Julian Assange: ‘Snowden, I and Kim Dotcom all assigned same prosecutor in Virginia’

Julian Assange © Stefan Wermuth
Julian Assange says US authorities have assigned the same prosecutor for him, Edward Snowden and Kim Dotcom in Virginia in an example of what he describes as “lawfare” – an attempt to universally apply American law in places where the military can’t reach.

The US goes about conducting “lawfare” as much as warfare, Assange said. He believes it is no coincidence that the cases of Edward Snowden, Kim Dotcom and his own are all being tried in Alexandria, Virginia, by the same prosecutor.

The WikiLeaks founder and exiled whistleblower opened up about some connections his case has with that of Edward Snowden’s and Kim Dotcom’s. The concept of lawfare, he explains, is used academically to denote one acquiring new territory not with the use of military force, but by spreading one’s own laws to those territories. This is something he sees as currently being done by the United States by employing a mixture of international institutions and agreements, as well as unquestioning cooperation from key allies who will not challenge it.

Apart from the prevalence of this mechanism in international relations, the WikiLeaks founder believes there’s a clear indicator of this in his own case.

“There’s a commonality I’d like to bring up, which is Edward Snowden, I and Kim Dotcom – our cases are all in Alexandria, Virginia, where we have the same prosecutor,” he told Radio New Zealand in a phone interview, while holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy. Assange believes that if he goes to Sweden for questioning  he will be extradited to the US and face WikiLeaks-connected charges there.

“It’s something quite interesting. Alexandria, Virginia, is picked in all national security cases. Now, I’m an Australian. WikiLeaks is not a US-publishing organization… so, what the hell is the United States doing trying to bring an espionage case against me? Well, you can ask yourself a similar question about what is it trying to do in relation to extraditing Kim Dotcom from New Zealand and his Hong Kong operation,” Assange said.

“That jurisdiction is simply picked because it has the highest density of government employees: it’s 5 kilometers from the center of Washington DC, it has CIA, DHS, the IRS etc. within the… area, and the US brags that Alexandria, Virginia, is involved in pushing US law into more than 67 different jurisdictions. This is something in academia… called 'lawfare' – getting access to territory by pushing your laws into this territory, instead of your military. It’s a very modern and sophisticated concept, and that’s partly what the TPP is about.”

Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, according to the Snowden leaks, has been spying on WikiLeaks for some time, and the NSA has had Assange on a wanted list as long ago as 2009, he claims. According to the exiled whistleblower, Australia will not “move into gear” where major players are involved – a fact that makes him feel abandoned as an Australian citizen.

In his new book, “The WikiLeaks File: the World According to the US Empire,” Assange talks about countries’ participation in international agreements that by extension give the US increasing leeway in affairs it otherwise would have a limited or no role to play in. On top of the lucrative TPP and TISA, which are examples of the so-called lawfare, the ICC is one such example.

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Under Obama, Assange has seen the power of international institutions take on a more American shade, one example being the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has become a sort of lackey for Western interests.

“It’s more than cultures and regions… there’s international institutions. It’s very interesting to look at the ICC as an example of how the US interfaces with the international situation,” Assange said. While the ICC’s role in prosecuting war criminals is clear with regard to some, the organization loses its meaning where the US is concerned.

The country was going to “most countries in the world, trying to get them to sign secret bilateral agreements – called Article 98 agreements – to promise that those countries would never extradite someone from the US government to the International Criminal Court.

“There was an intense fear under the Bush administration, because of what they were doing in relation to Iraq and… the war on terror, more broadly,” Assange said.

“And under Obama, things shifted a bit. There was an attempt to co-opt the ICC for broader geopolitical purposes, as opposed to the narrow view of trying to protect their own skins.”

Among other things, allegations by Sweden against Assange were addressed – a case that has been dropped and illegally reopened, he said. The WikiLeaks founder continues to deny his guilt, saying he still faces rape allegations even when "the woman herself says that she was not raped and the police made it up, and that's in the police documentation."