Interview with Dame Vivienne Westwood & Joe Corré in defence of Julian Assange

Julian Assange was freed on June 25th 2024 after agreeing to plead guilty to a single criminal count of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defence documents. His 14-year legal ordeal has now come to an end.

Dame Vivienne Westwood died in December 2022, aged 81.
Shortly before she passed away, she said: “Julian Assange is a hero and has been treated atrociously by the UK government”.
This interview dates back to April 2020, and has not been altered.
May she rest in peace.

Dame Vivianne Westwood and Joe Corré by Ki Price ©

The point of this feature is to collate years of research and investigations with the addition of a double interview with two distinguished celebrities and activists for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who is facing lifetime prison in the United States for exposing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The more you know about Julian Assange’s story, the more you know that you do not know, so here is a summary of an extremely complicated case featuring an array of external resources, videos and documents for you to check if you’ve ever thought in your life that this world had to be stopped and that you wanted to get off.

Nobody wants you to like this man on a personal level, but you cannot build an informed opinion without first deconstructing all the lies and fabrications you’ve been told about him and his organisation for years and years and years.
Because when somebody is facing 175 years in prison for not committing corruption and war crimes, but for merely exposing them to the world as a publisher, we must all take their place if we do care about justice, freedom and human rights at all.

Australian Nobel Peace Prize nominee, multi-award-winning journalist and publisher Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 and let the world know about war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq shortly after.
The year 2024 marked fourteen years since the terrifying video Collateral Murder from the July 12, 2007, Baghdad airstrike was leaked, showing civilians, reporters and children being shot by the US Army and then being laughed at.

The whistleblower who disclosed WikiLeaks 750,000 classified, or ‘unclassified but sensitive’, diplomatic and military documents is the US former soldier Chelsea Manning (born Bradley Manning) who was sentenced to 35 years in prison in America.
She spent 7 years in jail and walked free in 2017 after her sentence was commuted by President Obama, just to be incarcerated again in 2019 and fined $1,000 a day for “refusing to collaborate” and testify against Julian Assange before a federal grand jury.
Chelsea Manning was released in March 2020 after attempting suicide in her cell.
Her $256,000 court fines were paid within hours through a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe, and some further $66,307 were also put together to help pay for her living expenses.

As you may – or may not – be aware of, Julian Assange was eventually arrested on 11th April 2019 at the London Ecuadorian Embassy by the British police.
But what you almost certainly ignore it’s that a Swedish software developer by the name of Ola Bini was also arrested in Ecuador on that same day for, reportedly, being “linked” to Assange.
Can you possibly get arrested for being friends with a journalist?
It turns out, you can.
It also turns out that the media can and will completely ignore your story.
The Ola Bini’s legal case reportedly counts more than 65 irregularities.
The guy was released after two months of detention when a court ruled in favour of his habeas corpus request: in other words, you have a right to ask why you’re being detained, and if they cannot find any viable reason for your arrest, you should be freed.
And so Ola Bini got out of prison, but his nightmare isn’t over.
At the time of publication, he’s still being persecuted by Ecuador, he cannot leave the country and it’s unknown when the hearing will resume.

Julian Assange resist message

Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy © to the owners

All this for being “linked” to Julian Assange, who eventually wasn’t arrested for “sex assault charges”, for “hacking” or for any of the other bullshit the press invented on that occasion: Assange was arrested for “skipping bail” in the UK in 2012.
At that time, he was living in London but faced “rape allegations” in Sweden, so, after being granted bail from the UK, he asked for and obtained political asylum in Ecuador over fears of political persecution and extradition to Sweden, and subsequently to the US.
But with the UK refusing to grant him a safe passage to Ecuador for as many as 7 years, he eventually found himself imprisoned in the Ecuadorian Embassy, surrounded by British police night and day and arbitrarily detained in the heart of London de facto and without charges.

