upon it normally, but it's certainly in the spotlight now. Tell me a bit about Ecuador.

Thiago de Aragao: Well, Ecuador is a very small country in South America. It's between Peru and Colombia with opening to the sea. The main cities, Quito and Guayaquil, are regarded as very modern, very nice cities. Many travelers from South America that go to Quito usually get impressed on how modern the city looks, at least a decent part of the city. And it's a small country with an average educated elite, cultural, economical, and political elite. And I believe that for Assange is a choice that will not be bad. It will be a decent one.

Phillip Adams: I understand the president is the most popular in recent decades in the country.

Thiago de Aragao: No, because he is going on a different direction than Ecuador traditionally went. Ecuador's a low-profile country that's more interested in its domestic affairs and maintaining stability, while the President Rafael Correa, he speaks loudly, he talks in a sense that goes over Ecuador's interest. He wants to participate and be a player in the regional politics. But in fact, he does not have the wit to be.

Phillip Adams: Yeah. Let's cross now to Don. Don, Robert Amsterdam, a Canadian international lawyer, said that from a Latin perspective it's a glorious thing to get Assange. You don't even have to be anti-American to want to do that. Y'know, there's almost a universal hostility towards American foreign policy. Agreed?

Donald Rothwell: Well, certainly we've seen this is an ongoing response to U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 and the Bush era, and even under Obama there are ongoing objections - drone strikes in the last week or so have of course continued to resonate within the international community. So in terms of Ecuador getting Assange, if that is to occur, well then Ecuador can stand up to the United States. But then of course, that is if we buy into the theory that the United States is seeking to eventually extradite Assange for WikiLeaks-related charges.

Phillip Adams: I don't want to go over all that again because we've dealt with it quite extensively in the last week or so, but let's look at other aspects of this which make Assange's needs a bit odd. Of course, he's in this difficult position because of sexual allegations in yet another country. And that is not a normal political asylum situation. So on what grounds could the Ecuadorian Government grant it?

Donald Rothwell: Well it would seem that on the basis of the comments he's made, including to your colleague Fran Kelly late last week, that his claim for asylum is not based on a fear of persecution by Sweden, nor is it based on a fear of persecution from the United Kingdom, which is the country where he's currently located as we know. But rather the United States, and that he would eventually extradition to the United States on WikiLeaks-related charges. He wouldn't be guaranteed a fair trial in the United States; he could possibly face the death penalty.

Phillip Adams: Yeah.

Donald Rothwell: So that's a pretty unique situation. Because when persons do seek asylum it's normally from the persecution of the government of the country in which they are currently located, or their home government. And so we often have athletes who are visiting various countries during Olympics who might seek asylum from their home government as a result of fear of persecution.

Phillip Adams: I've had the advantage of a sneak preview of your op-ed piece in tomorrow's Canberra Times, and you make the point very simply that in assessing Assange's asylum claim, Ecuador is not bound to apply a legal test. They could simply make a choice, a political act, at their own discretion.

Donald Rothwell: Yes, and I think the important distinction here is that Assange is not claiming refugee status under the refugee convention, which would be a claim for what's know as 'territorial asylum', but rather this is a political or diplomatic asylum case, and you're right, this is entirely within the discretion of the Ecuadorian Government as to whether it would grant asylum in this instance.

Phillip Adams: Thiago, let's go back to this fascinating president who makes the point that he lived in the U.S. for four years, got two academic degrees there, quote, "I love and admire the American people a great deal. The last thing I'd be is anti-America, but I'll always call a spade a spade". I'm fascinated, and I hadn't realized this, that he laughs about his decision not to renew the U.S. Southern Command's lease of an air base which ended U.S. occupancy in 2009. So he's quite willing to be provocative.

Thiago de Aragao: Exactly. He's quite willing to be provocative. We've seen a general characteristic of the region today. South America is a region that is farthening itself more and more from the United States and transforming what was once based on political relations now to merely economic relations. And Rafael Correa, he is a internationalized president in a very domestic-looking country. So he faces some contradictions. He began his administration very closely to President Hugo Chavez from Venezuela, but as the years went by he realized he wants to be taken more seriously by the international community than his Venezuelan counterparts. So he, at the same time that he faces the situation that he wants to expropriate the Americans and not renew their concession to have the military base, he has moments of lucid direct relation in terms of commercial aspects. So he, so far it's hard to identify what his next move will be: if it will be a populous decision, or if it will be a pragmatic decision.

