Wikileaks’ Assange may sue PM for defamation


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.


  1. there is no difference from him to any other whistle blower journalist.

    If he’s a Criminal then the Gov has been funding Criminals for years (4Corners for instance)

    • “If he’s a Criminal then the Gov has been funding Criminals for years (4Corners for instance)”

      Just interested to know what you mean by this?

      • It’s fairly easy to know what he means if you link it to his previous line.

        Julian is a whistleblowing journalist. Whistleblowing is not criminal, otherwise the 4Corners program, funded indirectly by the government, would be criminal. Therefore, Julian is not a criminal.

  2. “One suspects that Gillard has exponentially more resources which she can bring to bear in this kind of situation than Assange has.”

    I’ll have to be pretty upset with our justice system if the verdict in a civil suit is to be decided by resources available rather than objective standards set out by the law.

    Also, if there’s one thing I wouldn’t call Mr Assange, it’s ‘humble’ ;)

  3. Hopefully this lawsuit does go ahead (whether he wins or not), and it does something to stop political figures commenting on active cases, for example Conroy on the iiNet case.

  4. I think Julian had really bad advise to talk about suing a Leftist PM in a week when she has such support against right wing commentators persecuting her, but i guess it was planned weeks ahead to coincide with “Underground” telemovie.

    Likewise Julia had bad advice when she said Julian did something illegal, i wonder if she got advice from the US government ?

    Do they really think Mastercard will turn around and start processing wikileaks payments if the Australian PM she was wrong ?

    • No they would have fished for a different excuse but then it would have added clout to Assange’s cause. Her statements shift it from Mastercard as a company not wanting wikileaks to have money to the PM telling organisations not to support wikileaks.
      I wonder if she actually believes what she said. I hope she didnt make those comments for free.

  5. I can’t see a defamation case here though there could be cause for an action under Tortuous Interference if, and this is a big if, that Ms Gillard knew or had reasonable reason to know (remembering she does hold a law degree) that the statement about ‘illegality’ was wrongful and that it could cause damage towards Wikileaks and it was proven that the statement was used as the major basis for Mastercard Australia blocking Wikileaks (which is another matter as well that has dubious legality under Australian contract & transaction/banking law)

Comments are closed.