Tuesday, December 07, 2010

An Exclusive Interview with Julian Assange on the Eve of His Arrest

WikiLeaks Founder Denies Accusations, Says It’s Fascinating to See the Tentacles of the Corrupt American Elite

By Natalia Viana
Opera Mundi, translated by Narco News

December 7, 2010

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, gave an exclusive interview to Brazilian journalist Natalia Viana of the online publication Opera Mundi on Monday. (Viana, 2004 graduate of Narco News’ School of Authentic Journalism, now is co-chair, with Bill Conroy, of its investigative journalism program.) Assange didn’t hide his irritation at the freezing of his Swiss bank account (on the pretext of his having registered it at a local address while he does not reside in a European country) and with other actions taken against his organization since it published embarrassing documents from US Embassies.
Assange was preparing to turn himself in to British police, who arrested him in London this morning. Assange is accused of sexual crimes in Sweden. The accusation isn’t very clear and includes charges of having unprotected sex with two women while he was in Stockholm giving a speech. On November 18 Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant with the objective of interrogating him for “reasonable suspicion of rape, sexual and coercive aggression.” The WikiLeaks founder faces a hearing in the Westminster court in the central region of London, where it will be decided if he will be extradited to Sweden.

Natalia Viana: What accusations are you facing at this moment?

Julian Assange: There are many accusations. The most serious is that our personnel have practiced espionage against the USA. That is false. There is also the famous allegation of “rape” in Sweden. That is false and is going to be dismissed when the real facts come to light. Mainly, it is being used to attack our reputation.

Viana: Regarding the accusation of espionage, have their been any legal charges filed?

Assange: No. There has been a formal investigation involving the directors fo the FBI, the CIA, and the US Attorney General. Australia, my country, is also conducting the same kind of investigation – in which the entire government is involved – and at the same time counseling the US. One of the alleged sources in this investigation, Bradley Manning (US soldier accused of being WikiLeaks’ source) is imprisoned in solitary confinement inside a prison cell in Virginia in the US. He could be sentenced to 52 years in prison for the total of the accusations against him, including espionage.

Viana: What is the difference between WikiLeaks and espionage?

Assange: WikiLeaks receives material from whistleblowers (persons who denounce wrongdoing in the organizations in which they work) and journalists and make it public. Accusing us of espionage theorizes that we actively work to obtain material on behalf of a foreign nation.

Viana: In the Sweden case, what do the women allege?

Assange: They say that I had consensual sex. The case was already closed for twelve hours when the attorney general in Stockholm, Eva Finne, read its contents. It was then reopened, after she gave a political speech. This whole case is very bothersome. Now, they have frozen my bank account in Switzerland which was the fund to pay for my defense.

Viana: On what basis?

Assange: They are alleging that I put them at risk. But they don’t have any evidence to suggest that. And, in any case, it’s false.

Viana: What is your opinion about the freezing of your money transfers by the business PayPal, and that Amazon removed your site? How do you see those acts?

Assange: It is fascinating to see the tentacles of the corrupt American elite. In a way, to observe this reaction is as important as seeing the material that we published. PayPal and Amazon froze our accounts for political reasons. With PayPal, 70,000 euros were frozen. With our defense fund, that was 31,000 euros.

Viana: What do they allege?

Assange: They say that we were conducting “illegal activities,” and that clearly is untrue. More, they are echoing the accusations of (US Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton that we have published documents that can cause problems for the USA. At the same time, the leader of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said he is very proud to have caused Amazon’s actions when he demanded the closing of our site.

Viana: What is WikiLeaks doing to defend itself from the freezing of its donations?

Assange: We have lost 100,000 euros this week alone as a result of the freezing of our assets. We have accounts in other banks – in Iceland and Sweden, for example, that the public can still use. We have a website. We also can accept credit card donations.

Viana: What more is WikiLeaks doing to defend itself?

Assange: We are counting on a diversity of support from good people. We have more than 350 websites in the world that are reproducing our content. We value that more than anything.

Translated from the original Portuguese to English by Al Giordano for Narco News.