News Archive - 2014-03 (March 2014)

2014-03-04 Barrett Brown's Defense Moves to Protect the Right to Link

Today Barrett Brown's defense has hit back against a chilling attack on the future and freedom of the internet: the criminalization of linking. In a motion to dismiss the second indictment, his legal team has set forth several reasons for these charges to be thrown out.

Allegations that Brown transmitted a hyperlink in a chat-room, pointing to data that was obtained during the late-2011 hack of Stratfor Global Intelligence, are at the center of the government's case. For this action he faces numerous charges of identity theft and fraud, altogether adding up to a potential sentence of several decades in prison.

Many have expressed incredulity and concern at the fact that Brown is being charged for sharing a link - since the government's theory equates transmitting a link to possessing the underlying information, a precedent that poses a great danger to information sharing and routine journalism practices. Arguably, this prosecution has already resulted in chilling effects among those who report on leaks and data dumps.

The link at issue was to an archive containing part of Stratfor's customer database, which happened to include some credit card numbers, along with information of public interest. Its entries revealed the extensive connections of their clients to the government, private industry, the military and defense world, and think-tanks. Notably, many reporters and outlets who made use of the same link remain unindicted.

The founder of Barrett Brown's legal defense fund, Kevin Gallagher, said "They can't even prove that he knew what was in the file he linked to, and downloaded or opened it. He neither hosted the file nor was involved in the theft of the information. His intent was purely journalistic and not criminal. He never gained anything materially from sending a link. What we're seeing here is the misapplication of the law in order to punish dissent."

The government has indicated that it cannot show a connection between Mr. Brown's republication of the hyperlink and a single transfer of authentication features, transfer of CVVs and/or illicit credit card transactions.

In interview with VICE last year, Brown stated, "They're trying to claim that I intentionally tried to spread credit card information, but I was opposed to that. And I was on record being opposed to it... I've always been opposed to spreading credit cards."

Accordingly, the motion just filed by Brown's legal team, while examining the relevant statutes and case law, makes several points: about the meaning of authentication features, that the hyperlink itself didn't contain CVVs and so cannot constitute a transfer, that Brown's republication of a link is protected speech, and the statutes are vague and overbroad. Foremost, that merely linking to information which is already publicly available should be protected by the First Amendment.

Republishing a hyperlink does not itself move, convey, select, place or otherwise transfer, a file or document from one location to another. The information sent... is not the information content itself, but rather a short text string - a URL - that identifies and locates content on the internet.

A related dataset of Stratfor e-mails published by WikiLeaks as the Global Intelligence Files have been continuously cited as a source in stories filed by journalists all over the globe in recent years. Jeremy Hammond, the politically motivated hacker responsible for the breach is currently serving a 10 year sentence, while Brown faces considerably more time for researching and reporting on the story.

We hope that the Court recognizes the constitutional issues at stake and their importance to basic press freedoms and grants a swift and just dismissal. The precedent that is established here will affect all internet users and their rights to link.

The activities prohibited include those of everyday members of the public desiring to conduct research on the internet, cyber security researchers who wish to analyze and prevent cyber-attacks and journalists who wish to perform routine press activities such as newsgathering and verification of sources.

Read some previous statements by organizations about the significance of this issue.

2014-03-04 In Support of Sarah Harrison, David Miranda, Moazzam Begg

Please send the following to your MP.

Dear [your MP's name],

I am writing to urge you to support Caroline Lucas's Early Day Motion about the recent misuse of the UK Terrorism Act against journalists.

I am extremely concerned about the abuse of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in recent cases - including that of David Miranda, detained and questioned for collaborating with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald to bring the information leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to public attention - and the implications that misuse of this legislation, which was drafted by Parliament to be narrowly and specifically used for terrorists, has for UK citizens continuing to enjoy a free press.

There is a second recent case where this issue is having a chilling effect on the work of UK journalists - that of Sarah Harrison, a UK journalist working with WikiLeaks, who has been advised by her lawyers that it is not safe for her to return home because of her journalistic work and her role in assisting Edward Snowden to obtain political asylum. This legal advice was given to her on the grounds that almost every story published on the GCHQ and NSA bulk spying programs falls under the UK Government's interpretation of the word terrorism. This has effectively forced her into exile, away from friends and family, purely for doing her job.

