Transcript of livestream & official statements of two German MP’s after visiting Julian Assange

December 20,2018

Original Statement in English from Heike Hänsel and Sevim Dagdelen, two members of the German Bundestag :

Original Statement in Deutsch von Heike Hänsel und Sevim Dagdelen, Mitglied des Bundestages:

Following is the video and a transcript of the statements made during the Livestream by Heike Hänsel and Sevim Dagdelen, two members of the German Bundestag after visiting Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on December 20, 2018.

Full Video:

https://youtu.be/r3DOkcPebl8?t=6m16s

Transcript

Sevim Dagdelen:

For a long time there have been no official visitors for Julian Assange. Me, Sevim Dagdelen, Deputy Chief of the Left Party Parliamentary Group of “Die Linke” in the German Parliament and Heike Hänsel, Deputy Chief of this group and our dear friend, John Assange, the father of Julian Assange we have been here to talk to you after our visit.
Julian Assange has been isolated for the last eight months in the Ecuadorian Embassy. That’s why he was very happy to have visitors and to talk to them. It was very nice to have such a happy guy in front of us sitting, being happy to have German Parliamentarians asking for his health and his security here.
Julian Assange’s situation is extremely precarious and inhuman because, still, 80% of his time he is isolated.
So he can just get some visitors from 9:30 in the morning until 5:30, if I remember correctly, so most of the time he is still isolated.
We wanted to talk with Julian Assange of course about some political issues in the European Union and the thing is Julian Assange can speak but he cannot talk with us, or [rather] he can talk but he can not speak on issues.
This is another problem Julian Assange is facing with his political asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador and it’s a very singular problem. 
I have never seen such a problem and such a case in the world; that someone who is getting political asylum from a different country is not allowed to do his own political opinion on issues, and to talk about this. This is against international law. It has to be stopped.
The freedom of expression, the freedom of political opinion is a human right and it’s a part of international law, and everyone has to respect this international law.
Another fact what makes this case very singular is, that there is no other publisher or editor in the Western world who has been arbitrarily detained. It is just Julian Assange
It is a shame for us, for the Western countries, for the Western world, who has this so called Western values about human rights & human rights issues. That’s why we talk of course, and demand that this case has to be solved, that no publisher, no editor, no journalist is detained because of publishing the truth.
Making public war crimes is not a crime. And what is a crime is doing or ordering war crimes, but not publishing it and reporting it.
The fact that he is arbitrarily detained is not an opinion of those who support him. It is actually the opinion of the United Nations. The United Nations said that his detention is against international law and against human rights.
So therefore we, as German parliamentarians, are very afraid about these rumors we are getting about the Ecuadorian authorities, the administration that they want to get rid of Julian Assange, that they want to end his political asylum.
We urge the Ecuadorian authorities to still keep this achievement alive, to say that Ecuador was, in a time where other Western countries didn’t want to stick up for the human rights and political asylum for journalists, publishers and editors, that Ecuador did this.
This was a great and big achievement. It was a good prestige for Ecuador and I hope the new authorities in Ecuador will still keep this line to protect people from persecution, to protect people from extraterritorial persecution, and to protect them against violations of freedom of speech and freedom of press.
Of course, as German Parliamentarians we also are ashamed that the German Parliament or the German government still didn’t give political asylum and protection for Julian Assange or other journalists who are in danger in Europe or in the world.

