video Wikileaks founder and Internet activist Julian Assange has a lot on his plate for a man who’s holed up in Ecuador’s tiny embassy in London. Avoiding extradition to Sweden to face questions in a sexual assault case, calling for the Australian Government to block any potential extradition to the US, which has now classified him as an enemy of the state and even mulling a potential run to become an Australian Senator. Assange is a busy man.
And now, the Australian citizen is even threatening to sue Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Lobbying organisation GetUp! has published a video (above) with a new interview with Assange. In it, he takes umbrage at Gillard’s comments in late 2010 that Wikileaks’ publication of US diplomatic cables was “illegal” (the Australian Federal Police subsequently found nothing to charge him with under Australian law). Assange states:
“Mastercard Australia, in justifying why it has made a blockade that prevents any Australian mastercard holder from donating to Wikileaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard this year as justification. So the effects of this statement are ongoing, and they directly affect the financial viability of Wikileaks … We are considering suing for defamation. I have hired lawyers in Sydney, and they are investigating the different ways in which we can sue Gillard over this statement.”
Like many Australians, I still find it hard to know how to classify Assange. Is he a legitimate journalist turned publisher? A passionate activist using modern technology to hold power to account? A national security risk, or a humble family man? A potential Australian politician or a digital nuisance? It’s hard to know. I suspect there may elements of all of these things in Assange; perhaps his complexities are closer to the surface than most of us. In any case, I would be very surprised if this kind of lawsuit actually went ahead. One suspects that Gillard has exponentially more resources which she can bring to bear in this kind of situation than Assange has. Is this just another publicity stunt by the Wikileaks founder? It seems very likely.