ALBERICI, PRESENTER: This month marks a year since Julian
Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking
political asylum. The WikiLeaks founder is responsible for
publishing the 700,000 classified documents released by
American soldier Bradley Manning, who's pleaded guilty to
the leaking of that material and is now on trial for aiding
the enemy. Julian Assange is convinced there is a sealed
indictment waiting for him in the US. We recorded this
interview with him just a short time ago.
Julian Assange, welcome to Lateline.
JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS FOUNDER: Thank you.
EMMA ALBERICI: We'll get to your political ambitions
shortly. Let's begin though with Bradley Manning and the
charge that he aided the enemy. When you published the
documents he gave you, didn't it occur to you that you might
be compromising American and allied military operations in
the release of that information about the wars in Iraq and
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, there's been a lot of speculation and
rumours about that by the yellow press. But the fact is not
even the Pentagon alleges that a single person came to harm
as a result of any of our publications anywhere in the
world, and in fact, no other government agency does either.
It is not a matter in this case. That's one of the
disturbing aspects about the Bradley Manning case, is that
they have forbidden the defence to table any evidence
whatsoever that no-one came to harm and the prosecution is
not going to table any evidence - because there isn't any -
that anyone did come to harm.
EMMA ALBERICI: We've learnt that a Navy SEAL found WikiLeaks
documents at the Pakistan compound where Osama bin Laden was
killed. Presumably you knew it was possible, even probable,
that those documents would be read by al-Qaeda, sensitive
documents you were releasing.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well I am sure al-Qaeda reads the New York
Times. He mentioned that he read Bob Woodward books. He
probably has People, maybe even Who Magazine, possibly even
Dr Seuss laying around his compound. So what? There's no
allegation that al-Qaeda was in any way aided by the
publications that we published. Despite the fact, despite
the fact that Bradley Manning has been charged with aiding
the enemy, a capital offence, the judge in this case has
said that the prosecution does not need to show that
al-Qaeda was aided in any way whatsoever and the prosecution
doesn't allege that al-Qaeda was. All they intend to show is
that al-Qaeda had our publications just like everyone else
in the world.
EMMA ALBERICI: How can you be 100 per cent certain that
information you've released hasn't contributed to at the
very least an atmosphere of mistrust between the US and
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, look, the United States' behaviour is
what has led to an atmosphere of distrust. People should not
trust the United States military industrial complex. Of
course they shouldn't. We've seen abuse after abuse. In fact
this organisation revealed that the United States military,
the Pentagon has been involved in the killing, directly or
indirectly, according to its own records, of 129,000 people.
Now that wasn't simply in aggregate in Iraq or in aggregate
in Afghanistan. That was the individual death records and
their locations and what military units were involved in
those two countries. That's what we documented.
EMMA ALBERICI: So it doesn't matter to you if you did
contribute to a sense of acrimony between the US and other
JULIAN ASSANGE: It does matter; in fact it's very important
that the level of trust is proportionate to the level of
behaviour. So it's been an extremely important thing that -
for example, that Australians do not trust speculative
military adventures in Central Asia. Of course it is.
EMMA ALBERICI: One of the key charges levelled against you
is that you released that massive volume of material with
scant regard for the consequences. Certainly Julia Gillard
has said that there was no moral purpose to what you were
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, you know, the Senate has twice
demanded that Julia Gillard apologise for her statements.
Twice they have passed that resolution. Julia Gillard's
libellous statements are made outside of Parliament. She's
only saved by the statute of limitations. Have resulted in a
banking blockade against an Australian publisher. They've
also resulted in the Bank of America refusing to send a
payment to WikiLeaks, the Australian political organisation.
Julia Gillard has a lot to be responsible for in terms of
her libellous comments. If we go to our publications - well
not even NATO in Kabul, as it said to CNN, could find a
single person in need of protection. So this is all yellow
press hype. The Government doesn't allege it. NATO has even
looked into the speculative component and says that there's
EMMA ALBERICI: You've been in the Ecuadorian embassy for a
year now. How much longer do you expect to be there?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well it's an interesting question. The
situation is very interesting. But, you know, I'm quite
optimistic. The support for WikiLeaks as an organisation
increases. We can see that in the media in different
countries around the world. We can see it politically. We
can see it in polling results in Australia where a full 40
per cent of people under the age of 30 say that they intend
to vote for WikiLeaks, between 25 and 28 per cent nationwide
in Australia. And that is across three polls now by the
Government's own polling agency, UMR. Additionally, the
political situation that is developing in United States, in
the UK has gradually been improving over time. And I think
the lies and fictions of Bob Carr, for example, are now well
and truly over. Even his office is now speaking about the
grand jury in the United States. We've seen in the Bradley
Manning trial this week, the intent and focus of the United
States Government to go after this organisation. And they're
aware that this organisation and people like it and our
values are forming a new body politic and people like Edward
Snowden are part of that phenomena.
