Above photo: Father John Shipton (center), in protest of WikiLeaks Julian Assange’s extradition to the USA. John Gomez.
On this week’s “Scheer Intelligence,” John and Gabriel Shipton speak to Robert Scheer about the WikiLeaks founder’s grueling struggle to be freed from a London prison as the Biden administration demands his extradition.
The saga of Julian Assange’s persecution has been defined by leading human rights organizations as one of the most significant threats to press freedom in our time. The WikiLeaks founder published, among other devastating leaks, the “Collateral Damage” video obtained by Chelsea Manning that revealed war crimes being committed in Iraq by U.S. soldiers. As U.S. authorities attempted to extradite Assange for alleged violations of the Espionage Act of 1917, he took refuge for several years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the U.K. until he was imprisoned in a high-security London facility in 2019. The WikiLeaks founder has since been kept in appalling conditions there, and although a British judge denied the U.S. extradition request due to concerns for Assange’s health were he to be sent to an American prison, the Biden administration is still appealing the decision.
“Scheer Intelligence” host Robert Scheer has been a staunch defender of Julian Assange, noting the importance of the revelations he made as well as the profoundly dangerous threat his imprisonment poses to news publishers, journalists and news sources the world over. Scheer has done several interviews regarding the case, including with Tariq Ali, co-editor of the collection of essays “In Defense of Julian Assange”; Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, who defines Assange’s treatment as torture; as well as Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and, most recently, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges, who have both publicly defended Assange throughout his persecution. This week Scheer is joined by John and Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s father and brother, as they tour the U.S. to raise awareness and support for Assange’s release from prison. The poignant conversation between Assange’s family and Scheer adds a deeply personal dimension to a case that is both privately devastating for the family as well as publicly devastating for freedom of the press.
Speaking of the conditions in Belmarsh prison, where Assange essentially is being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, Gabriel tells Scheer about the last time he was able to see his brother:
“I saw Julian in October last year. It was during COVID, [so] we had only a 45-minute visit. We couldn’t touch, no embracing […] usually Julian likes to have a hug, but we couldn’t even do that. After that, the prison went into total lockdown, and he hadn’t had any visits for eight months, [unti] last week, he was able to see his kids again.”
John credits his son Julian with raising global awareness of the horrors America was subjecting Iraqis to through the release of the “Collateral Damage” footage, arguing that Assange has played a critical role in the scaling down of the decades-long occupation of Iraq.
“[Now] it’s up to us to some way or other, together…bring an end to his persecution and bring him home to his kids,” Assange’s father tells Scheer. “He’s done his job for us; it’s now up to us to do our job.”
Listen to the full discussion as John and Gabriel Shipton talk to Scheer about Assange’s hard-fought struggle to be freed and all that’s at stake in his case. You can also read the transcript of this episode below the credits.
Host: Robert Scheer
Producer: Joshua Scheer
Introduction: Natasha Hakimi Zapata
Transcript: Lucy Berbeo
RS: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. And I’m really excited that we have John and Gabriel Shipton, respectively the father and brother of Julian Assange. I’m sure anyone listening to this show knows that Assange is arguably one of the most famous political and certainly journalistic prisoners in the world; I’ve had a number of shows about that. But they’re on a tour, and one reason I wanted to do this podcast is I don’t see where this tour is getting as much publicity as I think it deserves and needs. And so let me begin with that. You have some sort of fancy name for the tour, but basically you started in Miami, and now you’re going to be appearing in Los Angeles, and will before I put this up. But what has been the response here?
GS: Ah, Robert–well, we started off in Miami and then worked our way up the East Coast, and then we did a little–
RS: By the way, identify yourself, because–
GS: Ah, Gabriel Shipton here–
GS: –Julian’s brother.
GS: So we started off in Miami, and then we did the East Coast: you know, Washington, New York. And then moved into, you know, Midwest: Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; and then we made our way to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and now we’ve made our way west. And we were in Denver yesterday and the day before, and today we’re in San Francisco, and then we’ll continue on to L.A. and then end up in Washington for the finale.
