Samantha Castro Co-Founder WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance

Sweden’s case against Assange is falling apart - Part 1

5 April, 16:50, 2013    Download audio file

A high profile Swedish Supreme Court Justice named Stefan Lindskog recently flew from Sweden all the way to Australia to give a talk at the University of Adelaide in which he detailed the Swedish allegations against Julian Assange. Legal experts and scholars around the world are crying foul as such actions go against all accepted judicial protocols and the “case”, if you can call allegations that, is ongoing, no charges have been files and it has not even appeared before a court.

Hello, this is John Robles. I'm speaking with Sam Castro, the Co-Founder of the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance.

Robles: Hello, Sam! How are you this afternoon, I believe it is?

Castro: Yes, it is. I'm good, John. How are you?"

Robles: I'm very well. Thank you for asking and thanks for agreeing to speak with me.

I'd like to ask you about your opinion on this unusual, speech by the Swedish Supreme Court Justice, Stefan Lindskog at the University of Adelaide.

Castro: It's highly unusual. I think one of the things that Greg Barns, who has been appointed the campaign director for Julian Assange's Senate run, and is also a preeminent barrister here in Australia. He said it's quite extraordinary to have such a high-profile judge coming to a country to talk about an individual in a case that may sit in his court.

So this is quite extraordinary. And he came out here on the pretense of talking about transparency, but then proceeded to discuss Julian Assange and actually even read out the statements of the two women involved in the allegations.

So it's an extraordinary situation which is further made unusual kind of by the timing of it. So…Here in Australia we recently had Julian announce; of course his Senate run, then we had the Foreign Minister of Sweden with us, and then of course we had the recent situation going on with the Swedish case, with the prosecutor Nye stepping aside for another prosecutor, we've had one of the women involved in the case sacking the lawyer. So there's a lot going on where the Swedish case appears to be falling apart.

And then of course we had Alexa O'Brien who has been covering the Manning trial, receive confirmation via e-mail from the Department of Justice in America, that the WikiLeaks Grand Jury is ongoing in the United States, which, our Foreign Minister has been claiming for over a year now, that he knows nothing about that.

And then all of a sudden we have a Swedish Judge appear in Australia in the build-up to an election in which Julian Assange is running, on the pretense of talking about transparency and whistleblowers and he spends the entire speech talking about Julian Assange, but he doesn't discuss that they could interview him in the United Kingdom, he doesn’t discuss the temporary surrender component of the bilateral relationship between Sweden and America, and he doesn't discuss the fact that Julian could quite easily be extradited on charges under copyright or subpoenaed as a witness, for example Bradley Manning or another whistleblower.

So it seems to be a confirmation that this is really a highly-politicized situation and it’s quite extraordinary to have him in this country prejudicing a potential (garbled) many people in this country can’t believe what’s happened.

Robles: I noticed that the video of his speech was taken off the University of Adelaide site and in it, I guess, it was posted that at the 25 minute he started giving explicit details on the case. Anywhere else that would be considered poisoning the jury pool, to put it lightly.

I also found that the timing of this seems to be very strange. Do you think this may have been organized by Julian's political enemies in Australia to try to railroad his Senate bid?

Castro: Well I guess that's a possibility. The timing of it is quite extraordinary. The Foreign Minister has just been out here, our Foreign Minister is clearly in close communication with the U.S. Ambassador and his counterparts in the U.S. And then, yes, suddenly this is organized as Julian Assange announces that: he's running for Senate and his campaign director.

So… I don't know if it was necessarily orchestrated by the Labor or the Liberal party, but there's definitely something going on here, and it's a highly unusual situation and in fact most people in Australia, whether they agree with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks or not, would be horrified if an Australian judge went to another country to speak on a potential case that may come before their court. This is just another example how Sweden has no ability or intention to follow judicial and due process.

Robles: Do you think there will be more of these kinds of tricks down the line?

Castro: It certainly does appear to be a PR stunt which serves the purposes of the Australian government further not having to do anything to help Julian. And of course having Julian in the Senate would be something that would be quite scary for them. And it certainly seems to be from Sweden's perspective an attempt to separate out the work of WikiLeaks from its founder and editor in chief Julian Assange, and that’s an impossibility, we know this is politicized.

