There’s a very offensive pseudo-joke that I heard years ago that goes;
Its not rape if you shout “surprise”!
Its a horrible little gag, one that provokes a small snicker based largely on shock value rather than actual comic skill. But I was reminded of it today when reading some news stories, as it appears the best defence against prosecution for sex crimes is to loudly criticise the US government.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about Julian Assange.
Here’s where I stand on Assange and Wikileaks in general-
- Exposing human rights abuses and illegal activity is a noble and right thing to do.
- Assange generally comes across as a bit of a tool.
- Wikileaks is a fairly lame name, probably because of “leak” as a euphemism for urination.
- While I respect the whistleblowing when it regards criminal activity, exposing corruption or serving the public interest I must say I’m slightly less enamoured with the publication of diplomatic cables, which mainly seemed to just expose people’s unguarded comments and criticisms of other diplomatic figures. It didn’t really reveal much rather than personal opinions. Can you imagine if criticisms and opinions you had about work colleagues was suddenly revealed to them? It’d be mortifying for all concerned. And I imagine the next Ambassadorial party was massively awkward.
For those not keeping track, Assange, the head honcho at Wikileaks is currently holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been granted immunity.
Assange delivered a speech from the embassy in which he talked of the USA’s “witch-hunt” and how Ecuador were protecting him and his mum has weighed in saying the UK are Uncle Sam’s puppets.
Ecuador have granted him asylum for political persecution, which seems a bit of a stretch as he’s actually ducking being sent to Sweden, where he’s wanted to stand trial for alleged sex offences.
Which doesn’t seem like political persecution to me.
Here’s the thing, if the US were actively lobbying for him to be extradited to their country then I wouldn’t be entirely happy. While Assange has probably broken secrecy and privacy laws on his site, to imprison someone for exposing corruption seems a bit dictatorship-ish to me, and that’s just wrong.
But should he be sent to Sweden for his trial? In my opinion, hell yes.
For all intents and purposes Ecuador are protecting a suspected sex offender. The political aspect of Assange’s career and activities is unrelated to these claims.
I guess some may argue against me, and there are probably conspiracy theorists who suspect that the sex offence charges have been fabricated to discredit Assange, someone who “The Man” sees as a problem and could want out of the way.
But that theory doesn’t exactly work, if you were going to expose Assange or undermine his credibility wouldn’t you just leak some fake documents and then attack when he publishes them? If he was exposed for posting something which turned out to be fake then everything else he posted would also be called into question. That’d be how you’d get rid of him as a potential threat. The sex offences would not undermine anything he had revealed, just his character.
See, I could totally work as a shady backroom type for a government agency.
But the truth is, Assange probably isn’t that much of a threat to the US government, he’s probably more of a pain of an ass than a genuine danger to them.
Regardless of what we see in thrillers and spy movies, I’d guess that assassinations and frame ups are probably not all that common, and reserved for more dangerous and less public figures than Assange. He’s not some anonymous terror suspect they just make “disappear” this is someone in the public eye.
No, its sad to say that the allegations in Sweden are either true or if falsifed, made up for more personal, mercenary reasons. Regardless, with the glare of publicity that the trial would take place under and the fact Sweden is a developed, forward thinking country the chances of any funny business are unlikely.
Assange may be wanted in the States, but according to what I can discern they are as yet to request his extradition and one assumes that were he found guilty in Sweden they’d be happier letting him rot for sex crimes than dragging him across the pond and making him look like some kind of martyr (dude, I’m a little worried by how much I sound like one of the shady suits in a Bourne movie or something).
Anyway, my general point is that to me, Assange should be extradited to face the charges against him in Sweden. If he’s guilty he deserves to be tried under the law and pay for his crimes, if innocent then he needs a trial to dispel all doubt, clear his name and expose the lies of others.
I don’t know if he did what he’s accused of, I have no real opinion on it, but even his biggest supporters must see that he should still stand trial for them? If for nothing else than to clear his name.
Man, little bit serious today, but to end on a lighthearted note the UK government saying they would not guarantee Assange safe passage out of the country did make me think there might be some big Clear and Present Danger style ambush on the way to Heathrow with Ecuadorian and Swedish forces fighting it out in the street.
Knowing very little about the military of either these countries I’d have to say that my money’d be on the Swedes. The only famous Ecuadorians I uncovered were Mike Judge (creator of Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill and director of the ace Office Space) and Ecuadorian-American Christina Aguilera.
While Aguilera has bulked up a little recently (regardless of what some say, to me she still looks good) I still think she’d struggle against who I pictured working for Sweden, the badass Lisbeth Salander.
Okay, Salander’s fictional, but she is a Swedish creation proving that Sweden make some twisted folks and if not Salander I’m seeing a viking horde rocking up to grab Assange.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.