Italian Journalist Stefania Maurizi has been an early WikiLeaks Media Partner first in L’Espresso and then in La Repubblica. In parallel she has covered Julian Assange’s legal troubles due to WikiLeaks including covering an investigation against him (now dropped) by Sweden over allegations of sexual misconduct.
In 2015 she unearthed that the UK Prosecution Service has exerted some influence on the Swedish Prosecution Service in relation to avoiding the use of Legal Mutual Assistance in questioning Julian Assange in the UK, advising instead that Sweden insists in extradition to that country. This detail surfaced through documents obtained from Sweden via FOIR. For more details read here her extensive article from that time.
By contrast Stefania Maurizi has not been successful in obtaining any documents from the UK via FOIR despite making persistent efforts over a period of many years.
She is now taking the UK government to court, on a public interest challenge to escalate, in the legal arena, the rights of the public to know how and why a preliminary investigation against Julian Assange resulted in the WikiLeaks Editor being arbitrarily detained over a period of seven years.
In her exclusive interview to Randy Credico and Dennis Bernstein Stefania Maurizi highlighs her motivations for taking legal action.
Update 16/09/2017 Public Hearing postponed again! – Awaiting New Date
If you wish to attend the public hearing proceedings here are the details:
The time: Friday 22/09/2017 at 10am
(updated on 30/08/2017, postponed from 1/9/2017)
Field House Tribunal Hearing Centre
15-25 Breams Buildings
Lawyer Jen Robinson and Barrister Estelle Dehon will represent Stefania Maurize in this First Tier Tribunal.
Here is an extract rough transcript of the Q and A about this important legal challenge.
Randy Credico: Can you tell us the nature of this legal endeavour?
Stefania Maurizi: Of course Randy. You have to realise that I have spent the last two years struggling to access the documents on the Julian Assange case. There has been a real hell to get access to these documents, and I was forced to go to the courts and file, and sue the UK government because they rejected every request and they refused to hand to me any documents. So, finally, I decided to go to the courts, and this is the first time that a reporter goes to the courts, in order to get access to the file. No newspaper, no journalist have ever done this and this tells you a lot about the state of our journalism in these days, cause if you consider that dozens of newspapers have partnered with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange throughout the last 10 years and yet no one tried to obtain full access to these documents about this case. So, I am forced to go to the courts because they rejected any request and I hope I will be able to win this case and get full access to the documents about this incredible situation, cause here we have a high profile publisher, confined in a very tiny embassy, arbitrarily detained by two of the most respected Western Democracies Sweden and the United Kingdom and no one tries to get access to these documents, it is incredible to me. So I hope I will win this case and importantly I hope I will be able to argue in favour of a public interest to know to access these documents.
Randy Credico: Well I plan to be there […] for the event September the first. Are there are any other newspapers in London writing amicus briefs on your behalf?
Stefania Maurizi: Oddly, I don’t know, no one asked me to report on this case. Probably, I can imagine some kind of embarrassment, of course there qre many things happening in these days so I can imagine the press are busy with all sorts of tragedies, stories and high profile cases so I can understand they have a lot of things to work on. But, at the same time, I can imagine there is some sort of embarrassment about the fact that no newspaper, no reporter asked for these documents and no reporter went to the court to file for these documents.
Randy Credico: What kind of information you expect to be in the documents, what kind of things you are looking for, what could be the case in terms of freeing Julian Assange?
Stefania Maurizi: Yeah, that’s very good important question because I have a very clear idea about the documents that I want to access. First of all I want to access the full correspondence between the UK authorities and Swedish Prosecutor, because in 2015 I had filed a Freedom of Information Access Request and I was sent some documents by the Swedish Authorities. The Swedish authority documents made clear without any doubt that the UK authorities put pressure, the UK authorities advised the Swedish authorities in order not to question Mr Assange in London as Julian Assange and his lawyers had requested, but rather to extradite him in Sweden. This is the reason which we ended up with this legal quagmire with Julian Assange under arbitrary detention for five years in the Ecuadorian Embassy because Julian Assange never ever refused questioning. He refused, he fought, against extradition because […] the extradition to Sweden would result in an extradition to the US, probably, so, the UK authorities put pressure and advised the Swedish Prosecutor against questioning him in London. Questioning him in London would have avoided the legal quagmire, would have avoided this arbitrary detention. So, it would be important to have these kind of documents. I am know for certain, and no-one has this information, I know for certain there are thousands and thousands of documents about this aspect and I want to access these documents and I want to access any documents about the exchange between the US authorities and the UK authorities because it is reasonable to believe that there are some documents about this exchange and I want to access any documents about the correspondence between the UK and Ecuador. I want to access these thousands of documents about the whole case because I think there is a strong public interest to shed light on this important and high profile case.
Can you imagine an editor, high profile editor in Europe under arbitrary detention, can you imagine Le Monde or La Republica or El Pais editor arbitrarily detained in a European capital and no one asking the documents about this case, I am sure you cannot imagine but that is the case of Julian Assange.
You can find a better and complete Transcript for the whole interview here: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/08/04/the-war-on-wikileaks-and-assange/