The seemingly intractable battle between Ecuador and Britain over Julian Assange has brought a spotlight on the dangerous path whistleblowers tread in exposing abuses of state power.
With Assange holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June, the small Latin American country’s decision to grant the WikiLeaks founder political asylum sits in heavy contrast to the fact that he lives under lock and key like a fugitive, in constant fear of arrest.
In the midst of this international standoff, Garzon spoke at length with RT’s sister channel Actualidad RT about why the UK was only bluffing when British authorities threatened to storm the Ecuadorian embassy, why he has no doubt the US is pursuing a case against his client, and the irony that Assange is being persecuted for exposing gross human rights violations, while the perpetuators who committed those criminal acts remain free.
RT: You’ve said that everything that’s happening to Julian Assange is extreme injustice. Why is that?
Baltasar Garzon: It is injustice, because the US is conducting a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks – that’s according to few, but nevertheless very reliable, reports. This case targets mostly Julian Assange, but other founders of the organization are also involved. In this respect, it is absolutely clear to us that such investigation and prosecution of a journalist who was, in essence, just doing his job, violates freedom of speech in the US, a country which prides itself in always defending freedom of speech, a value firmly stipulated in its constitution.
This is a big concern, and largely this was the reason why Julian Assange decided to seek refuge from Sweden in the Ecuadorian embassy, because he knew that he could’ve been extradited to the US. That’s what it was all about. And Ecuador took this responsibility and granted diplomatic and political asylum to Julian Assange. So Mr. Assange and his defense team don’t have to justify this decision – he exercised his fundamental right. It is clear that political asylum was granted, because Julian Assange was facing terrible injustice. And this is what we are fighting against at the moment, and we will continue to fight and prove that there is no reason to prosecute Mr. Assange.
Also, Julian Assange is ready to give his statement, he is ready to be questioned in Sweden, submit himself to other procedures, but only if he is guaranteed that it would not lead to a more complicated case, in which his right to freedom of speech and information would be violated.