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19.02.2016

"Defamed whistleblowers need protection" – UN Geneva expert

by Jane Whyatt
United Nations Geneva expert Alfred de Zayas is calling on the British and Swedish governments to let Wikileaks Editor Julian Assange go free. Mr de Zayas has been campaigning on behalf of Assange since they met three years ago at the Ecuador embassy in London, where he is claiming diplomatic sanctuary.

He fears that if he leaves, the UK authorities will extradite him to Sweden where he is accused of a sexual assault. He denies the charges. De Zayas says there is also a strong risk that the United States would use "extraordinary renditon" (officially-sanctioned kidnapping) in order to interrogate him about damaging revelations in Wikileaks on the conduct of the US military operations in Iraq. In 2011 Julian Assange and his team made a video based on these leaks, Collateral Murder. It contains footage of a Reuters film crew being bombed from a drone.
Viewers may find it shocking.

Interviewed by ECPMF, the UN expert explained that he used secret documents posted on Wikileaks to examine what he calls the ‘secret backdoor’ deals that led to international treaties such as the TTIP and the global agreement on tobacco marketing.

"These deals should not be secret" he says.

"Why should you have to rely on whistleblowers in order to get information that is required to keep democracy functioning properly?"

Three years of living indoors at the embassy have left Julian Assange looking pale and affected his health, according to de Zayas. Yet he says the 44-year-old Australian is "far more intelligent and far more coherent than you would think from what you read in the media" and shows genuine commitment to freedom of information.

Citing article 19 of the Charter on Human Rights, de Zayas insists that what he calls ‘defamed whistleblowers’ should be recognised as defenders of human rights. He did not sit on the UN Expert Committee that ruled Julian Assange was ‘arbitrarily detained’ (reported in the last Update). But he has personally issued press statements and publicly called on the British and Swedish authorities to act.



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