So, I think it was a failed attempt to try and divert people's attention from Sweden's misbehavior in this case, and the fact that this judge read out the females’ statements in this case is just further evidence of the lack of respect or consideration that they've actually given to all parties in this matter for receiving justice.

If they really want to look after the interests of the women, they should be interviewing Julian Assange in the United Kingdom, instead they are exploiting these women's statements to manipulate political situations that prejudice Julian Assange.

Robles: What do you make of the fact that he did say some positive things about Julian and WikiLeaks? Why do you think he did that?

Castro: I think Sweden is manipulating situations to try and present itself as fair and reasonable, and actually that is completely countered by this judge's behavior in discussing a matter that is yet to even be charged or come before the court.

So I think it's a very clever attempt to manipulate the Australian population into viewing Sweden as a fair and reasonable and democratic state that values and respects human rights, when, in fact, this is the same country that was quite willing to participate in CIA rendetioning of people for torture. This is a country that uses pretrial detention, this is a country that trials people in secret with lay judges.

So I see this is an attempted move by Sweden and its friends in Australia to present themselves as fair and reasonable so that the people of Australia will back down in defending Julian Assange.

Fortunately, there are enough critical thinkers and smart people in this country not to buy this attempted PR stunt which is absolutely prejudicial in any way you look at it. I really think it's going to backfire on them if they were trying to win the hearts and minds of the Australian people, and I think that there's enough truth and information out there in support for Julian to actually recognize that regardless of what a judge may say in broad terms about the work of WikiLeaks or Julian Assange they are not applying fair and due process. And he even acknowledged that the case is a mess.

Well, I would say to the judge, "If the case is such a mess, you can fly to Australia to tell the Australian people that. Why not send a prosecutor to interview Julian in London?

Robles: Right. Julian had a chance to counter these allegations. They've never given him a chance to tell his side of the story. Is there anything he'd want people to know?

Castro: I think that Julian has made it quite clear all along. His concern in going to Sweden is about onward extradition.

Australian politicians in a quandary over Assange senate run - Part 2

7 April, 17:11  

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Julian Assange has repeatedly stated he is willing to answer allegations in Sweden and despite his efforts and those of everyone involved in the case, including the Government of Ecuador, the Swedish authorities have refused to speak to him and have now even gone so far as to engage in an extremely outrageous and unusual smear campaign in Australia. Julian’s run for Senate has politicians in Canberra nervous and at a loss. Sam Castro, the head of the Australian Citizen’s Alliance spoke to the VOR’s John Robles on these issues and more.

Hello, this is John Robles. I'm speaking with Sam Castro, the Co-Founder of the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance. 

Julian hasn’t had a chance to counter these allegations. They’ve never given him a chance to tell his side of the story. Is there anything that you think he’d want people to know? 

Castro: Well, I think that Julian has, made it quite clear all along. His concern in going to Sweden is about onward extradition. The fact that the Swedish Government will not guarantee that there won’t be any onward extradition is the reason that he sought political asylum and received it. 

So, I think Julian, if he was able to speak on this, would quite clearly say: "I am willing to be interviewed. We have requested that they come and interview me. If they won't guarantee they won’t onward extradite me, I'm not going to jeopardize my life and liberty to the American Government." 

So, I think it's important that people understand that Julian has no qualms about answering these questions. He's quite eager to clear his name, but the Swedish are unable and unwilling to guarantee they won't onward extradite him." 

Robles: Sure. I mean, they could have interviewed him a million times since all this began and they've refused to do anything to make that possible. 

Castro: Well, the Ecuadorian government has repeatedly requested this. They've offered all sorts of compromises that would still protect Julian, but enable this to take place. And the Swedish Government refuses to give any explanation as to why they won't interview him, and the judge conveniently left that out of his talks here in Australia. 

Robles: Would you agree, I mean, it’s probably a given, they just want to physically have him in custody so they can send him onward. I mean, I think that's the whole thing. 

Castro: Absolutely, and I think that there is a timing in this that is connected to Bradley Manning’s trial. 

Robles: What do you think that connection is? 

Castro: Well, I think that the Justice Department in America, you know, is going to use that trial to try and further ensnare Julian, and I think it suits the purpose of the American Government to have Julian quietly, locked away in another country. 

