Julian Assange believes he could rebuff allegations – Wikileaks lawyer
John Robles: This is John Robles. I am speaking with Mark Stevens, the attorney for Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.
John Robles: Hello, Sir. How is Julian right now?
Mark Stevens: He is not too happy at being in jail but his spirit is as good as it can be expected in these circumstances.
John Robles: Is he being treated correctly?
Mark Stevens: Yes, of course, he is. The British authorities are very good and impartial on these issues. The one thing that is slightly frustrating is that we have another court hearing on December 14 and I’ve not been permitted a legal visit until December 13, which, of course, gives me less than 24 hours to prepare his case.
John Robles: Are you kidding? You haven’t been allowed to see him yet?
Mark Stevens: No, I haven’t spoken with him or anything else. It’s very difficult obviously to prepare the case but at the moment I don’t have details of the evidence against him yet and this is something that the prosecutor – perhaps one would even say ‘persecutor’ – from Sweden has been playing hide-and-seek with for some months now. Julian Assange sought information in August, asked about the nature of allegations against him and has this far being denied access to that information. I think he believes he could rebuff it.
John Robles: Neither he nor you even have the charges or details on the case against him in Sweden?
Mark Stevens: Well, we have the details of the charges now and that was read in court yesterday. But the allegations were made back in the middle of August and for the very first time yesterday we heard what they were in court. But Julian has a right to have it communicated to him in a language so that he understands not only the charges but the allegations because he hasn’t actually been charged.
John Robles: Is that a normal procedure just to give you one day to prepare? I mean that sounds really unreasonable to put it mildly.
Mark Stevens: Well, I think it is unfortunate. It’s fair to say that.
John Robles: How can you properly prepare a case in one day? I don’t think that’s possible.
Mark Stevens: No, neither do I. And I think, you know, we have seen Julian Assange is on the attack from a number of different courts both in terms of cyber-attacks on the sites – the fact that organizations like MasterCard and Visa have shut down their access although it is worth pointing out that these organizations are quite happy to take money from pornographers and racist organizations like the Ku-Klux-Klan and a legal organization like Wikileaks doesn’t seem to be able to garner their attention.
John Robles: And I read that Post Finance – I guess that’s the name of the Swiss bank – froze his account, his legal fund.
Mark Stevens: Yes, and this is really quite unusual because Swiss are very proud of their banking secrecy. But for some reason on this occasion they not only froze his account but they also made it public. We’re still trying to pursue and work that out. But that was quite unusual and aberrant behavior. And again you to look and ask yourself why is it that all these things are happening in the week that cables are going ahead. One can therefore conclude that the proceedings are politically motivated.
John Robles: Do you think this was a response to the cables, I mean that they did it real quick? And as far as the arrest, did Julian turn himself in or was he tricked into something? I mean, how that happened?
Mark Stevens: We didn’t expect a warrant from Sweden because he was offering to cooperate with him. So he was quite happy to come by appointments and meet with the police. But some months ago he asked me to get in touch with Scotland Yard and say that if something came from the Americans, for example, please get in touch with me and we would make arrangements for a civilized meeting by appointment, which is the usual way. But he is not on the run as he was.
John Robles: Yes, I believe if I remember correctly he offered to meet with investigators on three occasions. And then they dropped the charges completely, right?
Mark Stevens: That’s right. The Chief Prosecutor of Sweden’s said there was not a shred of evidence against him and that he didn’t need to have the case pursued and she gave him permission to leave the country. He’d stayed there for 40 days trying to resolve this and they refused to meet him and give him the evidence. Then, of course, a politician got involved and he took these women out of Stockholm to Guttenberg and on the same facts started another prosecution with another prosecutor. I know that in most countries that would be an abuse of process. It appears though that in Sweden this is what the Prosecutor is doing.
John Robles: I don’t believe that you can prosecute someone for the same crime in two different courts. That sounds really unusual.
