Julian Assange Saves Channel Ten, Sues Julia Gillard For Defamation

Last night’s premiere of Ten’s telemovie event of the year, the Julian Assange-approved Underground: The Julian Assange Story, has proven to be an overwhelmingly popular choice for the flailing network, both drawing audiences of 1.336 million and winning its 8.30pm time slot, as well as each key advertising demographic.

It’s a sweet although short-lived victory for Ten, who will now be forced to return to regularly scheduled local programming that simply isn’t good.

Writers at Matchbox Pictures, who produced Underground and are also working on developing an imminent, unnecessary American adaptation of The Slap, shouldn’t look to rest on their laurels just yet because Locked In An Ecuadorian Broom Closet: The Julian Assange Story sequel continues to write itself with news today that the WikiLeaks founder is pursuing legal action against Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Assange has engaged his Sydney legal team to build a case against the Prime Minister for what he considers to be defamatory comments made on radio in 2010, in which Gillard said, “I absolutely condemn the placement of this information [leaked US diplomatic cables] on the WikiLeaks website. It’s a grossly irresponsible thing to do and an illegal thing to do.” The statement has since gone on to have financial ramifications for the not-for-profit WikiLeaks, including Mastercard blocking its users from making donations to the organisation.

Activist group GetUp! have this morning released a video interview conducted with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, where he’s currently holed up in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden (and potentially America, where he would face charges of espionage in a military court) over allegations of rape. In the interview, he states, “The effects of this statement are ongoing and they directly affect the financial viability of Wikileaks. We are considering suing for defamation so I have hired lawyers in Sydney and they are investigating the different ways we can sue Gillard over this statement.”

The interview, which I think was conducted by the guy that used to host BTN on ABC when I was in primary school (kudos you, BTN host!) also revealed that Assange has had no consular support except where matters of stationery are involved; his family have also been forced into hiding and he hasn’t seen the skyline in a very long time. Good thing he has that sunlamp.

Photo by AFP via Getty Images

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