2011-02-24 Swedish Newspaper Aftonbladet Hosts Chat with Julian Assange

The following is a chat that recently took place on the Swedish news website Aftonbladet with Julian Assange. Assange talks about his trial, the possibility of extradition to the United States, why he thinks he won't get a fair trial in Sweden, how WikiLeaks is faring currently, whether WikiLeaks will go on if he is found guilty and sentenced to jail, and more. Here it is re-published in full.

Julian Assange: Hello everyone!

Kommentar från Olof: Do you see yourself as a modern-day freedom fighter?

Julian Assange: The freedom to communicate knowledge is, to me, the most important freedom. It is the freedom on which all other freedoms and rights depend. Concepts such as the right to representation, freedom from arbitary detention or torture all need to be voiced and evidence for them made clear. This can only be done effectively if the central freedom - the right to communicate is strong. In fighting for this freedom, we fight for all freedoms.

Kommentar från John: How do you feel about the court decision today?

Julian Assange: It was not a surprise. Over 95% of EU arrest warrants result in such an outcome in the lower courts. The judge involved, Riddle was the same judge that first put me in prison. I am of course, annoyed at the tremendous distraction from our work in the revolutions in the middle east. This angers me, but on the other hand, the process does mean we and others such as Fair Trials International can inspire law reforms in Sweden and europe.

Kommentar från Maria: What do you base your assumptions on that Sweden will send you to USA?

Julian Assange: This is an interesting question that few people have looked at with any depth. Onwards extradition - to the United States - entirely a matter of politics. The Swedish Prime Minister has refused to block such an extradition, saying, falsely, that it is a matter entirely for the judiciary, while at the same time pathetically pandering with his other commentary on the case. Infact, he has the power, in the Swedish extradition relationship with the US, to disqualify my extradition. He refuses. According to what I have been told of the protocol between Sweden and the UK, and the US and the UK, the Home Secretary of the UK, simiarly has such power to politically veto such an extradition. The British government, thus far, has refused to do so. Now, while it is convention that an extradition from the UK or Sweden to the US would require the US to agree to not execute or torture me or other european based WikiLeaks staff, any such diplomatic guarentee would be meaningless. Sweden went through that formalism with its CIA assisted extraditions to Egypt, which were immediately ignored. In the US many senior politicians have called for our assassination or life imprisonment. There are three bills before Congress and the Senate to do such things as declare us a "transnational threat", so all our staff can be treated like al-Quada - as "enemy combatants" and shipped off to Bagram or Guantanamo, etc. Nothing Sweden can politely ask for can stop this legislative risk.

Kommentar från Maja: What happens to your work with Wikileaks now? Are you releasing anything new soon?

Julian Assange: We are releasing new material every day. Major efforts throughout South America have appeared in the last week and we have had since the start of the year a special focus on the middle east, which is continuing.

Kommentar från cleo: Hi Julian. Do you see yourself involved in what happening in the Arabic World? Are their fight for freedom based on the document you have revealed?

Julian Assange: The heavy lifting in these revolutions has been done by long standing civil and political groups throughout the middle east. However we have tried to play a part in the region since last year. In particular, we are pround of the work of our media partner Al-Akhbar in Lebanon who published many important stories based on our material in Arabic. Al-Alkbar and WikiLeaks were then banned by the Ben Ali regime of Tunisia. Supportive computer hackers then redirected many Tunisian government websites to WikiLeaks and its cables exposing Ben Ali. Al-Alkbar suffered three critical cyber attacks and had its cable publishing eventually wiped out. The sophistication of the attacks point to state involvement. Subsequently, we worked with the Telegraph and on our own to aggressively expose Mubarak (Egypt), Soliman (Egypt), Bahrain and Libya.

Kommentar från BJ: What makes you think you will not be given a fair trial in Sweden?

Julian Assange: I could never have imagined just how badly the Swedish justice system can be abused. This question needs a very long answer, but Swedes everywhere are coming forward to tell us horror story after horror story. While these domestic considerations are bad enough, in my case we have united both Social Democrat patronage networks through political opportunists like Claes Borgstrom and other radical feminists who hope to get some limelight, together with the worst elements of the Moderates who hope to curry favor with the US. I do see, however that the Swedish press is starting to question what is going on more. But, I loved Sweden and the level of xenophoblic opportunism saddens me. I still believe Sweden can be a good country, but it must first, grow up.