You know, it was quite clear in the Stratfor and the GI Files, that the process they were going to engage in was to destroy his, organisation, to destroy his support base, and to move him from country to country until he was emotionally and mentally broken. 

And this is the way America has been doing things since the “Cold War”, and they think that they can continue on this path and with frequency Sweden and Australia, as a Government, seem to be willing participants in that 

Robles: They sure are. Can you tell us about the reaction from Australians to this speech? Do you think it’s adversely affected Julian politically in any way, or the public opinion down there? 

Castro: No, I don’t think it’s affected it at all. If anything it’s probably strengthened many of, the thinking people’s perspective that this was merely a PR stunt, and, I don’t know if you saw that the live stream of the event was actually cut. When Julian Burnside tried to respond, the live stream was cut. So, you know, you have to wonder what’s going on. 

Robles: And it’s been completely pulled off the University of Adelaide’s site. 

Castro: Yeah, exactly, so why did they pull it down, unless they’ve realized that it was prejudicial, and, you know, there were concerns about it. So, I think if anything, the speech by this judge and the appearance of this judge, following on the heels of Foreign Minister visiting, clearly demonstrates that the Australian people realize what’s going on, and we’ve had confirmation now that the Grand Jury is continuing, and really it’s getting to the point where the Australian Government and the Swedish Government are starting to look completely ridiculous. 

Robles: As far as legal experts go, I was wondering from a legal standpoint, I mean, such an unprecedented statement from a Supreme Court Justice in a foreign country. Wouldn’t that be grounds to have the whole case thrown out in Sweden, I mean if it were a fair system? 

Castro: Yeah,absolutely, I mean that was the statement made by barrister Greg Barns who was the previous head of the Australian Lawyers Alliance. He said it’s just absolutely unprecedented, and there is no way the Australian Judicial System would tolerate a judge of that standing commenting in such detail on a case that had not even come to be charged and trialed. 

Robles: I talked to Greg on Monday about the campaign and then hearing this the next day was kind of, I want to say surprising, but it was sad really. Do you think this may have been arranged or pushed by internal Australian enemies, or is the US behind this, or just Sweden tryingto make themselves look good for their own …? 

Castro: Well, I, I think that Prime Minister Gillard, and Foreign Minister Carr have been scrambling for quite a few months now to justify the scripts that they have been trotting out for the last year and a half, that they know nothing of the threat to Julian, and I think there is such a huge body of evidence that we now have in Australia that they absolutely know what’s going on. 

One can only conclude that they discussed this with the Foreign Minister when he was out here and that this event is an attempt to move the population’s position on Sweden, and quite frankly I think it’s backfired on them. 

Robles: What about, Julia Gillard. She’s been very vocal in the past. Has she said anything, or made any public statements regarding Julian’s Senate campaign? 

Castro: No, both sides of politics have been absolutely silent on the fact that the Wikileaks Party is being formed, and that Julian is running for the Senate, and I think that just demonstrates the nervousness that they hold for the support that is here for Julian. 

Julian has a very good chance of winning a Senate seat in Victoria. 

People in this country, as we’ve just discussed before, are fed up with the lies and the corruption, and the whole narrative of Wikileaks and Julian Assange has really just confirmed the way Australian politicians are not prepared to tell the truth. 

So, I think they are very, very nervous about a new force coming into politics whose foundational stones are around truthfulness and transparency and accountability, and many of them have questions to answer, not just about Julian, but about many other issues in this country, so they’ve been extraordinarily silent on Julian’s Senate run, because I don’t think they know how to handle that because they know how popular he is. 

Robles: It’s like the mice have been playing and the cat’s coming home sort of type, thing, yeah? 

Castro: Yes, exactly. That’s the only way to get the rats out of Canberra! 

Robles: I didn’t want to say the word “rats”, but thanks for saying it for me. Listen, can you tell us a little bit about the Australian Citizens Alliance, what you guys are doing right now? 

Castro: Sure, so our organization, the Wikileaks Australian Citizens Alliance, has been over the last several months even more actively engaged in helping to build the foundation stones for the Wikileaks Party. 