Heike Haensel:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Myself also, I would like to first mention the isolation policy of the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Myself, I was trying from May (2018) on to get a permission to visit Julian Assange.
Now it was possible. I waited more than seven months in order to get this permission. Of course, he still is subject of the isolation policy and during this eight months of total isolation he was not able to receive visitors; neither getting access to internet or phone calls, mobile phone etc. This is full isolation and really violating fundamental rights.
The same way that he is suffering from censorship, he is gagged. That means this is a very tough violation of freedom of expression of Julian Assange. He is not able to speak publicly what he wants to say, what he is thinking of. This is really a singular case in a member state, still a member state of the European Union, Great Britain. 
Of course we are also very much concerned that there could be a release, and an end of this political asylum by the Ecuadorian government, the government of Ecuador, and the end of this case could be the extradition to the United States.
Therefore, we call upon our own government, all European governments, member states of the European Union, that they should prevent any case of extradition to the United States.
We ask for the rejection of the attempt of the US administration that they now try to get US laws settled here in the European Union.
That means that they try to censor journalists writing in Europe.
This case must be fully rejected by the EU member states.
We do have similar cases in Turkey. We are facing similar cases with President Erdoğan who tried to charge German journalists and editors and so on while criticizing President Erdoğan.
This is a similar case that the Trump administration tries to persecute in a cross-border way, trying to organize a cross-border prosecution of Julian Assange, an extraterritorial prosecution of Julian Assange.
We fully resist this, and we ask our governments also to reject these attempts of the US administration.
We ask for the international community, all supporters of Julian Assange to show now strong solidarity in order to prevent the extradition to the United States.
This is our main goal.
We want to see Julian Assange as a free journalist who can keep on with his work as he did before.
We have to say ‘thank you’ to Julian Assange. He is one of the most important whistleblowers and we ask for international protection for whistleblowers generally and in the special case of Julian Assange,
Therefore we also call upon the United Nations to start a new campaign for the protection for whistleblowers. We will keep on campaigning for solidarity with Julian Assange in order to see him in a safe country. Thank you very much.

Heike Hänsel: (German Statement) https://youtu.be/r3DOkcPebl8?t=16m08s

Wir setzen uns dafür ein, dass Julian Assange als einer der wichtigsten internationalen Whistleblower und anerkannter Journalist in Freiheit arbeiten kann, dass er seine Arbeit normal durchführen kann.
Journalismus ist kein Verbrechen. Er hat dazu beigetragen, dass international viele Kriegsverbrechen bezüglich des Iraks und Afghanistan aufgedeckt wurden.
Er hat als Journalist gearbeitet und deshalb setzen wir uns dafür ein, dass er auch in Freiheit weiter arbeiten kann und nicht an die Vereinigten Staaten ausgeliefert wird und das fordern wir auch von der europäischen Union und den Vereinten Nationen, dass sie sicher stellen, es braucht internationalen Schutz für diese Whistleblower, einschliesslich Julian Assange.

Sevim Dagdelen: (German Statement) https://youtu.be/r3DOkcPebl8?t=17m02s

Die Situation von Julian Assange ist sehr prekär und sie ist auch inhuman, weil sie gegen das international Recht verstösst. Das haben auch die Gremien der Vereinten Nationen festgestellt, dass die willkürliche Haft, der Freiheitsentzug von Julian Assange gegen das internationale Recht ist und forderten seine Freilassung.
Wir sind in grösster Sorge als Parlamentarier hier angereist, in grösster Sorge über die Gesundheit und auch die Sicherheit von Julian Assange.
Wir müssen sagen, wir sind sehr sehr froh, dass wir einen, über einen Besuch sehr freudigen Julian Assange getroffen haben, der in den letzten acht Monaten absolut isoliert worden ist von Ecuador, was auch gegen internationales Recht ist. Isolierung ist ein Verstoss gegen internationales Recht. Julian Assange kann aber leider auch als politisch anerkannter Flüchtling keine Meinung äussern und das macht seine Situation natürlich schwer und auch prekär.
Wir bleiben dabei. Das Öffentlich machen von Kriegsverbrechen ist kein Verbrechen.
Julian Assange verdient den Friedensnobelpreis für die mutigen Taten die er getan hat, statt einen Prozess oder eine extraterritoriale Verfolgung durch die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika.
Deshalb fordern wir einen sicheren Schutz für Julian Assange und ein sicheres Geleit, damit er in ein Land seiner Wahl ausreisen, kann wo er in Gesundheit und auch in Sicherheit leben kann.

Question Time

Q: Besides being here and contributing to Julian Assange’s cause, are there any more practical steps you are able to take to help contribute to his release — which he’s been asking for with safe passage, or some guarantees from the UK officials?