As you may be aware, Frank La Rue, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, recently said that the UK's Terrorism Act and defence of national security must not be used as grounds for harassing journalists who investigate sensitive subjects such as human rights abuses. Please also note the comments of the former Lord Chancellor, who was among those who brought in the Act, that the powers were intended to be used only against people who are, or who might be, terrorists.

I believe that Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is being illegitimately used to undermine freedom of the press. Caroline Lucas's Early Day Motion 1021 calls on the Government urgently to review the application of the Terrorism Act 2000 and guarantee that it is not used to intimidate or persecute national security journalists.

As my representative in Parliament I would very much like you to sign on to this Early Day Motion and to take whatever other actions you can to further debate on the issues it raises and, hopefully, to bring about rapid reform that prevents our laws being used in a way that threatens our democracy in this country. The matter is serious and urgent. As citizens, we rely on a free and open press to report on where our Government may be going wrong and to uphold our democracy.

You will find EDM 1021 here:

Yours sincerely,


2014-03-05 Barrett Brown: Government moved to drop linking charges

A strange and wonderful thing happened today. Here's the coverage:

We've released a short statement:

Thanks to all of Brown's supporters, members of the press and others who've been paying attention, and his legal team. We will continue to fight for Barrett and hope you all do too.

2014-03-29 Eva Joly press conference 27 March 2014 – Part one

Eva Joly MEP, former prosecutor, judge, and presidential candidate, now head of the EU Parliamentary Committee on Development, gave a press conference on the Assange case in Stockholm 27 March 2014. Also present was Jon Thorisson of the Eva Joly Institute in Iceland. Part one of two.

Thank you for coming. I think I should start by telling you where I am talking from. Why I am interested in this case. I think that the first reason is that I have been a judge and an investigator myself for some 25 years. I was first a prosecutor and I was then an investigating magistrate. And I have carried out, probably successfully, one of the most important financial investigations ever done in Europe. That was the ELF case that was done from 1994 until I ended it in 2002, and people were convicted in 2003. So this means that I am a practitioner, so I know how international cooperation works and how it does work from the inside. I have been working with it for years and I have been fighting with it. And I decided in 2002 to try to change the world from Norway. I worked in Norway for eight years on development issues and on anti-corruption issues and also to improve international cooperation.

And then I became an MEP - a Member of the European Parliament - in 2009, and that I did to fight, to continue to fight, corruption, money laundering, and to improve legal cooperation. And I am heading in the European Parliament the Committee on Development and Human Aid. I am heading the Committee on Support for Democracy. And I am involved in the reflection on the creation of a special prosecutor in Europe. Meaning that I am engaged in these issues for more than thirty years. So this is my background.

And so - why Julian Assange? One of the reasons is that I was impressed when WikiLeaks started up in 2006, by what they published, what we learned about the world that we are living in, and also because of hazards of life - when I was conducting the investigation into the banking crisis in Iceland in 2009 to 2011 I met with Julian Assange who was in Iceland in 2010. I think it was Spring 2010. And at that time there was a special atmosphere in Iceland because of the crisis they had been through, because of their democratic wakeup. How was it that the bankers could have driven them into bankruptcy and no one has seen anything. And you'll remember there were new elections and a will to change a lot of things. And Julian Assange came up with the idea that we could make Iceland a safe haven for information. Because as journalists you will know that you cannot publish everything, that you are exposed to libel, and that if you are a UK journalist you are also exposed to injunctions, and to secret injunctions not to talk about certain subjects. And this idea got huge echo in Iceland. It was called the Modern Media Initiative. To make Iceland a place that is the contrary of a tax haven - a paradise for information. And this project is still ongoing, and Jon [Thorisson] who is with me is on the board of this project.

So this is how I met with Assange the first time. And then in 2010 - that was the same year - when I read about the Swedish story I was shocked and - how to say it - I trusted that the Swedish legal system, which is very robust and which has long democratic traditions - that they would find ways forward, and that they would be able to conduct this case within a reasonable time. And I went to see Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy a year ago. Just to have his news. And I saw how he lived - locked up in an embassy - a small space to live in, and I was then worried about his situation. And I started digging much more into it. And I thought something must happen this year, and nothing happened. And I went back to meet with him one month ago, and I found then that his appearance and his health situation had degraded from the year before. And then I decided that something must be done. We cannot go on with this situation that is locked. The arrest order, sent out by the Swedish prosecution authorities, was three and a half years ago. So what is important today is to have a new look on it.

