As of today – February 25th, 2015 – WikiLeaks founder and former spokesperson Julian Paul Assange will have been detained without charge for 1541 days, and will have spent 981 days inside London’s Ecuadorian Embassy. His arrest and detention are due to his being wanted for questioning by the Swedish government over false rape charges stemming from August, 2010.
Assange fears the extradition is being used as an excuse to transport him to the United States, where he could face charges of espionage under the Espionage Act of 1917. Recent documents obtained by WikiLeaks show these fears are not unfounded.
Almost three years ago, in response to an order by the U.S. Justice Department, the tech giant Google handed e-mails and other data to the US government belonging to three WikiLeaks staffers – current spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, Courage Foundation head Sarah Harrison, and Joseph Farrell.
A gag order prevented the records from being released until it was lifted. The records were released to WikiLeaks on Christmas Eve, 2014.
Besides his role as the founder of WikiLeaks and long-time advocate of press freedom, government transparency, and freedom of information, Assange has criticized Google’s role in surveillance, military cooperation, and government propaganda.
In a chapter from his book When Google Met WikiLeaks he describes this relationship as it pertains to powerful organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as the State Department and 2016 U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. He writes:
“As Google’s search and internet service monopoly grows, and as it enlarges its industrial surveillance cone to cover the majority of the world’s population, rapidly dominating the mobile phone market and racing to extend internet access in the global south, Google is steadily becoming the internet for many people.”
On February 25, 2015 Assange’s legal team filed an appeal in Sweden’s Supreme Court to dismiss his extradition, in addition to a formal UN complaint against the United Kingdom and Sweden.