We see it as a natural extension of our political campaigning and activism, both for Julian and whistle-blowers and the work of Wikileaks, and it’s quite clear to us that those in positions of power are not prepared to cede that power, and so we need to, as a citizenry, step in and be prepared to take up positions of power ourselves, to bring that that truthfulness to our political system. 

So, myself, and the co-founder of my organization, we are both now members of the National Council for the Wikileaks Party here in Australia, and we will be participating in a very in-depth struggle in the build-up to the campaign and Julian’s run for the Senate. 

Robles: What’s the exact status of the Party right now? Have you guys officially been launched, have you gotten all the signatures and everything that you needed? 

Castro: We’ve been taking membership. We’re very close to being ready to lodge our application for official registration as a party. That’s maybe only a couple of weeks away, and once that process is completed then we can, as a party, endorse the candidates that will be, going to run in this year’s election, and it looks like, yeah, there’ll be a few candidates. I think people will be surprised at how broad and incredibly dynamic those people are. 

Robles: Can you give us any hints, or … you’re probably not allowed to talk about that? 

Castro: I kind of guess, you probably know, Julian will be at the top of the list 

Robles: Well, of course, of course. 

Castro: Look, I’m unable to do that, at this point,but, you know, it will be coming very soon, and you know, let’s just say, it won’t be in just one state, it will be in multiple states that we’ll be running candidates. 

Robles: You can’t give us any names? 

Castro: I can’t, I can’t give you any names at this point, or Greg, Greg might get very upset with me, but what I can say to you is that our focus is on the Senate. The Senate has consistently been used over the last decade as a “house of deals” to support the major parties, and Wikileaks is very squarely focussed on returning that to a “house of review”, where legislation is scrutinized and the people’s voice is heard. So that will be our focus. 

Robles: That sounds wonderful. 

Castro: The only thing that I would like to add is: for people who don’t know Australian politics, and haven’t heard anything about polling, Julian Assange, at the last polling that was done very late last year, his chances of winning a Senate seat, he was voting at 27%, which is more than the entire Labour Party in the Senate 

Robles: Than the entire labour party? 

Castro: And they’re the current Government. 

So, I think it’s really important that people understand that the outcome of this election is very likely to be, a Liberal victory, and Tony Abbot will probably be the next Prime Minister, and the only way to stop further erosion of our civil liberties, our environment and our social justice in this country, is to ensure that we don’t hand him the Senate on a platter. 

And, and that really means that the Australian voters we need to get out there and vote for independent voices that will actually respect the wishes of the people. 

Robles: One thing about Australian politics, are there very many other like third parties or? 

Castro: Yeah, I mean there are quite a few, minor parties. You basically have, the Labour and the Liberal Party, followed by, probably the third power voice has been the Greens, and then you have a whole heap of smaller parties. But you know, really what we’ve had is a situation where, Labour and Liberal have consistently abandoned their values and their voters to side with each other and certainly blocking out the minor voices. 

So, this is an opportunity for the minor parties, and for a new party like Wikileaks, to actually unite, and demonstrate that, you know, Labour and Liberal cannot control the politics of this country if they continue to behave in the way they have. 

Robles: Samantha, thank you very much, I really … or Sam, I’m sorry, thank you very much, I really appreciate you speaking with me. 

Castro: No worries, you’re very welcome. 

This is John Robles. I was speaking with Samantha Castro, the co-founder of the Wikileaks Australian Citizen’s Alliance. Thanks for listening. 

"Our government refused to listen to us" Part 1

15 February, 2013 23:40  

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Sam Castro, the co-founder of the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance, spoke with the VOR's John Robles about Julian Assange's Australian Senate bid, internal Australian politics and the rules and current condition of Australian government policies, the public's support of Mr. Assange and the soon-to-be-official WikiLeaks Party and what has happened to Australia and the Australian people since the United States of America pulled Australia into the endless "War on Terror". Her viewpoint from the inside of Australia is both refreshing and informative as she details everything from surveillance to foreign policy.

Hello! This is John Robles, I’m speaking with Sam Castro. She is the co-founder of the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance.

Robles: Hello Sam! How are you this evening? Or it is morning for you, I believe.

Castro: I’m great, thank you. Yes, it is mid morning.