We have a situation where we have legitimate interests on both sides. We have the situations of the victims, that must be taken care of. I do not have an opinion on the responsibilities of guilt - who is guilty and who is not guilty. That is not my purpose. What I want to see is that we must find a solution and I think I know the solution. The arrest order is three and a half years old. And everything goes on like the Swedish prosecution service does not take seriously that Ecuador has granted asylum. And that this asylum means that the danger that JA alleged as to the threat he faces regarding an extradition to the US is real - that is what it means. And if you read the newspapers and gather all the information that there is - there is tonnes of information that there is an ongoing investigation in the US into WikiLeaks, the founders of WikiLeaks and into JA himself and that they try to have him judged as an accomplice of terrorism and spying, espionage - rather than being a publisher of what other people are sending to his platform. And this is a threat to all the journalists in the world - if you are in possession of documents by a source and that is in the public interest, you could be called an accomplice of terrorism. I think this is not a world that we want.

And this situation was judged by Ecuador to be sufficiently serious to grant him asylum. So this I cannot see why JA should give up his human rights to ask for asylum in order to answer questions by the Swedish prosecutors here in Sweden. And we do not know what the prosecutors will do with the case and to take the risk of having an extradition order then coming to Sweden. And when I see that the prosecutor says "we know that he cannot be extradited" - I think they are talking about what they do not know. It's none of their business. The prosecutor doesn't have a word to say about the extradition. This is for the government to decide and then for the courts, but not for the prosecutor at this stage. And so I think here there are some misunderstandings, so we've taken into account that JA has the right to ask for asylum and that is a serious decision that the Swedish prosecution cannot just take [and say] "well I do not care about this, he should come here" and we have the [alleged] victims' rights, their human rights to have their case tried. Because they also need to move on with their lives. They have been waiting for four years.

And then, in our common toolbox in Europe we have tools that do allow for international cooperation. It's not a big deal. In the ELF case I went abroad to interrogate a suspect that had fled France, that didn't want to come back, and I managed to interrogate him in Israel for instance, we had no convention but we made an ad hoc agreement with the authorities and this was done. We had the convention from 1959 of European cooperation and now we have a much better convention that is from 2000 that entered into force in 2005 (32:03) and which has modernised and made international cooperation much more efficient. And I can say that the UK was known for not cooperating easily but that has changed also. Today this cooperation is much easier. And I can [say] that because I didn't stop doing investigating work in 2002 because I conducted, set up and I helped the Icelandic investigation into their banksters. And you know that today this is the only country in the world that is putting their bankers [before a] court and obtaining convictions.

And we used this new European convention and we obtained cooperation from Luxembourg which had a very bad record in legal international cooperation and the most important [inaudible - house search?] that were made in Luxembourg were made from Iceland. So these new tools are working. So why shouldn't the Swedish prosecutor use the tools that are in the toolbox? This is not a special treatment for Julian Assange. This is for anybody who is abroad and who refuses to come back if you don't use the arrest order. The arrest order - this is the bazooka. You use the cooperation [tools] to get this information. And then if we did that, then maybe later on it would be needed to make confrontations with the [alleged] victims and other witnesses, and I would say that this could be done by videoconference even if it's not foreseen in the law book. This is done at the International Court of Justice when the witnesses are in danger, this is done on a daily basis in all the courts in Europe, and I did in my important cases in the nineties. It was not foreseen in the law book, but I did it in a creative way, making sure who the witness was, the date, and the Supreme Court accepted it. Today it is in the law books.

Things are not today like they used to be yesterday, and we cannot live only saying "I can't do anything that I didn't do yesterday". You have to live with the modern tools that you have, and if Swedish law does not foresee it then the law should be changed. Maybe that could be changed in an urgent way, or judges can just do it and see what happens. I mean the Supreme Court could allow that. And then when the preliminary work is finished - interrogations, confrontations - then the decision can be taken: either there is a case to answer or there is not a case to answer.

