Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview

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What happened when you were thrown in jail in England?
I had 10 days in solitary. I think everyone should have 10 days in solitary, especially politicians. I broke the back of solitary. It is a sensory-deprivation experience. So I have a lot of sympathy with Bradley Manning and other prisoners who are similarly contained.

When you heard that door shut, were you worried that it might be 10 months or 10 years? I had no idea how long it was going to be.

Was it terrifying?
No, I was rather excited and looking forward to the challenge of adapting to the new environment. I knew it would be helpful to our cause, politically, and it was. I told my lawyers, "Don't get me out too quickly." They disagreed.

So you saw yourself as a martyr to the cause.
There's been an observation of how the rest of the world was choosing to make my myth, positively and negatively. That process has been fascinating, horrifying and comical all at the same time. It's caused many laughs from the people who know me well, a subject of great mirth in the team. We're dealing with a situation where we're engaged in a historic endeavor that has very serious consequences for people's lives and political systems. It's extremely important, the consequences for everything from revolutions to individuals' jobs, and the gravity of that task is so great that I don't have time to consider how this celebritization affects me personally. The concern is always simply, is it helpful or harmful in being able to survive as an institution? Or will the character assassination wipe a million dollars off our budget or change political moods enough to cause us to lose a court case? Or will lionization mean that we have enough political support to survive?

How expensive has the legal battle been?
We have many legal cases. This personal case, the Swedish extradition case, I have to pay for myself. I don't think that is right. Actually, I think the organization should pay for it.

It is unquestionable that the case has been politicized as a result of my role in the organization. However, to avoid the attack that the funding would be spent on this case, which is effectively used by our opponents to assassinate my character, it's completely separate. Which means that I'm now completely bankrupt as a result.

Completely bankrupt?
Yeah. There have been all sorts of strange complications, such as that the previous lawyers managed to get hold of all my book advances and keep them. So I have not received a cent from any publicity that I've done.

There's a rumor that you have £3.3 million in your bank account that you're keeping.
Yeah, sure. Our opponents like to spread these rumors to deny us our donations.

So that's not true?
It's absolute nonsense. They spread rumors that I'm living in a mansion, they spread rumors that I'm homeless. Two years ago, fabricated documents were spread saying that I traveled first class and lived in a castle in South Africa, and I've never even been to South Africa. If you want to attack an organization, how do you attack it? You attack the cash flow and leadership. The character assassinations are dangerous, but taken as a whole, they're absurdly comical. We have, on the one hand, some 700,000 references to me being an anti-Semite, and on the other hand, some 2.5 million references to me being a member of the Mossad. I'm accused of everything from being a cat torturer to being a rapist to being overly concerned about my hair to being too rich to being so poor that my socks are dirty. The only ones I have left now to look forward to are some kind of combination of bestiality and pedophilia.

From a legal standpoint, it seems that you're in a no-win situation. If you lose your appeal on February 1st, you will be extradited to Sweden to face questioning, and the United States can ask to extradite you from there. But even if you win your appeal, there's the possibility that the U.S. could just come in and extradite you from England.
Yeah. And the ability to resist extradition here in England is not good.

The conventional wisdom – both in Sweden and the U.S. – is that you won't be extradited. Why are you convinced you will?
Extradition is a political matter. The extradition treaties – those from the U.K. to the U.S. and from Sweden to the U.S. – are both very dangerous for me. Every day that I remain in England, it is dangerous, and if I am in Sweden, it will be at least as dangerous as it is here, and very probably more so. The Swedish foreign minister responsible for extradition, Carl Bildt, became a U.S. Embassy informant in 1973 when he was 24 years old. He shipped his personal effects to Washington, to lead a conservative leadership program, where he met Karl Rove. They became old friends and would go to conferences together and so on.

Karl Rove? How do you know this?
Cables. Although I have not been charged with anything, there is an active allegation against me of rape and sexual molestation against Swedish women. So the political environment in Sweden to defend me against extradition to the United States is quite adverse. Some people have said, "Look, both the United Kingdom and Sweden and many countries say that there is not to be extradition for political offenses." But the United States government is not trying to indict me for a "political" offense – it is trying to indict me for espionage, or conspiracy to commit espionage, and computer hacking. The U.S. grand jury is looking at indicting us for charges which are not, on their face, political. But of course, the reasons are political, and that is a different matter.

So you think the government is going to try to lay the groundwork by saying you're a spy, claiming you're putting soldiers at risk, and then nabbing you after the Swedish allegations are resolved?
These are people used to laying the political ground and laying the media ground. I imagine what they would do is say that this material we published had adversely affected the United Kingdom or adversely affected Sweden. Perhaps they could introduce or leak to the press, under the surface, false speculations that we had killed Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan, or that we had sold information to the Iranians.

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