EMMA ALBERICI: We will discuss Edward Snowden, but before
that I wanted to ask you how much contact you're having with
the Australian High Commission there in London.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, so that's actually - it's remarkable
to look at the statements made by the Foreign Minister, but
other Australians who have been in difficult situations will
tell you it's all exactly the same. So, I have not met
anyone from any consulate, any Australian Government
official since 2010, since I was in prison. In the time that
I've been in this embassy here - we laugh about it, that
once a month, there will be a tick-the-box call to the
consul here saying, "Well, how's Mr Assange?" And, well, my
response is, "Well, what's your offer?" The last time that
they offered some medical assistance to the Ecuadorian
Government - the only concrete offer that they ever put on
the table - the Ecuadorian consul went to meet with the
Australian consul, completely utterly wasted his time. The
result of that was, "Well, here you are, here's a list of
doctors in London." A list of doctors that the Australian
Government is going to pay for? "No." Nothing, nothing at
all. Just a list of doctors that I should never, ever go to,
apparently. Because, in fact, all that the so-called
consular support is doing here is it's simply collecting
political intelligence for Bob Carr. There's an Australian
member - there's a DFAT member sitting in on the Bradley
Manning case. There has been for about six months, secretly
sitting there, recording notes. Are those notes passed on to
our legal team? Absolutely not. They produce briefing notes
for Bob Carr so he can set up his press lines.
So actually, so-called consular support for me and for many
other Australians in similar situations, what it's actually
about is collecting political intelligence for the minister
to set up their press lines, so it's really a type of
corruption where money that should be spent on actual
consular support is simply spent on producing press releases
for the Foreign Minister to make it look like he gives a
damn about Australians. As we know, he doesn't give a damn
about Australians at all. Since the 1970s he's been in bed
with the US. Even as a union leader he was having multiple
meetings with the US embassy.
EMMA ALBERICI: I know you say that the last real contact you
had was 2010. What advice have they given you about your
JULIAN ASSANGE: They have given no advice, nothing at all.
No advice, no information, nothing whatsoever. Not me, not
to my lawyers, nothing. You see these absurd claims by Bob
Carr saying that there's been, I don't know, 87 consular
contacts. They include just calling, just this tick-a-box
call procedure. No information whatsoever. We asked, "Can
the Australian consul give me a passport?," for example.
"No." The absurd response is, "Well just come down to the
Australian consulate." It's a joke. I mean, they insult the
Ecuadorians with this sort of behaviour. They insult me.
They insult all of Australia with this sort of behaviour.
EMMA ALBERICI: How are you any more vulnerable to US
extradition from Sweden than you are in the UK?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well I have political asylum here in the US
- in the Ecuadorian embassy. I am completely invulnerable to
extradition to the United States.
EMMA ALBERICI: That wasn't always the case though.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, but, you know, these are complex legal
issues. If you go to Justice4Assange.com with the numeral
"4", you can read all about the precise legal issues. But
basically, this is a lot more than just about the law. The
law isn't good in either country, but there's also process,
there's also the fact that I speak English, I don't speak
Swedish. I was only intending to be in Sweden for one week.
I have no knowledge of their system. The whole system moves
incredibly quickly. Sweden is isolated from the world's
press, you can't rely on that, it's a very small, tight-knit
community and so on. So there's - while in some ways parts
of the law are better in Sweden, the process itself is not
at all good. Since the year 2000, every single person the
United States has requested for extradition from Sweden has
been extradited - no exceptions. Here in the UK, about 10
per cent of people that the US has requested extradition
have not been extradited. The nearest equivalent, and it's a
pretty direct case, Gary McKinnon, they've been fighting to
extradite him for 10 years and finally the UK eventually,
very reluctantly, vetoed his extradition to the US. That's
never happened in Sweden.
EMMA ALBERICI: Let's talk about the 29-year-old former CIA
staffer Edward Snowden. It's now been revealed that he was
responsible for those leaks to The Guardian and The
Washington Post revealing the way the US National Security
Agency gains information from internet companies - Google,
Facebook, as well as US telecoms. Have you had any
communication with him?
JULIAN ASSANGE: We have had indirect communication with his
EMMA ALBERICI: What do you mean?
JULIAN ASSANGE: I don't think it's appropriate at this time
that I go into further details, but let's look at the case
and let's look at what he's revealed. What he has revealed
is what I have been speaking about for years, that their
National Security Agency and its allies have been involved
in a mass interception program of Google, Facebook, the
various telecommunications data, the telecommunications flow
to the United States - which is about 99 per cent, for
example, of Latin American traffic flows to the United
States - bulk interceptions of many, many people, many, many
Australians. And we must ask the question, and the
Australian Government must answer the question: how many
Australians have been intercepted? In the relationship
between the Defence Signals Directorate and ASIO and US
Intelligence, has the Australian Government been pooling
that information about Australians? Has it been pooling that
information about Americans? There's been an admission here
in the UK that GCHQ - which is the big spy - electronic
spying agency here, the equivalent of DSD or the National
Security Agency - has been involved in that program, in the
Prism program since at least 2010, accessing data obtained
from Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc. Is the Australian
Government still involved in this warrantless interception
program? Are there collection points in Australia? Have
Australian companies been part of this, having their
information sucked out to the United States? Is this being
done without a warrant? It is simply not acceptable.
