The new administration of Joe Biden seeks at all costs to extradite and try Julian Assange on American soil, where he faces up to 175 years in prison. After the British justice refused, on January 4, the United States appealed to the High Court in London. The last hearing took place on October 27 and 28.
Where are we now in this procedure, which has lasted for two years?
John Shipton For nearly twelve years, Julian Assange has been a prisoner in the United Kingdom. He was first a refugee at the Embassy of Ecuador from 2012 until his arrest in 2019. He has since been held in a high security prison in Belmarsh. I therefore expect nothing from the British authorities and from this new procedure. Because they are directly involved in the torments and persecutions that Julian Assange undergoes. They did nothing to make his life easier. On the contrary, he is treated like the worst of criminals, enduring lies and slander against him. My son has been through this ordeal for twelve years. I do not expect anything from this procedure, if not the worst and an extradition to a country that wanted to kidnap and assassinate him.
Do you think his extradition to the United States is likely?
John Shipton We will have the verdict before mid-December. But this hypothesis appears more and more probable. There remains yet another judicial institution, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Scotland to which one can turn to appeal. The United States government will do the same if Julian Assange is not extradited. Now, after two years of imprisonment, he can also apply to the European Court of Human Rights. Only the British authorities can ignore it. They already did so in 2020, when the United Nations Committee on Arbitrary Detention condemned arbitrary deprivation of liberty on a vague legal basis and his prolonged isolation in a high-security prison. Nils Melzer (lawyer), at the time, recalled that it was illegal for the United Kingdom to subject him to various forms of arbitrary deprivation of liberty when Julian Assange is neither a criminal nor a threat. for the safety. The British government defended itself by exposing lies and false reports from the UN.
How healthy is Julian Assange?
John Shipton He was particularly marked by the two and a half years spent in high security prison. Julian almost killed himself. Because he is locked in an extremely small cell 22 hours a day, with the possibility of meeting his family very rarely. Even though things have changed. Lately his salary has been increased. But he remains in extremely worrying physical condition. He was also unable to be present during the two days of the hearing, October 27 and 28. The first day, he could only remain seated for about thirty minutes in videoconference before having to return to his cell, exhausted. This is why I expect nothing from the British authorities who put my son in this state. My hope now rests on France and the initiative of parliamentarians.
Why are you in France?
John Shipton During my last trip, we reflected with our various support groups on the best possible actions to promote the release of Julian Assange. One of the main ideas was to wage a political battle and succeed in mobilizing parliamentarians. The resolution carried by the 38 deputies is the best scenario. This Tuesday, I will be in the National Assembly to defend this proposal which calls on France to offer asylum to Julian Assange. This is a first, even if other parliaments have supported actions of this type, no official request has ever been made. And this is no coincidence since we note the most actions of solidarity in this country. The resolution brought forward by French parliamentarians comes at an opportune moment. On the one hand, it is a question of honor. WikiLeaks has brought a lot to France. In 2015, they revealed the extent of wiretapping targeting three French presidents by the United States. Between 2006 and 2012, at least, the NSA had hacked and spied on Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. In 2017, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks also revealed that the CIA had closely monitored the main candidates in the 2012 presidential election. on French technologies. In addition, this asylum request by parliamentarians comes after a major diplomatic crisis between France, Australia and the United States. The submarine scandal this summer had a significant economic cost for France. Australia’s choice to order from the United States can also be politically repaired through this action to offer the right of asylum to Julian Assange.
What message would you like to send to the French government so that the asylum request is successful?
John Shipton It is obvious that Julian Assange needs asylum. France remains an important power, capable of taking independent positions. Your president defends, for example, Europe of defense, without NATO and the United States. This symbol of independence can also be translated by allowing the founder of WikiLeaks to be a refugee in France. It is politically possible.
Do you think that Eric Dupond-Moretti, who was one of Julian Assange’s lawyers before becoming minister, could be sensitive to this resolution?
John Shipton I doubt the Minister of Justice would intervene diplomatically in such a case. He can support this parliamentary battle and explain the legality of the process. But he will not intervene in the geopolitical battle surrounding Julian Assange’s case. This competence is more that of the French president.
Did you notice a greater solidarity around Julian Assange?
John Shipton Actions are taking place every day to demand his release across the world. At the level of parliamentarians, there is a real desire to fight his detention. Proposals like those of the French parliamentarians, which unite the parties of the left and the right, are multiplying in Germany, Greece, Spain, Great Britain, Australia. We have also been to the United States recently. And in a number of cities we have seen strong support for Julian Assange. We are therefore witnessing a junction between citizen support and elected officials. In Australia, nearly 200 elected officials are calling for his release. The attitude of Great Britain and the United States is worrying. Because, by attacking Julian Assange, they are sending a signal to all the media. Would the latter have the courage to publish from now on the revelations of WikiLeaks on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo? This threat works because it frightens part of the press about the effects of future revelations.
Faced with this relentlessness of the United States towards Julian Assange, what would you like to say to President Joe Biden?
John Shipton Let him respect his speech of 2010. At the time, Joe Biden said that prosecuting Julian Assange would be a disgrace with regard to the First Amendment of the American Constitution. I couldn’t say better. And I now recommend that he apply his own words and withdraw his extradition request against the founder of WikiLeaks.