Sam Castro from WACA (Wikileaks Australian Citizens Alliance) sat down with Christine Assange earlier this year to talk about her son Julian, his fight against extradition to Sweden and why fighting for Julian’s freedom is actually part of a much bigger fight to defend democracy in Australia.
Julian won the 2010 ‘Sam Adams Award’, for his contribution to integrity and ethics in Intelligence, with the release of the ‘Iraq war logs’.
The Sam Adams Award is given annually by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, which is made up of a group of retired CIA officers and retired military officials. The panel of retired US senior military and intelligence officers were unanimous in choosing Julian.
Julian has received numerous awards and nominations; the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award, Readers’ Choice for TIME magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year, including Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism 2011, the 2011 Sydney Peace Foundation gold medal and the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Snorre Valen, a Norwegian parliamentarian, nominated him for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
Julian has not been charged with any crime in any country and is only wanted for questioning about sexual misconduct allegations.
Both women (AA and SW) say that the sex was consensual and non violent.
In Sweden a person can be charged with rape even if the sex was consensual and non violent. There is no equivalent crime in the UK or Australia.
Woman SW felt railroaded by police especially around the rape allegations and was so upset she didn’t sign her statement. This statement was later altered.
Stockholm’s Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne dismissed the rape allegations within 24 hours of them being raised, stating there was no evidence of rape.
Swedish Social Democrat politician Claes Borgström was appointed as lawyer for both women.
Woman AA, as well as the police officer whom interrogated SW and the lawyers representing the women, including Claes Borgström, are all members of the same political party in Sweden– the Social Democrats.
4 weeks after the sex allegations were made, these political allies all stood together for election. One of the campaigning platforms was a policy to widen the definition of rape in consensual sex.
After being assigned to the case, Borgström appealed the Chief Prosecutor’s decision to throw out the rape charges to another prosecutor, Marianne Ny.
Julian Assange was not informed about the appeal, and was thus denied the opportunity to respond to the reinstatement of the charges.
On September 1, 2010, Marianne Ny granted the appeal and reinstated the rape investigation against Assange.
A retired Swedish judge Brita Sundberg-Weitman questioned Marianne Ny’s handling of the appeal and described her as radical feminist.
Woman AA submitted as evidence what she described as a ‘deliberately torn condom’ by Julian.
The condom was submitted for forensic testing and it was revealed it contained NO chromosomal DNA evidence from either Julian or AA.
Julian denies all allegations. The Swedish prosecutors rejected all offers by Julian to arrange an interview while he was in Sweden and all offers by him to fly back in to Sweden.
The Swedish prosecutor took out an EAW for the purposes of questioning Julian and yet for the 15 months he has been under house arrest, she has refused all offers to interview Julian at Scotland Yard or the Swedish embassy in London.
The EAW was designed for extraditing individuals already charged with crimes, not for individuals merely wanted for questioning.
Julian did not flee Sweden. He was given permission to leave on the 15 September 2010.
The Swedish police have continually and unlawfully given the police files on this case to the Swedish tabloid ‘Expressen’ while they have refused to give the same files to Julian’s Swedish lawyer.
The Swedish police also redacted sections of the file that gave credibility to Julian’s version of events while also redacting sections that may have cast doubt on both women’s version of events.
The sex allegations, the EAW and the Interpol notice were all instigated as Wikileaks was in the process of releasing the Warlogs and the Embassy Cables.
Karl Rove, the notorious Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W, has been a political adviser to the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for the past 3 years.
Karl Rove was renowned for running smear campaigns against political rivals. According to Tony Kevin, retired Australian diplomat ‘Rove had a notorious public history as a ruthless senior White House official. For example he was allegedly implicated in the Bush White House’s career destruction of ’outed’ CIA agent Valerie Plame and her diplomat husband Joe Wilson’
Sweden has extremely close ties to the USA. It was the major arms supplier to the US during the Iraq war.
