WikiLeaks will continue on despite sustained attacks against it, founder Julian Assange promised during a rare interview Thursday with “Democracy Now!” in which he also discussed the European Commission’s recent decision that Visa did not violate any of its antitrust rules in blocking donations to the whistle-blowing website.

“The decision is disgraceful, but it is only a preliminary decision,” Assange said. “We have another submission that the commission has asked for, so hopefully they will turn around before the end of the year or the beginning of next year.”

Assange described the impact Visa’s blockade, which was first enacted in December 2010, has had on the site. “WikiLeaks has lost 95 percent of the donations that were attempted to be transferred to us over that period. So, that is over $50 million,” he said. “Now, fortunately, our 5 percent of $50 million is still not nothing, and so the organization can continue. But as I said in that press conference, our rightful and natural growth, our ability to publish as much as we would like, our ability to defend ourselves and our sources, has been diminished by that blockade.”

Assange also talked about Bradley Manning, the alleged WikiLeaks source, on the same day the Army private testified in court. “What is happening this week is not the trial of Bradley Manning; what is happening this week is the trial of the U.S. military,” Assange said. “This is Bradley Manning’s abuse case. Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad, shipped over and held for two months in extremely adverse conditions in Kuwait, shipped over to Quantico, Virginia, which is near the center of the U.S. intelligence complex, and held there for nine months, longer than any other prisoner in Quantico’s modern history. And there, he was subject to conditions that the U.N. special rapporteur, Juan Méndez, special rapporteur for torture, formally found amounted to torture.”

He continued: “This is a matter that I am — personally have been embroiled in, that this young man’s treatment, regardless of whether he was our source or not, is directly as a result of an attempt to attack this organization by the United States military, to coerce this young man into providing evidence that could be used to more effectively attack us, and also serve as some kind of terrible disincentive for other potential whistle-blowers from stepping forward.”

Assange spoke with hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has spent the past six months in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations.


— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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