Listening to Wikileaks Julian Assange at the European Parliament

Rarely does a lobbyist listen to someone and feel utterly impressed, no strings or cautious thoughts attached…Or at least, not an “old rot” like me…But today, just for a few minutes, I felt like “not all was lost”…that some sense would come out of the ongoing debates on how to “handle the Internet” if someone with the eloquence, brains and proven delivery record of Julian Assange could be invited to speak in a place such as the European Parliament, in the context of the ALDE organised debate on (Self) Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Europe.

And so he did, and he did well, at both a philosophical level and in terms of quoting facts, cases, real life. Sitting on the panel was also the representative of the Icelandic Parliament that spearheaded their “Safe Haven” law for publishers and whistle blowers, and a professor specialised in libel and defamation laws, whom I will not name just in case he sues me for “attacking his reputation”, as he seemed really gung ho on that one.

I would encourage everyone to listen to the debate once it gets posted [Addition on 8 July: video embedded below - thanks to commentators] on the ALDE website , as it is worth listening, for the immense sadness one feels when listening to some of the comments in terms of balance of rights and freedoms some seem to deem appropriate, and some of the hallucinating exchanges that took place between Mr Assange and the unnamed lawyer, of which my favourite was [quoting from memory - only the actual recording should be considered accurate]:

Lawyer: “In this case, the BBC claimed people died and that was wrong”

Assange “How do you know it was wrong?”

Lawyer “Because the BBC paid damages and settled”

Assange “So you are saying that settling out of court for strategical reasons and to avoid heavy legal fees means they were wrong. Over 100.000 people had to go to the hospital due to that event and BBC said that as a result, 14 died. How unbelievable is that? How wrong could they be?”

Lawyer “I didn’t say they were wrong”

Assange “Yes, you just did”

Lawyer “I can’t remember what I just said”

Assange, turning to the audience “OK, people: do you remember what he just said?”".

I guess Lincoln’s statement that to be a good liar, you need to have a good memory could also apply to lawyers speaking on panels at the European Parliament…

Update 8 July: Please find below the full video of the EP hearing


  1. The “unnamed lawyer” was Prof. Alistair Mullis, Dean of Law at the University of East Anglia, and he may sue me if he likes. I was also at the hearing, and found several of Prof. Mullis’ remarks rather perplexing, and profoundly at odds with the protection of the freedom of speech. Your favourite exchange was also my favourite.

  2. Exchange between Assange and lawyer is around 1h:50m on, 1h:55m where the audience is asked what they remember.

  3. I believe it’s “Julian Assange”. Some clips of the debate are already on Youtube, but it would be good to listen to the entire recording.

  4. Jens Rantil |

    In case anyone wonders, his names is “_Julian_ Assange”, and not “Julius”.


  5. ALDE debate has already been posted:

    The above-mentioned discussion begins at 01h:52m:22s.

    You may want to redo your quote.

  6. I would really like to see/hear Julian Assange speaking to the Australian parliament, in particular to our so-called Technology minister, Stephen Conroy, who persists with a law for mandatory Internet censorship despite widespread and continuous protest, the fact that it won’t work and the huge waste of money and efficiency required. Conroy’s only response to any protest about loss of civil liberties is that the protester is a pervert.

  7. Thank you for pointing the typo out. Has been corrected.

  8. Added the link in the post. thx.

  9. There’s news today from Eastern Europe that Ukraine’s government who’ve increased suppression of journalistic freedom now plan to apply registration laws to bloggers.

    This is the country where 4 years ago we’d published our ‘Death Camps for Children’ article about childcare for the disabled which was later vindicated by a charity named Happy Child.

    That article provoked a response which has continued into 4 years of defamation on a blogg hosted by Google and a blogger who has a UK barrister to defend his identity. She has made threats by telephone and has removed articles from the web which associate her. She forgot about Google cache however.

  10. the video of the debate between assange and mullis can be seen here:

  11. His main argument against freedom of speech was to protect reputations, which is pretty ridiculous. People don’t have a right to reputations.

    What’s a reputation based on anyway? Cultural relativity and personal opinion? Mullis might think he has a good reputation but I sure as hell don’t think so.

    Does a nazi have a right to a good reputation?

  12. satanicus |

    ppl should use freenet so they dont get in problems

  13. I wondered what Julian ( or Alistair or anybody interested in this issue really) thinks about the US Supreme Court Citizens United V. FEC decision of Jan 2010 ruling that corporations are entitled to spend unlimited funds in the US elections based on the US Constitution 1st Amendment. Does he think that for-profit corporations are entitled to the same freedom of speech than individuals?


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