Robles: We’ve heard the news that Julian has officially registered. Your next step, I guess is registering the party, or what is your next step if you could?

Castro: Sure! So, just to clarify, Julian has officially reconfirmed his enrollment on Australian Electoral Commission’s roll which basically means that he is now eligible to run for the Senate. In Australia the rule is that, if you are going to run for a political position, you have to be eligible to be a voter. So, he’s just re-enrolled onto the roll in Victoria which means he is now eligible to stand for the Senate.

Robles: Has he registered as a candidate yet? Can he start campaigning?

Castro: No, the rules in Australia are; you need to register as a candidate once the writs for the election have been issued. And that probably won’t happen until a few months down the track and that will be done by the Prime Minister when the Parliament is dissolved.

So, nobody can officially register as a candidate running until that is done. But he is now eligible and the next step is choosing and the formation of the WikiLeaks Party which is also obviously, as it is in most countries, a process, which we are very close to formulating.

Robles: Can you do campaigning starting now or is it early? What are the rules in Australia?

Castro: It is an interesting situation because the Prime Minister recently announced that the election will be on the 14th of September. So, she’s announced her intent to call an election. Officially the campaign for any political party has not officially begun until the Prime Minister dissolves the Parliament and takes the writs to the Governor General. So, there is much speculation in the media in Australia about the fact that this is the longest unofficial election campaign in the history of campaigns in Australia.

So the hardcore election campaign has not begun because the election has not been officially called. But obviously everybody in this country of all persuasions of the political fence have already begun gearing up. And our focus is on helping to convene the WikiLeaks Party, so that we can take membership, and then formally register the party with the Australian Electoral Commission at which point Julian will be then formally endorsed as a lead candidate. So, it is a bit of a complicated situation that’s never before occurred in the history of campaigns in this country.

Robles: I see. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about the reaction by the Australian populists and the men on the street to Julian’s situation and the fact that he is going to be running?

Castro: It is funny you say that I was out, just the other night and overheard some young “gen” wives and they’d all just run into each other, and I heard one of them say “Hey, Julian Assange is running for Senate. How cool is that!” That’s generally the reaction that I’ve received from all walks of life. And in fact, from people that are disenfranchised on both sides of the political parties in this country.

Julian has a great deal of support in Australia both for his current situation in relation with WikiLeaks and also in relation to running for Senate. The reason for that; I think is that many Australians feel disenfranchised by the two main parties, that we are deeply concerned as a citizenry about our militarized relationship with the United States of America and the behavior of our Government around our citizens, such as Julian and many others in fact, a long list of people who have effectively been abandoned by the Government when they are in trouble overseas.

So, there are a lot of components within Australian society that are very unhappy with the domination of the two main political parties and are really looking for something that reflects a more democratic and direct process of participation for the citizens.

Reminder

Robles: What would your party do to bring about changes, to bring about more transparency in Government and make it a Government that is more of the people? It sounds like the Government has completely disconnected itself from the populace. Would you agree with that?

Castro: I think that’s a fairly accurate description of most Western governments’ relationships with their citizenry, and certainly here in Australia. Really this goes back to the Howard Government, particularly since 9\11 and the whole war on terror, the state of continuous war.

It was actually the ten year anniversary here yesterday of mass protests across Australia to prevent us from going to war in Iraq. And unfortunately, what we saw take place was hundreds of thousands of people come out on the streets and then our government refused to listen to us. And that was very debilitating and deflating for many people in Australia who did not want to enter into an illegal war.

And we’ve seen increasingly over the last ten years the slow erosion of our civil liberties, the desire for our Government to engage private corporations and public resources to surveil, to repress and suppress. We’ve also seen policies that contravene our international citizenry in relation to human rights.

So, there are many things that are severely concerning people in this country, not to mention that we are a nation that is currently relying on mining. But we also are very much aware that the practices that are being employed are potentially devastating to our environment. So, there are many trigger points for people in this country at the moment where we feel that the current Government and also the opposition are pretty much the same and not representing the truth of the people.

So, my own standing, and I want to make clear again that I speak from the perspective of the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance, although we are deeply engaged and involved in the formation of the new WikiLeaks Party, we are not the party.

