As It Happens

Julian Assange calls life at Ecuador embassy 'a perverse situation'

The founder of Wikileaks tells As It Happens host Carol Off, "All of what you think are the normal rules, are on their head."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerges to make a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. Assange should be allowed to go free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and be awarded compensation for what amounts to a three-and-a-half-year arbitrary detention, a U.N. panel ruled earlier this month. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

Despite a United Nations panel declaring him 'arbitrarily detained,' Julian Assange remains in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The embattled co-founder of Wikileaks explains to As It Happens host Carol Off why he refuses to leave.

Assange was accused of sexual misconduct and rape in 2010. Swedish police still want to question him for the latter. He has not been charged in either case and argued vehemently that he has been cleared of all allegations.

Here is part of their conversation:

Carol Off: You say you're not afraid of what the United States might do to you, but your lawyers —

Julian Assange: No, it's not like that. I want to work. No one wants to spend 20 years in super-max because they can't work, they can't see their family, et cetera, et cetera. 
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is shown on a big screen taking part from London via teleconference in a panel taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

CO: But why not face the music? Why not go to the United States —

JA: You shouldn't put it in terms of people being unreasonably afraid —

CO: You said yourself you weren't afraid. I just want to know, why not face the music? Why not see what they've got against you and clear your name? 

JA: Because we know what they have done to my alleged co-conspirator Chelsea Manning. They put her in prison for 35 years, sentenced to 35 years, tortured her while she was there, that was so bad that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture denounced the United States over it, and Hillary Clinton's spokesperson resigned over the issue. Unfortunately, the Espionage Act is not an act that has a public interest defence. It's the same reason why Edward Snowden is not able to return to the United States, because he would not be given a fair trial. 

CO: You don't believe you could get a fair trial in the United States?

JA: It is not possible to receive a fair trial under the Espionage Act, that is correct. 

Take a listen to our full interview with Julian Assange. 

With files from the Associated Press/CBC News.