RS: So what’s the response? I mean, the reason I’m asking is–
GS: Well, you know, there’s this sort of outpouring of support that we see wherever we go. You know, people coming out, people who’ve supported Julian for a long time. There are new supporters coming on, lots of anti-war groups. You know, everyone who sort of gets this case, and what it really means to press freedoms and the First Amendment–
RS: Let me cut to the chase, because we live in a mass media society. And we have this odd situation where, for example, two dozen press freedom, civil liberties groups, organized by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Knight First Amendment Institute, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, an organization like PEN, others, have all signed on to say the Biden administration should stop pressing charges, withdraw these charges against Julian Assange. It’s kept him in inhumane, according to the UN torture rapporteur Nils Melzer–I did a podcast with him–inhumane circumstances; I’m going to ask you about that. But I don’t see the lift. I don’t see much attention on that. Now, you are out there doing your best, but are you getting mass media publicity? Does the New York Times cover it? Does anyone, ah, from television?
GS: Well–since we’ve come, there’s been maybe 30 articles now. I mean–
RS: This is Gabriel. Please identify yourselves, because–yeah.
GS: There’s been, you know, 30-plus articles. You know, people are talking about Julian’s case again. We were on Democracy Now!; we had a segment on Democracy Now!, we had a segment on Tucker Carlson since we’ve arrived here. So I think, you know, we’ve been able to sort of–
RS: Is Tucker Carlson hostile or friendly?
GS: No, he’s–you know, he’s friendly. He sees–he’s a big First Amendment proponent. You know, Amy Goodman and Tucker Carlson together on an issue is very rare.
RS: Yeah, that’s interesting. And what about the groups I mentioned, though? Are you getting support from the ACLU and Human Rights Watch and so forth?
GS: I mean, not as much as we would like, to be honest.
RS: OK, well, that’s what we have to know about. Look, it’s been argued–it was argued by these organizations that this is a fundamental press freedom question. That the charges against Julian Assange could be leveled against the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, or any other publication. Because what the basic charges said is if you print, publish or print classified information, they’re fair game and you can grab them in whatever country they are–because after all, Julian Assange is not a U.S. citizen; he wasn’t working here–and so forth.
So it’s a frontal assault on press freedom. Let me just put that out there. That’s not to be really quibbled with. And yet I don’t get the energy. Now, you know, we’re in post-Trump; we’re supposed to be giving, have a honeymoon with Biden. But the fact of the matter is, it’s the Biden administration that’s keeping your–John, you haven’t said much yet–your son, and Gabriel, your brother, in prison. Why don’t we first begin by talking about, you’ve been in that prison, you’ve talked to him; describe the conditions there, and then talk about the response of the Biden administration.
JS: OK. Oh, a couple of things there. The circumstances that Julian’s held in are aptly described exactingly by Nils Melzer. So–
RS: That’s the UN rapporteur, and as I said, I did a podcast with him. So we have that description; people can look. But go on; you’ve been in there visiting him, right?
JS: He, Nils Melzer–this is important. Professor of law at Glasgow University, UN rapporteur on torture–did a 36-page report and a subsequent report, OK. Both of them characterized what Julian was experiencing as a slow-motion murder before our eyes. So that’s the circumstance. You can’t alleviate, you can’t quibble, you can’t examine it and pull it apart till you get the details and say he’s all right. Overall, that’s what’s been happening for the last 12 years: a slow-motion murder. The states that are involved would be comforted if that was successful. Because there would be three more court cases examining in detail the participation of those states–the Swedish Prosecution Authority, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Department of Justice–in that deliberate torture and murder of a journalist and publisher. So that’s a mess for them, an effing mess, if you like. That’s the circumstances.
The next is that our concerns that we raise in our travels across the United States, Europe, and England and Australia, are generalized in two areas. One, in the United States it’s overarching: an umbrella, gathering underneath it all of the people of the United States who are politically active or concerned, under press freedom and the First Amendment. So naturally it is vast, but thin. So the pinpointed news items that your commentary expects, can’t happen. Because it doesn’t gather up, for example, one party and push forward; one party, for example, the Democratic Party. It’s overarching; as a consequence, like an umbrella, thin but gathers all underneath it. That’s the circumstance.
