Whistleblower Julian Assange has given one of his most incendiary interviews ever in a John Pilger Special, courtesy of Dartmouth Films, in which he summarizes what can be gleaned from the tens of thousands of Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks this year.
John Pilger, another Australian émigré, conducted the 25-minute interview at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where Assange has been trapped since 2012 for fear of extradition to the US. Last month, Assange had his internet access cut off for alleged “interference” in the American presidential election through the work of his website.
‘Clinton made FBI look weak, now there is anger’
John Pilger:What's the significance of the FBI's intervention in this last week of the US election campaign in the case against Hillary Clinton?
Julian Assange: If you go to the history of the FBI, it has become effectively America's political police. And the FBI demonstrated with taking down the former head of the CIA over classified information given to his mistress [that] almost no one was untouchable. The FBI is always trying to demonstrate that, "No one can resist us." But Hillary Clinton very conspicuously resisted the FBI's investigation. So, there is anger within the FBI because it made the FBI look weak. Well, we have published quite a number of different sets of emails, so, about 33,000 of Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State. They come from a batch of just over 60,000 emails. In those 60,000 emails, Clinton has kept about half, 30,000, to herself, and we have published about half. And then there are the Podesta emails we've been publishing. Podesta is Hillary Clinton's primary campaign manager. So, there's a thread that runs through all of these emails. There is quite a lot of "pay for play," as they call it – taking… giving access in exchange for money for many individual states, individuals and corporations – combined with the cover-up of Hillary Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State has led to an environment where the pressure on the FBI increases.
‘Russian government not the source of Clinton leaks’
JP: But the Clinton campaign has said that Russia is behind all of this. It says that Russia has manipulated the campaign and is the source for WikiLeaks and its emails.
JA: The Clinton camp has been able to project that kind of neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything.
JA: Hillary Clinton stated multiple times – falsely – that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. OK. That's false. We can say that the Russian government is not the source, yes. WikiLeaks has been publishing for 10 years. In that 10 years, we've published 10 million documents. Several thousand individual publications, several thousand different sources. And we have never got it wrong.
‘Saudi Arabia & Qatar funding ISIS and Clinton’
JP:All the emails that give evidence of access for money and how Hillary Clinton herself benefitted from this and how she is benefitting politically are quite extraordinary. I'm thinking of where the Qatari representative was given five minutes with Bill Clinton for a million-dollar check and many other examples. Can you…?
JA: …Or $12 million from Morocco.
JP:...$12 million from Morocco... yeah.
JA: ... for Hillary Clinton to attend.
JP:In terms of the foreign policy of the United States, that's where – for me, anyway – where the emails are most revealing, where they show the direct connection Hillary Clinton and the foundation of jihadism, of ISIL in the Middle East. Can you talk something about that? What the… how the emails demonstrate this connection between... those who are meant to be fighting the jihadist ISIL are actually those who have helped create it.
JA: There's an early 2014 email from Hillary Clinton, so not so long after she left [her job as] Secretary of State, to her campaign manager John Podesta. That email, it states that ISIL, ISIS is funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar – the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now, this is a… I actually think this is the most significant email in the whole collection...
JA: …And perhaps because Saudi and Qatari money is spread all over the place, including into many media institutions, all serious analysts know, even the US government has mentioned or agreed with that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIS, funding ISIS. But the dodge has always been, that's… what… it's just some rogue princes using their cut of the oil money to do what they like but actually the government disapproves. But that email says that no, it is the governments of Saudi and the government of Qatar that have been funding ISIS.
JP:The Saudis, the Qataris, the Moroccans, the Bahrainis – particularly the Saudis and the Qataris giving all this money to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and the State Department is approving massive arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia.
JA: Under Hillary Clinton, and Clinton emails reveal significant discussion about it, the largest ever arms deal in the world was made with Saudi Arabia – more than $80 billion. In fact, during her tenure as Secretary of State, total arms exports from United States in terms of the dollar value doubled.
JP:Doubled. And of course, the consequence of that is that this notorious terrorist jihadist group called ISIL, or ISIS, is created largely with money from the very people who are giving money to the Clinton Foundation.
