#WikiLeaks10: ‘Group empowered people to know truth’ – Assange attorney

Julian Assange, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks speaks via video link during a press conference on the occasion of the ten year anniversary celebration of WikiLeaks in Berlin, Germany, October 4, 2016. © Axel Schmidt
Through its publishing activities WikiLeaks allowed people to get recompense for violations of their rights, said Julian Assange’s attorney Melinda Taylor. It had a fundamental impact on people’s right to know what is happening in the world, she added.

The founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange spoke Tuesday via a video link to a news conference in Berlin to mark the tenth anniversary of the whistle blowing group. He said WikiLeaks will release about a million documents related to at least three governments before the end of 2016.

RT discussed the impact of the group’s activities on people’s lives and whether the situation with Assange, who has spent four years living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, will be resolved any time soon, with Assange’s attorney Melinda Taylor.

“Mr. Assange has never been charged. There has been an ongoing investigation, in which the delays are solely attributable to the Swedish prosecutor. One has to wonder why she has dragged her feet. I think the answer is that there is simply no evidence against Julian. And the only reason this investigation has been brought against him is to find some way to bring him under Swedish territory, where he’d then be sent to the US like other people have been before him,” she said.

From the beginning of the investigation Assange’s lawyers asked the UK and Sweden for assurances that if he went to Sweden he would then not be extradited to the US, Taylor added.

“Both Sweden and the US have continuously refused to give these assurances. So if the whole point of this wasn’t to bring him to the US – why not to give the assurance?” she said.

RT:  Do you think we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel sometime soon? Will there ever be the end to this story?

Melinda Taylor: I hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that the UK and Sweden will eventually live up to their international human rights obligations. It really begs a question how they can flout these obligations, when they call another states to toe the line. So if they want to have any international legal and moral legitimacy they do have to respect Mr. Assange’s right to be free and his right to protection.

RT: In your opinion, what is WikiLeaks’ impact on people and the world in general? Is it significant?

MT: I think WikiLeaks is one of the first and early news sources to not collate color or tailor the narrative of news it presents. It publishes both sides of the coin; it presents the information out there, so that everyone throughout the world can access information, which normally is kept secret, because of national security concerns, or financial concerns. So throughout the world, through its publishing activities WikiLeaks has empowered people to know the truth: about human rights abuses; about unfair trade agreements; about political machinations, for example in Libya. And throughout its publishing activities it has allowed people to try and obtain a remedy through violations of their rights. So it had a fundamental impact on people’s right to know what is happening in the world they live in and their right to take action on it.

RT: There was an attempt by a man in August to climb into the Ecuadorian embassy in London. How could that man do that with such a big number of police guarding the building? Does that raise any concerns for Mr. Assange?

MT: We have to question how with all the millions of pounds spent on surveying Julian [Assange] it was possible for an intruder to climb into the embassy, or attempt to climb into the embassy in that manner. 

Where were the British diplomatic police then, when they were 24/7 watching Julian every other day? So of course that does raise fears and concerns for Julian, particularly in light of reports that came out today about a 2010 meeting where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apparently put forward the suggestion that one way of dealing with Julian and WikiLeaks was to have drone strike on him, even though he is a publisher and protected by First Amendment freedom of the press rights.

RT: What is behind this Clintons’ statement, do you think?

MT: I am not in a position to get inside her head, but to raise it at such a high level meeting is of course an issue of concern. One doesn’t joke about someone’s life in that manner.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.