Phillip Adams: Well, if he decides not to be welcoming to Assange, it puts Julian in an incredibly difficult position. Does he then shop himself around other Central and South American nations with a chip on the shoulder about the U.S.?

Thiago de Aragao: True, but I believe that Julian he... he gave some thought to the decision and and his choice to go to the Ecuadorian Embassy. He knows that there the treatment will be... it's not a shot in the dark. So he basically knows what to expect. And I believe that immediately the Government of Ecuador will consider the... to receive him in the country. What will happen later is something that we don't know. Because he can be used as a tool for negotiation, or he can be used as a trophy to be kept within the country. So this is something that will develop according to the necessities and the goals of the President of Ecuador.

Phillip Adams: Now, Don, let's go back to the current situation. In entering the Ecuadorian Embassy, he is in breach of his bail conditions, meaning that he's now subject to arrest. The right of asylum of course is recognized in international law. How safe is he in the Ecuadorian Embassy?

Donald Rothwell: I think we have to assume that after nearly a week that he's pretty safe at the moment. There is some evidence of previous countries not respecting these types of asylum claims and effectively barging into the embassy to seek to recapture a fugitive. But the British seem to have responded to this in a fairly civilized way. The Ecuadorian Ambassador met with UK authorities in London on Wednesday of last week, and they seem to be negotiating through the matter at the moment, so I think at the moment we can say he is safe at the embassy.

Phillip Adams: What happens when he walks out the door? Of what is a pretty ordinary building in London... we're not looking at a place with razor wire, y'know, or electric fences. What happens when he climbs into a range rover and heads for Heathrow?

Donald Rothwell: Well, unless some settlement has been reached between Ecuador and the UK on the UK respecting presumably Assange's asylum claim and the fact that Ecuador has granted him asylum, he would clearly be subject to arrest and that's the position that UK authorities have been adopting now for nearly a week.

Phillip Adams: Wow. Thiago, I understand that Ecuador has a preferential trade agreement with the U.S. on some 1,300 goods and that deal is up for renewal. Will the present situation affect such agreements?

Thiago de Aragao: It could affect and at least it will be placed in the negotiation table when the two countries are discussing about it. But, if Assange faces extreme penalties in the U.S., such as the death penalty, I believe that Ecuador will not involve Assange in a negotiation like this. It could affect, there could be retaliation from the United States. But since it's a decision to be made more towards the end of the year, I think the outcome of the next two to three weeks are gonna be critical for us to make a forecast of how this could develop. Rafael Correa could make very strong statements that automatically put Assange outside of any negotiation, or he can maintain silence, and this will be a quiet message to the United States that Assange is on the negotiation table.

Phillip Adams: Thiago, there's been a long history of dissidents of one sort or another, of taking refuge in embassies. Noriega, President of Panama, took refuge in the Vatican Embassy in December in 1989. What happened there?

Thiago de Aragao: Well, the choice there was also made be Noreiga to choose a neutral ground and a place where he believed that certain convictions and certain moral pillars of the embassy he chose would stand in his favour.

Phillip Adams: Don, you write that a careful distinction needs to be made with respect to the consular assistance that Assange has been provided with as an Australian citizen, and the more robust diplomatic protection Australia could provide. Everyone of us is fascinated by this subtle differential; could you expand on it?

Donald Rothwell: Well, every Australian is entitled to consular assistance when they're overseas, and that can extend from replacing a lost passport to dealing with local authorities if criminal charges have been brought. And clearly Assange has been receiving that at the higher level. But y'know, as Senator Carr, the Foreign Minister, has noted last week: Australia doesn't argue the case before a foreign court when an Australian national is caught up in those legal proceedings. Diplomatic protection on the other hand, is more where the country, the state, stands in front of its citizen and seeks to represent its citizen where its citizen's international law rights are being infringed, and this predominately goes to human rights obligations. So, an example of that could have been when in 2005 the Australian citizen Van Nguyen was facing, and ultimately executed, in Singapore, where the Australian Government at one stage under Prime Minister Howard did actively consider representing that individual by way of diplomatic protection, possibly even taking a case to the International Court of Justice over that matter.