The rape allegations that were finally dropped by Sweden in November 2019 consisted of an unbelievable report of Assange and a casual partner not using a condom on the fifth time they had sex together on the same night, in the same bed in her apartment, in August 2010.
Since she was reportedly “half-asleep” when they started, then according to Swedish law this means she was raped.
Assange’s statement on this story details how she approached him, how she placed his hands on her breasts right after introducing herself, how she took him to her house and even paid for his train tickets since Visa and Mastercard had just frozen WikiLeaks’ bank cards and accounts, followed by PayPal and also by a Swiss bank group.
Yes, you read it right: a Swiss bank shutting somebody’s account – perhaps for the first time in history.

By scrolling down on that document, you may also read the full-text exchange the woman in question had with a friend on that night, detailing how they had long foreplay but nothing happened, but then it got better.
One of her texts reads: I want him, I want him.
In the end, she also admitted that she didn’t want to accuse him for anything, but that it was the police who made up the charges.

Just imagine how the poor women attacked and brutally raped by strangers on street corners would feel about a law that puts their tragedy on the same level as “these sexual interactions started the next morning while she was asleep (in the same bed after a night of consensual intercourse) and that when she woke up she consented to the intercourse in question, but for the first few moments was not theoretically capable of consent due to sleep“. 

Whether you’re a man, a woman or anything in between, you may reasonably want to go back to the sexiest memories of your life and start counting all the times that – according to Swedish law you have been either raped or a rapist.
Both will probably be the most interesting memories of this sort that you have.

After the beginning of this condom drama, someone interestingly called Bill Condon was eventually chosen to make a film about Assange in 2013.

Based on a bound set of pages glued together titled Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website which would be bold to call a book and which was made by some Teutonic individial named Daniel Domscheit-Berg who used to work at WikiLeaks and was later kicked off by Assange in person, this absurdly pointless movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch and titled The Fifth Estate focuses on things like why Assange’s hair is white.

Following the release of the aforementioned bound set of pages glued together, Daniel Domscheit-Berg also allegedly spent time contacting newsrooms to point out that he didn’t actually say that Assange preferred “women younger than 22”, but that it was “women aged around 22” instead.

Either way, the above hysteria was the ground and the alibi for the film to portray Assange as a narcissist and unpolite bastard obsessed with power, money and sex.
After all, when you look at what this German gentleman looks like, it’s no wonder that he might have found Assange’s influence on women of all ages, not just around 22, a bit too much to swallow.

Julian Assange march in London by anonymous

Don’t shoot the messenger – © to the owners

Anyhow, following his arrest in April 2019, Julian Assange was eventually sentenced to 50 weeks  – most of which he spent in isolation – in a London supermax high-security prison full of terrorists and murderers.
As soon as the UK police put their hands on him, a formal request to extradite him to the United States was filed, announcing 17 additional charges.
Julian Assange
has been accused of violating the American Espionage Act of 1917, which prohibits obtaining information, recording pictures, or copying descriptions of any information relating to the national defence with intent or reason to believe that the information may be used for the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.
This is the first time the Espionage Act of 1917 has been used to target a media organisation.
Based on this, the United States of America want to jail him for 175 years.
War criminals typically get 30 years.

During his incarceration in the UK, Assange’s inmates even protested to get him out of isolation, and despite having largely completed his 50 weeks of detention, he’s still being held in this high-security prison on remand, expecting an extradition trial which many have defined a show, without ever having committed a violent act, without charges, without reportedly being able to speak to his lawyers and prepare his defence and with a chronic lung condition which put his life at risk as Covid spread in the penitentiary in 2020.
One year earlier, a group of more than 60 medical doctors had written to the UK Home Secretary to express their serious concerns about his physical and mental health, but Assange was denied bail despite loads of inmates have been freed all over the world due to the pandemic.

Not content with having portrayed Assange as a hacker and a rapist, now that proper press coverage is most needed to raise awareness, the media – the same media that collaborated with WikiLeaks in the past to break news, sell copies and even win press freedom awards, have stopped reporting on the Assange case altogether.

