Mixed signals from European Union on economic blockade of WikiLeaks – spokesperson By John robles

5 December, 2012 — Voice of Russia

Kristinn Hrafnsson

Kristinn Hrafnsson Photo: AFP

WikiLeaks number two and the official spokesperson for the WikiLeaks organization, Kristinn Hrafnsson spoke with the Voice of Russia regarding the recent ruling by the European Parliament regarding the extra-judicial economic blockade by US based financial institutions who are in violation of international and European law in their continued blockade of the organization. Mr Hraffnsson also spoke about Bradley Manning equating his detention to torture and when asked about WikiLeaks, promised more releases to come.

Robles: We’ve had a lot of mixed reports about Julian Assange’s condition, that he is very ill, and had reports… He gave an interview and he said he’s not ill. Can you tell us what is really going on?

Hrafnsson: There were reports earlier this week that Julian Assange was in a very bad health and had a lung condition. That was of course an overblown statement. He is actually in fairly good condition, in spite of the fact that he is inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 19th . It’s been quite a long time but he is doing fairly well considering the conditions.

Robles: Has there been any progress made with him getting out of there and getting to Ecuador? Have you heard anything?

Hrafnsson: I have not heard anything new regarding that. They’ve had talks with the Swedish and the UK authorities and I believe attempted to have talks with the US authorities as well trying to solve the standoff. And I have actually no information indicating that there’s been any real progress but at least the dialog seems to be ongoing.

Robles: Can you tell our listeners a little bit about the ruling by the European Parliament?

Hrafnsson: Yes, I just returned from Brussels and actually we had the two very contradicting messages from Brussels in recent weeks. One was of course the extremely positive resolution that was voted on by the European Parliament on November 19th in a report on the online payments where the European Parliament gave a clear message, in a report that was voted into a resolution and sent to the European Commission, that they want it to be put into law that the payment facilitators, like Visa and MasterCard, would not in an abusive manner impose a blockade on entities or organizations, or companies without any due process. So, this was a very positive sign and I think it is a result of our fight in Brussels on other venues to bring awareness to the extreme problem of giving these American-based companies this tremendous power.

But at the same time we had another negative signal which came from the Commission. It was the result of our complaint through our partner in Iceland to the Commission where we claimed that the American-based companies Visa, MasterCard and American Express had contravened the antitrust legislation of the European community by imposing the economic blockade on Iceland. After 15 months of deliberation they found that in their preliminary assessment they would not open up a full investigation into all this. And on Monday, last week, we handed in our argument trying to convince the Commission to change its mind because of the tremendous importance of the case and showing how the Commission has, in our mind, erred in their decision.

So, it is not a final one. In about 4-5 weeks the Commission will take their final position and of course we can appeal that further on but I hope that the Commission will see the light and actually open up this investigation because as everybody can see this is a very important question about economic sovereignty of all the Europeans against the all-powerful American financial institutions.

Robles: Do you see the US influence in this? Basically they said that it was illegal but they refuse to prosecute it.

Hrafnsson: After reviewing this case through all this time the preliminary finding was that it was unlikely, that they were able to show that the American companies had breached antitrust laws on the European market. I think it is a wrong decision and we are trying to convince the Commission to change its mind and open up the investigation.

Robles: How much influence do you think the US has on the European Parliament?

Hrafnsson: Well, it is obviously, in my mind, there has been a tremendous pressure on behalf of these American corporations. And as we have seen, happening in Russia for example, the American State Department is acting very often on behalf of these American financial powers. That happened when the Duma was contemplating establishing the Russian payment system and forcing Visa and MasterCard to use a Russian local system. Basically, it was argued that this was a matter of national security.

So, we know that the Americans authorities act on behalf of these financial corporations and I’m quite sure that they have tried all their means possible to influence the European Commission. The European Parliament has in many ways more individual power and is not as prone to pressure from the American conglomerates and the State Department acting on their behalf.

So, I’m quite sure that if the European Parliament, after they have passed the resolution I mentioned earlier, will give a clear signal to the Commission and there is a possibility that the European Commission will change its mind.

Robles: I see, I hope so. As far as the Internet goes there are few US companies that will do any kind of business here in Russia over the Internet. It’s been like a total blockade from the very beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about what is coming up with the WikiLeaks?

Hrafnsson: I will be very cautious in commenting on any future releases and our future projects. I can assure you that there will be future releases. And we are still operating even though it is of course very hard to do. And we have been spending all of these limited resources in fighting the economic blockade and all the legal obstacles, and legal channels. Especially, considering that the economic blockade has wiped away 95% of our revenues, so I can simply say that we will continue. And we are still in cooperation and will be further doing that.

Robles: Can you give me your opinion on the case of Jeremy Hammond, Bradley Manning, he had his first hearing this week? And Jeremy Hammond maybe facing life in prison.

Hrafnsson: I will refrain from speaking about him at this moment. But actually I have been following the Bradley Manning case in the US last week. And of course it was revealing, this testimony about the way he has been tortured in prison in pretrial punishment. It is absolutely inexcusable in my mind. Being locked in Quantico for nine months in isolation, it is nothing but the torture in my mind and it is inexcusable and it is a stain on Obama’s presidency.

Robles: Kristinn, anything big you want to finish with, it is all yours.

Hrafnsson: I’m very grateful for all the support we’ve received from people all around the world. And I urge people to continue support us in any way possible, visit our website. And there are still ways and means to help us out in our struggle and donate to us what people can contribute, it means a lot to us. We owe it all to a very strong support base and what keeps us going and keeps us strong is a feeling of support from individuals all around the world.

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