Phillip Adams: Thiago, final question to you: how interested is Central and South America in this case?

Thiago de Aragao: Well, relatively interesting. Because Brazil, Argentina, and the main powerhouses of South America are focusing currently on the situation in Paraguay. It brings more direct results to those countries than the case of Julian Assange in Ecuador. And it's more triviality for South Americans to observe what's happening with Julian Assange in Ecuador than anything concrete that would affect relationships between countries. And one point that I would like to make is that even with Rafael Correa offering asylum to Julian Assange, that means that he is temporarily safe. Because with low popularity Rafael Correa could be replaced in the near future by a government that historically has been... by an opposition that historically has been aligned with the U.S. So accepting the political asylum does not mean that he will be safe forever. He will be constantly needing to make a forecast of six to nine months or one year to evaluate if he is really safe or not.

Phillip Adams: Gentlemen, I thank you for your time. Thiago Aragao, editor of Latin American Politics dot com. I'll have posted the link on our website. Thanks, Thiago. And to you, Donald Rothwell, president of international law at the A.N.U.

2012-06-28 Correa in the catbird seat

"Catbird seat", noun: "an advantageous situation or condition"; "sitting pretty". This North American idiom readily applies to the current position of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who was hoisted into the international spotlight when he recently became host to Julian Assange. As a result Correa has raised the global profile of his small nation of 14 million, and the tens of thousands of letters received by his embassy in the past ten days indicate that granting Assange asylum would instantly make him a global hero. With little economic dependence on the U.S., and with Assange at his disposal, Correa potentially holds significant leverage over Washington.

Ten days after Julian Assange first presented himself to Ecuador's London embassy to ask for political asylum in the South American nation, President Rafael Correa has yet to announce his decision regarding Assange's request. Last weekend Ana Alban, Ecuador's ambassador to Britain, reportedly returned to Quito to brief Correa and Ecuador's Foreign Minister on the matter, and the country's top lawyers are now reviewing the case. Vowing to "proceed cautiously, responsibly and seriously," Correa has stated his intention to discuss the situation with the UK, the U.S., and Sweden before making a final determination. Numerous insiders have signaled that processing Assange's asylum request could take quite some time.

So why the delay? By many accounts, the UK sees the Assange case as a "hot potato" that it would be relieved to be rid of. And the consensus remains that, in the event of Assange's extradition to Sweden, the Scandinavian country would serve merely as a way station before handing him over to the U.S. for prosecution over the WikiLeaks disclosures. Therefore, Correa's deliberations most likely revolve around considerations of the potential impact that granting Assange asylum might have on U.S-Ecuador relations. Debate swirls around the issue, with pundits publicly weighing the pros and cons of Correa's options. Some U.S. hawks have warned that choosing to harbor Assange could damage Ecuador's trade relations with the U.S.; a Washington Post op-ed threatened that, if Correa grants Assange asylum, the U.S. might retaliate by revoking Ecuador's special trade preferences. Cynthia Arnson, Latin Director of the Woodrow Wilson Centre, agreed that Ecuador "could basically forget about any renewal of the trade preferences if it granted safe haven to Assange." A closer look, however, reveals little Ecuadorean vulnerability to such measures. Unlike many other South American countries, Ecuador does not receive significant financial backing from the U.S., and Washington has limited influence on the nation. Additionally, the small, South American country has in the independent-minded Correa a leader who has spent his five-year reign alternately defying and cultivating his contacts in Washington, and who gained massive popular support while demonstrating little fear of the consequences of U.S. disapproval.

Like many other South American countries, Ecuador has a history of enduring CIA-backed assassinations and military coups that toppled popular presidents who dared defy Washington. According to a recent book by William Blum, for the past several generations, "in virtually every department of the Ecuadorean government could be found men occupying positions, high and low, who collaborated with the CIA for money and/or their own particular motivation." Former CIA agent Philip Agee also described and deplored the CIA's program for corrupting police officers to win their "goodwill." Those leaders resisting U.S. pressure risked overthrow, forced resignation, or death at the hands of the military.

