Home / News / Jailed for journalism: WikiLeaks editor Hrafnsson on Assange case | The Listening Post (Lead)

Jailed for journalism: WikiLeaks editor Hrafnsson on Assange case | The Listening Post (Lead)



Six years, nine months, three weeks, two days after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, the impasse was broken when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was dragged out of the building by British police in response to an extradition request from the United States.

When it comes to media personalities and stories about journalism, there are few that come to mind that are bigger than Assange and WikiLeaks.

Assange stands charged with “a conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” and his extradition could have wider implications for journalists in the digital age, in the US and beyond.

The Listening Post’s Richard Gizbert speaks with WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson on the charges and the timing of Julian Assange’s arrest.

Al Jazeera: Let’s start with the context and the question, why now? Given that Ecuador took Julian Assange in seven years ago, does the decision to expel him from the embassy and probably place him at the mercy of the US justice system simply come down to the fact that the president who initially gave him asylum, Rafael Correa, is no longer in power, having been replaced by the new President, Lenin Moreno?

Kristinn Hrafnsson: That’s exactly what happened. I mean, the only change that was in the scenario was that the fact that there was a regime change in Ecuador and the president that came in there was willing to bow to the pressure or willing to curry favours with the Trump administration.

There had been reports in the New York Times in December that he was willing to hand Julian Assange over to the Trump administration in exchange for debt relief or favours from the IMF. So it didn’t come as a surprise. And therefore there has been increased pressure inside the Ecuadorian embassy in trying to force him out, and it ended in this manner this week.

Al Jazeera: Edward Snowden was among the people who tweeted on this right away, and he said, “Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of – like it or not – award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books. Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.”

How do you see this precedent?

Hrafnsson: I totally agree with Snowden on this, it is a very dark day and it sets a precedent that is totally … actually very dangerous for journalists, editors, publishers all around the world. If you can extradite a journalist to a third country, the United States, for publishing the truth, no journalist can be secure. So this must be stopped. This must be resisted in all manner. It has to unify journalists around this cause, whatever they may think about Julian Assange.

Al Jazeera: Prosecutors allege that in March of 2010, Julian Assange agreed to assist Chelsea Manning, his source, in cracking a password that will allow Manning to get access to some of these classified US Defense Department documents that would later be released through WikiLeaks. Did that in fact happen? And how problematic will that be for Julian Assange’s case?

Hrafnsson: Well this communication, alleged communication between Julian and Chelsea Manning has been held in the open for years. There’s a reference here to an alleged communication between a journalist and a source, and what is dragged forth there.

There is a quote there that Julian Assange allegedly said to Chelsea Manning, “Curious eyes never run dry,” and that is supposed to be a proof of conspiracy. It’s outrageous. Let’s not forget the fact that Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, she served seven years of that time. She’s now been hauled back in prison for refusing to testify against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

So this has been the escalation now, we have Chelsea Manning in prison, we also have Julian Assange in prison, so it’s coming to a finale in the saga where a journalist, a publisher, and editor is going to face prison time for doing what journalists are supposed to be doing.

Al Jazeera: The charges in the US carry maximum jail time of five years. First of all, do you take the US Justice Department at its word on that?

Hrafnsson: No, I mean there are two things to consider here. First, this is … this is a reference to hacking here, it’s being reported in media as a conspiracy of hacking, which is a very strange depiction of this.

But secondly, this is only the tip of the iceberg. We are absolutely certain that this is only one of the charges that will be brought on Julian Assange, and they will be added on more charges when he arrives – if he arrives in the United States in chains.

It’s specifically presented in this manner, in our opinion, to increase the likelihood that he will be extradited because people will say, “well, it’s only five years”.

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37 comments

  1. If a fortune cookie slogan like "Curious eyes never run dry" is evidence of conspiracy, than let the Chinese restaurants of the world beware!

    Maybe we should throw in magazine horoscopes for good measure. God only knows what sinister conspiracy lies hidden behind "You'll get lucky today." YIKES! I'm immediately reporting my next horoscope to the alphabet soup of total injustice for fear my purchase of the magazine will set me up as a co-conspirator.

    This is not only a grotesque abuse of law, it is an abysmal distortion of common sense. In short, they really think we're that stupid.

    It took the US government 9 years to bring-up charges against Assange on little more than what's written on a box of Kelloggs.

    It's a total joke. They might as well send out a flashing warning sign to the people… "Learn to love Big Brother as fascist tyranny is here!"

  2. free Julian now,get up..stand up

  3. DEAR FRIENDS, THIS IS FROM US, THE FDSC, WE ARE IN ECUADOR, WITH ALL MY RESPECTS, THE TRUTH ABOUT LENIN MORENO NEEDS TO BE KNOWN. PRESIDENT MORENO IS A CRIMINAL, HE COMES FROM A TERRORIST BACKGROUND, HE WAS ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE “ALFARO VIVE CARAJO REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION WHICH TURNED INTO A TERROR GANG”, HE PLANNED AND EXECUTED KIDNAPS AND MURDERS, HE IS IN A WHEEL CHAIR FOR LIFE AS A RESULT OF A GUN SHOT AS HE WAS KIDNAPING SOME OF HIS VICTIMS, HE WAS SHOT BY A SECURITY GUARD. MORENO IS VILE AND RUIN, IS A TRAITOR, A THIEVE AND AN ASSASSIN. INVESTIGATE HIS BACKGROUND AND YOU WILL FIND THE TRUTH! THE TRUTH NEED TO BE KNOWN!