Let's take the scenario where there is a case to answer: then the Swedish prosecution service can send it to the Swedish courts, and Swedish law does not foresee in absentia judgments. But this we didn't do in France either for serious crimes, but when we judged our former president, Jacques Chirac, he said "I'm too tired to come, but I want the court case to move on and I do accept to be judged in a [adversarial] way with my lawyers being present and I have told you everything I know". And so it was done in spite of the fact that in the law book it was said that he should be present. And then you must remember - why does this rule exist? It exists because of the protection of the suspect, to ensure the [adversarial] process, and I [contend] that if the lawyers of Assange are present at the process and Julian Assange himself [participates] by link by Skype or video conference, this could be a good process and we would take care of all the interest of the interested parties: not sacrificing Julian Assange's right to have asylum for the right of the [alleged] victims to have their case tried.

And if this solution is not agreeable to the Swedish prosecutors, they could use another tool in the toolbox that we have made because it is useful and that I have used myself - that is a delegation of the public action. They could send their files to Ecuador and ask Ecuadorean justice to take the case. So I thank you now - this is a way...

From a rush transcript by Sweden versus Assange, courtesy Assange in Sweden. Part two coming soon.

2014-03-30 Eva Joly press conference 27 March 2014 – Part two

Eva Joly MEP, former prosecutor, judge, and presidential candidate, now head of the EU Parliamentary Committee on Development, gave a press conference on the Assange case in Stockholm 27 March 2014. Also present was Jon Thorisson of the Eva Joly Institute in Iceland. Part two of two. See part one here.

Q: Just to clarify that you say that the case could be tried in Ecuadorean courts?

EJ: It can be. And then one more element and then I'll stop talking and I'll leave the floor to you. We also have agreements for serving the sentence. If he was judged in Sweden, and he was convicted to imprisonment, he can serve his sentence elsewhere. All this is possible. I have seen from the debate here in Sweden that most people did not believe in the reality of the danger that Assange was exposed to. I think that it's paramount today that there is a debate in Swedish society, because the world has really changed with Snowden. With what Snowden tells us about the general surveillance of all of us, and also more specifically about Assange. And I am sure you know this [in] TV interview he said on German television - he said that Assange is on a manhunting list.

And you might remember that eminent members of the [US] Senate have asked for Assange to be tried for spying, for terrorism, I am thinking about Dianne Feinstein who said that. And this is not a nobody. She is a very important member of the American senate and I do recommend you to read her speech held in the Senate some two weeks ago where she told the world and also Swedish journalists that the CIA and also the American agencies are not playing by the rules. And that they have gone into the computers in the Senate and that they have suppressed some photos and pages about the CIA not respecting the rules. And I think we have difficulties in understanding how much the world has changed with all the information that we got from Assange and from Snowden. And I think it is an urgency that this situation that is a bleeding wound and I think it is not good for anybody, and there are means to solve it taking into account the interests of all the parties. Thank you.

Q: Can you tell us about your attempts to discuss this with the relevant Swedish officials, especially the prosecutor in charge and the chief prosecutor?

EJ: It's very easy to tell: I have asked to meet with the Minister of Justice, with the Chief Prosecutor, and with Marianne Ny, and nobody wants to meet with me. And I am wondering why. I am an honourable person.

Q: Have you encountered that sort of blasé reaction anywhere else? Is this unusual?

EJ: Normally when I as a member of the European Parliament, a head of a Committee, in charge of 59 billion euro/year ask for an appointment: I get it.

Q: Do you draw any conclusions from this?

EJ: That this is a very difficult question, and in a way, that I am here in my own quality. Nobody is paying me. I'm using my own time. And I hope, European money. This is a European issue. It is a European issue. It shows that we need better cooperation. If we cannot solve this problem between England and Sweden - how do we think that we can solve problems with Afghanistan, or Turkey, or a lot of other countries. I also forgot to tell you that I am working in Afghanistan and that I am not at all an anti-militaristic person. I went to a military school. I did the Institute of Superior Military Studies in France. And I am working in Afghanistan as an anti-corruption person. I was appointed by the UN and I am working very closely with Americans who risk their lives and I have sensitivity to all these questions.

Q: How would you describe your personal relationship to Mr Assange? Are you a personal friend of his?

