BBC News Julian Assange on Google and his difficult situation – Transcript

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Interview with John Simpson 18.09.2014

JA: Google’s business model is to spy. That is it’s business model. It makes more than 80 percent of its money by collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behaviours, and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also others. So, the result is that Google, in terms of how it works, its actual practice, is almost identical to the National Security Agency or GCHQ.

JS: Why single out Google when most big, really big, US organisations in one way or another have to live along side their government and work with it.

JA: Google has through its marketing power and through its colourful logo imprinted on people that it is a playful, humane, organisation that it is not a big bad US corporation. But, in fact, it has become just that, Google, is also unlike, let’s say Coca-cola. [It is] an organisation that does collect the worlds information, it is now, arguably, the world’s most influential commercial organisation.

JS: You can’t stay in here like this for much longer, can you, it is absolutely crazy existence, you’ve got to get out, haven’t you?

JA: There is a 7.3 million pounds of police surveillance admitted outside this embassy. It is a difficult situation. It is not a situation that is easy for [a] national security reporter. You can’t read sources. It is difficult to meet some of my staff etc because of that surveillance. On the other hand, there are no subpoenas, there are no door knocks in the night, unlike [for] other national security reporters. So, in some ways there are benefits to the situation.

JS: But that must be bad for you though, isn’t it, physically and mentally to be here?

JA: It is a difficult situation, other people are in more difficult situations. Chelsea Manning for example, who was sentenced last year, my alleged co-conspirator, to 35 years in US prison. Here in the UK there is a lot of optimism. Finally, there is a significant section of the UK judiciary, and parliament has seen, that this cannot occur again. Early this year, the UK passed modifications to ban extradition without charge, to insist on if you want to speak with someone you have to come to the UK or charge them, you can’t just say, ‘Well, I want to speak to that person and I am not willing to use any standard mechanisms…

JS: You are talking about the Swedish government

JA: Yes the Swedish government

JS: But the Swedish government has changed now, I mean… it’s a left wing government, they never gonna send you back to America.

JA: Well, it is a very interesting situation, the Swedish election was on Sunday. We don’t know yet what the formation of the government will be. It will probably be a centre-left government and there is attitude changes there, we have an appeal in Sweden in just two weeks time. But also here in the UK, the change in law and the recognition that the situation here should never have occurred, I think it means that within, say the next year we are going to see a significant change.

Interview covered here: