The opening episode of Julian Assange's new talk show featured an interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, which is considered a terrorist organization in the United States and Europe.
The half-hour segment aired on Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT Tuesday and featured questions about Israel, Lebanon, Syria, theology and encryption. Nasrallah, who is rarely seen on English-language television, largely stuck to well-established positions.
But he did reveal that his group had been in touch with opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Speaking through a translator, Nasrallah claimed that he urged the Syrian opposition to engage in dialogue with Assad's regime, but they refused.
"You have an opposition that is not prepared for dialogue ... all it wants is to bring down the regime," he said.
Contact with Syrian opposition (Photo: AFP)
Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah supports Assad just as Syria supported resistance in Lebanon and “hasn't backed down in the face of Israeli and American pressure.”
The Hezbollah leader told Assange that Assad’s regime “served the Palestinian cause very well.”
This is why, Nasrallah said, Hezbollah supported the so-called Arab Spring in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere, but when it came to Syria, the Lebanese Shiite group urged the opposition to negotiate with with Assad.
"This is the first time I say this – We contacted (…) the opposition to encourage them and to facilitate the process of dialogue with the regime. But they rejected dialogue,” he revealed. “Right from the beginning we have had a regime that is willing to undergo reforms and prepared for dialogue. On the other side you have an opposition which is not prepared for dialogue and it is not prepared to accept reforms. All it wants is to bring down the regime. This is a problem.”
Nasrallah called for balance on the Syrian issue as “armed groups in Syria have killed very many civilians” though international blame is leveled squarely at President Assad.
Tuesday marks the launch of Assange's unlikely career in television, and a partnership with a state-backed station that many have found uncomfortable.
Assange himself said he anticipated criticism along the lines of: "There's Julian Assange, enemy combatant, traitor, getting into bed with the Kremlin and interviewing terrible radicals from around the world."
But he said that RT had a big audience and his guests had told him things they "could not say on a mainstream TV network."
Assange remains under strict bail conditions at an undisclosed location in England while he fights extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations.
The interview with Nasrallah was carried out via videolink and with the help of translators.
AP, AFP contributed to the report
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