Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Australia Censorship The Courts Your Rights Online Politics

Assange Seeks To Sue Prime Minister Gillard For Defamation 244

Posted by timothy
from the gillard-should-have-done-it-anonymously dept.
First time accepted submitter menno_h writes "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he has hired lawyers to investigate how to sue Prime Minister Julia Gillard for defamation." Assange "says comments made by Ms Gillard in 2010 that WikiLeaks acted illegally in releasing US diplomatic cables have affected the viability of his organisation. 'Mastercard Australia, in justifying why it has made a blockade that prevents any Australian Mastercard holder donating to WikiLeaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard,' he said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Assange Seeks To Sue Prime Minister Gillard For Defamation

Comments Filter:
  • could be interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rbrausse (1319883) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @04:44PM (#41578607)

    you may or may not support Assange or Wikileaks - but the lawsuit will be interesting: Mastercard used a semi-official statement by Julia Gillard to justify the blocking; is this a good-enough argument?

    • by Dan667 (564390) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @04:49PM (#41578643)
      He has a very good case or I don't believe he would even try. Holding publicly elected individuals accountable is something that has precedence.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227)

        The thing is does he have a case. Assange very much enjoys the public spot light. He wants to be where he is. The responsible thing for him would have been to hand wiki leaks over to some one he trusted to maintain wiki leaks integrity. Now wiki leaks reputation lives and dies with Julian. For the last two years wiki leaks has been sidelined because of his antics

        He should sue MasterCard. It was MasterCard that cut him off. Unless he can find the official government document instead of random remarks he do

        • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:12PM (#41579175)
          Currently, the only thing keeping Mr Assange from torture and death is the public spotlight. Every time the public starts to forget about his plight you can rightly expect him to make a stink to get our attention again.
          • Currently, the only thing keeping Mr Assange from torture and death is the public spotlight.

            Torture and death from whom? It wouldn't be the US. Not that they were legally torture under US law as determined at the US Department of Justice, but the US only waterboarded three terrorists [go.com], the most recent in about 2003, (although it continues to routinely waterboard its own pilots and special forces members for training - thousands of them), and President Obama stopped enhanced interrogations [reason.com], so no "torture" by the US. The US hasn't put a spy to death in the 60 years since the Rosenbergs [wikipedia.org], and that was

        • by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:42PM (#41579343) Journal

          Unless he can find the official government document instead of random remarks he doesn't have a case.

          What you are describing is called persecution, what we are talking about is called defamation. The PM called him a crook in public, MC cut him off and quoted the PM as the reason.He was clearly defamed and suffered financially because of it. If the PM wanted to call him a crook in public she could have legally done so under parliamentary privilege, she is a lawyer and knows all this but for some reason she chose to ignore it.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by peragrin (659227)

            That's just it. It is only defamation MasterCard didn't have a legal reason. Therefore sueing the prime minister is a stunt. Wiki leaks as an entity should so sue MasterCard.

            Anything else is a publicity stunt to stroke personal egos.

            • MasterCard is only a example of how the remarks have caused damage.

              If Gillard made the comments but nothing came of them, you'd get a much smaller payout in a defamation case.
              But the MC bit proves the comments caused financial damage, not just damage to his character. = Bigger payout.

            • While your statement isn't invalid, everything being a publicity stunt to stroke personal egos sounds a little like business as usual.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Mastercard is not under any obligation to provide service to Wikileaks. They do so at their sole discretion. They can use whoever's comments they like to make that decision.

              The PM is a public figure who knew she had considerable influence and chose to make that statement. As a direct result Wikileaks suffered financial loss.

              It seems like a fairly straightforward case to me. Wikileaks must prove that the PM's statement cause them loss, on a balance of probabilities. They must also show that what she said was

          • I'm sure the Australian government is salivating at the thought of the discovery process.

        • He should sue MasterCard.