Sweden complied with USA pressure to legislate mass surveillance on its own citizens.
Sweden has never refused an extradition request from the USA.
Former Swedish minister Thomas Bodström is the business partner of Claes Borgström who is representing women AA and SW.
In 2001 as the Swedish Justice Minister, Thomas Bodström signed off on the CIA rendition flight to Egypt and subsequent torture of two refugees.
These two refugees were later found to be innocent of any ‘terrorist’ accusations and in 2003 Sweden was forced to pay compensation for what occurred.
The US grand jury in Virginia has been sitting for nearly 500 days and has done so in secrecy with no transparency or accountability.
The USA Grand Jury, which is responsible for indicting Julian has no Judge, 4 prosecutors and does not allow defence material.
The jury pool is drawn from Alexandria, Virginia, which has the highest concentration of military contractors and their families living in the area.
According to the STRATFOR emails, the USA has had a sealed indictment against Julian Assange for over twelve months.
If extradited to Sweden: still without charge, Julian Assange would be held incommunicado and placed under solitary confinement.
Pre-trial detention in Sweden would last for an indefinite period.
Trial in Sweden would be held in secret and three out of the four judges would be lay judges, who are appointed because of their political affiliations. These three appointed judges have no formal legal training.
If Julian goes to Sweden he may be handed over to the USA under their temporary surrender regime, which is covered in their bilateral extradition agreement with the USA.
If Julian is taken to the USA, he could be held indefinitely in detention under the new USA NDAA laws. He may not face trial in the USA for years.
If he remains in the UK he could also be extradited to the USA without evidence – under the UK-USA bilateral extradition agreement.
If Julian comes home to Australia he is still in danger. The Gillard government, with the support of the Liberal party recently amended the EXTRADITION AND MUTUAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS LEGISLATION, which they call streamlining. This amendment for the first time enables Australian citizens to be extradited for minor offences and also waters down the safe guards of political offences, dual criminality and extradition in relation to the death penalty.
I think many Australians are now looking at our Government and wondering whom it is they are representing and if you look at the facts, you really can only come to the conclusion that in Julian’s case our Government are representing the USA Government and USA interests.
This is a hot issue for the Australian public and they are not at all happy to see the USA running the show here in regards to Julian and other issues. In printing the Warlogs and the USA embassy cables, Wikileaks was doing nothing more than its partners such as the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde or Der Spiegel.
So why is Wikileaks and Julian being singled out? A free press is a very important part of our democracy and it must be protected. We must ask why the Australian Government is not defending Julian. He is an award winning Australian journalist and he has not been charged with any crime in any country.
Look at the USA Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, she is constantly in the media pointing out other countries human rights abuses and demanding press and Internet freedoms for all people and yet the same country is torturing its own citizen Bradley Manning and attempting to silence Wikileaks and break Julian.
Julian is effectively a political prisoner but because it serves the interest of our powerful ally, his human rights, legal rights and citizen rights are being ignored. People, who have studied the facts, can come to no other conclusion than the Swedish allegations are a holding case, waiting for a USA extradition warrant.
I’m not an authority, just a citizen investigating what is going and what I see appears to be wide spread global exploitation, intimidation and bullying by the USA Government directed at smaller countries and their governments. The USA are intimidating citizens in other countries and pressuring the media into silence on important issues.
I believe we are at a point in history where if we do not stand up now and stop this attack on our freedoms, we could be facing generations of State tyranny the likes of which we have never experienced.
The world stood up against tyranny in World War Two and yet we are doing nothing as a much more insidious tyranny creeps into our country through legislative back doors.
This tyranny is setting itself up as a resident in the corridors of parliament and our democracy is being slowly boiled like a frog. By the time we wake up and realise what is happening it is going to be too late.
There is more copyright legislation following up behind that, which means pretty soon we will have a situation where anyone who is seen to dissent politically could be grabbed for a minor copyright infringement and shipped off to the USA to silence them.
