RT has published leaked footage from inside the prison where Julian Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in 2012. And hilariously RT, a Russian propaganda outlet financed by the Kremlin, claims that news outlets and internet users aren’t allowed to embed the video, despite the fact that RT has posted it on both YouTube and Twitter.
Assange can be seen in the leaked video walking around what is presumed to be his living quarters in Belmarsh Prison in southern London. The video also shows the WikiLeaks founder talking, smiling, and even laughing with other inmates, which seems to go against the narrative that Assange is quite ill, as his lawyers have recently claimed.
Swedish defence lawyer, Per Samuelson, even said a couple of weeks ago that Assange was so ill, “it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him.” And while it’s entirely possible that he was very ill at the time, he certainly looks better now.
The video shows Assange washing dishes, leaning against a foosball table, and seeming to have a pretty relaxed time in the maximum security facility. There’s also footage of what looks like Assange’s bed, lots of books, newspapers, cups, and TV or computer monitor.
The claim being made by RT—that other news outlets aren’t allowed to embed the video—is quite bizarre, to say the least. RT has published the video on social media outlets like Twitter and YouTube that were designed precisely so that people could share things like this. And as of this writing, RT hasn’t turned off embedded video plays, a feature that it could disable, but apparently hasn’t.
The U.S. Department of Justice would like to extradite Assange to the United States to face 18 charges, including an alleged violation of the Espionage Act after he published sensitive diplomatic cables and Iraq War videos in 2010. And supporters are rightly concerned that Assange will face brutal conditions in the U.S. prison system, along with the prospect of the death penalty if he’s convicted.
Gizmodo doesn’t know anything about how RT acquired the video, nor do we know why it has a timestamp of “2017" which would make the footage a couple of years old. But we know that it’s not from 2017 because Assange was claiming asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2017—asylum that was revoked by Ecuador, causing the UK authorities to bust in and physically drag Assange out of the embassy back in April.
Whatever you think of Assange, it does seem weird for his allies at RT to claim that internet users aren’t allowed to embed a video. WikiLeaks, after all, is a transparency organisation that publishes documents and videos that powerful interests don’t want you to see.
RT’s warning over at YouTube is especially funny:
ATTENTION: THIS VIDEO FILE IS ON REQUEST, YOU CAN’T EMBED THE FILE. FOR MORE INFO ON HOW YOU CAN PURCHASE THIS FOOTAGE PLEASE REACH OUT TO [email protected] OR CALL : +49 30 319872-300 FOR ACCESS OR LICENSING INFORMATION.
Sorry, RT. It’s perfectly legal to embed videos on the internet. Especially if they’ve been posted to YouTube. And we don’t understand why you want news outlets to licence your footage. Are you hard up for money?