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1 Dec, 2015 23:25

Helping you to #QuestionMore: How Assange became RT contributor & fugitive of the West

Hunted by EU and US governments, WikiLeaks whistleblower Julian Assange managed to find refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – and RT made sure his voice is heard. This is just one way we have helped you “Question More” in our 10 years of broadcasting.

WikiLeaks has been at the forefront of detailing various government abuses, as well as warning the world that it’s constantly being watched by the NSA, the US intelligence agency.  

READ MORE: A state within a state at an alarming rate: Assange says NSA just keeps on growing

The United States has unparalleled surveillance capabilities that it uses to spy on the entire world, the whistleblower said, calling the US “a surveillance superpower.”“This country spends on surveillance 60 percent of what the entire world spends on espionage,” he said. “They spy on everyone.”

Publishing secret leaked documents pertaining to the so-called “Great Treaty” – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – controversial trade agreements negotiated between the US, EU, and a number of other countries behind closed doors – has also been among the accomplishments of Assange’s WikiLeaks.

READ MORE: ‘Campaigners are key to getting secret TPP and TTIP trade deals published’

While some top secrets have been made public by WikiLeaks online, information from others has been revealed in interviews with Assange, including in conversations with RT. In one of the more recent ones, he actually warned the channel that western governments might try to suppress its ability to broadcast freely on their territories.

The Australian whistleblower and WikiLeaks co-founder warned RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan about the possibility during an off the record conversation a year ago. Assange then told the story of a Kurdish TV network that had been shut down in Denmark allegedly following pressure from the country’s NATO ally, Turkey, ahead of Danish politician Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s appointment to NATO’s top spot.

“The same is in store for you,” the whistleblower told RT’s editor-in-chief.

READ MORE: ‘They’ll try to shut you down’: Meeting Assange & the non-stop ‘War on RT’

RT’s ‘Going Underground’ host Afshin Rattansi has visited the whistleblower at the Ecuadorian embassy a couple of times. During their most recent meeting, Assange opened up about his new book, The WikiLeaks Files, speaking about the “US empire.” He also told us that Washington had plans to overthrow Syria’s government long before the 2011 uprising began.

Assange told RT that “academic censorship” in journalism and foreign relations is one of the US’ greatest sins. “Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the espionage act than all previous presidents combined – more than twice as many,” Assange told RT’s Rattansi in a London interview.

READ MORE: Obama prosecuted whistleblowers for working with media, not with foreign govts – Assange to RT

The WikiLeaks co-founder could have played a role in the decision by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to seek asylum in Russia, claiming that it was he who advised Snowden to turn to Moscow for refuge. Snowden “preferred Latin America, but my advice was that he should take asylum in Russia despite the negative PR consequences, because my assessment is that he had a significant risk of being kidnapped from Latin America on CIA orders…kidnapped and possibly killed,” Assange said earlier this year.

Edward Snowden is safe in Russia, but the fate of journalists who helped him and published his leaks are now of more concern for WikiLeaks, Julian Assange said in another interview, when he exclusively spoke with RT Spanish “Behind the News” host Eva Golinger.

READ MORE: Sealed files reveal US hunt for WikiLeaks associates

Julian Assange has also had his own show on RT – a series featuring 26-minute political interviews with some of the most prominent and influential individuals shaping the contemporary global agenda. The headline-grabbing interview series “The Julian Assange Show” won the top prize for a political program at the esteemed New York Festivals World’s Best TV and Film Awards in 2013.

READ MORE: US will cling to mass surveillance like nuclear weapons - Assange to RT

The editor-in-chief of the WikiLeaks website, which he co-founded in 2006, captured the attention of US officials and the whole world when the website made a number of US diplomatic cables public in 2010. At the same time, Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation into a series of sexual assault charges brought against Assange, after which a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued in his name. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London ever since to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer the allegations, which the whistleblower has always denied. Assange was granted asylum in the Latin American country in 2012, but he still faces extradition if he sets foot outside the embassy onto British soil.

British officers have been standing guard outside the embassy for over three years waiting to arrest Assange if he should leave the premises. The round-the-clock police operation has cost British tax-payers £12 million (US$18.4 million). In October, Scotland Yard announced that the watch was no longer “proportionate” and said it would end its round-the-clock surveillance of a suspect never charged with a crime.

“The operation to arrest Julian Assange does, however, continue and should he leave the Embassy the [Metropolitan police] will make every effort to arrest him,” the service said. Three out of the four sex crime allegations against the Australian expired in August, leaving one allegation of rape that could be dropped no earlier than in 2020.

READ MORE: Double standards? Sweden interviews 44 in London, but not Assange

The WikiLeaks editor believes that the real goal of the investigation into alleged sex offenses is to extradite him to the United States to face questioning over a number of explosive leaks exposing US government abuses, which would ultimately end in a trial for espionage.

Assange has repeatedly asked prosecutors to interview him inside the London embassy, but Sweden has refused to do so for years.