And if I am elected to the Senate, the Australian WikiLeaks
Party position is that there should be no interception, none
at all of Australians without proper judicial oversight. No
warrants without a judge assessing independently the warrant
and there must be reporting every six months to the
Australian Parliament on how many interceptions are
occurring. You know, we run the danger here of the West more
broadly drifting into a state where there are two systems.
There's one law for the average person and there's another
law if you're inside the national intelligence complex. You
can intercept whoever you want, you're complete
unaccountable for your actions, there's no judicial review.
That is not acceptable. I don't believe Australians find
that acceptable. I don't believe that Americans find that
acceptable. Snowden clearly didn't find that acceptable and
he was even someone in the system.
EMMA ALBERICI: And is that the basis for your pitch for
election to the Australian Senate?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well we have a great many reasons and
there's various policies of different kinds will be released
during the election cycle. But in essence, the values of
transparency and accountability and resistance under
pressure that I have developed through hard experience with
WikiLeaks, that is what we intend to take to Canberra. You
know, we went toe-to-toe with the Pentagon, we've gone
toe-to-toe with many other corrupt states. Canberra is a
corrupt little mini-state. We all know that. There's a
corruption of purpose. We elect people, we send them to
Canberra to represent Australians, to represent Australians
to the bureaucracy, to hold the bureaucracy to account, to
represent Australian interests overseas. And yet we have
people like Bob Carr and Julia Gillard representing mining
industries, representing Macquarie Bank, representing their
long-lost American pals. That is not acceptable.
EMMA ALBERICI: Well how do you expect to represent the
people of Victoria when you're locked up in the Ecuadorian
embassy in London and you're wanted in Sweden on sexual
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, you mention these in an inflammatory
way. People should go to Justice4Assange.com and they can
read all about your so-called allegations where even the
women concerned say they had absolutely no intention to file
any such formal allegations. This is a matter that has been
taken by the Swedish state. That is admitted in the Supreme
Court here on paper, it's admitted in the High Court here.
This is matter taken by the Swedish state. So people should
have a look at Justice4Assange.com. They can also look at
the excellent Four Corners investigation into that entire
Now if we go to the legal situation and representation,
that's actually quite interesting. It's really very
fascinating. You know, the State of Victoria was created by
exactly such a situation. Once upon a time there was just
New South Wales, Greater New South Wales and it included the
people of Melbourne, the people of Port Phillip Bay. And
they found that they were not represented in the NSW
Parliament whatsoever. And so they nominated Earl Grey, the
same Earl Grey that is responsible for the tea, he was the
secretary of the colonies to represent them in the NSW
Parliament. He was here in the UK. He was elected, even
though he was in the UK and he could not take his place in
the NSW Legislature. And the result, fascinating result was
that he created the State of Victoria when he was kicked out
of the NSW Legislature. So in fact the very founding of the
State of Victoria is analogous to the situation that I'm in.
But if we then go and look at the Australian Constitution,
well, I would be taking my seat in July next year, so
hopefully the situation has been resolved by then, but if it
doesn't, we have a fascinating situation, which is the
Australian Senate would have to vote to kick me out if I
didn't turn up in the Senate for a period of two months.
That'd be a very interesting political situation. It would
reveal a lot about the two sides of politics in this country
and what they do in the Senate and what they think is in
Australian interests. But if they do, then another person
from the WikiLeaks Party, one of the other publicly declared
candidates, can easily take my place while I'm not able to
EMMA ALBERICI: Finally, Julian Assange, Jemima Khan, who was
once a keen supporter of yours, has recently lamented that
you, in her words, expect supporters to follow
unquestioningly in blinkered, cultish devotion, claiming
that you had become more like an Australian L. Ron Hubbard.
What do you make of that?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, come on. I mean, really? Jemima Khan?
Seriously? This concerns a Hollywood documentary made by
Universal for $2.5 million. They wanted WikiLeaks to partake
in that, but we thought they were going to produce a pretty
sleazy result, so we said no. In fact, the documentary team
that we are working with is the same one that is now holed
up in Hong Kong with Snowden. That's Laura Poitras. Anyway,
so because we went with Laura Poitras and we didn't go with
Alex Gibney in the US, the result was Gibney then went to
Jemima Khan and recruited her to try and bring us in to that
documentary process over two years ago, giving her access
and an executive credit in the film. But we couldn't
tolerate the film. So we attacked the film, but she was part
of the film, so as a result, she attacked back. I mean, it's
really just - it's nothing.
EMMA ALBERICI: We have to leave it there. Julian Assange,
thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us.
JULIAN ASSANGE: You're welcome.
What's your response?
Scroll down to add / read comments