Julian assange

Should Julian Assange be extradited to America?

27 min listen

Freddy speaks to philosopher Slavoj Zizek ahead of what we understand will be Julian Assange’s final court appeal against extradition back to the US. The WikiLeaks founder has been wanted by the US authorities after he leaked tens of thousands of highly sensitive documents. On the podcast they discuss the parallels between Assange and Navalny, whether the West is beginning to behave more like the Soviet Union than we ever have, and if WikiLeaks was behind the election of Donald Trump. 

Julian Assange and the deep flaw in our extradition laws

You could almost hear the rejoicing in Whitehall on Friday morning when the High Court cleared the way for Julian Assange to be extradited to the US, rejecting a plea that he was too mentally frail. The man has, after all, been a thorn in the administration’s side for 11 years: 18 months contesting his rendition to Sweden, followed by seven embarrassing years holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, and then two-and-a-half years in Belmarsh fighting extradition to the US on espionage charges. But there is one disquieting feature. The offences he is charged with in the US are not ordinary charges of criminality, like the accusations he faced in

Portrait of the Week – 17 April 2019

Home Although the latest date for Brexit had been postponed by the European Council until Halloween, 31 October, the government had to confront the prospect of holding elections to the European parliament on 23 May if parliament would not agree to Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement before then. Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said that May should go before those elections, which ‘would be a disaster for the country. What are you going to say on the doorstep — vote for me and I’ll be gone in three months?’. Nigel Farage launched his Brexit party. The House of Commons went into recess until 23 April, St George’s day. Philip Hammond,

Barometer | 17 April 2019

Embassy endurance Julian Assange was thrown out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seven years after seeking sanctuary from extradition proceedings. But there are people who have hidden longer in embassies: — Jozsef Mindszenty, a Hungarian cardinal, spent 15 years in asylum in the US embassy in Budapest. He had served eight years in jail for opposing the communist regime but was freed during the Hungarian uprising in 1956. In 1971, he was allowed to leave Hungary to live in exile in Austria. — Berhanu Bayeh, Ethiopian foreign minister between 1986 and 1989, has been sheltering in the Italian embassy in Addis Ababa since 1991, when his government was overthrown

The real wizard of Oz

What makes a barrister famous? At one time, many of the best advocates were also prominent politicians, whose day job was in court and who moonlighted in the Commons — think F.E. Smith. But it is impossible today to double up with any distinction. As long as capital punishment survived, public attention also attached to those great defenders who rescued their clients from the noose — think Edward Marshall Hall. But English judges no longer don the black cap to pronounce the sentence of death. Geoffrey Robertson, the author of this riveting memoir, ticks the boxes which guarantee the reputation of the modern celebrity silk: chiefly, a concentration on the

Books Podcast: The secret lives of Julian Assange, Craig Wright and Ronald Pinn

In this week’s podcast I’m talking to the novelist and journalist Andrew O’Hagan about lies, paranoia, and the way that nothing, online, is quite as it seems. His new book The Secret Life (Faber) tells, in the words of its subtitle, “three true stories”: one about Andrew’s utterly bizarre time as the prospective ghostwriter for Julian Assange; another about his association with the man who claimed to have invented the digital currency Bitcoin; and the third — still darker and stranger — about Andrew’s own experiment in stealing a dead man’s identity to become someone else online. They add up  to a funny, alarming and disturbing picture of what happens when digital fantasy meets analogue reality. Plus,

Vlad the corrupter and the crisis on the left

Julian Assange still has not found the courage to face the women who accuse him of sexual abuse. Rather than try to clear his name, he has sat in the basement of the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge for four years – a confinement long enough to drive most of us out of our minds. If Assange has lost his wits, however, there is a method to his madness, as there was long before he received what paltry hospitality the Ecuadorian diplomatic corps could offer him. Nothing he leaks has ever hurt Russia. He will denounce and expose human rights abusers, as we all should. But he will never allow his