Correa, however, has governed undaunted, even though such threats remain. A 2008 report showed the persistence of systematic corruption tactics that target Ecuador's police and military services. Issued by Defense Minister Javier Ponce, the document revealed that, due to CIA infiltration of the Ecuadorean police force, many officers came to “maintain informal economic dependence on the United States," in order to "pay for informants, training, equipment and operations.” The report followed a crisis in which Colombia sent its military over Ecuador's borders in a raid against guerrillas in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); in the aftermath, evidence surfaced that not only had the CIA facilitated the attack, but also U.S. intelligence services had infiltrated Ecuador's police, intelligence, and military agencies. According to the report, one unit of the country's police force was "practically financed and controlled by the U.S. Embassy." Although his government stated that it would not sever its Washington ties over the CIA's alleged infiltration, President Correa publicly voiced his displeasure, purged his military, implemented sanctions against police agents collaborating with the U.S., and closed a US$70 million U.S. Air Force base at Manta on Ecuador's coast. He retorted, "if they [the U.S.] want, we won't close the base in 2009, but the United States would have to allow us to have an Ecuadoran base in Miami in return."

With Correa, national sovereignty and respect are serious political issues. Despite his professed love for his neighbors in North America (where he earned his master's and doctoral degrees), during his tenure Correa has expelled three U.S. diplomats who appeared to threaten Ecuadorean sovereignty. The latest incident occurred last year, after embassy cables released by WikiLeaks revealed that U.S. ambassador to Ecuador Heather Hodges suggested Correa had deliberately turned a blind eye to high-level corruption in his police force. This disclosure and Hodges's "arrogance" caused Correa to give Hodges the boot; Ecuador was the only country to expel its U.S. ambassador over WikiLeaks cable disclosures.

Repeatedly, President Rafael Correa has shown that he is not cowed by powerful U.S. interests. He took on Texaco for ruining the Ecuadorean Amazon, and leveled restrictions against big oil companies -- which, according to a WikiLeaks cable, then complained about Ecuador's "rigid labor rules" and "a large increase in the minimum wage." Correa has also systematically decreased his country's economic reliance on North America, in some cases forging alliances with U.S. enemies. He has extended financial and oil diplomacy to Iran, and in January hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Moreover, Ecuador has joined the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), an initiative dedicated to creating a new currency that would serve as an alternative to the U.S. dollar. Correa has further displeased the U.S. by exporting oil to China, extending a hand to Russia, and courting the Castros; he boycotted a Summit of the Americas to protest Washington's snubbing of Cuba. During the Bush years, Correa famously commented that Hugo Chávez’s description of George W. Bush as Satan was unfair to the Devil. A strong WikiLeaks supporter, Ecuador's president has applauded Assange's project for putting Washington in “check.” "Rafael Correa," one journalist wrote last week, "is not likely to be easily intimidated." Nor is the political gain from these initiatives likely lost on Ecuador's savvy President. In a region where U.S. hegemony is resented and Washington is reviled, these moves have only boosted Correa's already-soaring popularity.

In fact, Washington appears to understand that it may need Ecuador more than Ecuador needs the U.S. Not only do the two countries have a strong trading relationship, but Ecuador is one of the few allies the U.S. has left among the nations of South America, which have rebelled against U.S. interventionism. In 2010 the Obama administration sent Secretary of Hillary Clinton to Ecuador, in the hopes of thawing relations that had grown chilly during the last Bush administration. Although it has reportedly pressured Ecuador to hand over Assange, in public the U.S. government's reaction has been uncharacteristically muted, describing the Assange affair as "a UK-Ecuador-Sweden issue." Some specialists opine that the U.S. will not punish Ecuador for giving Assange asylum.

Whatever Washinton's reaction, Correa no doubt realizes that, by granting Julian Assange's asylum request, he could instantly "make himself a hero with the global anti-American left"; burnish his free-press credentials (which had been tarnished somewhat after a crackdown against a banker-backed media campaign that attacked his presidency); improve Ecuador's tourism industry; and boost his populist image at home, thereby ensuring his victory in next year's presidential elections. Meanwhile, as Assange reportedly remains holded up in an embassy office, the tens of thousands of messages that have poured in supporting the Australian's asylum request may mean that Correa can wring concessions from Washington by using the WikiLeaks leader as a bargaining chip.

Considering the potential political benefits and Correa's consistent diversification of global alliances, El Tiempo's observation that "the Correa administration doesn't care if the Assange affair tarnishes diplomatic relations with the U.S. or Great Britain" may well be true.