Some still believe that WikiLeaks put people’s lives at risk by leaking tons of private data, but what people don’t know is that it was a journalist from The Guardian who eventually published the password to the entire, unredacted WikiLeaks archive [if you want to read the story somewhere else, try this article from The Atlantic], violating the confidentiality agreement between WikiLeaks and The Guardian’s editor-in-chief that was signed in July 2010.
Since then, there has been more than a legal dispute between WikiLeaks and The Guardian, and Assange’s organisation is still raising additional funds to sue the paper over what they consider to be a “completely fabricated” story on alleged ‘secret meetings’ between Julian Assange and Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

In today’s interview, two notable celebrities who have strong links with Assange offer their views and insights on what’s going on: they are Britain’s grand dame of fashion, Dame Vivienne Westwood, who has been campaigning for Assange for years, and her son Joe Corré, successful businessman, founder of Agent Provocateur and activist for Assange and the anti-fracking movement – a man who rejected an MBE from the British Monarchy in 2007 in protest against the war in Iraq and burned £5m worth of Sex Pistols memorabilia on the Thames in protest of punk becoming just another marketing tool to sell you something you don’t need.

Julian Assange quote what is the difference between me and Mark Zuckerberg

Julian Assange © to the owners

Interview with Joe Corré in defence of Julian Assange

Vivienne Westwood and Joe Corré marching for Julian Assange by Ki Price

Joe Corré campaigning for Julian Assange by Ki Price ©

Joe, you refused an MBE from the British Monarchy in 2007 in protest against the war in Iraq. Would you do the same for Assange today?

I guess, fundamentally, one of the reasons why I rejected the MBE it’s because, at a certain point, you uncover some of the truths behind the image of Britain and the sense of justice and the sense of fair play and freedom. And when you see the truth about how responsible this country has been for so much turmoil in the world, actually, the sense of the real picture of British justice is just disgusting. So yes, that’s why I gave up my MBE, because it’s meaningless, nonsense. That was about Tony Blair at the time, but you know, he can now join, or has joined, the list of other people in history and currently. Anyway, justice in this country is a joke.

Do you believe Assange’s extradition to the United States could still be avoided?

Yes, I think that a lot can be done, but I think the first thing where we need to start – because the story has already been overtaken by so many narratives, and in order to start – we have to break down the narratives to see the truth, and now we have another complication with the narrative of the secret love story that we discovered in 2020. Each time we go through this exposure of secrets, it doesn’t shift the bottom line of the narrative that has been painted against this man to allege that he’s a rapist, that he’s a bad man, that he’s a creep, that he’s a hacker. All of these narratives are lies, and it’s plain to see that they’re lies by the most reliable evidence, it’s plain to see the truth in this situation because ultimately, we have an independent report by an enormously respected organisation being the United Nations.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture said that Assange is a victim of psychological torture.

If you read their report, you can see where the lies have come from. So, in order to start doing anything, we need to change the public opinion so they support Assange, because, at the moment, the public opinion is not convinced. A lot of the public opinion still believes the narrative lies, or at least they’re suspicious enough of the narrative lies that they don’t want to go out and see the truth. So, this is what we have to start to fundamentally deal with in terms of the character assassination that is being performed on Julian. And it has to be said that, from Julian’s words, from where he is currently and his mental state in prison, what he’s gone through in terms of character assassination over the last years, the team of people that he has around him, all the lawyers and the opinions, all the careful little steps he has to make and decide every day, have created a situation where instead of him confronting the lies and the character assassination, he has chosen not to say anything about it, and to let people discover the truth by themselves. And I have to say that this is not good enough, and something needs to change here, and we have to show what’s happening to this human being who has effectively been seen as a beacon of hope within the world to use journalism, to use leaks, to use whistleblowers to hold the powerful to account through democracy – which is incredibly fragile. And we have to celebrate this, we have to protect this guy. So, there’s a lot to be done and we need to first start with public opinion, and all the other efforts we need to make: talking to governments, talking to politicians, talking to the UN, talking to the media. The media has been shockingly bad in terms of supporting Assange, and in fact, has helped to paint this lie of the narrative about him. But now, it’s interesting to see that actually the media has started to wake up and started to realise that this point, this situation with Julian Assange is not about Julian Assange: it’s about press freedom, it’s about media, it’s going to affect all of them, and I think it’s time that they started to wake up, and they are starting to wake up to it. You know, better late than never.