Tangled web | 30 June 2016

Mike Bartlett’s curious blank-verse drama Charles III became an international hit. His new effort examines the cut-throat world of dark-web espionage. An American traitor named Andrew (Edward Snowden presumably) is hiding out in a Moscow hotel. Enter a flirty, giggling Irishwoman played by Caoilfhionn Dunne, who claims to be British and who teases Andrew over his betrayal of his homeland’s secrets. She evinces an interest in Oscar Wilde and the pair lock horns over footling minutiae. Andrew points out that Barbie dolls are called Sindy in the UK and this seems to demonstrate his familiarity with Britain. But he fails to spot the false cadences of her accent and he

Inside the Ecuadorian embassy with Julian Assange: Risk reviewed

‘This film would not have been possible without the following encryption tools,’ is one of the least expected film credits I can think of. But then again, Laura Poitras’s Risk is not exactly your run-of-the-mill documentary. After her Oscar-winning Citizenfour, a gripping hour-by-hour account of Edward Snowden’s NSA surveillance disclosures from his Hong Kong hotel room, Poitras’s latest is an intimate portrait of WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange. Poitras started filming Assange at work in 2010 and her film follows the whistleblower’s mission and his various legal travails since then. As a result, Risk is far less dramatically sensational than Citizenfour, which unfolds over the course of several history-making days.

Portrait of the week | 11 February 2016

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that if Britain left the European Union, France could stop allowing British officials to make immigration checks on the French side of the border, and, his spokesman predicted: ‘You have potentially thousands of asylum seekers camped out in northern France who could be here almost overnight.’ Mr Cameron denounced the way prisons are being run by his administration: ‘Current levels of prison violence, drug-taking and self-harm should shame us all.’ Junior doctors went on strike again for 24 hours. Twelve men of Pakistani heritage were jailed for up to 20 years for the rape and sexual abuse of a girl when she was

PMQs sketch: Cameron’s new tactic to steal Corbyn’s mascot

Housing is Jeremy Corbyn’s second favourite subject (after drainage lids). Back in the 1970s the grateful proletariat hailed his long years of service as Commissar For Council Accommodation in the People’s Republic of Haringey. At his retirement, chanting school-girls tied garlands of lilies around his brows and presented him with a commemorative Rent Book in a frame. Marching bands played. Fireworks fizzed and thundered. Private landlords were burned in effigy. What Corbyn learned from his housing career was to grind his enemies into submission with tedious blasts of numbers. But Cameron likes a good statistic himself and when Corbyn accused the government of building one new council house for every

Today in audio: Julian Assange vs Philip Hammond

Haven’t had a chance to follow the day’s political events and interviews? Then don’t worry: here, The Spectator, brings you the best of today’s audio clips in one place for you to listen to. Philip Hammond hit out at the UN after a panel ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was being ‘arbitrarily detained’ and should get compensation. The Foreign Secretary said Assange is a ‘fugitive’ and he called the UN verdict ‘flawed’: Julian Assange hit back at a press conference saying that Hammond’s comments were ‘ridiculous’. He also warned the UK there would be ‘consequences’ to ignoring the UN panel verdict: David Cameron has been on a charm offensive

Does the UN not realise that Julian Assange has detained himself?

Even by the high standards of the UN, its report on Julian Assange is ridiculous bordering on comic. The BBC is reporting that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will find that he has been ‘unlawfully detained’. This is patently absurd as the only person detaining Assange is Assange himself. He is free to leave the Ecuadorian embassy at any time. Now, if he did so, he would be arrested. But staying in hiding to avoid arrest is completely different from being detained by the state. But the UN panel seems to have missed this. The Assange spin machine has been in full operation today, with the BBC blasting

