Wikileaks' Julian Assange Fires Back at His Critics
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JUAN GONZALEZ: As the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks continues to publish secret U.S. diplomatic cables, its founder Julian Assange has gone into hiding in order to avoid arrest. Earlier today, Sweden’s highest court refused permission for Assange to appeal the arrest order issued over charges of alleged rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. Assange has denied the allegations and said he is the target of a smear campaign. Earlier this week, Interpol, the international law enforcement organization, issued a red notice alert for Assange’s arrest. He could now be detained on the sex charges in any of the 188 countries that are part of Interpol. Meanwhile, here in the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced WikiLeaks is the target of a criminal probe, and some politicians have accused Assange of breaking the Espionage Act.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the legal problems facing Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, we’re going to London. We’re joined by his lawyer Jennifer Robinson. She is one of the few people who have been in contact with Julian this week.
Welcome to Democracy Now! Jennifer Robinson, where is Julian Assange right now?
JENNIFER ROBINSON: He is here in the U.K. I can confirm that much. But as to his exact whereabouts, I cannot confirm.
AMY GOODMAN: Do the authorities know where he is?
JENNIFER ROBINSON: The authorities certainly know how to contact him via his lawyers. And I must, I’m sorry, correct you, that he is not in hiding, evading any Interpol arrest warrant. He has genuine concerns for his personal safety as a result of numerous very public calls for his assassination. And he’s obviously incredibly busy with the WikiLeaks current works and the attacks on their systems. So, any suggestion that he is evading Interpol arrest warrants is incorrect.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, in terms of this Interpol warrant, what does it mean in terms of what would be the procedure if, let’s say, British authorities decided to—if they could find where he is and decided they wanted to execute this warrant?
JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well, I think the first thing that we have to remember is that an Interpol red notice is not actually an arrest warrant. It is considered by states who are member states of Interpol as a valid provisional arrest notice, so the authorities can take action. Though what we do know, and has been reported today, is that if a European arrest warrant was issued, the authorities would be obliged to arrest my client. Reports today have suggested that a European arrest warrant was communicated to SOCA, the authorities here in the U.K., but that was returned on the grounds of an administrative error, and we’re seeking confirmation at the moment of what that problem was. In our view, the Interpol arrest warrant, there are serious issues with it, on the grounds of due process concerns arising in the Swedish proceedings, and also, indeed, for the need for it, given our client’s voluntary offers of cooperation that were rejected by the Swedish prosecuting authorities.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain, Jennifer Robinson, what that was? What were Julian Assange’s efforts to deal with the Swedish authorities?
JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well, first, it’s important to note that Mr. Assange remained in Sweden for almost a month in order to clear his name. While he was in Sweden after the allegations came out, he was in touch with the prosecuting authorities and offered on numerous occasions to provide interview in order to clear his name. Those offers were not taken up by the police. Now, he obviously has had to travel for work and had meetings to attend. And in order to leave Sweden, he sought the specific permission of the prosecutor to leave, on the grounds that there was an outstanding investigation, and she gave that permission. So he left Sweden lawfully and without objection by the prosecuting authorities. Since that time, we have communicated through his Swedish counsel on numerous occasions offers to provide the answers to the questions that she may have through other means, through teleconference, through video link, by attending an embassy here in the U.K. to provide that information. And all of those offers were rejected. It’s also important to remember that the prosecutor has not once issued a formal summons for his interrogation. So, all of these communications have been informally. And in our view, it’s disproportionate to seek an arrest warrant when voluntary cooperation has been offered.