How would you explain that a vast majority of the media coverage about Assange comes from Russian outlets such as Russia Today and Ruptly?

We live in a geopolitical world with a lot of real politics going on and certainly, I can say from my experience in trying to stop fracking in the UK – in the last years I’ve been trying to stop fracking – and among all of the media organisations, the BBC, ITV, the Times newspaper and blah blah blah, the one that has given more coverage to that issue, was also Russia Today and Ruptly: they would publish and broadcast all of the information from all of the activists that were fighting that thing. Now, I understand it may potentially be in Russia’s interest for the UK not to become an oil-producing country through fracking, which is in competition with the Russian market, so I understand that there well might be motives for Russia to want to promote discord within Western countries – let’s say – but this is not the point. The point is the vacuum elsewhere. You know, we can say: why does Russia focus on the truth behind these stories, but the real question is: why do the others, why does the rest of the media don’t? That is the question. They disappeared. You get the small window of attention, essentially each time he appears in courts, where something is going to happen, this is the only X point when you get media coverage. It’s terrible, but that’s what we are trying to work against, we are trying now to find ways to try to move these narratives along because it’s crucial. I don’t have all the answers about what to do. It’s an incredibly difficult situation when you get down to the real details and the truths and the media, and how the media works with the powerful – and in the end, what are we fighting here? We are fighting the United States of America with all their powers, all their faults and all their media friends and their nation-friends, as it is the UK.

How would you explain that, apparently, no political party, has publicly campaigned for Assange so far? 

Yes, it’s shocking, isn’t it? And can I say why? It is because they created narratives about this guy that made him into a monster, and so even though it’s not true, nobody has the courage to say “I don’t think it’s true”. Their fault. What can I say? I don’t think we have strong free media, and why? I would also like to know, please. But in America, at least, some of the publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post to a degree, have exposed some of what has been happening, but also for them, I think they have a vested interest in what’s going on: they know that if Julian is found guilty of these crimes, then they are found guilty of these crimes, too. We know that a part of the narrative that has started to change recently, away from the personal monsterisation of Julian into the idea that WikiLeaks as an organisation and Julian being in control of it has been grossly irresponsible by dumping a lot of personal information that put people in danger all over the world and that they have been this irresponsible anarchist organisation. And this lie is now being exposed, because what is the truth about that? It’s that actually WikiLeaks spent months, twelve months, going through all of this information, checking everything, redacting everything, to the point it was overredacted, and when they gave it to The Guardian to publish, and they gave them the password to check all the original unredacted information, what did The Guardian do?

They published the password.

They published the fucking password. They published the fucking password, so now, all the unredacted information is available to everyone. So where is the narrative here? Who is irresponsible? The Guardian was irresponsible, they are the people that leaked that in the end, not WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has shown an absurd level of responsibility, because they’ve redacted things that were necessary to redact and actually, from the WikiLeaks’ community, they’ve received a lot of antagonism about that, saying “Why did you redact so much?” And in fact, in any other legal cases and whatever they asked WikiLeaks to give them more of the pure information that was unredacted, which has helped in various court cases about human rights abuses in lots of international jurisdictions. Anyway, what I’m saying is that I guess that the media has started to understand that they are implicated in this situation.

How come it took a journalist from Italy [Stefania Maurizi] to file a Freedom of Information request in the UK about Julian Assange’s case? No British journalist was interested?

All I can say is I’m ashamed.

What do you think the role of Australia should be?

There are some quite good campaigns that have been run in Australia and I think also the public opinion in Australia is much more generally on Julian’s side. There have now been politicians and government officials who have signed a letter in 2020 asking for Julian to be released from prison and put somewhere safe as the prison was bursting with Covid. Then you have his mother and his father that are talking quite regularly in the media about Julian in Australia, and he receives a lot of support from there. I just think the government in Australia now really needs to step up its efforts much more strongly to let the UK government here release him and let him go back to live in Australia. I definitely think this is something they should push and push and push for.