Curiosities for Christmas

There is not, sadly, a dedicated Trivia Books section in your local Waterstones, although at this time of year there really should be. But what would we call it? Trivia sounds too trivial. Loo Books sounds too lavatorial. Books for the Man or Woman who Has Everything, Except this Book is probably closest, but might need editing. Whatever we decide to call them, there is an unusually fine crop this year, and several are historically inclined. Gimson’s Kings and Queens (Square Peg, £10.99) is subtitled Brief Lives of the Monarchs since 1066, and gives us exactly that, in Andrew Gimson’s characteristically elegant and entertaining prose. ‘There are many admirable biographies

Portrait of the week | 15 October 2015

Home Two groups were launched, one in favour of remaining in the European Union and the other in favour of leaving. Vote Leave drew support from Conservatives for Britain, from Labour Leave and from Business for Britain. Lord Rose, chairman of the new group Britain Stronger in Europe, said: ‘To claim that the patriotic course for Britain is to retreat, withdraw and become inward-looking is to misunderstand who we are as a nation.’ The Metropolitan Police withdrew officers stationed outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London where Julian Assange sought refuge in 2012, a watch that had cost £12.6 million. Marlon James from Jamaica won the Man Booker Prize for A Brief History

A rollicking satire on the way we live now

Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Purity, comes with great expectations. Its author’s awareness of this fact is signalled by a series of lampoons of writers expected to produce ‘big books’, writers named Jonathan and an assortment of other self-referential gags, but also the fact that its eponymous heroine, Purity Tyler, is nicknamed Pip. This Pip’s expectations are played off against those of Franzen’s readers: she won’t get what she expects, of course, any more than Dickens’s original Pip did. But to a great extent, our expectations will be met: this is a ‘big book’, a rollicking, sharply observed contemporary satire of family life and cultural politics. There are other burdens for

The end of secrecy

Gordon Corera, best known as the security correspondent for BBC News, somehow finds time to write authoritative, well-researched and readable books on intelligence. Here he explores the evolution of computers from what used to be called signals intelligence to their transforming role in today’s intelligence world. The result is an informative, balanced and revealing survey of the field in which, I suspect, most experts will find something new. He starts with an event that took place 101 years ago next month, when the British dredger Alert set off from Dover in the early hours to cut the German undersea telegraph cables. This inconspicuous act meant that throughout the first world

Snowden now faces the traitor’s fate – worship from hipsters and Hollywood

New York Brooklyn is the hipster heaven of New York, which is perhaps why it was there that a bust of Edward Snowden was unveiled yesterday.  Not that it stayed long.  The bust of the former National Security Agency contractor was put on a pedestal sometime on Monday with the word ‘Snowden’ glued on the base at the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument at Fort Greene Park.  It was taken down a few hours later by parks and recreation employees. I don’t want to read too much into this, but the brief deification and bringing down of Snowden’s image does seem apposite.  When the Snowden leaks were first publicised the left-wing

It’s not up to Theresa May to define ‘British values’

A month after the Magna-Carta-mangling Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill crept onto the statue book, leaked documents seen by the Daily Telegraph over the weekend reveal Home Office proposals which are likely to have significant, if apparently unintended, consequences for free speech in this country. I haven’t seen the full strategy papers myself, and nor will you. They have been deemed too ‘sensitive’ ever to face public scrutiny, and only a two-page executive summary is due to be published. At this stage, it is worth considering the few choice quotes the Telegraph have dutifully passed on. The leaked papers make some confident claims about ‘British values’, with citizenship and even temporary visa applicants required

Let’s all become Japanese for a while

This is a good time to write about a nation’s resilience in the face of calamity. I am referring to the stoic discipline with which the Japanese bore hardship and the death of 15,000 people in March 2011 following a nine-magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever known to have hit Japan. I can remember the TV coverage as if it were yesterday. Very young and very old Japanese formed a long orderly line for disaster supplies. There was no looting whatsoever as there had been in Los Angeles or in Mexico City, no weeping on camera so that the world would send more funds, just plucky resolve (gaman in Japanese) and