‘Clinton has been eaten alive by her ambition’
JA: Look. Hillary Clinton is just a person. I actually feel quite sorry for Hillary Clinton as a person because I see someone who is eaten alive by their ambitions, tormented literally to the point where they become sick. You know, they faint as a result of going on and going on with their ambitions. But she represents a whole network of people, and a network of relationships also with particular states. The question is, how does Hillary Clinton fit in this broader network? She's this centralizing cog, so that you've got a lot of different gears in operation from the big banks like Goldman Sachs, and major elements of Wall Street, and intelligence, and people in the State Department, and the Saudis, and so on. She's is the, if you like, the centralizer that interconnects all these different cogs. She's smooth central representation of all that, and all that is more or less what is in power now in the United States. It's what you call the establishment, or the DC consensus, and its influences. In fact, one of the most significant Podesta emails that we released was about how the Obama cabinet was formed – and half the Obama cabinet was basically nominated by a representative from Citibank. It is quite amazing.
JP:Well, it is… Didn’t Citibank supply a list?
JP:…Which turned out to be...
JA: Which turned out to be...
JP:…to be mostly the Obama cabinet.
JP:So, Wall Street decides the cabinet of the president of the United States.
JA: If you were following the Obama campaign back then closely, you could see it had become very close to banking interests. It wasn't so close to oil interests but it was very close to banking interests.
JA: So, I think you can't properly understand Hillary Clinton's foreign policy without understanding Saudi Arabia. The connections with Saudi Arabia are so intimate.
‘Libya is Hillary Clinton’s war’
JP:Why was she so demonstrably enthusiastic about the destruction of Libya? Can you talk a little about just what the emails have told us – told you – about what happened there? Because Libya is such a source for so much of the mayhem now in Syria: the ISIL, jihadism, and so on. And it was almost Hillary Clinton's invasion. What do the emails tell us about that?
JA: Libya more that anyone else's war was Hillary Clinton's war. Barack Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person who was championing it? Hillary Clinton. That's documented throughout her emails. She had… She put her favored agent in effect, Sidney Blumenthal, onto that. There's more than 1,700 emails out of the 33 thousand of Hillary Clinton's emails we published just about Libya. It's not about that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state something that she would use to run in the general election for president. So late 2011, there's an internal document called the "Libya Tick Tock" that is produced for Hillary Clinton, and it's all the... it's a chronological description of how Hillary Clinton was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state. As a result, there are around 40,000 deaths within Libya. Jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in. That led to the European refugee and migrant crisis, because not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people then fleeing Syria, destabilization of other African countries as a result of arms flows. The Libyan state itself was no longer able to control movement of people through it. So, Libya faces on to the Mediterranean. So, it had been effectively the cork in the bottle of Africa. So, all problems, all economic problems, the civil war in Africa... Previously, the people fleeing those problems didn’t end up in Europe because Libya policed the Mediterranean. And that was said explicitly at the time, back in 2011, by Gaddafi: what do these Europeans think they are doing, trying to bomb and destroy the Libyan state? There’s going to be floods of migrants out of Africa, and jihadists into Europe. And that is exactly what happened.
‘Trump won’t be permitted to win’
JP:You get a lot of complaints from people saying, “What is WikiLeaks doing, are they trying to put Trump into White House?”
JA: My analysis is that Trump would not be permitted to win. Why do I say that? Because he’s had every establishment offside. Trump doesn’t have one establishment – maybe with the exception of the Evangelicals, if you can call them an establishment. But banks, intelligence, arms companies, big foreign money, etc. – it’s all united behind Hillary Clinton. And the media as well: so, media owners and even journalists themselves.
JP:The accusations that WikiLeaks is in league with the Russians and you hear people saying, “Well, why doesn’t WikiLeaks investigate and publish emails on Russia?”
JA: We have published over 800,000 documents of various kinds that relate to Russia. Most of those are critical. And… a great many books have come out of our publications about Russia, most of which are critical. And our documents have gone on to be used in quite a number of court cases, refugee cases of people fleeing some kinds of claimed political persecution in Russia, which they use our documents to back up.
JP:Do you take yourself a view of the US election? Do you have a preference for Clinton or Trump?
JA: Donald Trump – what does he represent in the American mind and in the European mind? He represents American “white trash,” deplorable and irredeemable. Basically, the same thing. It means, from a… establishment or educated, cosmopolitan, urbane perspective, these people are, you know, like the rednecks, and you can’t… like, they are just… you can never deal with them. And because he so clearly – through his words and actions and the type of people that turns up at his rallies – represents the people who are not the upper-middle-class-educated, there is a fear of seeming to be associated in any way with that, a social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of somehow assisting in any way Trump, including criticizing Clinton. And if you look at how the middle class gains its economic and social power, it makes absolute sense.