And outside of the United States, the circumstances are that they are intensely concerned that this oppresses and intimidates publishers and publications worldwide, in the western world, from any commentary on the United States–well, not only the United States, but they’d say on the United States’ foreign policy. Any commentary will result in the oppression and intimidation of the journalist. In Julian’s case, there are lawyers in five jurisdictions. There’s about 100 lawyers involved, and the jurisdictions are the EU, the European Court of Human Rights; the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, and the United States. The overall expenses, so far, to date, are probably around $10 million.
And you know, it’s pretty certain that that’s a comprehensive understanding, that it’s a worldwide resistance–thin, but worldwide–resistance of the United States oppressing Europe and Australia and the citizens of the United States, oppressing them–sorry, intimidating and oppressing publications and journalists that are going to comment upon national security information. Or actually, anything that the Department of Justice and those that invigorate the Department of Justice in these directions–anything that they don’t like.
RS: OK, but now, who was just speaking? Gabriel?
RS: John, OK. You guys have got to–because we’re going to run a transcript with this, and it will be a nightmare for Lucy Berbeo, our transcriber, if we don’t do this, so please give me the names. So John, I read an interview that you did two years ago with an Australian journalist, and you described going in. You said that Julian only had two hours of outside visitors other than with lawyers; you described the condition. Has that changed? Have you seen him more recently than that? Just bring us up to date on what it’s like for him, and what are the circumstances.
JS: Well, the circumstances have worsened. Now, the circumstances for all of the prisoners in that jail–they are this: that it’s in complete lockdown, because there’s an infestation of COVID-19 in the staff and in the prisoners. It means that the prisoners die; a prisoner alongside Julian’s cell died. It means also this: that when the staff get sick, the reduction of facilities and supervision that the staff go about happens to the prisoners. So consequently, they’re locked up 23 hours a day, and they get a telephone which they can ring up and have a chat for a maximum amount of time, 10 minutes. They get 20 minutes with their lawyers.
That’s the circumstances. So they have gradually worsened over the years. Julian managed to get a visit, first time since October, from his family the other day, the children. So he was able to embrace his son for the first time in six months. That circumstance is applied to all of the prisoners; however, Julian Assange is innocent, and his extradition has been refused, and yet he’s still in jail.
RS: Yeah, and just to bring listeners up to it, the extradition was refused by the British judge on the grounds that it would endanger, that conditions in an American jail would endanger Julian’s well-being, and life actually. But the judge inexplicably accepted the legitimacy of the U.S. government reaching into England, grabbing someone who had embarrassed the U.S. government, denying any relevance of press freedom, intellectual freedom, or anything else, accountability. And so that was a mixed decision. But nonetheless, where are we legally right now? What is Julian looking at? Is there any hope, is there any point of clarity?
JS: No, there’s not. The Crown Prosecution Service wrote to the Australian government, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, saying that it would be about two months from April 7th. Well, the two months is well and truly over, and they haven’t made a decision on whether an appeal can go ahead. That decision and that application is made before a high court judge; one high court judge decides on that. Once that decision is made, if an appeal is allowed, then that’s heard before the high court. However, what we wait upon is a decision as to whether an appeal by the United States can or cannot go ahead.
RS: I see. So we’re just waiting for that decision, but meanwhile Julian is–you described in that interview, anyway–he’s basically been held under a condition of solitary confinement.
JS: Exactly. The Istanbul Protocol says that 23 hours a day in your cell is solitary confinement; Julian is in his cell about 23 hours a day, but he gets a telephone.
RS: John, as his father, when is the last time you actually could visit with him?
JS: Last time–I haven’t, it was March last year, but Gabriel, who’s alongside me, has visited [and] can give you a report on the circumstances.
RS: Gabriel, go ahead.
