EXCLUSIVE: Julian Assange on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Cypherpunks, Surveillance State
Democracy Now/ November 29, 2012
In his most extended interview in months, Julian Assange speaks to Democracy Now! from inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been holed up for nearly six months. Assange vowed WikiLeaks would persevere despite attacks against it. On Tuesday, the European Commission announced that the credit card company Visa did not break the European Union’s antitrust rules by blocking donations to WikiLeaks. “Since the blockade was erected in December 2010, WikiLeaks has lost 95 percent of the donations that were attempted to be transferred to us over that period. … Our rightful and natural growth, our ability to publish as much as we would like, our ability to defend ourselves and our sources, has been diminished by that blockade.” Assange also speaks about his new book, “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet.” “The mass surveillance and mass interception that is occurring to all of us now who use the internet is also a mass transfer of power from individuals into extremely sophisticated state and private intelligence organizations and their cronies,” he says. Assange also discusses the United States’ targeting of WikiLeaks. “The Pentagon is maintaining a line that WikiLeaks inherently, as an institution that tells military and government whistleblowers to step forward with information, is a crime. They allege we are criminal, moving forward,” Assange says. “Now, the new interpretation of the Espionage Act that the Pentagon is trying to hammer in to the legal system, and which the Department of Justice is complicit in, would mean the end of national security journalism in the United States.” [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, may testify today at a pretrial proceeding for the first time since he was arrested in May 2010. Manning could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious of 22 counts against him. His trial is expected to begin in February.
Meanwhile, the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he sought refuge nearly six months ago to avoid being extradited to Sweden to be questioned over sexual assault claims. Earlier this week, Assange vowed WikiLeaks would persevere despite attacks against it. On Tuesday, the European Commission announced that the credit card company Visa did not break the European Union’s antitrust rules by blocking donations to WikiLeaks. Shortly after the ruling, Assange addressed reporters in Brussels via video stream from inside the Ecuadorean embassy.
JULIAN ASSANGE: The strength of popular and private support means that we continue. There is no danger that WikiLeaks will cease to exist as an organization. Rather, its natural and rightful growth has been compromised, and that is wrong and must change. It would set a very bad precedent—it was not only wrong for WikiLeaks; it sets an extremely bad precedent for all other European organizations and all media organizations worldwide that monopolies can simply exercise financial death penalties over organizations and companies as a result of political controversy.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Julian Assange speaking on Tuesday. He now joins us in a rare interview from inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He has been granted political asylum in Ecuador but can’t leave the embassy because the British government promises to arrest him if he steps foot on British soil. He has just co-authored a new book called Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet. The book examines how the internet can be used as both an instrument of freedom and oppression.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, it’s good to be with you, Amy and Juan. The decision is disgraceful, but it is only a preliminary decision. We have another submission that the commission has asked for, so hopefully they will turn around before the end of the year or the beginning of next year. Commission had been investigating our complaint for 16 months. The normal turnaround time is four months. The European Parliament last week voted, through an Article 32 section, on how banks should be reformed and credit card companies should be reformed in order to stop arbitrary, extrajudicial financial blockades such as the one that is being applied to WikiLeaks. This year, we—the Council of Europe, all 47 foreign ministers last year passed a resolution saying that these sorts of arbitrary financial blockades on WikiLeaks should not continue, so that it’s interesting to see the playoff in the political wills in Europe between, on the one hand, the Council of Europe and the Parliament and, on the other hand, the commission. But it’s been known for a long time that the commission is closer to big business, and it is often successfully lobbied. Hopefully the commission will do the right thing and turn around in this case.
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