But I would say that the WikiLeaks Party is definitely interested in protecting the rights of the citizenry and privacy of the individual, and bringing transparency to our Government. And repeatedly, we have had it demonstrated to us that the government is clearly not willing to reveal particular behavior to the citizenry.

So, I think that the WikiLeaks Party has an opportunity to represent the issues that actually really concern people around our own participation in our democracy and civil rights. And I think that in the development of the WikiLeaks Party, as it goes along they will be employing very innovative ways of membership being able to participate in the formation of policies that actually reflect the people.

Robles: People have characterized Australia as being a lapdog to the US. Would you agree with that statement?

Castro: I personally do agree with that statement. There are many people who support the work of WikiLeaks and who would also echo the same response. This has become increasingly from our engagement in American wars, from our foreign policy that is determined to protect its relationship with the United States, over its citizenry.

We have, currently, legislation and draft papers on the table in this country that reflect the kind of cyber crime and national surveillance concepts that are being introduced in not only America but across Western countries, which we see as designed to target civilian population and activists.

‘If Australia handed a Senator to America for exposing war crimes the country would explode Part 2

20 February, 19:14  

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Samantha Castro, the co-founder of the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance recently spoke with the Voice of Russia about Julian Assange's senate bid and the political situation in Australia. In part 2 she says that mainstream Australians are beginning to be wary of the "rogue nation" that has become the United States of America, talks about how she would like to see the paradigm of the "post 9-11 world, become the "post WikiLeaks world, and much more.

Robles: People have characterized Australia as being a lapdog to the US. Would you agree with that statement?

Castro: I personally do agree with that statement. There are many people who support the work of WikiLeaks and who would also echo the same response. This has become increasingly clear from our engagement in American wars, from our foreign policy that is determined to protect its relationship with the United States, over its citizenry.

We have, currently, legislation and draft papers on the table in this country that reflect the kind of cyber-crime and national surveillance concepts that are being introduced in, not only America, but across Western countries, which we see as designed to target civilian population and activists, as opposed to tracking war crime and terrorism.

And most recently we also have expansion of American forces in military bases in this country and closer cooperation with America in terms of it trying to get a foothold in the Asia-Pacific region. So, we are deeply concerned that our foreign policy is so tightly entwined into a militarized foreign policy of America, that we are in fact eroding our own sovereignty as a nation and making choices around how our young men and women engage in warfare across the planet.

So, this is very tricky for Australia because of course our neighbours are in Asia and China, so it is a delicate process. And we are not saying that we shouldn’t be in relationship with America but we need to distance ourselves and make independent choices around what kind of warfare, and in fact, if you look at the WikiLeaks cables, what kind of war crimes and human rights abuses we are going to allow our country to be complicit in.

And this has the great deal of impact on politics in this country. And one of the things that WikiLeaks clearly revealed to the Australian population is that many of the officials and elected representatives in Australia have no qualms in secretly discussing and manipulating internal politics within our country. And this is quite disturbing, as it should be to every country, the way that America is interfering in internal political processes.

Robles: And they are doing the same thing in Australia, I take it.

Castro: Absolutely!

Robles: I’m sorry?

Castro: Yes! They are absolutely doing the same thing in Australia.

Robles: I see. All the surveillance, the crackdowns, the militarization: some experts have said it is a sign of an empire in decay. Would you agree with that? What’s your opinion on everything that’s happened since 9-11? And your opinion on 9-11 itself as a catalyst for all this, if you could?

Castro: Well, I’d like to think that in the current paradigm we often talk about the post-9-11 world. I’d like to think that, as we go along, that it will become the post-WikiLeaks world.

I think 9-11 and the war on terror have striking similarities to the Cold War and McCarthyism. And I think it is quite clear that America is in decline. And one of the reasons that America is in decline, besides its financial situation and its ever-expanding militarized intervention, is the fact that it has now been revealed to be acting as a “rogue nation”.

And clearly when countries or power are in decline, the first thing they do is trying to hang onto it, and they often employ violence and subversive tactics in doing that. And we’ve seen America and its allies working in cooperation on a global scale to repress all kinds of social movements. And I guess the most recent example is of course the Occupy Movement. Clearly there was a global crackdown on the Occupy Movement.

