“Getup” campaign video

A list of verified errors are evident in the Getup! campaign video about Julian Assange. Shortcuts to already well-known and debunked misconceptions are given as links.

Introduction

The video makes basic errors about the US investigation, the possibility of extradation to the USA from Sweden, the state of the Swedish investigation, the nature of the US allegations, and the Swedish handling of the case thus far. It is wrong on all the most important facts.

00:10

Check the montage of Americans calling Assange names.  Every single clip is from Fox News, and we know some of those anchors. They are shock jocks. Hardly representative. That’s not to say that senior politicians haven’t said such things: they have.  Just not the things claimed in the video.

01:45

“Assange has not been charged” is simplistic and misleading; he has reached the equivalent Swedish stage – at least.

01:50

Assange has been called an “enemy of the state“?  Fact is he hasn’t; one journalist has used that phrase wrongly, and Wikileaks and their supporters have been spreading it widely.  Interestingly, the original source is Wikileaks (the document itself is on that page), but they themselves originally stated that the meaning is unclear and could mean that:

Mr Assange and WikiLeaks are not themselves the “enemy” but are a conduit to the “enemy”.

The rest of the voiceover stating that Assange would be incarcerated in a military prison is also therefore incorrect.

02:18

Assange says there has been a lot of spin. We agree.

03:25

Assange claims he  is not receiving full consular support and that his only face-to-face contact was when he was in prison.  We’d be very interested to know what further assistance Mr Assange thinks he is owed when under due process for extradition from one country that is a democracy and an  ally to another country which is a democracy and an ally (also with a good process despite the Wikileaks spin) in a case that doesn’t affect Australia in any way and has in no way breached Assange’s human rights (also despite the spin).

04:00

Assange claims he has taken asylum to avoid extradition to the USA from Sweden.  Sweden do not extradite for espionage or leaking. Sweden is safer than Australia in this regard.

04:20

Jen Robinson is quoted as saying that Swedish law allows extradition to the USA for espionage. Not true according to every other legal expert who has voiced an opinion on the matter.  Sweden has not extradited anyone to the US for espionage or military related matters in 50 years. It is regarded as a haven from the US for many.

04:40

Robinson claims: Sweden could have come to London to get the testimony if they were “really serious”. They do have the option of coming to London; but why would they go to that expense to humour a suspect who left the country the day his arrest was ordered, and the day before he was due to attend an interview – and despite earlier promises has since refused to return to Sweden. Assange has now offered to be questioned only outside Sweden and with impossible conditions attached.

Even Robinson herself notes on an official Wikileaks site that all such offers by Assange were conditional:

we offered that Julian be interviewed via telephone or video-link from London on the condition that the Prosecutor provide him further information about the allegations and potential charges

Suspects don’t get to ask for information on their case before they are interviewed; the conditional offers would have been impossible to fulfill by the Swedish authorities.  Assange already has copies of all the witness statements and allegations.  We know this because Jen Robinson’s unredacted copy has been leaked.

05:30

It is claimed  that everything could be resolved if the Australian government sought a “binding guarantee from the USA that they would not try to extradite Assange”. There are also no less than 15 additional demands from Assange that accompany the application to the Australian Government.

A binding guarantee would be an unheard of precedent, especially since there is an ongoing investigation in the USA. If the USA feel they can bring charges, they must do so – just as they would for any other suspect. Avoiding allegations of rape and other sexual offences until the Australian government ask the USA to abandon due process for one individual is perhaps one of the weaker excuses we have heard.

06:10

Jen Robinson seeks assurance that Assange will not be prosecuted for his “publishing activities associated with Wikileaks”.  But this is not what the USA are actually investigating:  they are investigating whether Assange did just publish (no crime) or if he was actively involved in getting the data (espionage).

Summary

Getup are accurate on some counts about the USA; they are investigating, and some high-profile people did indeed make outrageous statements. However, they misrepresent the US investigation.  In addition, they are inaccurate on almost every important fact in the extradition case.  This video is very unreliable and very misleading.

Update: On 16th October, GetUp replied to our queries, saying:

In regards to your concerns about extradition, you’re definitely right Sweden is also a party to the European Convention of Human Rights, which would prevent extradition for offences that carry the death penalty.

We note that their campaign page still mentions the death penalty in direct relation to Sweden, though they have now agreed that this is in error.  They do point out in an expandable question that Sweden cannot do this (if you click to open it), but then go on to imply that it is possible anyway.

…it would be possible for the US to apply for extradition based on lesser charges. Once Mr Assange is in the US more serious charges could be brought against him. There are also recent instances of Sweden rendering (handing over without legal extradition) persons to the United States.

We note that GetUp have replied using two common misconceptions: the one about lesser charges being used (they can’t be), and we presume the second statement refers to the deportation of two Egyptians which was illegal, and has been covered by us here.

Sadly, GetUp seem to have used further bad information to maintain their original position which was also based on bad information. We have urged them to look again at the facts, and to consult experts as we have done.

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