EJ: It was inexistent until - this is totally transparent, I want to be totally transparent - I met with him the first time in Iceland. And I felt that we had common views on how damaging secrecy is to the world. Because I spent my life fighting against tax havens. Seeing how criminal many banks are - how they are stealing, how they are allowing themselves to take a huge percentage of the produced value every year - this was my fight. And I also met... because I met a journalist, because I follow cases in Africa - for instance the Trafigura case with the - what was the name of the boat - Probokwala (?) I think - this went to Ivory Coast and spread a lot of toxic waste there. I followed it because I was interested. And all of a sudden the Guardian stopped talking about it. And then they went to the British parliament to ask a question because you have immunity in the House of Commons. And they had a question that they asked in Parliament about Trafigura. And then we learned that there was a secret injunction for all the press to talk about this case. So I was very sensitive to the idea of making Iceland a safe haven for information. So this was... he was sympathetic to me. And then when I learned about this story here in Sweden I was - as everybody else - shocked. And I wanted this to be investigated and I hoped in the bottom of my heart that he would be cleared. But I was not sure - you cannot be sure - so what I am saying is that this case should come to an end.

Q: But you would not describe Assange as a friend, a personal friend of yours?

EJ: No. I am not. I am not. I mean - there is a generational problem. I know that I am looking very young and beautiful, but I am seventy years old and he is forty I think.

Q: Are you in any way optimistic that the Swedish investigators could change their mind?

EJ: What I am optimistic about is you. I think that you will understand. And that you will write articles that will make the public opinion understand that this is not a Swedish issue. That this is an international issue.

Q: But you know that the prosecutors have already disregarded the idea of a video link? The question has been [raised] before.

EJ: Yes, but I do not like situations where the will of one person can stop a whole process. I like when there are appeals. And I think there is not such a thing as "This is what I want to do and this is how it shall be". This is not democratic.

Q: You are referring to Marianne Ny?

EJ: Yes, well - she had the right to conduct the case the way she wanted for four years. It has gone nowhere.

JT: She also has a responsibility to contribute to a solution. If her current policy is not working and the case is not moving forward, she has an obligation. Because in the end it is a human rights issue that everybody involved in the case has a right to a satisfactory conclusion to the case. And it's not just Assange but it's also the two girls.

EJ: That is article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

JT: And repeating the same solution and expecting different results is not working.

EJ: What I do expect is the head of the Swedish prosecution should take the case himself.

She had the right to conduct the case the way she wanted for four years. It has gone nowhere.

Q: Have you discussed this at all with Assange's Swedish lawyers?

EJ: No, I haven't met with the Swedish lawyers. I am not Assange's lawyer. I am talking from my own platform, with my thirty years of experience in this business, and seeing it from many angles. I could have met with his lawyers. They will give you their version. I am giving you a version of a Member of the European Parliament that is sensitive to human rights. If you look me up you will also see that I am defending Basmah Belaid - the widow of Mr Belaid who was killed in Tunisia. In the same way, talking about the importance of getting the case to court. Maybe one day I will become a lawyer but I am still a parliamentarian. I am running for a second term because I want the issue of a European prosecutor to move forward.

Q: How would this new prosecutor touch upon this case?

EJ: What would a European prosecutor do with this? In the first stage - and we will take 5 years to get there - the EU prosecutor would only have the power to take care of the economic interests of the Union, so this would not be his case. But I think in a second [phase] we should have a prosecutor that can take care of transnational criminality and prosecutions. But I think we are very far away until we have a unique prosecutor.

Q: It's not yet established that the two women are 'victims', it's probably not right to call them 'victims' but 'alleged victims'.

EJ: Alleged victims, you are right. Because we have the presumption of innocence, which means that Julian Assange is innocent until he is convicted, if and when.

I do not like situations where the will of one person can stop a whole process.

Q: The other thing is that a Supreme Court judge in Sweden has himself said that there is no impediment to the prosecutor traveling to the UK, so there is no legal impediment, even under Swedish law.

EJ: I know that and that's what I wanted to come and say with strength, from a practical point of view, and I think that it is not acceptable for the interests here, and also for the reputation of Sweden, that a case can be stopped because of prestige - there should be ways to go forward. And if they do not exist, the law should be amended.

Q: As far as I know, it's not clear what the public opinion is about this. I don't know of any systematic opinion poll. Does anyone here? Because the press here has been very skewed.

EJ: I think it's very important to get the facts on the table. Because the discussion, unless people are aware of what has happened, of [Time's] correspondent [Michael Grunwald] saying in Autumn 2013 "I cannot wait to have to justify the drone attack that took Julian Assange away". It's very violent.

