Only Massive Publicity in US and UK Will Change Things for Julian Assange - Prof

© AP Photo / Matt DunhamWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, in London, Friday May 19, 2017.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, in London, Friday May 19, 2017. - Sputnik International
US attorney for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that the arrest of Roger Stone, an ex-aide of President Donald Trump, was an attempt to intimidate Assange. Barry Pollack tweeted that FBI's arrest of Stone served no other purpose other than intimidation. Stone is accused of lying to investigators about his alleged interactions with WikiLeaks.

Earlier, it was reported that Julian Assange had launched a legal challenge against the administration of US President Donald Trump. The activist's lawyers have filed an urgent application to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, demanding US prosecutors to reveal possible charges against the Australian citizen. The move aims to prevent his extradition to the United States.

Sputnik talked about Stone's arrest and Assange's future with Professor Stuart Rees, the director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Australian academic, human rights activist, and author.

Sputnik: What's your take on the arrest of Roger Stone, how could this affect Julian Assange's position?

Stuart Rees: Your commentator used the word intimidation about Stone. Look, intimidation has been going on for five or six years, the idea that freedom of speech, which essentially WiliLeaks, whatever their shortcomings there might have been, represented, is anathema to successive American administrations, so if Stone was perceived as cooperating or being sympathetic with WikiLeaks, that's why they're out to get him and anybody else who stands in the way of what an American administration wants to do.

READ MORE: Stone Might ‘Relish in the Drama' of Mueller's Charges, But Drama's All They Are

Sputnik: I was discussing this yesterday with you at length and it's just hypocrisy at the highest level. We've got the New York Times and The Guardian, obviously, they've released various sources of information publicly, the American administration are not going after those media outlets, so in your view how high are the chances that the legal team will be able to get the requested information on these charges from the US authorities?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Stuart Rees: I'm not very optimistic because there's a huge cultural arrogance by the Americans which the British show as well. British justice is full of cultural arrogance that they know best, that they have a blank check to do what they like.

Unless we prick the bubble of their arrogance, and express a different set of values in a different language of how we treat one another, we're always going to have this sort of international bullying sanctioned by the American governments and over the Assanges by the British.

Sputnik: The element to this as well in terms of the whole protracted case that has been going on, it's going to be further protracted by the fact that a lengthy process is going to be initiated with the legal process. What chances does it have of getting stuck in a legal quagmire now? It's been never ending, it's going to be never ending in terms of the legality process, what's your take on that?

Stuart Rees: They call it legal, they keep on calling it legal and I've spent enough time in courts of law around the world to know that what claimed to be legal is often a fiction, that it's about the use of force, it's about powerful governments and people wanting to use violence directly and indirectly to stifle dissent, to stifle people they disagree with.

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They call it legal but the charade of the grand jury that's been going on for… I wrote about it 8-10 years ago after the collateral damage video clip was released. If Julian Assange and his colleagues had done nothing else but release that video clip, they would've done a great service to the world, but they released a lot more information. This sort of government by cruelty and government by secrecy in so-called democracies really has to be exposed. I can think of no other way to do it.

Even Machiavelli told us that the only thing that dictators and powerful people don't like is to be laughed at, to be ridiculed, so the idea that we win by legal challenge when this is essentially a political issue, I think I'm not going to put any hope in the legal paraphernalia.

Sputnik: Absolutely, I think we all agree with you on this point, it's laughable and hypocritical at the same time as I've mentioned and it is also prudent to point out that President Trump benefited from the publication of diplomatic cables by WiliLeaks during his election campaign; he was able to utilize and leverage those elements of the WikiLeaks exposure to his benefit, now obviously he's in a position of power as the American President and I suppose he has got to tow the line in terms of ideology, but he's going against a particular campaign that assisted him. It's hypocrisy at the highest order, what's your point on that then?

Stuart Rees: Well I think if you're completely amoral and I'm not claiming to be a moral person, but if you're completely amoral, otherwise you can't tell the difference between right and wrong, loyalty and disloyalty, which is what we've got with Trump and the appalling mediocracies that he surrounds himself with.

Most of them are Christians by the way, then you and I are talking about our sort of dismay or surprise that he wouldn't help somebody who can help him, but they were assuming that there's a certain thing called principal and courage to act on the basis of principal; that's completely absent in this American administration.

Sputnik: Absolutely, thank you for correcting me on that point. Now let me ask you about the options regarding Julian Assange's situation at the moment and if and when the US charges against him are confirmed, what's your particular point of view?

Stuart Rees: There have been recent incidents in which young, vulnerable people have been rescued by massive publicity around the world, and I'm talking about the Saudi Arabian girl that arrived in Bangkok;within days she was given refuge in Canada.

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There 's a similar situation with a Bahraini footballer who has been locked up in a Thai prison for 60 days, unless there was a storm, a social media storm, he was going to be tortured back in Bahrain.

So I am making the analogy to Julian's situation with people sort of being anesthetized into thinking there's nothing we can do, he's back in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and I think we all need, including myself, we need to be reawakened as to what the threats are to Julian.

Julian has made it easy for supporters like me because he in some ways I can't tell which direction he is sailing in, but as I say, this is a political issue, it's called a legal one, but it's a political one and that means that only massive, massive publicity affecting Britain, affecting supporters in America it is going to change things.

Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. He was accused of rape by Sweden, which has dropped the charges since then. The accusations followed a grand jury hearing in 2011 into publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.

The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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