And I think that America has lost touch with reality about who it actually is and how it is perceived outside of its own country. And I think it’s done itself a great disservice with not addressing the issues of human rights abuses and war crimes, with not addressing and prosecuting people for crimes revealed in the WikiLeaks cables in relationship to war, and I’m thinking of course of “Collateral Murder”.

Obama’s continuation of many of the Bush policies which extend into the domestic financial realm, but most importantly in term of continuing to expand the “War on Terror”, not closing down Guantanamo Bay, which is effectively a torture facility, and pursuing the disposition made tricks and trying to embed drone warfare. Things like that, which I’m not sure if Americans in general and the American Administration actually understand, is severely eroding America's support and perception with the rest of the world.

So, they do seem to be an empire in decline and each empire does have to have an end. And it is shame that the path they seem to be pursuing is to continuingly up the military presence in a hope that that will somehow cement their power as sheriffs for the world. They see themselves as the leader of the world and yet they are acting like a rogue nation. And this is very disturbing to many people in Australia, mainstream Australian people, who perhaps do not engage frequently in our politics, but they know enough to know that we should be weary of America's behavior.

There is a certain amount of cynicism that has sort of crept into the global citizenry as a result of the revelations of WikiLeaks. And when you see a country behaving in such a hypocritic manner, assuming to criticize other countries about enabling protest and free Internet access, while they continuingly arrest and crackdown on whistleblowers and people that may disagree with their policies and their behavior, then obviously it becomes very hard to take them seriously when they are the ones committing perhaps some of the most gross violations on the planet, both at a military level and on a corporate level.

Robles: I have a question about Julian. If he gets a Senate seat, will he have some kind of immunity in the English Commonwealth, I mean would they let him to leave the embassy and will he have immunity in Australia?

Castro: Well, I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding is that it may provide some further impetus for him being able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy as an elected official of Australia, elected by the people. My understanding is: if he comes back to Australia, which is… He would like to come back to Australia and take his seat… and by the way, the polls are suggesting that he has a very good chance of winning a Senate seat.

If he comes back to Australia and is able to take his seat, I think that we have some recent changes in our extradition laws that were pushed through by the previous Attorney General, Nicola Roxon who like our unelected Foreign Minister Bob Carr have both trotted out the same old script that they know nothing about America’s pursuit of Julian for many-many years, and they only recently acknowledged the existence of a WikiLeaks Grand Jury.

So, the previous Attorney General pushed through changes to the extradition laws in this country, which certainly lower the threshold for being extradited to a country like America for minor offences. The changes also reduced the safety guards around political offensives because of course they now include those obscure words of terrorism and terrorist acts. And in this country we have already seen over the last 18 months Public officials claiming that environmental activists are terrorists or more dangerous than terrorists.

The use of this obscure word and the inclusion of that within the changes to the extradition act in this country, certainly mean that somebody like Julian, or in fact anyone that is creating dissent, may be more easily extradited for example under copyright laws. So, these things exist.

I think if Julian Assange was in Australia and the Australian Government handed him over to America; there would be an absolute out-roar in this country and this would be proof positive to the Australian people of the deception and the sellout of our Government to US wishes. So, I think in some respects the people of Australia would certainly provide a level of protection for Julian in Australia.

But if we combine this with such legislation as the National Defense Authorization Act in America which effectively means that America is trying to extend unconstitutional domestic law to the global citizenry, which is mind-boggling in itself, this of course leaves open a very-very scary component where anyone may be picked up and held indefinitely, and extradited.

So, there is a risk for Julian wherever he may be. And I guess if he is back in Australia and he is an elected senator and if our Government agrees to extradite a senator to the US for the revelations of war crimes, this country would absolutely explode.

Robles: I hope so! My God! To even ponder such an occurrence, I mean you would think would be something out of some science fiction novel, but, I mean, to consider that that could be a possibility says a lot about where the world has gone, I think.

Castro: And I think it also reflects on the fact, just as you were referring to: “Is America a dying empire?” I guess that one of the things that happens when a country is trying desperately to hold onto power ; they reveal themselves for what they and have very little “care factor” if that is known.