Answer: Heike Hänsel:

Of course we already wrote a letter together with more than 35 or 40 MP’s from national parliaments and the European Parliament addressing the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the different national governments in order to find an international solution on the case of Julian Assange.
We will continue to build a network of MP’s in the European Union in order to support his court cases in Ecuador but also here in the European Union in order to protect him. So we will continue on the parliamentarian level and of course we will campaign publicly.

Letter: https://medium.com/@LandoFree/open-letter-16d14fb91932

Answer: Sevim Dagdelen:

I was the first parliamentarian who visited Julian Assange in September 2012. Julian Assange wasn’t meant to be here so long. We have to get a solution on this case. This solution must guarantee his health and his security. That’s why we will take other steps. In the last six years we have done some initiatives, but the attention and the problematic case is not getting the solution it deserves for a western country, which is calling so often about the western values in other parts of the world. So we have to get a solution on this issue.

Q: What do you think the solution is? Who is supposed to take the next step here?

Answer: Sevim Dagdelen:

Well, the United Kingdom is actually the one who has to take the steps.
But my problem is that the United Kingdom is taking the false steps, like it was against the United Nations.
The United Kingdom government tried to appeal the UN decision, but they lost.
But still they are not accepting this UN decision and this has to be stopped. It is a member of the United Nations. It has a seat in the Security Council and in my point of view the United Kingdom is damned to accept and respect the international law and the international rights of someone like Julian Assange.
Thats why United Kingdom has to take the measures now to bring it to a solution in the frame of international law and not in the frame of the US administration who is against international law and against actually the US law. I mean against the First Amendment.
They are taking measures like the protection of journalists and freedom of speech and freedom of press. We actually have to protect them from themselves not to violate their First Amendment.

Q: Would you mind saying something about how you found Julian? His health, his general demeanour?
Q: And perhaps, John [John Shipton, Julian’s father] — would you like to say something as well?

Answer: John S / Father of Julian:

I think it is time for this torment for Julian to end, rather than constantly increase now that the isolation has been going on for eight months. And as you could expect anybody who is isolated .. for the children and family, Julian’s sister, two brothers, mother suffers and suffers terribly. So it is timely to end this increasing torment of a man who is been charged with nothing at all.

Q: How often have you managed to visit him?

Answer: John Shipton / Father of Julian:

I come every Christmas for two weeks, and I like to come on his birthday in July, mid-year.

Q: And how did you find him today?

Answer: John Shipton / Father of Julian

Today, he was delighted to see the two Parliamentarians and myself, but that happens rarely.

Q: But his health? There’s been some concern about his health.

Answer: John Shipton / Father of Julian

His health is declining, as you could expect after eight years of ceaseless, ongoing stress, court cases, no sunlight, [and now] restricted visitation, no telecommunications, no telephone, no friends, only lawyers. That’s…

Answer: Heike Hänsel

I mean it’s still [an] open question whether he will be able to receive visitors on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve due to the fact these are non-working days, holidays, and in the Protocol it is said that visitors are only allowed during working days. So, this Protocol is quite strict and it’s really still a kind of isolation policy, and it’s very much and very closely linked to his status of political asylee. And this concerns us very much and therefore, of course, we appeal to the government of Ecuador to keep on with his status of political asylee and refer and act according to international law and fundamental human rights. And this is our strong appeal.
And concerning the responsibility of the British government, they also do have to act according to international law and therefore it is said that it is not allowed to extradite a political asylee. He is still acknowledged as a political asylee. 
Therefore we ask for a kind of international solution and a guarantee that he won’t be extradited to the United States. This is the most important question we raise here, and we call upon all governments to work into this direction.

https://youtu.be/r3DOkcPebl8?t=25m53s
 
Q: [In German] Hat sich denn der Herr Assange Ihnen gegenüber geäussert, wie es um seinen Status steht, fürchtet er jetzt von Ecuador aus der Botschaft rausgeworfen zu werden?