If Assange gets extradited to the United States, will there be any hope for him to be pardoned?

Well, the thing is, it seems evident to me that the only way “they” would give you something, it’s if you have something to give them, and I am not sure if Julian has anything to give them. And I’m not even sure that Julian from his moral standpoint would be even willing to do that if he even had something. But I think, for me, this also brings me to talk about Julian from the point of view of, let’s say, his character, and in my view, he is definitely on the autistic spectrum. People that are around that type of spectrum have a great sense of justice and injustice, and it’s incredibly powerful for them, and they’re obsessive, and all the kinds of characteristics that Julian shows, but one of the biggest things is about a sense of justice and fairness, and I think I don’t know if he would be able to offer them anything because of those strains of his character.

Ola Bini was arrested in Ecuador on the same day as Assange in 2019 for being somewhat “associated” with him: what do you think will happen to him?

I don’t know, there’s so much fallout, so much fallout. I don’t know. All I know is that the media are not good at their fucking job.

Why has no country publicly offered Assange political asylum after he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2019?

I mean, look at what happened to Ecuador, Julian’s circumstances have been incredibly strange. He’s been a very very brave person, but let’s be honest: I mean, if you were in that situation, where you had exposed America’s war crimes, where you knew that the American government was trying any means necessary to get you back to America to put you in concrete for 175 years, I am not sure that I would have chosen to go to a small flat that stood for a small nation’s embassy, in the middle of London, for 7 years. I don’t think I would have done that – I think I would have probably gone to the Russian Embassy, or I would have disappeared somewhere where you really couldn’t find me. I mean, if we want to take a lesson from Edward Snowden, then he is somebody who set an example of a better way to escape this thing. But that’s what I was saying before, I think Julian has a big sense of justice, and he didn’t feel like it was right for him to run away. I also think the decision he made when he was accused but never charged with these allegations they made – they are so ridiculous when you look at the actual fact in Sweden – again, Julian and his team decided not to confront this situation, and so after – how many years? – people still remember him as this strange guy looked up in the embassy as a fugitive from justice facing rape charges in Sweden – and that’s what people say. It’s crazy, all I can say is that he hasn’t made some of the best decisions, but I think as a person, he’s an incredibly brave man, and I think he’s done things for all of us, for all and every human on the planet, he has challenged the truth and created a platform to be able to disseminate the truth, and that’s something which is incredibly, incredibly precious and bold, and we need to do everything that we can and use every effort that we can to protect him.

In your opinion, where are the [thousands of] people who gathered in front of the St. Paul’s Cathedral in October 2011 to hear Julian Assange’s speech now? The London events and rallies have gone nearly deserted, for the most part. Why have people stopped supporting Assange publicly in the UK?

People stopped supporting him when they did this operation to smear his name and to make him look like a rapist, and people believed it, and even if they didn’t believe it, they were too frightened to say anything. This is what happens when the Nazis take over, this is what history shows that human beings do, there are not many people that turn around and say no, and say “I don’t believe this, I am not going to take this” – it’s very, very hard. But I have all the same questions that you have – I have the same questions… why can’t people see the lies, why wouldn’t they support him?

Roger Waters perform 'Wish you were here' in support of Julian Assange, London, 02 September 2019

Central London, 02 Sept 2019, 6 PM: Roger Waters performs ‘Wish You Were Here’ in Julian Assange’s support. How many people can you count?

Roger Waters’ performance of Wish You Were Here for Assange in central London, in 2019 was attended by just a handful of people. We are talking about a Pink Floyd co-founder’s gig, here. In the heart of London. For free.

