Saturday, August 18, 2012

Julian Assange

 This whole situation with Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy is fascinating. I heard Assange speak on the 15th of October and I think he's a hero.  I don't know what kind of man he is personally, but the function of wikileaks:  to undermine the state secrets doctrine that robs people of the possibility of true democracy, that function is admirable.  Virtuous.  Don't talk to me about him jeopardizing the troups.  The truth is the entity jeopardizing the US troups is  not Julian Assange. It is the US government.  Not only do they kill them with friendly fire, they sent them there in the first place.  Assange said he was in it for a moral revolution, for a simple application of the rule of law, and I believe him. While the red states and the blue states have been bickering, the ability of the people to decide when and if we go to war has been stolen from us.  I feel like Assange sees the big picture.


And now he is hiding out at the Ecuadorian Embassy because he doesn't want to face the prosecutor from Sweden over alleged sexual impropriety with two separate women.  I don't offer an opinion on the charges, I know nothing.

Only that I think it is weird and problematic that the Swedish prosecutor won't just come and interview Assange in London.  That is the next thing that needs to happen in the investigation and why can't it happen here? It is logical and orderly.

The media reports he doesn't actually care about facing those charges,  his concern is that he will be extradited from Sweden to the U.S..  That is why he had to seek Asylum, so the UK wouldn't hand him over to Sweden.  I think he's probably right about that and he has every reason to be concerned.  Look what they did to Bradley Manning. 

So Ecuador was undecided on granting him Asylum - although they saw his care and keep at the Embassy a kind of humanitarian aid -- until the UK government sent them a letter saying they thought it was within their rights to raid the Embassy to get  Assange.  And in any event, they were not going to grant him safe passage to get from the Embassy onto a diplomatic flight to Ecuador.

This is the most short-sighted abuse of power I have seen from Whitehall in a while.  This really takes the cake.  Functioning embassies are a cornerstone of civilization and at their heart is a magic, a magic called sovereignty.  Under law, that embassy is in Ecuador and the minute that Assange went in, he ceased to be their responsibility.  And believe me every ambassador who ever came out of the UK is agreeing with me on this point because they need those magic powers to keep up alliances, to unite the sovereigns, they need that discretion and power within their host countries.  But some pasty Oxbridge idiot can decide to take all that back.  I wonder if the US put them up to it too.  I really do.

Not to even go into the sovereign immunity case a few years ago with Pinochet. Seriously, the Labor government let Pinochet drink through the wine list at The Priory (the private hospital near Selfridges in London where Pinochet holed up) for fifteen months before they dragged their feet into extradition.  So
I don't really understand why they are planning a dawn raid on the territory of a foreign sovereign, unless Washington is leaning on them (see Iraq war).

So Assange can run or he can walk out of that Embassy and be extradited to Sweden.  Basically, the way I see it, his choices are Trotsky or Mandela.  He either spends his life in non-extradition treaty countries in a shadowly half-life of freedom and an increasing irrelevance or he faces the horrors of being imprisoned.  Prison is no joke.  But then, neither is the moral revolution.  It might take years, but I really think that eventually people will come to understand.  I mean, Assange is never going to be an American hero.  The highest ranking Australian in our culture is Crocodile Dundee.  But he could be the gadfly biting the flank of Athens, moving them by his unjust presence in jail.  I don't know.  I don't know what I would do. But he would certainly be a living symbol of the moral revolution he hopes to achieve.











1 comment:

  1. I too was an avid supporter of Wikileaks and admired Assange for the courage of his convictions. I too cheered when he turned up at OccupyLSX on the first day (15th October 2011) and talked about the need for the construction of law. How long ago those days seem now. Although written before he took refuge in the embassy, David Allen Green has busted up the legal mythology surrounding his proffered reasons for avoiding going to Sweden. Unfortunately, they just don't add up. Here's Mr Green's post:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/08/legal-myths-about-assange-extradition

    It's easy to discover the precise nature of the allegations against Assange. The witness statements are all over the net. I've linked to them myself from a post I wrote, asking for him to resign from Wikileaks:

    http://blog.scrapperduncan.com/2012/08/24/julian-assange-is-loved-and-hated-but-cannot-be-ignored/

    Whatever we think of the merits of these particular allegations, the proper place for them to be decided upon is in Sweden. Allegations of rape and sexual molestation used to get short shrift from powerful men and were not pursued seriously by our authorities. Thankfully, those days are ebbing away. That has happened because we, the people, have insisted that such allegations get treated with the gravity they deserve. Given that Assange's legal reasons for avoiding submitting himself to the Swedish authorities for arrest do not stand up to informed analysis, the only remaining conclusion is that he wishes to avoid being a defendant in a trial about the allegations. Not so courageous now...

    The longer this farce goes on, the less credible wikileaks becomes. That's the real tragedy of this spectacle.

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