Sunday, 2 September 2012

Assange - did the US spokesperson let something slip?

A section from the US State Department daily press briefing question and answer session back on 17/8/2012:

"QUESTION: All right. And then just back to the Assange thing, the reason that the Ecuadorians gave – have given him asylum is because they say that they agree with his claim that he would be – could face persecution, government persecution, if for any reason he was to come to the United States under whatever circumstances. Do you find that that’s a credible argument? Does anyone face unwarranted or illegal government persecution in the United States?
QUESTION: And so you think that the grounds that – in this specific case, the grounds for him receiving asylum from any country or any country granting asylum to anyone on that basis that if they happen to show up in the United States they might be subject to government persecution, you don’t --
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to comment on the Ecuadorian thought process here. If you’re asking me whether there was any intention to persecute rather than prosecute, the answer is no. Okay?
QUESTION: Okay. Well, wait. Well, hold on a second. So you’re saying that he would face prosecution?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not – we were in a situation where he was not headed to the United States; he was headed elsewhere.
MS. NULAND: So I’m not going to get into all of the legal ins and outs about what may or may not have been in his future before he chose to take refuge in the Ecuadorian mission. But with regard to the charge that the U.S. was intent on persecuting him, I reject that completely.
QUESTION: Okay. Fair enough. But, I mean, unfortunately this is – this case does rest entirely on legal niceties. Pretty much all of it is on legal niceties, maybe not entirely. So are you – when you said that the intention was to prosecute, not persecute, are you saying that he does face prosecution in the United States?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t – that was not the course of action that we were all on, but let me get back to you on – there was – I don’t think that when he decided to take refuge that was where he was headed, right?
QUESTION: No. He was headed to Sweden.
MS. NULAND: Obviously we have – right. Right. But obviously we have our own legal case. I’m going to send you to Justice on what the exact status of that was. Okay?
QUESTION: Okay. There is – so you’re saying that there is a legal case against him?
MS. NULAND: I’m saying that the Justice Department was very much involved with broken U.S. law, et cetera, but I don’t have any specifics here on what their intention would have been vis-a-vis him. So I’m not going to wade into it any deeper than I already have, which was too far. All right?
QUESTION: Okay. Well, wait, wait. I just have one more. It doesn’t involve the – it involves the whole inviolability of embassies and that kind of thing.
MS. NULAND: Right.
QUESTION: You said that at the beginning that you have not involved yourselves at all, but surely if there was – if you were aware that a country was going to raid or enter a diplomatic compound of any country, of any other country, you would find that to be unacceptable, correct? I mean, if the Chinese had gone in after – into the Embassy in Beijing to pull out the – your – the blind lawyer, you would have objected to that, correct?
MS. NULAND: As I said at the beginning, our British allies have cited British law with regard to the statements they have made about potential future action. I’m not in a position here to evaluate British law, international – as compared to international law. So I can’t – if you’re asking me to wade into the question of whether they have the right to do what they’re proposing to do or may do under British law, I’m going to send you to them.
QUESTION: Right. But there’s – but it goes beyond British law. I mean, there is international law here, too. And presumably the United States would oppose or would condemn or at least express concerns about any government entering or violating the sovereignty of a diplomatic compound anywhere in the world, right?
MS. NULAND: Again, I can’t speak to what it is that they are standing on vis-a-vis Vienna Convention or anything else. I also can’t speak to what the status of the particular building that he happens to be in at the moment is. So I’m going to send you to the Brits on all of that. You know where we are on the Vienna Convention in general, and that is unchanged.
QUESTION: Well, when the Iranians stormed the Embassy in Tehran back in 1979, presumably you thought that was a bad thing, right?
MS. NULAND: That was a Vienna Convention covered facility and a Vienna Convention covered moment. I cannot speak to any of the rest of this on British soil. I’m going to send you to Brits. Okay?
QUESTION: Very quick follow-up. You said there is a case against him by the Justice Department. Does that include --
MS. NULAND: I did not say that. I said that the Justice Department is working on the entire WikiLeaks issue, so I can’t speak to what Justice may or may not have. I’m going to send you to Justice.
QUESTION: Is there a U.S. case against him?
MS. NULAND: I’m going to send you to Justice, because I really don’t have the details. Okay? Thanks, guys.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:19 p.m.)
DPB #146"

And here is an hour long interview released today. It is between Julian Assange and Jorge Gestoso of Uruguay held at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

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