Assange complaint over nightclub footage dismissed
London: Britain’s broadcasting watchdog today dismissed a complaint by Julian Assange that a television show breached his privacy by showing the WikiLeaks founder dancing in an Icelandic nightclub.
The Australian, who campaigns against secrecy and censorship, is currently holed up inside Ecuador’s embassy in London where he is trying to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Independent regulator Ofcom said in a ruling today that his “complaints of unjust or unfair treatment and of unwarranted infringement of privacy in the programme as broadcast should not be upheld”.
Assange complained to the watchdog about a November 2011 documentary on Britain’s independent Channel 4 network called “WikiLeaks: Secrets and Lies”, which traced the website’s history.
The 41-year-old former computer hacker said that around one minute’s worth of footage of him dancing at a nightclub in Iceland, shown with commentary on the legal case played over it, was used without his consent.
Assange said the footage was filmed on condition that it would be “for personal use” and that his privacy was “unwarrantably” unfringed.
He also said that he was treated unfairly by the programme, after it included interviews with former colleagues and collaborators who had since criticised him.
But Ofcom ruled in a detailed 36-page judgment that Assange gave “informed consent” to appear in the show, that the programme was fair towards him and that it offered him a timely right of reply.
It added: “Mr Assange did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in relation to the footage of him dancing in a nightclub in Iceland, which was included in the
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told AFP that he had only just seen the ruling and had no immediate comment. Ecuador last month granted political asylum to Assange but Britain has refused to give him safe passage from the embassy, saying he will be arrested if he sets foot outside the building.
In June, Assange took shelter in the embassy — which is across the street from the Harrods department store in west London’s posh Knightsbridge district — after exhausting legal appeals against extradition to Sweden.
He fears Sweden will hand him over to the United States, where he has said he could face prosecution and even the death penalty for treason over his website’s release of a trove of secret embassy cables and war reports from Iraq and Afghanistan.