Julian’s Assange’s biological father fears his son may spend the rest of his life behind bars if he’s extradited to the US.
John Shipton has broken his silence after the arrest of the controversial Wikileaks founder earlier this month after he was evicted from the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Mr Shipton claimed Assange was ‘traded’ by Ecuador with the US in return for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan if he was removed from the embassy, where he had been holed up for seven years prior to his arrest on April 11.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest, Mr Shipton claims his son has been persecuted and betrayed by US politics.
‘Ecuador doesn’t have its own currency,’ Mr Shipton told 60 Minutes.
‘My fear was that he’d been dragooned to the US and been thrown into a jail cell, never to get out again,’ Julian Assange’s father John Shipton (pictured) said
‘It uses the US dollar. You can’t get an IMF loan unless the United States approves it – upon agreement to remove Julian from the embassy.’
Assange’s lawyer Greg Barnes described his client’s recent arrest as revenge by the US government, while Mr Shipton claimed the US is determined to ruin his son’s life.
‘My fear was that he’d been dragooned to the US and been thrown into a jail cell, never to get out again,’ Mr Shipton said.
When asked if he still had those fears, he replied: ‘Yes, I do.’
Mr Shipton also hit back at the embassy’s claims his son was evicted for inappropriate behaviour, describing the accusations as smears.
Allegations included wiping fecal matter on the walls, skateboarding through the hallways, dumping soiled clothes in the bathroom and hacking the president’s phone.
Assange behind glass as he was transported to Westminster Magistrates Court, London
‘It’s just rubbish. They nauseate me but they don’t affect me nor my own love for Julian,’ Mr Shipton said.
‘I feel myself raising above the storm like an Everest.’
Assange’s shocked father appeared taken aback when confronted with the footage of his bearded and visibly frail son being out of the embassy dragged by police.
But he believes Assange, whom he last saw at Christmas, is fine.
‘I’m 74, he looks as old as me. He’s 47. Terrible,’ Mr Shipton said.
‘His eyes look good and firm. And steady. Yes, he’s fine. Still fighting spirit there. Everything seems OK.’
Mr Shipton revealed the dire warning he issued to his son as he started to leak classified information through Wikileaks.
‘I did say to him (Assange) in a telephone call: “You want to be careful because they might shoot you, or push you off a bridge,”‘ he said.
Julian Assange looked frail when he was arrested and dragged from the Ecuadorean Embassy on April 11 and is being held in Belmarsh, a Category A maximum security prison in London
Assange is currently wanted by the US authorities for leaking nearly 700,000 confidential documents provided by former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Mr Shipton angrily denied claims his son was a Russian ‘asset’, describing the allegations as ridiculous.
‘Oh for god’s sake, Russian asset, spare me,’ he replied before attacking Hillary Clinton, the failed US presidential candidate whose Democrat party led discredited claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
‘We lost the election because of the Russians. Not because I (Clinton) destroyed Libya and giggled like a madwoman seeing a bayonet stuffed up Gaddafi’s a**h**e,’ Mr Shipton mockingly said.
Assange looked in better health in 2017 before Ecuador cut off all his communications
Supporters holding aloft banners reading ‘Free Assange’ in London earlier this month
Assange’s father said he has always supported his son’s efforts, and always agreed with the man’s ambition.
Mr Shipton has previously described his son’s efforts as a ‘great achievement’.
‘The WikiLeaks library contains three million cables for the United States – an unsurpassed library of what shaped the 21st century… how the geopolitical world is put together, composed and disposed – that is a considerable achievement,’ he told ITV earlier this month as he issued a plea for Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison to bring his son home.
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Supreme Court in London
The Wikileaks founder is being held on charges of breaching bail, in Belmarsh, a Category A prison in the south-eastern suburbs of London.
Category A prisons are maximum security and typically house terrorists and murderers whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Joe Cannataci, visited Assange in prison last week to assess allegations his whole life in the Ecuadorian embassy had been filmed like the Truman Show even as he was deprived of communications.
Among Assange’s many embassy visitors over the years were actress Pamela Anderson, singer Lady GaGa, football star Eric Cantona and film directors Michael Moore and Oliver Stone
Mr Cannataci had previously tried to visit Assange in the embassy on April 3 but was denied entry, he said in a statement.
Assange also has the backing of his mother Christine, who tweeted Anzac Day message of support on Thursday.
Mrs Assange tweeted how many of their relatives had served, been injured or killed defending Australia in war, while her son had been persecuted and tortured for publishing the truth about wars.
‘Instead of attacking Wikileaks, fix what it exposed,’ she tweeted, quoting Colonel Ann Wright, a decorated US military veteran who won a heroism medal for helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
Assange shot to international fame in 2010 when he released millions of highly classified American defence documents on his website, WikiLeaks.
John Shipton was shocked as he watched the confronting footage of his son’s arrest
The trove included a video of a US helicopter gunship mistakenly shooting dead 11 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in Baghdad, which proved embarrassing for the government.
Critics declared the release irresponsible but Assange won a swag of awards for his efforts to bring transparency to governments, including Australia’s highest journalism honour, a Walkley Award, in 2011.
Mr Shipton said his son had given up ‘almost everything human’ to be in the position he is in today.
‘It’s heartbreaking really,’ he told 60 Minutes.
‘It will be really nice to go and sit there with the kids and the occasional person saying good on you mate or welcome home. That would be good, that would be tops.’
Julian Assange’s mother Christine’s Anzac Day message of support for her son on Twitter