JT: And another thing that we've been trying to point out is that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are a publishing organisation. They haven't leaked anything. They have taken information leaked from other sources and published it. So for you guys as journalists, this is a really important question because this is the criminalisation of journalism. The way he has been treated and the WikiLeaks organisation and now people associated with Snowden and I mean - Miranda, Glenn Greenwald's partner who was apprehended at the airport in London and his computers taken and it's done under the UK anti-terrorism legislation. So it's a very important distinction. This is what the Americans are trying to do and Chelsea Manning's American lawyer said that he had the feeling that he had two defendants - one was Manning and the other was Julian Assange. Because they tried everything they could to throw [Assange] into Manning's case and in the closing statements of the Manning case in the US they mentioned Assange's name twenty-six times, just in the closing statements. So what they are trying to do is to establish a conspiracy between WikiLeaks and...

[Unstructured discussion] Person A: That's a distinction that they are trying to make that WikiLeaks is not a passive recipient of leaks but has incited them...

EJ: That is what they want to show...

Person B: Really, is that proven?

Person A: No, that's what they are trying to say.

Q: About your suggestion, have you discussed that with the Ecuadorean authorities?

EJ: I think that was in a way premature. We needed first to obtain from the Swedish prosecution authorities that they are willing to go there, and because Ecuador has given Julian Assange asylum, I think we can anticipate that they will not oppose. But we are in British territory, we need their cooperation and we need it first. And then we need the cooperation of the Ecuadorean authorities.

Q: What if they say no?

EJ: The UK has a duty to cooperate, if they are asked, as per the convention that I have referred to.

EJ: They are, and they are spending four million dollars - or pounds - to guard the embassy. So this is also absurd, isn't it? An absurd use of money, and time that goes by. Okay. So now I think it's important that the debate takes place.

From a rush transcript by Sweden versus Assange, courtesy Assange in Sweden. See part one here.

2014-03-31 Transcript/translation: Eva Joly interviewed by Swedish television

Famed French-Norwegian prosecutor Eva Joly has come to Stockholm to try to resolve the standoff between Julian Assange and the Swedish prosecution service. She was interviewed by Malou von Sivers yesterday, after the day before holding a press conference about her visit. This is a translation and transcription of that interview. For background, see here.

MS: 2011 I met WikiLeaks' Julian Assange in London and he talked about his situation. The following year he went to the embassy of Ecuador and he's been there ever since. He can't leave the building, out of fear he'll be extradited to the United States. And this is a stalemate position because the Swedish prosecutor refuses to travel to London to question him, something he says is necessary. Now he's got a woman, a very well known woman, not in the least in France. She's a jurist and she's been a corruption investigator in a huge scandal there where many were convicted. She's also a Member of the European Parliament. She's here in Sweden to try to find a solution to the judicial stalemate with Julian Assange. Welcome, Eva Joly!

EJ: Thank you.

MS: I think that first and foremost it's important for our viewers to learn who you are, because you have such a fantastic personal history! So - you're Norwegian?

EJ: Yes.

MS: And already at the age of 20 you traveled as many do, especially Scandinavian girls, to France as an au pair.

EJ: Yes.

MS: And then you stayed there!

EJ: Yes I did. I got married and had two children, took my law degree, and became a judge.

MS: You became a judge.

EJ: Yes.

MS: You also became known for a very difficult assignment, a corruption investigation that was enormous, one of the biggest in the world.

EJ: One of the world's biggest and so far the only real corruption investigation in Europe that ended with almost all the suspects being sentenced the harshest possible under the law.

MS: All of them convicted?

EJ: 33 of 36 were convicted.

MS: And this - what year was this?

EJ: The final verdict came in 2003.

MS: So it took eight years?

EJ: Yes. The investigation started in the early 1990s and continued until 2002.

Ecuador granted him asylum, this is a human right, and Sweden shall not violate it.

MS: Mmm-mm. And you also had bodyguards because you were...

EJ: Yes.

MS: Living under death threats, to put it simply.

EJ: My life was threatened and I had bodyguards for eight years.

MS: We're going to explain what company this was about. There were a lot of people involved in that affair. There was an oil company...

EJ: This was about ELF, which then was one of France's biggest companies. The matter concerned 3 billion francs, so 500 million euros, which had disappeared from the company and went to a number of private individuals. But what also was revealed was how Africa had been exploited to finance French interests.