2012-06-28 Francisco Carrión ex-ministro de Relaciones Exteriores: "Ecuador debería conceder el asilo ya que la vida del Sr. Assange corre peligro y es un perseguido político"

Entrevistamos a Francisco Carrión, diplomático y analista político ecuatoriano. Fue Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Ecuador y en su carrera en el exterior pasó por las embajadas de París y Londres, siendo nombrado embajador en Madrid. Tras su renuncia como jefe de la misión ante las Naciones Unidas dejó la profesión para ser profesor en la Universidad FLACSO en Quito.

La demora en contestar el pedido por parte del Ecuador parece apuntar a una reflexión profunda causada por la complejidad del asunto.¿Cuáles cree que son los puntos clave del debate?

Es normal que en un caso como este, con implicaciones multilaterales y con actores que son grandes potencias, el Ecuador se tome su tiempo para tomar una decisión. Creo que lo fundamental aquí es tener en cuenta la relación bilateral entre el Reino Unido y el Ecuador en términos de acuerdos formales respecto del derecho de asilo. Estos no están expresados de forma escrita en ningún convenio vinculante, lo cual dificulta notablemente el procedimiento. Lo único que se puede invocar son las convenciones internacionales sobre Derechos Humanos. En este sentido el caso es aun más peculiar, porque además hay otros tres países involucrados: en primer lugar Australia como país de origen del Sr. Assange; en segundo lugar Suecia, que está requiriendo su extradición para rendir testimonio por la acusaciones que pesan sobre él. Por último está EEUU, que es probablemente el más importante, pero que hasta el momento ha mostrado mucha cautela, y que por las declaraciones de sus responsables en diferentes niveles estaría esperando para juzgarle por la filtración de documentos confidenciales, que según ellos ha afectado a su seguridad.

Ahora bien, junto con la concesión del asilo tiene que pedirse un salvoconducto que le permita salir del Reino Unido y llegar al Ecuador, algo que es completamente otra historia, ya que si bien el Ecuador, en pleno uso de su soberanía, le concede la protección requerida, el Reino Unido haciendo uso de su propio reglamento interno de normatividad puede negarse a hacerlo. El caso, en consecuencia, es muy complicado.

Para la República del Ecuador, ¿qué tipo de consecuencias podrían darse en caso de que la solicitud de asilo político fuera aceptada?

Antes hay que considerar dos elementos clave. El uno es respecto de los intereses del Ecuador pero el otro, no tan obvio, tiene que ver con los principios del derecho internacional. Para efectos de que el Ecuador conceda el asilo al Sr. Assange necesita, según la tradición y las convenciones sobre la materia, que corra riesgo la vida o integridad física del solicitante, y la segunda es que el supuesto delito cometido sea político. Yo personalmente creo que en este caso se cumplen estos requisitos y por lo tanto el Ecuador debe conceder el asilo sin siquiera considerar hasta donde esto afecte a sus intereses nacionales por que está en juego la vida del Sr. Assange.

Pero, ¿cree usted que podrían darse represalias concretas en contra del Ecuador por parte de algún país involucrado?

En términos jurídicos y legales ninguno, ya que el Ecuador está haciendo uso de su atribución soberana al plantearse si conceder el asilo. Pero claro, en la práctica hay que reconocer, sin ser ingenuos, que esos países podrán dificultar ciertas vinculaciones en otros ámbitos como los comerciales o de cooperación. Pero insisto, desde el punto de vista jurídico no hay ningún motivo de que esta situación le traiga represalias al Ecuador.

¿Qué efectos podría producir a la imagen del país en el exterior?

Como dije, creo que se reúnen las dos condiciones básicas, por lo que si el Ecuador actúa en consecuencia estaría cumpliendo con la tradición en materia de asilo, lo que obviamente le traería cierto reconocimiento internacional como defensor de los derechos humanos. Pero tampoco podemos ser ajenos a la gran campaña alrededor de la figura del Sr. Assange y de lo que ha hecho Wikileaks, que puede tener consecuencias imprevistas para el Ecuador al otorgarle amparo.

Si el Reino Unido se niega a conceder el salvoconducto al Sr. Assange y este se decide a permanecer en la Embajada, ¿cree que se respetaría la soberanía del Ecuador? ¿Existen antecedentes de violaciones de este protocolo?