GS: OK. So I saw Julian in October last year. You know, it was during COVID, so the visits were cut very much shorter; we had only a 45-minute visit. We couldn’t touch, no embracing, so you know, there was a sort of awkward moment at the end of the visit where you just sort of look at each other. And usually Julian likes to have a hug, but you know, we couldn’t even do that. And then after that he didn’t have any visits–the prison went into total lockdown, and he hadn’t had any visits for eight months. But last week he was able to see his kids again, as John said.
RS: So how are–let me just–I know this is really difficult, because this is a son and a brother, and it’s difficult just to think about the international press freedom characterizations. But what I don’t get, you talk about the support he’s getting, and I realize there is significant support. I don’t know why there isn’t overwhelming support. I don’t understand, because this–John, you have mentioned it in a number of interviews. He didn’t commit any crimes. You know, or any crimes that the New York Times doesn’t routinely commit. When they feel a classified piece of information is relevant to their readers and has been withheld from them by their government–you know, certainly the Pentagon Papers, and Daniel Ellsberg has spoken out eloquently in support of Julian Assange–that has been a bedrock of press freedom fights throughout the world. Just because a government declares something classified–for instance, the shooting of civilians, including journalists; one of the revelations of WikiLeaks, but many others, of chicanery by government, of crimes, war crimes by government. You know, obviously you’re going to break classification, in any country.
And I want to sort of circle back, before we run out of time, to why this tour of yours is not getting more attention. I realize you’re doing your best; I’m going to go to a meeting in a couple of days where you’re speaking, call all my friends and tell them they should go. But I do not understand why you’re not getting more support from traditional media. Because if this case–if Julian Assange loses this case, press freedom has had what may be an irreversible blow.
JS: I agree with you. The irreversible blow has already happened. The circumstances of 12 years–
RS: This is John now, right?
RS: I just don’t want to attribute statements to one and not the other. I realize you’re separate people. So just work with me on that. John, go ahead.
JS: This is John here. The circumstances that you speculate on have already arrived. I’ll just go through it again. Nobody, no journalist, no publisher, wants to take on the Department of Justice and have their journalist be arbitrarily detained for 12 years while they fight court cases in five jurisdictions and have to raise $10 million, so far. That must be clear to everybody: it’s already there. The only way it can be alleviated is for journalists and publishers to rise up and say, no, we do not want this. But the circumstances in the United States of six corporations all dependent upon government warrants of one sort or another–for example, bandwidth regulation; for example, distribution; for example, agreements with unions for transportation; for example, warrants to be able to import newsprint, and so on. Access to the internet–they all depend upon government warrant. Now, as a consequence, they become cowardly, and have become cowardly. So that’s the circumstance within the United States, equally applying to those, you know, Australia and the U.K.
Another circumstance is this: that the FOIs reveal that the CIA had 400 people in the United States in significant positions in news corporations and news outlets. So that’s another thing to take into account. The thing is managed. However, because the circumstances are so replete with constitutional difficulties–“difficulties” is too weak a word–
RS: Contradictions. Violations of the–
JS: Violations. Violations of the First Amendment. And violations of the Bill of Rights. Two glorious attributions to the Constitution of the United States being destroyed. This is the circumstance that the corporations who are, to an extent, cowardly can use to gather up popular and political support to move against. But that’s the circumstances.
RS: Well, tell me about the human part here. Because the major attack on Julian–it’s very difficult to attack him for what he published. Because major newspapers and electronic outfits, television and what have you, used his information. So the newsworthiness of what WikiLeaks revealed is not in question. And so what has happened is actually a campaign of character assassination, beginning with the Swedish government’s charges, which later were dropped. And there’s a constant personal attack on Julian Assange. And by the way, people forget that happened against Daniel Ellsberg as well in the Pentagon case. Now people tend to forget that, but his character was assassinated.
And so just talk about Julian Assange as a human being. You’re the father and Gabriel’s the brother. Let’s talk about this. Because I, you know, just sitting here, I’ll tell you my own feeling. I think this is one of the great heroes of journalism. I’m a journalist; I’ve done it all my life. And I’m amazed at how much important information Julian Assange was able to gather and reveal. No one can doubt the significance of that information and its importance to a functioning democracy, OK. We’re not talking about finding out what movie star is sleeping with someone, or anything else. This is not petty, this is not gossipy; this is the guts of how power works, government power.
