The TV show is Q & A, broadcast on the evening of Monday March 14th 2011 in Australia on ABC television, Australia's government-funded TV station. Julian Assange is shown in a non-live, edited video from Norfolk UK, where he is under house arrest. Assange is shown in a shot of his upper body. Shortly before the showing of the video of Assange PM Gillard had been telling the audience that the Australian government has been looking after Julian Assange in just the same way that it looks after any Australian who has gotten into legal trouble overseas. PM Gillard has just returned from an arse-kissing tour of the United States in which she made a speech to the US Congress that made the US House Speaker John Boehner cry, (which isn't really that amazing at all).
Julian Assange -
"Prime Minister, you just got back from Washington, but what Australian citizens want to know, is which country do you represent? Do you represent Australians and will you fight for Australian interests? Because it's not the first time that you or a member of your cabinet has been into a US government building and exchanged information. In fact, we have intelligence that your government has been exchanging information with foreign powers about Australian citizens working for WikiLeaks."
The shot then changes to a closer shot of Assange's head and shoulders. This is a pre-recorded, edited piece of video.
"So Prime Minister, my question to you is this; when will you come clean about precisely what information you have supplied to foreign powers about Australian citizens working or affiliated with WikiLeaks? And if you cannot give a full and frank answer to that question, should perhaps the Australian people consider charging you with treason?"
Assange delivered his question in the style of a threatening evil genius from a James Bond movie (pretty much his usual style).
PM Julia Gillard -
I did not take a full transcript of her reply. She had a rather patronizing smile while listening to Assange's question, and stayed cheerful while addressing his question. She said:
"I honestly don't know what he is talking about."
She denied exchanging information about people at WikiLeaks. She admitted that "we" do sometimes exchange information with foreign powers in matters such as following up "transnational crimes". She also said:
"No one in the US raised with me Mr Assange, no one."
When she made this statement she did her characteristic exposed palms patting downward gesture, rather like the gesture that one might make to a dog or a toddler who was jumping up and getting out of control.
Some thoughts that come to my mind after viewing this are:
Assange possibly intended to add to the many minor controversies about Australia's high-profile Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in the part of Assange's question about people nipping into US government buildings to leak information. Would this be a big deal if it were true? I guess it depends on the information.
What information might our government be receiving in return for leaking information to the yanks?
Is Assange issuing a threat to Gillard or Rudd or some other party?
Is WikiLeaks transforming from a whistleblowing organization into a blackmailing organization?
Link to Australian press story about Assange's question:
Q & A