Julian Assange’s dad’s shock
Julian Assange's biological father claims his son has been "traded" by Ecuador with the US in return for an International Monetary Fund loan and will end up in an American prison forever.
But he also admits he was shocked by the "rapid decline" in the health and appearance of his son, who he last visited in January this year.
A dishevelled Assange was dragged from London's Ecuadorean Embassy two weeks ago after being holed up there since 2012 while charged with sexual assault in Sweden, and allegations of leaking US war secrets.
Assange's father John Shipton claimed on Channel 9's 60 Minutes Assange had been persecuted and wild and inaccurate claims had been made about his "charming" son.
Mr Shipton dismissed suggestions that the WikiLeaks founder had been used by Russia in the 2016 US presidential election, making a crude allusion to candidate Hillary Clinton.
During the election, WikiLeaks published 30,000 private or classified emails which Clinton supporters claimed came from Russia and this act - some argue - handed Mr Trump the presidency.
"The idea that your son is a Russian asset as he's been described," 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown asked him.
"Oh for God's sake, Russian asset, spare me," replied Mr Shipton, who does not share a name with Assange due to a family split.
"Just ridiculous. 'We lost the election because of the Russians? Not because we're clutzes, not because we called half the population of the United States deplorable, not because I was the worst candidate in 40 years to stand for election?
"Not because I destroyed Libya and giggled like a madwoman seeing a bayonet that's stuffed up Gadaffi's a***hole? I mean really, it's beyond comprehension."
He believes his son is being persecuted.
"The United States was determined to ruin his life, for whatever reason," Mr Shipton told the program. "They want to demonstrate that publishers and whistleblowers will be destroyed.
"Why do you think he was evicted from the embassy?
"Ecuador doesn't have it's own currency.
"It uses the United States dollar, got an IMF loan, you can't get an IMF loan unless the United States approves it."
Asked by Brown if he believes Ecuador traded Julian for a loan, he says, "Yes, it seems that way to me."
He brushed off the Ecuadorean embassy's claims about bad behaviour in its London premises, including smearing his faeces on the walls, hacking phones and blocking a toilet with soiled underwear.
"They're just smears, there have been millions of them," Mr Shipton says.
"Accusations that he hacked the President's phone? Just rubbish.
"They nauseate me but they don't affect me nor my own love for Julian.
"I feel myself raising above the storm like an Everest."
Mr Shipton said it was still his greatest fear that Julian would "get dragooned to the United States and thrown into a jail cell, never to get out again".
He said that Assange had given up "almost everything" to found WikiLeaks for anyone to anonymously share secret and sensitive information.
An internet activist and self-proclaimed journalist, Assange gained notoriety in 2010 when he released millions of highly classified American defence documents on his WikiLeaks website.
Asked whether he saw anything dangerous in Assange's original proposal which might put lives at risk, Mr Shipton said he did.
"I did say to him in a telephone call, you want to be careful because they might shoot you or push you off a bridge," he said.
After the shocking appearance of Assange when he was dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy two weeks ago, Mr Shipton told reporters he was also shocked, saying "I'm 74, he looks as old as me. He's 47."
But he said he could still recognise his son's inner strength.
"His eyes look good and firm. And steady. Yes, he's fine, still fighting spirit there.
"Everything seems okay."
And despite the polarising figure Assange has become, his father insists it he was the charmer of the family.
"Julian was charming," Mr Shipton said. "He would go to a party and then within a few minutes he'd be surrounded by people.
"I was the opposite of that."
But the WikiLeaks founder was damned by conservative senator and former soldier Jim Molan.
Senator Molan, who led coalition forces in Iraq, brands Assange "a villain" for publishing almost 400,000 US Army field reports from the Iraq War.
"In my opinion he is a villain because he gave away what we call tactics, techniques and procedures," Senator Molan told 60 Minutes.
"What he released is how we operate and for an enemy that is working against you that is absolute gold.
"If the New South Wales police force tomorrow morning were going to conduct a raid on a suspected terrorist location, they're not obligated to say, 'We'll be at such and such an address and we'll conduct a raid on a terrorist'.
"That's full transparency. It's also stupid. There are some things which in everything we do in society which should be secret."
He described Assange as more conspiracy theorist than a journalist.
"He's not a journalist and WikiLeaks is not a media organisation," Senator Molan said.
"Therefore, they cannot rely on freedom of the press as a principle to protect him.
"He's conducted actions and he denies that he should be responsible for those actions in any way shape or form.
"I believe he should be responsible for them but in accordance with the law."
One of Julian Assange's lawyers, Greg Barnes, told 60 Minutes Assange's recent arrest was revenge, orchestrated by the US Government.
"They want to teach the media a lesson which is you mess with us, you mess with our security state," Mr Barnes said.
"You reveal our secrets, we will take a very dim view of it and we'll come after you even if it takes nine or ten years."
Mr Shipton told Tara Brown his son had given up "almost everything human" by founding WikiLeaks.
"Family … and he enjoyed looking after his children a lot," he said.