So, I think America, in trying to impose the NDAA on the global citizenry has actually revealed that it is not even keeping up the pretence of rule of law or a due process, which is the same thing it is doing with its drones a targeted killing program.

Robles: And with: Guantanamo and torture programs, and aggressive wars, and crimes against humanity, which those are, etc. etc.

Castro: Yes.

And of course on a corporate level it is also engaging with the Transpacific Partnership Agreement which again is just another blatant corporate grab at overriding national sovereignty and democracy for the countries that are participating.

Robles: I’ve heard many people say, on the economic side, I mean for the US in particular: “Democracy is not profitable”. So, any country that has real democracy has to be gotten rid of.

What would… as a senator, let’s say Julian has got his Senate seat. What would be some of the first changes that he would make or attempt to make? And how much can you change from the Senate in Australia?

Castro: Well, I think it is important for people to understand the way that the Australian political and the Governmental system works. The Senate is the house of review. It is a way that …There is a saying in Australia: “the Senate is there to keep the bastards honest!”

Robles: I think that would be the perfect place for Julian.

Castro: Exactly! (coughs) Excuse me!

So, in some respects Julian’s role, if he wants to be elected as a senator, is an oversight role. The Senate is there to scrutinize the legislation that is being pushed from the lower house, the Senate is there to scrutinize the draft policies and suggestions to be put into legislation.

And for us in Australia, we’ve been lucky from my perspective that the balance of power in the Senate has recently been held by the Greens and Independents.

And I think we need more of that in both houses of Parliament in this country. We’ve had for the last election cycle pretty much a whole Parliament where the Independents and Greens have held the power both in the lower house and the upper house. In this coming election it seems pretty clear that it is unlikely that that balance of power will be held in the lower house, unless the people get out there and vote for the Independents.

In the upper house there is the opportunity to expand that with people like Julian Assange, with the WikiLeaks Party, the Pirate Party, various Independents and Greens so that we can actually stop bad policy and bad legislation from going ahead. In Australia it is kind of the last frontier in preventing bad policy.

And unfortunately the reason that one of the reasons that Australia has ended up in the state that it is in, in terms of lack of any real responsibility or democracy is prior to the last election cycle, when the Howard Government was in power, they controlled both houses. And I think that’s very dangerous for any democracy because it is not reflective of the broader range of views and desires of the population.

So, Julian’s role would be an oversight role, like of all the rest of the senators. And hopefully, Julian along with other independents and smaller parties can hold that balance in the Senate to make sure that legislation is not put through that sells our civil liberties and our independence down the river, basically.

Robles: Wonderful!

Castro: So, in terms of affecting a change, it is very hard for a senator, I guess to push through brand new concepts. But it is very possible for senators to impact the direction of our country by ensuring bad legislation and bad policy does not make it into our Government’s process and platform.

Robles: Would you say Australia has a real multi-party system unlike the US, which has basically a one party system which is disguised as a two party system?

Castro: I think we are actually pretty similar. I think that the two main parties in this country are the Labour Party, which I guess is equivalent in some respects to the Democrats in America, and the Liberal Party, which is equivalent to the Republicans. But we all know that they are all the same. The differences between the two major parties in this country are in fact minimal and that’s one of the issues that is making people feel really disenfranchised and disillusioned with this two party system.

I think Australia… (coughs) Sorry I am recovering from tonsillitis..

Robles: Oh! Jiminy Christmas, we’ll finish up real soon then!!

Castro: I think Australia is on the verge of actually understanding that it needs to crack open the two party system in this country, if we are going to have true reflective democracy other than going out once every three or four years and voting for one of the same two. And that is happening. In the last election the Greens managed to secure their first ever seat in the lower house of our Government and I do hope that they retain that and we get more independents and minor parties in there.

I think why the WikiLeaks Party is so timely, is because the Australian people are ready to find a new way forward because we have been continuingly disappointed and sold down the river by both sides of politics in this country.

Robles: Thank you very much for agreeing to speak with me.

Castro: Alright! Take care and say “hi!” to Russia for me.

Robles: You can say it yourself! Just say: PRIVET. PRIVET ROSSIA!

Castro: PRIVET!

Samantha Castro is the co-founder of the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance

 

Last Update: 08/11/2017 10:33 +0300

 

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