So what they’ve done is instead of examine the charges of really what he revealed, there has just really been a constant assault on his character. You know his character better than anyone, the two of you, or as well as anyone.
JS: You know, just to give you one example–
RS: And this is John again?
JS: —John here–one example of Julian’s humanity is when the “Collateral Murder” video was allegedly given to Julian and WikiLeaks.
RS: And describe what that–you know, for those who don’t know, what that revealed, also.
JS: The “Collateral Murder” video revealed the slaughter of 11 human beings in Baghdad by an Apache helicopter, and then the murder of two Good Samaritans who came, who were passing by with their children, taking them to school, and attempted to put one of the wounded men–a cameraman, a Reuters journalist–into their car to take them away, and consequently they were murdered, and their children sitting in the front seat were badly wounded. An American soldier gathered up his courage and his humanity and grabbed one of the bleeding children, and held the child to his breast, and ran to take the child to hospital. So there’s always a–it’s not a completely, you know, it’s not a complete horror accusation against American soldiers. So that’s the circumstance.
When they received the video, they wished to put names to the dead, because it’s really important for human beings to give the rituals of death. So Kristin Hrafnsson went to Baghdad–the city at that time was a revolutionary hotbed–took his life in his hands, and interviewed as many people as he could, in particular the relatives of the men who were murdered taking their children to school, and the relatives of the journalists. They could not find the names of the other 11 people who were slaughtered on that day, but they managed to give names to the other three, the two journalists and the man who was taking his kids to school. So that’s the quality of humanity that exists in Julian’s heart, yeah.
RS: OK, so what about the character assassination? I mean this is, you know, this is where you’re a witness. You know, father and brother are critical.
JS: I, for myself–Gabriel can answer for himself, but I take no notice whatsoever of that sort of thing. I know Julian; I know what he’s like, I know his capacities, and I know the loves in his heart. So all of those insults and smears and mobbing, I just don’t take any notice of them. They don’t even enter–they don’t rise above the horizon of my radar.
RS: And Gabriel?
GS: Yeah, I’m the same as John. And I can easily recognize the reputational attacks and what they are used to do. They’re used to malign Julian to make him easier to prosecute under the Espionage Act. So that’s, it’s very easy to recognize those attacks and their purpose.
RS: Yeah, you know, again, I mentioned Daniel Ellsberg, who I know quite well, and I covered his trial in the Nixon years. And people forget now–and it really is commendable that Daniel Ellsberg has played a major role in defending Julian Assange, and drawing a comparison with what they revealed. But first of all, it shouldn’t matter what the character is of the person who revealed it. What should matter–is the information important? Is it newsworthy? Is it something the public needs? And I think that the character stuff is brought up precisely because it’s very difficult to make an argument that in a functioning democracy, we didn’t need to know that our own government was killing civilians–and including journalists, you know, as one of the stories. And so I think it becomes a refuge for scoundrels, in a way. You don’t want to argue the merits of the case, so you go for smears.
But it seems to be working. And I don’t know, I’m doing this out of some desperation, because I don’t think we’re paying enough attention. I’ve talked to people who listen to this show; I don’t know why this is not getting more attention. And when I heard you folks were on tour, I thought OK, let’s do a podcast about it so we get your perspective on it. But I do not understand why–well, I guess I do understand. But it’s a shameful moment for the media that certainly exploited the stories that WikiLeaks revealed, including the attacks on the Democratic Party for hurting Bernie Sanders’ chance; we could go through the whole thing here. But the idea that the media has not responded with the vigor that it did during the Pentagon Papers case against Daniel Ellsberg–that is alarming. Do you want to add anything to that before we wrap this up?
JS: Yeah, so there’s something really important here, and vital to–
RS: And who is this, John?
