Britain’s High Court is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years in prison under espionage charges for publishing classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes. We get an update from Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, who is in Glasgow as part of her campaign to free Julian and to highlight how WikiLeaks has also revealed evidence of how corporations and states have undermined the goals of prior climate summits. Moris says WikiLeaks is an “extraordinary tool … to understand the relationships between the states and the fossil fuel companies, [and] how these interests are intertwined.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. We’re broadcasting from New York, New Jersey and Glasgow. This is Climate Countdown.
Britain’s High Court is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years in prison in the U.S. under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julian has been jailed in England for two-and-a-half years. Before that, he spent over seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been granted political asylum.
We’re now joined by Julian’s partner, Stella Moris. She has traveled to Glasgow as part of her campaign to free Julian Assange, as well as to highlight how WikiLeaks has revealed evidence of how corporations and states have undermined the goals of prior climate summits. Stella spoke on Monday at the People’s Summit in Glasgow, which is organized by the COP26 Coalition.
Stella Moris, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. So, talk about why you have come to Glasgow. What is your message?
STELLA MORIS: Hi, Amy. I am here because I’m here to rally support for Julian and also to raise awareness of the extraordinary wealth of information that WikiLeaks has published about the climate over the years. And the archive of WikiLeaks just becomes more and more relevant for every year that passes. There are thousands and thousands of emails and documents that document not only, for example, how the melting ice cap sparked a scramble for the Arctic, like the scramble for Africa, for Arctic oil and minerals, but also, for example, about how Shell had infiltrated the Nigerian government, and the Shell executive vice president boasted to the U.S. Embassy that they had seconded people into every relevant ministry of the Nigerian government and that the Nigerian government wasn’t aware that Shell knew exactly what was going on and which decisions were being taken and shaping how those decisions were being taken.
So, really, the WikiLeaks archive is quite an extraordinary tool for activists, for academics, for people working in this area, to be able to understand the relationship between the states and the fossil fuel companies, how those interests are intertwined, the fact that there is no bright line between many of these states and the fossil fuel industry, and that, in fact, there’s a revolving door and that the goals of the summit are frustrated by this reality.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Stella, could you talk about, back in the Copenhagen climate change summit, COP15, Julian’s revelations how the U.S. government was seeking dirt on nations that were opposing its policies and views on how to deal with climate change? Could you remind our audience about some of the revelations back then?
STELLA MORIS: Yeah, that’s right. Julian was actually in Copenhagen for the COP 2015, and he — WikiLeaks published the draft negotiation, the draft document, and it was revealed, through WikiLeaks cables, that the U.S. was spying on delegates, finding dirt on delegates and basically bribing countries into watering down their positions, which defeated the purpose of the climate talks. And really, in order to actually achieve meaningful change, you need buy-in from these governments, and these governments are often compromised. And so, WikiLeaks allows a understanding of how that compromise takes place and how these interests are defeating the purpose of these summits.
AMY GOODMAN: I think at the COP in Copenhagen, it’s the first time we came in contact with Julian, and then, of course, interviewed him a number of times afterwards. And people can go to democracynow.org for those interviews, inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, outside at a public event, and then also speaking to him from here inside the embassy.
Stella, if you can talk about how you think these revelations are playing into the demand by the U.S. for Julian to be extradited to the United States? And explain the latest with his case, the U.S. saying that if he is tried in the United States, that he could be imprisoned in Australia?
STELLA MORIS: Well, look, these revelations that I was just talking about are part of the publications that Julian is indicted over. He faces 175 years for publishing the truth, for making this information, that is indisputably in the public interest, available to the public. And the U.S. government, under Trump, took the unprecedented step to criminalize journalism, to criminalize receiving information from a journalistic source and publishing that to the public. And so this is an extraordinary overstep by the Trump administration that the Biden administration is still going along with, incredibly.
So, Julian had his — sorry, the U.S. lost the case in January and appealed that case two days before Trump left office. The Trump administration lodged its appeal, under Bill Barr, and the appeal was heard on the 27th and 28th of October.
But there have been some major developments since the summer. And we were able to introduce a bombshell story that came out in late September about how the CIA, under Mike Pompeo, had plotted to assassinate, kidnap and rendition Julian from the embassy. And the U.K. courts now stand confronted with the fact that: Can they really extradite Julian to the country that plotted to kill him?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what are the next steps? For those who have not been following his case in our audience, what are the next steps in the court proceedings in the U.K.?
STELLA MORIS: Well, Julian was arrested on the 11th of April, 2019, after this extraordinary campaign that the CIA had rolled out from the moment, basically, that Pompeo came into office. WikiLeaks published Vault 7, which was the biggest CIA leak in history. And the CIA then plotted out how to take revenge on Julian, partly to — for example, it plotted to assassinate him and to kidnap him, but also to roll out a PR campaign, and planted false information, false stories in the media to create a climate that would allow for his arrest.
And he was ultimately arrested on the 11th of April, 2019, after a barrage of false stories had been published for almost a year. And he’s been in Belmarsh prison ever since, for over two-and-a-half years, while this outrageous case goes through the U.K. courts. And the U.K. opposed his getting bail in January, and so he remains in prison, unconvicted, on remand. We expect a decision later this year, before Christmas, most likely, and it could be within weeks.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about more of the connection between the climate and war, released by the WikiLeaks documents. You have a top U.S. diplomat, as early as June 2006, writing a succinct yet detailed report or diplomatic cable revealing the extent to which the water supply and surrounding environment in Basra, Iraq, had been heavily contaminated by oil, toxic and radioactive materials. If you could talk about that and how it — you know, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan logs, these are military logs that are released. These aren’t exposing — you know, peace activists writing about what they think is happening. It’s documenting what’s happening on the ground.
STELLA MORIS: That’s right. WikiLeaks has published — you know, it’s not just the cables. WikiLeaks has published, since 2006, since its inception, many, many millions of documents, original documents, including the report about Balad Air Base burn pits, which was releasing toxic gas into the air base and basically harming U.S. soldiers and Iraqis alike. And WikiLeaks has published many examples and studies about the impact of armed conflict on the environment.
And another aspect which WikiLeaks has shed light on is how the U.S. — how corporations have been spying on activists. And with the explosion of the private intelligence industry and the extraordinary resources that the fossil fuel industry has, in which it is able to hire these private spy companies, they’re able to spy on journalists and activists. We’ve seen Pegasus as an example about how this happens.
AMY GOODMAN: We did —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Stella, in February 2016, WikiLeaks published a trove of documents that exposed serious corruption and environmental degradation in the Central African Republic, from multinational corporations that were involved in extracting minerals there. Could you talk about that and the impact that that had?
STELLA MORIS: Well, I’m not particularly familiar with that publication. I know that BP, for example, covered up a massive blowout in Azerbaijan just months before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophic disaster in the Mexican Gulf. So there’s an enormous wealth of information, of documents, about every single country and about these climate negotiations, from the inside, how the U.S. was manipulating and bribing smaller countries, spying on delegates, and so on.
And I encourage everyone who’s involved and who’s interested in our climate to go to the WikiLeaks archive and search, search for their specific companies — there are thousands and tens of thousands of references to the major oil companies — and also searchable by country and so on.