Published: 09 February, 2013, 17:25
Julian Assange (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)
Julian Assange addressed US officials on a popular TV channel, urging them to disclose to WikiLeaks the secret instructions on how decisions on eliminating American citizens using drones are being taken. Source confidentiality guaranteed.
In the first appearance in a long time by Julian Assange on a major American TV channel, the founder of WikiLeaks lashed out at the re-elected President Barack Obama and his administration, which gave the go-ahead to elimination of the American citizens abroad using military Unmanned Automatic Vehicles (UAVs).
An unclassified document from the US Justice Department, revealed by NBC News this week, exposed that US authorities consider the elimination of senior Al-Qaeda members lawful and ethical, even if they are American citizens and plotting no crime. The Obama administration promised to provide American lawmakers with access to classified documents giving the legal basis for such drone strikes.
The first known assassination of Americans by a US UAV occurred in September 2011, when a US drone strike in Yemen killed radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, editor of an Al-Qaeda magazine. Both were US citizens who had never been charged with a crime.
“I cannot see a greater collapse when the [American] executive can kill its own citizens arbitrarily, at will, in secret, without any of the decision-making becoming public,” Assange said during his appearance in the HBO talk show ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’.
“That’s why we need organizations like WikiLeaks. I encourage anyone in the White House who has access to those rules and procedures, work them on over to us. We’ll keep you secret and reveal [the drone killing rules] to the public,”Assange promised.
Julian Assange remains at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been since June 2012. He was granted asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crimes allegations. He has consistently maintained his innocence.
Assange’s lawyers believe that if Assange is extradited to Sweden, he would be automatically extradited further to the US, where he has been declared an enemy of state after publishing hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic and military memos on the WikiLeaks website.
So far Britain has refused Julian Assange safe passage to Ecuador.
HBO, which gave Julian Assange the platform to speak out, has approximately 41 million subscribers in the US alone.