Encuentro muy difícil que esto suceda. El Reino Unido y sus instituciones son sumamente sólidas, lo suficiente como para respetar la Convención de Viena, que es la que establece la inviolabilidad de las sedes, correspondencia, y vehículos diplomáticos. Sería un paso demasiado riesgoso y creo el Reino Unido no lo daría.

¿Cómo ve la población de Ecuador el tema? ¿Hay difusión en la prensa local? ¿Existe un debate público sobre el asunto?

La prensa ha dado una amplia cobertura al tema pero me da la impresión que el pueblo ecuatoriano tiene otras preocupaciones y necesidades en estos momentos, por lo que el ciudadano común no le ha dado la importancia que de verdad tiene. Aparte de conversaciones políticas internas y salvo el debate jurídico y político en los medios y ambientes académicos no han habido manifestaciones publicas. Sin embargo, sí se han dado expresiones de apoyo por parte de grupos defensores de los derechos humanos en favor de ayudar al Sr. Assange.

2012-06-29 Francisco Carrión ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs: "Ecuador must grant asylum because Mr. Assange is being politically persecuted and his life is at stake"

Francisco Carrión is an Ecuadorian diplomat and political analyst. He is the ex-Foreign Affairs Minister of Ecuador, having also worked in the embassies in Paris, Madrid and London. After resigning as head of mission at the United Nations he began teaching at FLACSO University in Quito.

The delay in Ecuador's answer to Mr. Assange's asylum bid hints at a deep think caused by the issue's complexity. What do you think are the key points of the debate?

It's normal that in a case like this, with multilateral implications and big powers as actors, that Ecuador is taking its time to answer. First of all it is fundamental to consider the bilateral relation between the UK and Ecuador in these procedures, and as they are not written down formally in any covenant the only thing that can be invoked are international agreements on Human Rights. But at the same time the case is even more peculiar, because there are three other countries involved: in first place Australia as Mr. Assange's home country, in second place Sweden, which is formally requiring his extradition to testify for the allegations weighing on him. Last of all there is the US, which has been very cautious but is probably the most important player as their representatives on various levels have declared that they are waiting to judge him.

On top of this the UK has to allow Mr. Assange to leave the country for him to reach Quito, which is a completely different story. Because even though Ecuador is in it's full sovereign right to grant political protection, the UK, making use of it's own sovereignty and internal normative code can deny allowing him to leave. The case is very complicated.

For Ecuador, what type of consequences could take place if the asylum request is granted?

Before jumping to conclusions we have to consider two key elements. The first one has to do with Ecuador's interests but the other one, which has been a bit forgotten, has to do with the principles of International Law. According to tradition and convention, Ecuador can grant asylum if Mr. Assange's life or physical integrity are in danger and if the accusations against him are political in nature. I personally believe that in this case both prerequisites are fulfilled, and that Ecuador should grant asylum to Mr. Assange as his life is at stake.

But do you think that there could be a backlash against Ecuador on behalf of one of the countries involved in the affair?

In legal terms none because Ecuador is making fair use of it's sovereign right while granting this protection. Of course in practical terms we have to admit, without being naive, that these countries could abstain from certain agreements in other areas such as cooperation or commercial endeavors. But I insist, from the legal point of view there is no motive for this situation to bring Ecuador any sort of retaliation.

How can this process affect Ecuador's image internationally?

As I said, if the asylum based on human rights claims is finally granted then Ecuador would certainly get international recognition for defending human rights, however, the huge public campaign surrounding Mr. Assange's figure and his work with Wikileaks can have unforeseen consequences in the future.

If the UK denies letting Mr. Assange leave the country and he decides to remain in the Embassy, do you think Ecuador's sovereignty would be respected? Are there any precedents of violations of this protocol?

I find it very difficult for something like this to happen. The UK and its institutions are very solid, enough so as to respect the Vienna Convention which establishes the inviolability of diplomatic headquarters, correspondence and vehicles. It would be a risky step and I don't think the UK will take it.

How does the Ecuadorian population regard this issue? How is the debate going on in the media and the general public?

The press has given an ample coverage of the affair but my impression is that the Ecuadorian people have other worries and needs right now. The average citizen has not given it the importance it deserves. Apart from the political and academical discourse, where there has been some reticence by the opposition, there have been some expressions of support from human right advocates.