Answer: Heike Hänsel [In German]

Ja, es gab ja einige Presseberichte über Verhandlungen zwischen der ecuadorianischen Regierung und der US Regierung über eine mögliche Auslieferung von Julian Assange. Es gab alle möglichen Pressemeldungen zu Deals. Insofern ist es nicht ausgeschlossen und insofern fürchtet er natürlich auch eine mögliche Verhaftung und daran angekoppelt eine Auslieferung an die Vereinigten Staaten.

Q: [In German] Könnte das auch unmittelbar bevorstehen oder gibt es eine zeitliche Frist ?

Answer: Heike Hänsel [In German]

Über die zeitliche.. über die Zeit ist glaube ich nicht.. können wir nicht

Q: [In German] Es könnte jeden Moment passieren

Answer: Heike Hänsel [In German]

Es könnte jeden Moment passieren, aber theoretisch..

Answer: Sevim Dagdelen[In German]

Es ist akut.

Answer: Heike Hänsel [In German]

..sehr schnell passieren. Und deswegen sind wir auch hier, um anzukündigen, dass wir unsere Solidaritätsaktivitäten auch hier vor Ort verstärken werden. Es braucht die internationale Öffentlichkeit für diesen Fall — und zwar jetzt.

Answer: Sevim Dagdelen[In German]

Die Gefahr ist akut und insofern ist jetzt auch Solidarität gefragt, nicht nur auf der britischen Ebene, sondern eben auch einer internationale Ebene. Wir werden auf jeden Fall unseren parlamentarischen Abgeordneten Kollegen in Deutschland, aber auch über Deutschland hinaus, ihnen sagen das wir erwarten und uns freuen würden, wenn sie sich dem Fall Julian Assange widmen und hier Solidarität zeigen.

Answer: Sevim Dagdelen[In German]

What we will do concrete[ly] in the next time is also to encourage more Parliamentarians — more Parliamentarians in the UK, in Germany, and outside of Germany in Europe — to come and show solidarity with Julian Assange. 
And I really want to emphasise on this. The case of Julian Assange is not a case about his person, and his character, and his personality. It’s a case about our approach to the freedom of press, the freedom of speech, and freedom of opinion. The Western approach on these issues. 
Are we allowing editors and publishers to make war crimes and illegal — illegal — activities of intelligence agencies — are we allowing them to publish it, or not? And this is the point of all these cases, called Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning or whatever. 
And this is why everyone who is a democrat and believes [in] and protects the freedom of rights to speak, to print, or the freedom of speech, everyone is encouraged to show solidarity with Julian Assange.
Showing solidarity with Julian Assange means showing solidarity with our fundamental human rights. And this is why we are going to encourage more Parliamentarians to show up in London in the embassy.

Q: [Inaudible]

Answer: John Shipton:

I don’t know the answer to that question. Very tense question.

Q: Are there any indications he might consider eventually stepping out and risk it, or is he committed to stay in there until he gets those guarantees [inaudible]?

Answer: John Shipton:

I don’t know what he’s thinking. I can’t speculate.

Q: Have you given him any advice on his case at all?

Answer: John Shipton:

No, I don’t give advice. I’m just here to show support.

Q: So you’d normally visit him on Christmas Day, would you John?

Answer: John Shipton:

We’ve spent Christmas day together for the last six years.

Q: Are you saying that might not happen this year?

Answer: John Shipton:

This year it looks tenuous.

Answer: Heike Hänsel

It was not clear yet. He’s asking for it.

Q: [Inaudible]

Answer: John Shipton:

They want to come and see their brother, and sister complains all the time, children complain. They’d just like to see their father just casually, rather than come all the way from Australia. 
ALL: Thank you very much.

Sevim Dagdelen Twitter Account : https://twitter.com/SevimDagdelen

Heike Hänsel Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/HeikeHaensel

#JulianAssange

#HumanRights

#FreeSpeech

#FreePress

#FreedomOfPress

#FirstAmendment

#Journalism

#GreatBritain