          It would be premature to sue MasterCard when they can fall back on the defense that they relied on the statements of the Prime Minister. Deferring to the authority of the government seems quite reasonable and makes for a compelling defense.

          The first step is to have the original statement ruled as libelous before tackling MasterCard. They can still say that they acted in good faith at the time, but it means that they could not as easily justify continuing to block payments to Wikileaks.

          • It seems like you're saying it would be acceptable for MasterCard to be forced to transact, or serve as an intermediary to transactions for, business with Assange or WikiLeaks. Is this what you're saying?

            • Actually, I made no judgement call at all one way or the other. I was talking about the legal tactics of MasterCard's defense and of Assange needing to address the actual defamation that they allege has occurred rather than an outcome of that defamation claim.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Mr. Slippery (47854)

              It seems like you're saying it would be acceptable for MasterCard to be forced to transact, or serve as an intermediary to transactions for, business with Assange or WikiLeaks. Is this what you're saying?

              I don't know what the original posters intent was. But as for me, given that MasterCard 1) is a corporation, that is an artificial entity created by government fiat, and therefore not possessed of any natural rights; and 2) is a financial institution, and therefore should be subject to a higher level of scr

        • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:04PM (#41580057) Journal
          I doubt he enjoys being prisoner in an embassy. I doubt he enjoys being unable to ever have sex again without knowing if this is a CIA trap. I doubt he enjoys his wikileaks organization to be labelled half-terrorist and having lost a few millions of donations.

          He doesn't enjoy spotlight. He needs it to survive, because otherwise, he will die in an accident without anyone noticing.
        • by Capsaicin (412918) * on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:23AM (#41581889)

          The thing is does he have a case.

          Why wouldn't he? He was accused of criminality. Perhaps I'm misremembering, but I thought accusations of criminality were one of a species of imputations that are regarded as prima facie defamatory?! In any case, I don't think it would be overly burdensome to prove that calling someone a criminal is liable to lower their reputation in the eyes of upstanding citizens, or?

          He should sue MasterCard. It was MasterCard that cut him off.

          Under what head of action? Are you claiming MasterCard is under an contractual obligation to process payments to Wikileaks? Or do you imagine their liability is tortious?

          Unless he can find the official government document instead of random remarks he doesn't have a case.

          The PM made a defamatory statement outside the protection of parliament. Why does he need to find an official government document?

          Suing anyone but MasterCard is a publicity stunt that is nothing but an ego stroke for him.

          I'm not sure that MasterCard even comes into the question of whether he can sue. After all you don't need to show monetary damage to sue in defamation. Wouldn't the fact that MasterCard may have acted on the basis of the PMs alleged defamation only be relevant when it came to decide damages?

          You know, despite your authoritative pronouncements on this matter, I'm not even sure you are an Australian lawyer.

        • by Zemran (3101)

          It is far more about the spotlight than the case. He knows exactly what he is doing and he is doing it well. The girls in Sweden are yesterdays news and he wants the spotlight on him now. It does not matter if he wins or not, if he can garner support from the idea of being unfairly treated he will probably actually benefit from losing. I used to work with Greenpeace and we used to do things that were clearly illegal but the companies involved would always be the ones pressuring the police to drop the ch

      • by dbIII (701233)
        He's announcing it early before he's even sure he has a good case, and reports in the Australian media indicate that because the comments were made more than one year ago it's beyond the time limit. There is no precedent for extending the time limit if the defamed party knew of the remarks, so apparently there's almost no chance of it succeeding. (crikey.com.au) has more detail.
  • Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JazzXP (770338) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @04:46PM (#41578617) Homepage
    While I'm not a fan of Mr. Assange (quite the opposite really), I find the way he has been treated by our government absolutely deplorable. Especially when you consider how people like David Hicks (trained with terrorists) and Shappele Corby (convicted drug smuggler) have had the government behind them trying to get them home.
    • When did the Australian government say they did not want Julian Assange back in Australia? I don't think he wants to go back there.
      • by JazzXP (770338)
        When the Prime Minister openly mocks a person, their intentions are pretty obvious.
      • Many many times, Assange applied to them for help repeatedly.

