London-based legal adviser for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. She is also director of legal advocacy at the Bertha Foundation.
Alex Gibney’s new documentary, "We Steal Secrets," bills itself as "the Story of WikiLeaks," but our guest Jennifer Robinson, a legal adviser to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, claims it misses key facts. "This is, of course, a film about WikiLeaks, about the largest leak in history," Robinson says. "It touches on incredibly important issues about journalism and whistleblowing. But unfortunately, I do not think that this film does justice to those issues. ... This film does not recognize the threats that WikiLeaks faces in terms of potential U.S. prosecution." [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, from the Sundance Film Festival. To talk more about the documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, we’re joined by Jennifer Robinson, legal adviser for Julian Assange.
We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Jennifer.
JENNIFER ROBINSON: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: You watched the film. What were your thoughts?
JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well, I think this is a film that touches upon an incredibly important subject matter. This is, of course, a film about WikiLeaks, about the largest leak in history. It touches on incredibly important issues about journalism and whistleblowing. But unfortunately, I do not think that this film does justice to those issues.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
JENNIFER ROBINSON: In particular, I think—look, filmmaking is—of course, has its challenges. I think Alex Gibney is an incredible filmmaker and has made some very important films. But filmmakers have to make choices. And what I think are interesting about the choices here is that this film does not recognize the threats that WikiLeaks faces in terms of potential U.S. prosecution. It does not reference the grand jury. It seeks to present Julian Assange as a fantasist and a paranoid fantasist, while not recognizing the threats that he faces. In particular, the film states specifically that Ecuador granted asylum without evidence. Now, we know it doesn’t refer—the film doesn’t refer to the grand jury. These are objectively available facts that are on the public record. There is a grand jury in existence. There is an active, ongoing criminal investigation against Julian Assange. It was discovered through diplomatic cables from the Australian government that the criminal investigation is of unprecedented size and scale. Now, this film does not reference that in any shape or form, and I think that’s an incredible oversight.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play a clip of Julian Assange. When we interviewed him, he was speaking inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. And this is the clip where I ask him why he believes that if he were sent to Sweden, he could be extradited to the United States, and if he’s actually negotiating with the Swedish government right now.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, Amy, Ecuador has really stepped up to the plate and must be congratulated. I have been found to be, through a formal process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a political refugee and have been granted political asylum, in relation to what has been happening in the United States and allied countries and their behavior—Sweden and the United Kingdom. The situation for me now is that I have been here for five months in this embassy; prior to that, 18 months under house arrest; prior to that, being chased around the world for about six months by U.S. intelligence and its allies.
Now, I must correct an earlier statement that you made—this has become common in the press—saying that I was here in relation to Sweden. The reason I am here is essentially in relation to the United States. But the Swedish government said publicly that it would imprison me without charge. And in such a situation, I’d not be able to apply for asylum. Now, the Ecuadorean government has asked the Swedish government to give a guarantee that I would not be extradited to the United States. We have asked for a long time for such a guarantee. That has been refused. All the regular processes have been refused in this case. You know, it’s an extremely odd and bizarre case, and I encourage everyone to go and look at that aspect of the case at justice4assange.com. And you can see report after report. You can see all the material that the police claim to be true and all the things that have occurred, the Cambridge International & Comparative Law Journal condemning the decisions that were made here in the British courts.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Julian Assange speaking to us from inside the Ecuadorean embassy, where he’s been holed up for something like eight months now, not clear when he will come out. But, Jennifer Robinson, our guest now, the legal adviser to Julian Assange, your response to filmmaker Alex Gibney saying that why should he be above the law? Why should he get an assurance from the Swedish government he won’t be extradited to the United States? Because the Swedish government would take that in turn, if the request came in.
JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well, of course, he’s—we’re not suggesting that he’s above the law. This film fails to recognize the reason that he was—that he sought asylum. It is not with respect to the allegations in Sweden. He has offered his testimony with respect to Sweden. The Swedish prosecutor has, in other cases, interviewed suspects outside of the country. [inaudible-technical problems]