I have to say that we can point the finger at the lack of appetite in the public to support Assange, we can say that this appetite has been affected by the media campaign and lying campaign about his character, but we can also say that I think the organisation of campaigns to support him has been crap, and it needs to ramp up to a very serious level now, and I think this is what we have to do, because it does have support within certain people, but the organisation that tries to manage this support, to push this support, has been very difficult. And to be honest, one of the reasons for that is that Julian himself has been responsible for making many of the decisions or for putting people in charge of those decisions who can’t make a decision. And what can I say? You know, I don’t want to speak badly about people that are trying their best, but for me, so far, their best is not good enough, and we need to do much, much better. I think that all of the people involved in this situation are dealing with secrets at a level that puts them in great danger all the time, and they act in a very secretive way, and this becomes part of their characters and their culture. And it becomes very difficult to deal with it, because, you know, everything is in jeopardy for them. I don’t know. That’s why for me, I find it easier to stay outside of the organisation and just try to do what I can do, which I already feel is not enough. All I can say is that so far, the campaign – if you can call it a campaign – that Julian’s team has been running, in the UK, to try to help him, in my opinion, has been talking to the same audience every time it speaks. It’s the same people talking to the same audience, and we’re not going to break these narratives if we don’t reach outside of this audience and start to talk to a completely different group of people that, at the moment, are not even listening. They are not interested, and we have to get them interested. And so, what I want to try to do is to work in completely different ways from how the campaign has been currently organised so far.

Do you think political parties will get interested, at some point?

Very difficult. Very very difficult. You can get individuals and you can get tiny parties that, again, just talk to the same insular audience. But we need to reach outside of that because otherwise, we’re not going to shift the narrative, and we don’t want this guy to end up as a symbol in a prison in America, a symbol of what happens to everybody or anybody all over the world that dares to say the truth about American war crimes in the media: this is what’s going to happen to you, you’d better shut up! Don’t say anything, because otherwise, you’re going to an American torture supermax prison for 175 years. If we don’t hold them to account, they are not going to hold themselves to account. This is not the world we want.

Interview with Dame Vivienne Westwood in defence of Julian Assange

Vivienne Westwood by Ki Price ©

Madam, why is it important to free Julian Assange?

Julian Assange is my priority, he’s the key to everything. We face a global wall of government corruption: political, economic, and legal. Julian is the Trojan horse – if we can free him, this will break a hole in the wall of concrete, and the government will have to start listening to people and acting in their interest.

What kind of support do Assange and WikiLeaks need?

We need government support. Since Coronavirus, people have begun to realise that we can’t go back to capitalism, it’s the cause of all our problems including climate change. It’s extremely important that we win on all three counts: on the economy, on politics, on the law – so I think we can break that hole in the wall and I have faith in my son, Joe, on the legal count.

Would you have anything else to say in addition to what Joe said earlier regarding Assange and the press? 

It’s absolutely brilliant what Joe said earlier in his answer about the narrative and the character assassination, he’s analysed the problem to give the whole true picture, and it’s what is needed. I know because I visited Julian a lot that he’s very wary of speaking with the press because they just turn something good into something seedy or hateful. They create mob rule and then nobody knows what’s going to happen after that.

Based on your many decades of activism, if Julian Assange’s case had occurred back in the days – let’s say in the 1960s or 1970s, rather than after 2010 – would have things gone any differently with regard to public opinion and support from celebrities and politicians? 

The press always supports the establishment; 40% of American taxes go to defence and the arms industry. Lobbying is only done by the arms trade and they pay the Democrats and Republicans equally, so it just depends on how parties say something and what buzzwords they use. Every now and again they allow a President who is more liberal than the general run because sometimes you have to give a more fair distribution of wealth in order that trade doesn’t stop. And to answer your question, they have got away with it constantly, they’re so used to getting the result they want through propaganda to the point now where the bigger the lie the more the people believe it. To sum it up, the two-party system is what we mean by democracy.

The Labour Party’s manifesto for the 2019 UK general election mentioned the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for some generic “media and democracy and press freedom” purposes, but the name of Assange does not appear, nor was it mentioned in the 2017 edition either. In your opinion, was the Labour Party supposed to take an official commitment toward Assange at any point during his many years of arbitrary detention without charges in London?

Well, Jeremy Corbyn is a man of very high principles, but he inherited a divided party and he couldn’t keep it together and therefore shilly-shallied, sat on the fence. A true opposition is prepared to stand up for justice even when it’s not popular.

Free Julian Assange – © to the owners

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