Kommentar från TheAmazingHanna: What do you think the chances are for appealing today's decision?

Julian Assange: The United Kingdom has its own pressures. Just look at the handling of the case here. It was the UK that appealed to keep me in prison, rather than have me under house arrest. It is not that, in terms of law, that the UK is safer at protecting me from the US, rather it is that, at least I am receiving materials in my own language, English, something that the Swedish government has, to this day, refused to do, and being a larger country, the judiciary is further separated from government patronage networks. I have greater ability to fight US extradition in the UK than I do in Sweden. The cables we released about Sweden paint a grim picture. Swedish politicians and bureaucrats sometimes do not follow the rule of law when it comes to their dealings with the United States.

Kommentar från Andreas_A: If you are innocent to the allegations of sexual assault, why do you not willingly return to Sweden to clear your name and your reputation?

Julian Assange: There has been so many abuses by the Swedish government, including the ongoing refusal to provide me any material in English, and the prosecutor Ny lying about interview agreements, that I do not have confidence in the Swedish justice system. Let us not forget that I already gave an interview, stayed in Sweden voluntarily for a month, and the warrant for my arrest was dropped.

Kommentar från Annika: The impression from the press is that this is a conspiracy against you, attacking Wikileaks. What I wonder is if there is any substance to the charges. Can you give any comment to this without compromising the ongoing investigation?

Julian Assange: There is a lot of pressure. We should not let people who want to detract from the seriousness of pressure recast it into a conspiratorial cartoon. That is not how real life tends to work. This case has been going for six months. There are many people and many complicated agendas.

Kommentar från Peter: Are you Wikileaks or will Wikileaks continue if you are in prision?

Julian Assange: I have set structures in play. We will not be stopped.

Kommentar från Gustav F: Don't you believe that "white lies" are a necessety for a functional government? I.E. the US ambassador’s personal judgments of certain European leaders.

Julian Assange: The lies we have exposed are not white. They are the highest order concealment of criminality. If governments that conceal reality from their peoples cannot function when those realities are revealed, that's fine by me. Let them be replaced with ones that do not.

Kommentar från Anneli: Do you ever feel guilty that some of your leaks/sources has been exposed ?

Julian Assange: As far as we are aware, we have never failed a source. In two cases, alleged sources allegedly made the mistake of speaking to individuals or not from WikiLeaks.

Kommentar från Martijn: What do you think of Anonymous attacks against websites such as mastercard in order to support you?

Julian Assange:We neither condemn not condone them. They are the online equivalent of a protest and as such are an expression of public sentiment.

Kommentar från Gabriel: What do you fear will happen if you came to Sweden?

Julian Assange: Already answered.

Julian Assange: OK. I have to get back to work now. Thanks everyone. Bye!

Julian Assange: Oh. There is one more thing I would like to say.

Julian Assange: I would like to thank all those Swedish women and men who have stepped forward to help me and tell us what is going on and going wrong. Thanks!

Julian Assange: Night.

Flickr Photo by a.powers-fudyma

Possible gag order on the Guardian re Assange case?

It seems that the Guardian newspaper may be under some sort of gag order about this case. I have been commenting in the Guardian liveblog articles for some weeks now and kept noticing how some of my comments were being removed by the moderators for reasons I couldn't quite fathom. Sometimes, when I've posted a comment asking why, not only has my query been removed but the fact I've even asked it has been obscured by changing my username over the removed post. The posts that have been removed have mentioned one or other of the following:

Mentions in the MSM of lack of DNA on a supposedly used torn condom
Links to blog articles on Thomas Bodstrom
Link to article by Brad Freidman re US government contract for 'false persona' software revealed by HB Gary hack
Links to articles on the Professors Blogg website

(particularly this last one)

Finally, one of the moderators took pity on me and responded to my request they tell me via my private email. Here's what was sent:

Quoting XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX@guardian.co.uk:

> We saw your comment asking why links to Prof Blog get removed by the
> moderators. All we're able to say is that certain external links
> potentially pose legal risk for the Guardian, and therefore have to be removed
> Best
> Community Moderation Team.
> Please consider the environment before printing this email.
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Obviously I have no way of alerting other Guardian readers/general public that the Guardian is at "legal risk" from the free flow of information in the Assange extradition case as my post will be immediately removed. Anyone want to investigate further?


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