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December 21, 2010 7:12 PM

From The Am Law Archives: Julian Assange's Other Lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson

Posted by Brian Baxter

Profiled in the pages of The American Lawyer more than 20 years ago, Australian human rights and media lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has joined the legal team representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting extradition to Sweden on sex charges and facing a potential indictment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act.

As previously reported here, media lawyers Mark Stephens and Jennifer Robinson of London firm Finers Stephens Innocent began advising Assange in November shortly before WikiLeaks began releasing 250,000 confidential diplomatic cables that embarrassed the U.S. and other governments.

But Robertson, who began representing Assange earlier this month, hasn't been in the media spotlight as much as his cocounsel has. (The Sydney Morning Herald reported in early December that the lawyer cut short his summer holiday Down Under to return to the U.K. for the WikiLeaks assignment; Robertson appears to the right of Assange in the video below.)

Global Post, the global news venture launched in the U.S. in January 2009, and U.K. publication The Independent report on Robertson's experience defending dissident political figures, serving on a war crimes tribunal, and representing high-profile media clients like Salman Rushdie and The Guardian newspaper.

Robertson is no stranger to The American Lawyer. The magazine's Darcy Frey profiled Robertson, who is the founder and head of London's Doughty Street Chambers, in a 1988 feature, "Dow Jones's Man About the Commonwealth" (click on the headline to download the article).

The story, which chronicles Robertson's unique legal practice and somewhat renegade nature within the staid English legal system, is full of colorful anecdotes, including one about how the legendary British barrister once had a fax machine installed in his bedroom by Dow Jones after he helped the company win several hard-fought legal battles in faraway jurisdictions.

Robertson told us via e-mail that he would be speaking at a New York State Bar Association panel on January 25, where he will receive an award from the organization's international law and practice section. Robertson also said there was "nothing definite yet" on U.S. counsel being hired to supplement Assange's legal team.

But with Assange out on bail and the prospect of WikiLeaks disclosing the records of a major U.S. financial institution seeming more likely by the day, Robertson likely won't be the last lawyer to join the fray over the organization's whistle-blowing tendencies.

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Geoffery Robertson is an Australian just like Julian Assange and Australians don't buckle to bullies. We stand by the under-dog and we love freedom. If the US of A hurts our boy Julian then the US of A will be one friend less - Australians will turn their back on Uncle Sam. We love the US but we love freedom of speech more.

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