JS: –John–and vital to our understanding of this phenomenon. Is that the–that’s 10 years ago now that the Iraq War Files, Guantánamo Files, and Afghan War Logs were revealed, OK. Ten years have passed. An organization as rich and as gigantic as the United States of America takes a long time to turn around. Over the years, the enculturation of those revelations that Chelsea Manning allegedly made, and were published by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, among others–those revelations have encultured. And the result is that the Afghan War is over, and the troops are being removed. The Iraq War is over, and the troops are being removed. They’re attempting to end the Syrian War and remove the last of 2,000 troops that are there. The Guantánamo Bay is in the process of being closed. So this gives us an understanding of a pattern of enculturation of this news. So the results are there for all of us.
In an immediate sense, the cables revealed to us in 2006 there was a group of soldiers outside Baghdad who attacked a house and murdered the entire family therein. These–well, these soldiers, contemplating their crime, called in an aircraft strike and destroyed from the Earth the evidence of that family and that house. This was revealed in a cable from the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad to the Department of Justice. Upon seeing that cable and the publicity surrounding it, the Iraqi government gathered up its courage and refused to sign the status of forces agreement, as a consequence of which the United States and its allies, my country included, had to remove their forces from Iraq.
These are extraordinary phenomena, and will give you insight into the reasons why certain sections of the United States remain disgruntled and continue to pursue Julian. The results are there. The wars are finished; the troops are removed. And it’s become encultured in the societies, in the West and in the United States, that that is government action, unsupervised by democracy and participation of the people, the polity. That’s a great thing, so never discount that in concerning ourselves with the murderous oppression of Julian. It worked. It worked, so all praise to Julian. Given that, it’s up to us to someway or other, together, to bring an end to his persecution and bring him home to his kids. He’s done his job for us; it’s now up to us to do our job.
RS: And that’s John speaking, right?
RS: And John, the father of Julian Assange. But let me–I think what you said is quite powerful, and that could be said of Daniel Ellsberg when he was a whistleblower. And Daniel, as we pointed out, he thought there’d be a lot of whistleblowers after what he did–reading the Pentagon Papers, knowing that the whole basis of the War in Vietnam was a tissue of lies, that the government knew it and so forth. It took a long time, though, you know; it took five years more for the war to end. But nonetheless, Daniel Ellsberg said he expected there’d be lots of whistleblowers. The fact is, we’ve had very few. And the fact is that Julian Assange is, you know, one of a handful. And all of them–Edward Snowden is living in exile. Every one of them has been punished. They lost their jobs, some were thrown in jail; you know, they lost everything, their pensions, they were humiliated.
And so I want to take your point, but really talk about the quality of democracy, and sort of the notion of American innocence. Because it is true; finally the truth came out, but lots of people died, lots of damage, lots of suffering. And I think the reason why the Julian Assange case is so important is that if we don’t reward whistleblowers, truth-seekers, people who have the courage, courage to do what Julian has done–and you know, and you’ve described his life, what has happened; I mean, it is torture–if we don’t make these people heroes, if we don’t acknowledge it, where will the future whistleblowers and truth-seekers come from? You know, we’ve had them before; Tom Paine was such a person, but you know, a mob tore up the cemetery and scattered his bones to the countryside. You know, he was not honored often in his own time.
And I think, yes, you’re absolutely right; the revelations of WikiLeaks and others, but mostly WikiLeaks, has actually made these wars an embarrassment. And they are being brought to an end. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to have future wars. And that those future wars will–most people will go along with them who are participating. The question really about Julian Assange, and maybe this sounds like an editorial, is not why did he do that–or the revelations of Chelsea Manning, really, who was in the system and revealed it–but why the thousands of people who knew these things were happening did not speak up. And you can’t have a functioning democracy if you do not reward the people who speak up. So would you accept that as sort of a caveat to your tribute to the success so far?
JS: Yes, I would. It’s John here. Yes, I would, Robert. I think that is an important understanding. But I don’t expect Julian to be, you know, pedestalized. I just expect that the people of the United States acknowledge the gifts that Chelsea Manning and Julian have made, and ensure that he gets home to his kids. That’s all. My expectations are moderate and human, and part of a father’s responsibility. That’s all.