Mark Stevens: He was never actually prosecuted. But it is unfortunate that there was (a) a long period of time and (b) that this particular prosecutor – and I would say ‘persecutor’ – is actually pursuing him in the way she is. She could quite easily get on the plane, come to London, if she really wants to talk to him. Because if you are the woman who made this complaint indeed if you are Julian Assange and you want to be vindicated ultimately, any prosecutor who is interested in truth or justice or the rule of law should be interviewing the person in the most convenient way. And the most convenient way is to get on the plane. Everybody knows where he is today. He is in prison. So get on the plane, come to the prison, bring the file and we can have a conversation.
John Robles: Sure. I can’t go too deeply in it. But the charges, I believe, involve something about not using a condom so that the women had not actually complained about being raped to begin with?
Mark Stevens: Certainly, as I understand it the women had consensual sex with him before and after these alleged incidents. But we do not know what the nature of the allegations are because beyond that what we’ve heard briefly in court, because we haven’t got the file and we haven’t got the evidence. In fact I asked the Australian High Commission in London and the Australian Embassy in Sweden to get in touch with the Swedish authorities and the British authorities and let’s have a copy of this evidence, let’s see it.
John Robles: In one of the newspapers they said that Sweden will become the laughing stock of the entire planet if they prosecute someone for rape for not using a condom. I mean is that an actual law in Sweden? Can you comment on that?
Mark Stevens: That is not a law in Sweden and I think that is going to be a problem area. So until we see the file I really can’t go too much in any detail because obviously I have to talk to my client about what to say in answer to the allegations when I see them.
John Robles: There’s one thing I want to ask you: what exactly is going to happen on the 14th? Is that going to be like a pretrial hearing or is it the actual extradition hearing or what?
Mark Stevens: No, it’ll be the hearing when the issues are identified and then once they are identified we’ll have an idea of how long the hearing will take place and the date will be scheduled, probably the end of January or the beginning of February.
John Robles: What do you think Julian’s next move will be? Can you comment on that?
Mark Stevens: I plan to visit him. That is a part of my next stage. And we’ll see where we’ll go from there.
John Robles: Can you comment on the insurance file? I am sure you know what I’m talking about.
Mark Stevens: Yes, I do. I think the insurance file has been much misrepresented. But obviously it’s public knowledge that Wikileaks have suffered enormous numbers of attacks in different sources. They are concerned that they may be at some point in the future prevented from publishing the remainder or the entirety of the file. And as the result of that what we have done is ensured that it is available for posterity, to historians and news organizations from this point in time and academics. So they place it out in the community. But, of course, that is entirely separate from these allegations against the editor-in-chief and editor-in-chief of Wikileaks currently finds himself indisposed but like any news organization when the editor’s on holiday or finds himself indisposed somebody else steps into the bridge and others carry on publishing the newspaper. And that’s what is happening with Wikileaks. They are continuing to publish today.
John Robles: Is he going to release the key to this case?
Mark Stevens: Not in relation to the proceedings in Sweden as he currently got on foot.
John Robles: I was doing some research last night, because I am doing a piece on his case right now, and I found some information on the Internet about Anna Ardin -- that she has connections with the CIA. Do you know anything about that? She was apparently working in a group called Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White). It’s an anti-Castro group that has been funded by the CIA. Do you know anything about that?
Mark Stevens: I have seen these suggestions in the blogosphere. At the moment I don’t know the strength of that and I might be interested to know from anyone who has actual evidence on the subject.
John Robles: Professor Michael Celso apparently is a specialist. I can give you my email so that you can see some information. Can you go into the defense that you are planning to mount?
Mark Stevens: No, till I see the files, I can’t.
John Robles: This is terrible not to have any files to go on.
Mark Stevens: It is very frustrating for myself and for Julian and indeed for others who are following this case because until you actually know what the allegation is it’s almost impossible to respond to it.
John Robles: Thank you very much, I’ve just been told that we are out of time. We had about ten minutes. If you don’t mind I would really like to stay in touch with you and keep up on the case.