As we speak with WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, he shares an update on when he may be able to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has sought refuge and political asylum for more than five years. Earlier this year, Swedish prosecutors have dropped an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Assange, which he denies and calls a pretext for his ultimate extradition to the United States to face prosecution under the Espionage Act.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re talking to Julian Assange, who has taken refuge, got political asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, for the last five-and-a-half years has lived in this tiny embassy in London. Julian, talk about the status of your case. In fact, you were holed up there so that you wouldn’t be extradited to Sweden, fearing then you would be extradited to the United States. But Sweden has dropped its case against you.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, of course. It never had a case. I was never charged. It was a, quote, “preliminary investigation,” which had been reopened, which had already been closed. So, yeah, but the United States continues its grand jury formally. It’s expanded it now to include our CIA publications. And CIA—Trump’s CIA Director Pompeo and the DOJ has been, at least in their statements—and we know from some internal matters—pursuing that aggressively.
AMY GOODMAN: Why do they want you here in the United States? And what role is Britain playing right now? I mean, they don’t have to respond. There is not a known arrest warrant for you.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, the U.K. says they refuse to confirm or deny whether they have already received a sealed extradition order. And the U.S. says that they refuse to confirm or deny whether they have already issued one.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Mike Pompeo in his first public address as CIA director. He was speaking at a Washington, D.C., think tank earlier this year, blasted WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service,” in a stark reversal from his previous praise for WikiLeaks. This is what he said.
MIKE POMPEO: It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a nonstate, hostile intelligence service, often abetted by state actors like Russia. … In reality, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is clickbait, their moral compass nonexistent. Their mission, personal of aggrandizement through destruction of Western values.
AMY GOODMAN: Mike Pompeo, CIA director, his first major address as CIA director, takes on WikiLeaks and you, Julian. Your response?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, it’s a bit flattering, isn’t it? I mean, he’s saying that, essentially, that we’re a nonstate intelligence agency. Those are his words, which, of course, is completely absurd. Look, the media, media organizations, cultivate sources, protect their identities, if they’re doing their job well, and publish their material. The Central Intelligence Agency collects information for a different reason—to exploit it for interstate power, its own power—and then doesn’t publish it. So, the intentionality in obtaining information is to publish it, in the case of a media organization, and then it is published, hopefully. It is, with WikiLeaks. And the intelligence agencies collect information with a different intentionality, and they don’t publish. So, it’s—yeah, it’s absurd. I think it’s kind of funny. It comes from our, you know, incredible CIA publications. It’s our ongoing series called “Vault 7.” Now, it’s very, very rare that a current CIA document to be released in full. In fact, I’m not aware of it ever having occurred, at least in the last decade, except for our publications, publications prior to this year that we’ve done a few and this year, as well. So, it’s deeply humiliating for the CIA, in front of other intelligence agencies it has to deal with, and the FBI, to be perceived as incompetent in that way.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you—
JULIAN ASSANGE: Which it is, dangerously incompetent.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you surprised to hear the Trump administration attacking you? This is Pompeo. Now, of course, Trump also attacks his own people and has different points of view on issues, like Rex Tillerson, who he’s supposedly having lunch with, who supposedly called him a “moron.” At least he said he—at least Tillerson did not deny that he had done this. So, do you think that Pompeo and Trump disagree? Trump talked about loving WikiLeaks when he was on the campaign trail, as he was talking about calling for the release of email.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, everyone loves WikiLeaks when we’re publishing information about those that they politically oppose. I mean, that’s inevitable. And when we start publishing information about, you know, Trump’s CIA, of course, the attitude changes.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you understand if there is still a grand jury open that is weighing your case in the United States? And for people who haven’t followed the case for five-and-a-half years with you being inside the embassy, what you understand is an arrest warrant or what you understand is out there as a result of a grand jury, a secret grand jury?
JULIAN ASSANGE: The U.S. government and the U.K. government behave as if there is a sealed indictment, in terms of their refusal to talk about it, their interactions with our lawyers and so on. So they either have one or they have a virtual—a virtual one.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you see yourself—
JULIAN ASSANGE: The grand jury has been expanded now from our war crimes publications about Iraq and Afghanistan, the ones that are alleged to have been associated with Chelsea Manning, to now include the CIA publications.