        • Help avoiding an arrest warrant or help getting him back to Australia? I have no doubt what so ever that Australia would allow him back. (probably followed quickly with complying with the Interpol warrant and sending him off to Sweden though.)
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

      by clockwise_music (594832) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:17PM (#41580135) Homepage Journal

      Especially when you consider how people like David Hicks (trained with terrorists) ... have had the government behind them trying to get them home.

      David Hicks did not have any help from the Australian government. He was left to rot in Guantanamo for five years without being charged for anything. The government's response was absolutely deplorable, especially considering how UK citizens were pulled out from Guantanamo. Compare Jack Straw's efforts compared to Philip Ruddock or John Howard sometime.

  • Hiring lawyers with the intent of filing a suit isn't very interesting.
  • by srussia (884021) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @04:46PM (#41578621)
    The Swedish legal term for defamation is actually is actually "reputational rape".
  • Looks like someone will end up in Jail.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:04PM (#41579137) Homepage Journal

    You can't sue prosecutors for accusing you of a crime, in general. This official wasn't a prosecutor, but does the principle apply?

    I wonder if Assange has considered a business interference suit as well. Inducing Mastercard to go back on a contract might be a tort, depending on the outcome of some questions I'm not even qualified to enumerate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      She is not protected. The Australian prime minister can say what she wants in parliament, and be protected by parliamentary privilege [wikipedia.org], but as soon as she says it outside parliament, in a press interview for example, which is where she slurred Assange, she can be sued.

  • As an Australian I look forward to the day when a story about Australia is accompanied by something other than a picture of Crocodile Dundee's hat.
  • Julian Assange just doesn't know when to quit. Everyone is out to get him and he couldn't possibly be the reason for any of it.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:14PM (#41580457) Homepage Journal

      He knows exactly when to quit; about five minutes before he's ready to die.

      Assange doesn't have the option of a quiet retirement at this point. He needs to continue to be loud.

      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        If the US government was intent on killing him he would have been in a car accident or had a "heart attack" more than a year ago.

        The US government isn't very smart on a whole, but they aren't profoundly stupid most of the time either. He hasn't broken any US law, were he in the US they wouldn't dare try him for a crime. They tried that with other people a long time ago, it was called the Pentagon Papers trials and it resulted in the government being handed their asses.

        On the other hand they do want to neutr

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The US government isn't very smart on a whole

          The government is not one person, so it doesn't actually have intelligence.

          but they aren't profoundly stupid most of the time either

          In fact the US government is largely remarkably effective at pursuing its goals. There have been notable setbacks, but for those in power, even those have tended to be profitable. We might have "lost" the Viet Nam War, but it was great for Monsanto. Indeed, they will be able to profit from it all over again shortly as we finally "remediate".

          Because of this and a subtle propaganda campaign at this point he'll never receive documents from someone like Bradly Manning again

          What's subtle about it?

          This is partly because they are making an example of Manning

          Never underestimate the power of a martyr complex.

          and mostly because he's destroyed his reputation in the eyes of a broad swath of Americans

          It only takes one [mo

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:39PM (#41580271) Homepage

    How can a fugitive, on the run from the law, sue someone?
    I imagine that a lawyer might be able to set up a case, but would he not be expected to show up to court?

    • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:07PM (#41581061) Journal

      See the Roman Polanski case a couple years back. He's living in France, a fugitive of US justice, having been convicted of drugging and raping an uder-aged girl. He couldn't travel to the UK for fear of extradition to the US, but the UK allowed his lawsuit to proceed, regardless. He was involved via video link, IIRC.

      Though the US is a common-law territory, I expect the rules are a bit more strict, but I don't know how much so. However, Assange isn't, in-fact, accusted or charged with any crimes in the US, and extradition laws from the US to other countries are... intentionally weak.

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

Working...