MS: And almost everyone was convicted, and you became well known in France, and then you began another difficult assignment: you challenged the president, as you became a candidate for the Greens as their presidential candidate in France.

EJ: Yes I did!

When Marianne Ny says he won't be turned over to the US, she is talking about things where she has no competence. She knows nothing about this.

MS: And you're Norwegian! That's a challenge!

EJ: It was a big challenge, but of course a fantastic experience. So much that happened, I got to meet so many people. And I had the opportunity to get involved in issues I really care about.

MS: The Green environmental issues.

EJ: The environmental issues, but also issues about justice. A just justice system, justice for all: this is also a key issue for the Greens.

MS: But had it been possible for someone not from France, Norwegian as you are, to be president in France?

EJ: No I don't think so. My election results weren't that good either. I got 2.3% of the votes. But there were still a million people who voted for me. And those are the approximate figures the Greens usually have in presidential elections. France is not ready for a president who's a member of the Greens and also a foreigner.

MS: We're not ready either, we can say. We still haven't had a woman as prime minister. But this energy you have! Your passion for justice that seems behind a lot of what you do - where does that come from?

EJ: You know, I think it's because I've been in so many situations, at so many forks in the road, and I've understood, and which have upset me, things I can share with others. And maybe we can change things. It started with the greatest injustice of them all, namely the tax evaders, the tax havens, the big multinational corporations that don't pay any tax, as opposed to common workers. For 15 years I've fought against the tax havens, and today I can start to see the fruits of my labours. This system, which is so harmful to our society, is beginning to crumble. My efforts have not been in vain.

MS: Are you talking about Europe or... ?

EJ: I became a politician because I wanted to fight against the tax havens, and that's what I have done.

MS: Because now you're a candidate to the European Parliament...

EJ: Yes.

MS: For the Greens in France.

EJ: Yes.

MS: And this is an EU issue, not just a Greens issue, transparency and justice. And now you're here, on your own, in Sweden, you want to meet people, and you want to help to see if you can change things in Julian Assange's situation.

EJ: Yes. It's a stalemate situation. It doesn't consider the legitimate requirements of the investigation. The 'victims' have the right to a trial, but Julian Assange has rights too. He has the human right to seek asylum, which he has been granted by Ecuador.

MS: If we just briefly explain his situation...


MS: So it's like this: he's under suspicion of a crime in Sweden and wants to be questioned but he doesn't dare travel to Sweden for fear Sweden will turn him over to the United States, and then the prosecutor doesn't want travel to London to question him, or via video link, or some other way where he is now, namely in London.

EJ: That's what I want to help with. I myself have been an investigator, and I've been in precisely this situation: I have a suspect who is in another country and doesn't want to return to France to be questioned. So then I travel with the assistance of the country he's in and question him there. This is a very common situation. What I think is uncommon is that the prosecution authority in Sweden refuses to use this opportunity, especially after 2000 when we have very good judicial cooperation in Europe. So to travel and question Julian Assange at Ecuador's embassy in London is no big deal.

MS: Before we move to what you've achieved by coming here, we should point out that Julian Assange has been at Ecuador's embassy since June 2012. But about a year before that I was in London and met Julian Assange and he had the following to say about his situation.

[Clip begins]

JA: I stayed for five weeks in Sweden, even though I was meant to leave much earlier, even though the situation was very dangerous for me - to stay in one place for too long - and I tried, again and again and again, to speak to the prosecution. The prosecution was dropped, it was raised again when a Swedish politician involved himself in the process. And subsequent to that time, we have asked, through every single possible mechanism, for me to be interviewed again - every single possible mechanism under the standard EU mechanism which is the...

MS: Which means that the Swedish prosecutor would come here...

JA: Yes! She could come here, she could come to the Swedish embassy, she could go to Scotland Yard, we could do it over the telephone, we could do it over voice.

[Clip ends]

MS: I met him then at a secret location and now he's been at Ecuador's embassy since 2012. You met him there. We can say that you don't take a stand in the question of innocence or guilt - you just want him to be questioned.

EJ: I want the case to move along because it is a human right to be tried in a reasonable time. And we have to understand that Julian Assange has a real fear of being turned over to the United States. When Marianne Ny says he won't be turned over to the US, she is talking about things where she has no competence. She knows nothing about this. And what we actually know, if you read a lot of papers then you know that there are probably ongoing discussions between the US and the Swedish government to have him turned over to the US.