These draconian laws are not unique to Australia but appear to be happening in countries all over the world that are friendly to the USA.
We haven’t had war declared on us but we are being taken over by legislation, it is legal and economic warfare and it seems to be entering our country by stealth. We must remember that freedom is more important than money or land. It is the most important thing to hand on to our children and without our democratic rights nothing else matters.
Our forefathers fought in horrible wars so we could be free. We don’t have the luxury to decide not to engage in these issues. This is about democracy and defending our right to freedom.
As Julian has stated courage is contagious. There are strengths in numbers and the numbers are beginning to swell. Let’s face it, through out history there have been times when men and women who value freedom and democracy have had to make a choice to stand up and defend their rights.
The Australian Government should act on the advice it was given at a cross bench briefing by 3 lawyers and an Australian diplomat, on the 2nd of March 2011.
To truly support Julian the Government should do the following:
1. That Australian Government should publicly commit to not extradite Julian to the USA if requested, on the grounds we do not extradite political prisoners.
2. The Australian Government should seek the same public written humanitarian guarantees from the UK and Sweden.
3. The Australian Government should ensure Julian is granted bail if he is sent to Sweden.
4. The Australian Government should seek a guarantee from Sweden that his case will not be trialled in secret.
5. If Julian does have to serve a sentence the Australian Government should request he serves this in Australia or is immediately repatriated to Australia after his sentence is completed.
The Australian Governmentt should also be raising objections on moral grounds that our close ally is torturing one of it’s own citizens (Bradley Manning) in order to get Bradley to make false state and implicate Julian in espionage.
Daniel Ellsberg has stated that the American authorities treatment of Bradley Manning is a ‘classic CIA manual no touch torture technique’ and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, has also clearly stated that Bradley Manning has been subjected to torture.
The Australian Government has a moral and ethical duty to do the right thing and stand up for Julian and Bradley. To stand up for free press, for human rights and for due process and I think this is what Australians expect our Government to do.
He is an honest, articulate, knowledgeable and courageous person. In his time at Wikileaks he has certainly had his fair share of politics. We need some young fresh blood in our parliament, not career politicians that are just out to feather their own nests. We need people who feel called to serve their country, similar to Julian or Senator Scott Ludlam.
The Australian Greens are the only ones standing up to defend democratic values in our parliament. Senator Scott Ludlam has passionately advocated for Julian and Wikileaks. He has also been working tirelessly to try and protect Australian citizens from the kind of insidious legislation mentioned earlier. Senator Ludlam, like many of us recognises that this kind of legislation will not only potentially endanger Julian but could be used against us all.
I also know a number of high calibre people who are intending to stand at the next election and this is what we need as a country; intelligent ethical people who are willing to stand as independents.
I think there are in fact politicians on all sides of parliament that are uncomfortable with the position that their parties are taking on Julian’s situation. I really urge these politicians to stand up now before it is too late and be known as someone who had the courage to do what is right. I think the Australian people will thank them for it.
In particular many immigrants and refugees whom have fled despotic regimes have been at pains to contact me by email and these forums. They are very distressed by what they describe as ‘creeping fascism’ in Australia and the way our Government appears to bend to every USA whim. These people have lived under terrible regimes and they are attuned to the early warning signs of this kind of development. They have lived through the build up to such authoritarian regimes in their own countries.
In this respect our refugee and migrant community are the political ‘canaries in the coal mine’ if you will and they are signalling a demise of our democracy.
We should be listening very carefully to this part of our community because they have learnt from experience and this has not happened to such an extreme degree in this country before. They tell me we are living with a false sense of security and while we may think such reversals of our civil rights cannot happen in Australia, many migrants and refugees believe it is already happening and they are deeply concerned about the kind of democracy they have come to live in.
We must never underestimate the power of the people and that Australians have a long tradition of taking care of our own.
America may be the big Goliath but David defeated Goliath and there are millions David’s on the planet, so we need to load up our slingshots.