‘US attempting to squeeze WikiLeaks through my refugee status’
JP:I’d like to talk about Ecuador, a small country that has given you refuge and has given you asylum in this embassy in London. Now, Ecuador cut off the Internet from here, where we’re doing this interview, in the embassy for the clearly obvious reason that they were concerned about appearing to intervene in the US election campaign. Can you talk about why they would take that action and your own views on Ecuador’s support for you?
JA: Let’s go back four years ago. I made an asylum application to Ecuador in this embassy because of the US extradition case. And the result was after a month, I was successful in my application, and then the embassy has been surrounded by the police. Quite an expensive police operation, which the British government admits they’re spending more than 12.6 million pounds – they’ve admitted that over a year ago. And now there’s undercover police and there’s robot surveillance cameras of various kinds. So, there has been a quite serious conflict right here in the heart of London between Ecuador – a country of 16 million people – and the United Kingdom. And the Americans, who’ve been helping on the side. So, that was a brave and principled thing for Ecuador to do. Now we have the US election afoot. The Ecuadorian election is in February next year. You have the White House feeling the political heat as a result of the true information that we have been publishing. WikiLeaks does not publish from the jurisdiction of Ecuador, from its embassy or the territory of Ecuador. We publish from France, we publish from Germany, we publish from the Netherlands and a number of other countries. So, the attempted squeeze on WikiLeaks is through my refugee status. And this is really intolerable: When you try and get at a publishing organization, to try and prevent it publishing true information that is of intense interest to the American people and others about an election.
JP:Tell us what would happen if you walked out of this embassy.
JA: So, I would be immediately arrested by the British police, and I would then be extradited, either immediately to the United States, or to Sweden. In Sweden, I am not charged, I’ve already been previously cleared, etc. So, we’re not certain exactly what would happen there, but then we know that the Swedish government has refused to say that they will not extradite me to the United States. And they have extradited 100 percent of people that the US has requested since at least 2000. So, over the last 15 years, every single person that the US has tried to extradite from Sweden has been extradited. And they refuse to provide the guarantees. So, it’s… yeah.
JP:People often ask how you cope with the isolation here.
JA: Look, one of the best attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. One of the worst attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. They adapt and start to tolerate abuses. They adapt to being involved themselves in abuses. They adapt to adversity and continue on. So, in my situation… frankly, I’m a bit institutionalized. This is the world – visually, this is the world.
JP:It’s a world without sunlight, for one thing…
JA: It’s a world without sunlight, but I haven’t seen sunlight in so long like I don’t remember it. So, yeah, you adapt. The one real irritant is that my young children – they also adapt. They adapt to being without their father. That’s a hard adaptation, which they didn’t ask for.
JP:Do you worry about them?
JA: Yeah, I worry about them, I worry about their mother.
‘I am innocent and in arbitrary detention’
JP:Some people would say, “Well, why don’t you end it and simply walk out the door and allow yourself to be extradited to Sweden?”
JA: The UN has looked into this whole situation. They spent 18 months in formal adversarial litigation: me, at the UN, versus Sweden and the UK – who is right? The UN made a conclusion – I’m being arbitrarily detained, illegally, deprived of my freedom. What has been… occurred, has not occurred within the laws that the United Kingdom and Sweden must obey. It is an illegal abuse. I mean, the United Nations formally asking what’s going on here, what’s your legal explanation for this. He says you should be… you should recognize his asylum. Sweden formally writing back to United Nations, says “No, we’re not going to,” leaving open their ability to extradite. I just find it absolutely amazing that the narrative about this situation is not put out publicly and in the press. Because it doesn’t suit the Western establishment narrative that, “Yes, the West has political prisoners.” It’s a reality. It’s not just me, there’s a bunch of other people as well. The West has political prisoners. No state accepts to call the people it is imprisoning or detaining for political reasons “political prisoners.” They don’t call them political prisoners in China, they don’t call them political prisoners in Azerbaijan, and they don’t call them political prisoners in the United States, the UK or Sweden. It’s absolutely intolerable to have that kind of self-perception. But here we have a case. Talking about the Swedish case, where I have never been charged with a crime, where I have already been cleared and found to be innocent, where the woman herself said that the police made it up, where the United Nations formally said the whole thing is illegal, where the state of Ecuador also investigated and found that I should be given asylum. Those are the facts. But what is the rhetoric?
JA: The rhetoric is pretending, constantly pretending that I have been charged with a crime, never mentioning that I have been already previously cleared, never mentioning that the woman herself says that the police made it up, trying to avoid that the UN formally found that the whole thing is illegal. Never even mentioning that Ecuador made a formal assessment through its formal processes and found that yes, I am subject to persecution by the United States.