MS: Do you have any evidence of such discussions?

EJ: The Independent wrote about it... I don't remember the date offhand but the Independent claimed that, and we know that Attorney General Eric Holder has said that there is an ongoing secret investigation of Julian Assange. They're trying to make it look like he was engaged in espionage and get him convicted on those grounds. He's a publisher, he's a journalist who publishes things that others send to him. He is not a terrorist. But in the US they see him as a terrorist. And what I want to say is that Ecuador granted him asylum. This is a human right and Sweden shall not violate it, for there's another solution. It's important to know that if this interrogation... if it should be necessary to confront him with other witnesses, then they can do that via video link. And should he be convicted, he can serve his time in Ecuador. There are international conventions for this.

MS: You've visited him. What's his life like? He can't leave the embassy.

EJ: Yes, this is terrible. It's much worse to sit inside an embassy than to be in a prison. Then you'd get fresh air several hours each day, you can play football with the others, you have social services, you exist in a group. If you're inside an embassy, you have a small room you can use, and I have to say that Julian Assange's health worries me.

MS: We're going to hear what he himself says about his own fear of being turned over by Sweden to the United States. This is what he said when I met him, and this is the reason he today is in Ecuador's embassy.

[Clip begins]

JA: But we have looked in detail about what the situation is with handovers to the United States. Every single extradition request that has been sent to Sweden from the United States since the year 2000, Sweden has handed the person over. In 2002, Sweden cooperated with the CIA to hand over political refugees to Egypt. So we need - I need - Swedish people to come out and say 'no that is not acceptable, it is not acceptable to hand over publishers to the United States'.

[Clip ends]

MS: The Swedish government, both FM Carl Bildt and PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, have said there's no risk.

EJ: I think we should see reality like this. Do you remember how Snowden fled to Moscow? And Eva Morales was in Russia and he traveled back to Bolivia. There were rumours that Snowden was on board his airplane. And what happened then? All the countries of Europe closed their airspace. France closed her airspace, and Morales' airplane was forced down in Austria. The plane was searched to see if Snowden was on board. There you can see what resistance the countries of Europe have against the US. We were the victims of the surveillance Snowden revealed, we know that French politicians were being spied on, Angela Merkel was being spied on, and still and all France, a nuclear power, who can stand up to the US, they lay down flat for the US demand to get Snowden. Now what do you think would happen if that demand were about Assange? I don't think there'd be much resistance.

MS: What have you been able to accomplish on your visit to Sweden? You wanted to meet the prosecutor Marianne Ny, amongst others...

EJ: Yes, I asked to meet with the Minister for Justice, she didn't have time, I asked to meet with the Prosecutor-General, he referred me to Marianne Ny...

MS: Who is the prosecutor...

EJ: Yes, and she didn't want to meet with me. So I haven't had any luck with the justice system. But that's OK. Those are their decisions. Now I'm going to speak with the leader of the Parliamentary Judicial Committee, the leader of the Swedish Bar Association, because this is truly an issue of human rights, and I think this situation, which the Swedish judicial system is today responsible for, this hurts Sweden's reputation. For we have a lot of confidence in Sweden as a country of free speech and which has done so much for so many eastern countries for example. Sweden has the longest tradition of freedom of speech in the world, so it's strange that Sweden should be responsible for the Assange case not progressing.

MS: How do you think this will end?

EJ: [Sighs] I think we'll find a good way out. The Swedish prosecutor has to hurry up to achieve judicial cooperation with England, hurry up to arrange an interrogation at Ecuador's embassy. Then they can make their decision: either close the case or bring charges. What's important is that it gets done in one way or another. They can't just sit here and say 'according to Swedish law it is impossible if Julian Assange isn't present at the trial' for example, for criminal code tries to protect contradictory principles, to protect the presumption of innocence. If Julian Assange agrees that his lawyers can represent him, and that he is present in the courtroom via Skype, where's the problem? They can't just stop everything because they only see problems. I think we can see solutions, and I have confidence that the sturdy Swedish judicial system will find a solution.

MS: Thank you Eva Joly for coming, and we should point out that you have no position in the matter of innocence or guilt, you want the judicial process to move forward.

EJ: Yes.