  4. A travesty…
    Assange was carrying Gore Vidal's book "History of the National Security State" when they dragged him out.
    Manning and Wikileaks are heroes – History will remember them as such. They
    inspired the Arab Spring which toppled stooges, lackeys and dictators
    around the world – the movement was reversed by Arab monarchs and their
    Anglo-Saxon-French-Zionist friends

  5. Remember Anne Frank, she hid, she wrote, she exposed, the government killed her. Freedom Of Speech and Press is America.

  6. When the man (julien assange)who blew the whistle on the war crimes ; is behind bars ,and the wars criminals and the perpetrators ( G. busch + Blair +Obama ext ect )are never off the Television , and receiving all honors around the world,
    The whole system is rigged worldwide

  7. Thank you for sharing this interview. Great questions. Support to Julian for his incredible work.

  8. This is indeed good stuff for anti-American and anti-Western sickos like Al Jazeera. and RT among other sickos out there.

  9. Julian Assange will not get a fair trial under Washington's Fascist Patriot Act that stripped the Constitution of America down to nothing. May God help Americans to see who they are serving — pure evil and injustice.

  10. It's kind of pathetic how people are now citing G. Orwell here and there.

  11. this is the true color of Champions of freedom of speech & human rights!

  12. George Orwell: "Truth is Treason in an Empire of Lies"

  13. fascism is alive and well in britain and america

  14. Wikileaks is NOT Journalism, it is a Spying contractor working on Behalf of the FSB.
    Anyone who is associated with stealing Government data should be dealt with as if he is a foreign spy, a saboteur and tortured until he spills out his subconsciousness or perishes whichever comes first.
    Anyone who considers Wikileaks actions as Journalism he is only enabling the KGB to wreck havoc in his country.

  15. julian hawkins (assange) has been convicted (via GUILTY plea) of hacking in the past. he is a self admitted criminal, and apparently a repeat offender. some people never learn.

  16. SAUDI ARABIA DID THE SAME IN TURKEY’S SAUDI EMBASSY ( KASHOGGI )
    NOW AMERICANS DOING IT IN UK…

    You soo the connection there???

  17. AMERICAN TERRORISM JAILED ASSANGE FOR 7 YEARS IN AN EMBASSY, NOW TRYING TO DESTROY HIM.

    AMERICAN / WESTERN TERRORISM HAS TO BE KILLED…

  18. This is how corrupt "democracy" really works. Simply, In The CORRUPT World of Lies, revealing and spreading the truth about war crimes, atrocities, all kinds of corruption , the whole litany of ilegal acts IS A CRIME. Of course, they are all classified. Who cares how they got the information? It really doesn't matter! There's only one thing that matters-WHO COMMITTED THEM? DID THEY REALLY COMMIT THEM? IF YES, THEY ALL SHOULD BE TRIED AT THE COURT OF JUSTICE, and the true WHISTLEBLOWERS and PUBLISHERS should be called HEROES!!!

  19. I might be mistaken, but wasn't the U.S. caught not too many years ago tapping in to the German leader's phone/computer transmissions?

  20. All these fake people commenting on something they know little about except what the fake news reports. Real people stand behind their comments and don't hide behind a pseudonym.

  21. When the dust settles in a few years time ecuador will be a basket case and Q will be jumping for joy.

  22. You both failed to mention the 4.4 billion Ecuador received last week.

  23. Press, was misguided as deadly spi are end Einterteinmemt,,,, abuse

  24. Get it once and for all, Assange is not a journalist. He is a spy agent for the Kremlin and Putin.

  25. They kicked out an unwanted tenant. From the reports, it sounds like Assange screwed himself.

  26. Everyone on the planet knows who the real criminals are. It's not Assange. All the charges are false. President Trump needs to pardon him protect him from the criminals in government. If not Trump needs to shut up about fake news.

  27. JULIAN Assange told/tells the truth. He revealed the criminal activities (Zionism) of the Western governments.
    So, JULIAN Assange is the enemy of the Western governments (Zionists). JULIAN is a true follower of JESUS Christ.

    Invasion, war, looting by USA is all about Zionism of Israel. (Zionism = Anti-Christ).
    People of the Western countries had/have been fooled by telling lies by their governments who are hostages by Israel.

  28. Truth to evil. Free Assange.

  29. Assange is a hacker, not a journalist. He helped Putin elect Trump by publishing the Russian hacked DNC emails. Jamal Khashoggi was murdered because of criticizing Saudi Arabia and was murdered for it. Khashoggi was a noble journalist and everyone forgot about him.

  30. Leaking truths is criminal only in neoFascist states.

  31. Pompeo called him a Narscist
    I didnt hear a judge called him that even though it is true that he is..
    This guy is making stuff up..

  32. After the arrest, Ecuador received 10 billion dollars from the IMF and World Bank both controlled by the USA. Odd.

  33. Soo much for freedom of speech….

  34. So, Ecuador isn't receiving anything in return for releasing Assange?

  35. Donna Brazille interfered with a national presidential election by
    revealing the debate questions to HER FAVORITE candidate PRIOR to the
    debate and she is walking around free, (as is the detestable candidate
    who took those and used those pre-released questions. Brazille was even
    hired for her "expertise" while Julian who took no sides – just
    revealed TRUTH to ALL is persecuted and treated inhumanely and cruelly.
    This is YET another double standard.

  36. Land of free speech strikes again.

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