RS: Well put. But let me close by asking, you know, about Chelsea Manning. Because it seems to me here the government strategy was to get Chelsea Manning to turn on Julian Assange. And say oh, yes, he helped me break the code, and he was responsible and so forth. And Chelsea Manning is one of the great heroes, one of the really great heroes of American history, for not doing that. For refusing to go along, and has suffered enormously. Maybe we should just close this by evaluating Chelsea Manning’s role in this, because after all, that was the source of some of the most important truthful stories that Julian Assange published.
JS: Well, I think Chelsea Manning, you know, just for a parallel, or a metaphor if you like, is equivalent to Joan of Arc, Jeanne d’Arc in France. So, you know, she stands head and shoulders above the populace of the United States as an example of what can be produced by this community. A fine example to all of courage, resilience, and also integrity. So that is my expectation, that over time that will be her position, in the pantheon of gods of the United States.
RS: And Gabriel, do you want to add to that?
GS: She’s a hero. You know, she’s brought all this change to U.S. foreign policy; she’s bettered U.S. society. You know, U.S. society is better off for her revelations. You know, I think she should be held up as a hero to everyone, as someone who we can follow in their footsteps, I think.
RS: A hero because she didn’t take the deal. You know? She was, you know, they did commute her sentence; you know, you play ball with us, let’s get this guy Julian Assange, you’ll be scot-free, we’ll even celebrate you. And she said no.
GS: Yeah, and in her original act, you know, she saw something that she didn’t agree with, and you know, she thought the world needed to know. So she stood up, and I hope we can all do that one day.
RS: All right. Well–that was John just now, right?
RS: Oh, Gabriel. OK. I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’ll have to get the transcript and have you guys check it out. But you know, I do think–and I’ve read a number of your talks you guys have given, and I think this tour is important. Where does it go after, when this publishes on Friday and is up on KCRW and so forth? Are you still going to be around speaking, are there places people can hear you?
GS: So we are going to be in Washington, D.C. on the 30th. That will be our final date, where we’re doing something in the First Amendment Room at the National Press Club with Cornel West. Which is–National Press Club is where Julian, you know, first brought the “Collateral Murder” video to us, so it has a great significance. So they can catch us there. And, yeah, that will be it for this tour, and hopefully we don’t have to come back, and Julian can be freed.
RS: Well, I want to thank you. This is John and Gabriel Shipton, the father, John, and Gabriel the brother of Julian Assange. And you know, I think it’s so terrific to have you out there making the case. Obviously you’re well-informed; you’ve visited with Julian. But you’re providing an element of humanity here. And the worst thing about smear attacks and, you know, ad hominem attacks and so forth, is when you have truly heroic people you can always, you know, undermine them. Because you don’t want real heroes; you don’t want people who tell the truth; it’s embarrassing to the people who remain silent. That’s really what it’s all about, you know. And if they can do it–if Julian Assange could speak up and suffer the way he has been, whether it was in the embassy or now in solitary confinement, and do that–Chelsea Manning could stick to her integrity and not betray Julian Assange–you know, then why don’t others do that? And then the easiest thing, and this includes unfortunately some journalists as well, you just denigrate the whistleblower.
And that’s my own little editorial here. I find it appalling that this case is not getting more support than it has, and I would really encourage people to get involved and look at it. And the key thing is really, what is the crime here? John, when he was interviewed, in a couple of the interviews makes that point: what really is the crime of Julian Assange? Is it that he told the truth? Does anyone doubt–no one has said these cables were played with, were distorted, made up or poorly transcribed. No one has denied that this was information that people in a free society should have. And yet the fellow who gave it to us, the two people who gave it to us, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, have suffered enormously.
Well, that’s it for this edition of Scheer Intelligence. I want to thank our guests, John and Gabriel Shipton, for sharing this time with us. Christopher Ho, who posts these programs on KCRW. Joshua Scheer, who is the executive producer of Scheer Intelligence. Natasha Hakimi Zapata, who writes the introduction. Lucy Berbeo, who does the transcription. And I want to thank the JWK Foundation in the memory of a great journalist, Jean Stein, for helping support these programs. See you next week with another edition of Scheer Intelligence.
GS, JS: Thank you, Robert.