November 30 (five minutes; also, transcription below)
Background: The most recent development in the Assange case at the United Nations required the UK and Sweden – which are parties to his case – “to immediately put an end to Mr. Assange’s arbitrary detention and afford him monetary compensation,” adding that a failure to do so would undermine the UN human rights’ protection system. Earlier this month, Swedish investigators came to interview Assange inside the embassy.
The UN rejected a UK appeal against its previous ruling in favor of Julian Assange as “inadmissible,” thus requiring both London and Stockholm to end the WikiLeaks founder’s “arbitrary detention. “Now that all appeals are exhausted, I expect that the UK and Sweden will comply with their international obligations and set me free,” a statement by Assange read, with the fugitive whistleblower calling his detention “an obvious and grotesque injustice.”
RT: Assange said he expects the UK to comply with the UN ruling. Do you think that’s likely to happen?
Ray McGovern: This is a positive development; there is no gainsaying that. The question is: whether Great Britain is still a participant in the international regime of law. It is a very sorry situation. When the UN says: “Look, you’re not only a member of the UN, but you’re member of the Security Council – you must comply with the law.” The UK says: “Well, not really because Washington doesn’t want us to.” That is what it boils down to. The UK and Sweden are pretty much vassal states of the US. They won’t do what they need to do.
What really grieves me is that when I was a schoolboy, I learned about the very gutsy, the very courageous British nobles, who wrested from King John – habeas corpus and the other rights and privileges in the Magna Carta. And that was 800 years ago last year. And, not wholly in jest, after I saw all this going on, I suggested that there should be a burial, a requiem, a funeral for the Magna Carta because it is no longer observed by rogue nations, such as the UK and the US. The rape allegations are not even allegations. I heard one commentator just say he’s wanted for rape, he’s not wanted for rape. He has never even been charged. The women involved have refused to charge him. So that is a travesty of justice. When I see the legal authorities in the UK – the same ones who changed their mind about attacking Iraq. First of all… it was a war of aggression condemned by Nuremberg. But then when the White House said: “Well, maybe it’s not,” then [then-UK Attorney General} Lord Goldsmith said, “Well, yeah.” And he changed his mind just before the invasion.
The rule of law has gone onto the heap of history, and Julian Assange is one of the victims of that. I do hope that the UK will come to its senses and start obeying international law as embodied by their obligations to the UN.
RT: Do you think the Trump administration could take a different view on Julian Assange?
RM: I would hesitate to speculate on that. I think that is so far down on their priorities list – not that it should be, but it is – that it’s really hard to tell what if any change might come into the US attitude. What really has to happen is the UN needs to exert some influence around the world and say look: “There are rogue nations that refuse to obey the UN declaration, the UN laws, and international law itself.” Unless that kind of pressure is brought to bear, Julian will just stay in the Ecuadorian embassy.
I need to tell you, Julian isn’t a shrinking violet. He’s got pallor about him because he has not been outside. But I had dinner with him just three weeks ago, and he’s incredibly lively; his WikiLeaks are making a contribution to spreading the truth around in the world; they do not fool around with these documentary pieces. It is holistic, it is pure, and it has gotten people out of jail, and it has gotten people who are deceitful into a peck of trouble.
So don’t be misguided, don’t think that Julian Assange is going to acquiesce. He’ll keep fighting for his rights, and meanwhile – wonder of wonders – his WikiLeaks is able to spread a lot of truth around in the world to the detriment of those who would hide the truth. I’ll add one more thing here: my Catholic worker friends in Los Angeles have a bumper sticker, and it says: “Jesus loves WikiLeaks!” And they have a little quotation from Luke’s gospel, which says: “Nothing that is hidden remains hidden, everything will be revealed.”