Published on 17 Aug 2012

Why Julian Assange may need to think again

Few journalists would deny that WikiLeaks has proved a force for freedom of information. Many US legislators have argued that freedom has come at a terrible cost to US national security. Some even argued that agents would die as a result of the publishing of secret and confidential State and Defence Department material.

So far as we know, no-one has died as a result of WikiLeaks. Many have been embarrassed, but death has neither been announced, nor proved, as a result of a single line of material published by WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks is not Julian Assange. He and others can claim credit for its founding and to its continuation.

The focus of attention upon Assange has served to smother what has happened to the source of WikiLeaks’ most valuable and explosive material.

Corporal Bradley Manning’s provision of secret material from the files of the US Department of Defence has revealed some of the most questionable “military” activity executed by a Nato member in the past two decades.

Manning remains incarcerated after suffering a significantly damaging 11-month period in solitary.

The costs of ensuring that Assange does not escape from the Ecuadorian embassy – I counted 20 officers that we could actually see at the front of the building last night, we don’t know how many there are at the back – are unknown, but already they must extend into the many hundreds of thousands of pounds and potentially into the millions.

The Ecuadorians have recently installed a shower. Assange has an internet connection, an airbed, and not a lot else.

But then, as he told me when I interviewed him nearly two years ago, that is roughly what he’s always lived with.

The constantly under-reported element are the women who have given graphic accounts of what they allege he did to them.

It is hard to imagine any instance in which such serious allegations of abuse have been overwhelmed by the need to protect the accused’s human rights.

The alleged institutional US abuse of Bradley Manning is probably evidence enough for Assange to deploy in a Swedish court should the Americans come asking for his extradition.

When it comes to human rights, I can find no NGO, no individual, who would argue that Assange is better protected in Ecuador than in Sweden. In the all but impossible event that he ever gets there, regime change in volatile Latin American politics could yet find him extradited from there to the US.

The case has penetrated the theatre of the absurd. Assange’s physical support outside the embassy is diminutive. I judge that amongst the journalistic community the strong support he once enjoyed is withering.

Two of the people who stood bail for him have told me they resent his breaking of their trust. Several of the lawyers who have tried to help, now despair of him. Assange might be wise to think again about what to do before support evaporates altogether.

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61 reader comments

  1. Britt_W says:

    Yes, as much as Assange has done good in his work with Wikileaks, as much as he has contributed to revealing terrible crimes against humanity – for which he should be commended (for revealing them, not committing them!)… this case has got nothing to do with that. He should go to Sweden to face the allegations of rape, full stop. A man can be perfect and righteous in every other way but – he is still capable of raping. Why should Assange be treated any different than other possible rapists?

    In Sweden, we do not charge anyone until the end of the court proceedings, once we have gathered evidence enough to do so. That is why he has not yet been charged.

    The US could just as well get him extradited from the UK – or as you say, maybe even Ecuador in the future – should they wish. And if they try to get Sweden to hand him over, I doubt very much they would. As you say, just look at Manning and how he has been treated across the pond. That alone would certainly be a strong enough reason for Sweden NOT to extradite him.

    I wonder how long he can hide in the Embassy and I do hope the Met won’t storm the building, that would be so wrong, in so many ways.
    “Beam me up, Ecuador?”

    1. moje says:

      Sweden would extradite him if the UK wants it. Both the UK and Sweden have agreements with the US. If assange is extradited to Sweden to face the allegations there, he will be put in jail and later and up in the US and face an unfair trail and inhumane treatment just like Manning. Imo he should face the allegations from Sweden… But they can question him in the UK or via video etc (Sweden has done it before).

    2. Mark says:

      Swedish officials have been invited to the embassy they have not accepted.

      Swedish officials have been offered web cam interview they have not accepted

      Assange has offered to go to Sweden by a promising he won´t be extradited to the US the Swedish have promise nothing.

      Why should Assange be treated any different than other possible rapists? … possible because the sex was consensual and the crime that he is accused of might not be a crime in the UK

      and don´t forget about the different´s between Assange and OTHER possible rapist… apparently Assange is terrible at keeping secrets

    3. Marverde says:

      1.
      The world doesn’t trust goverments anymore nor believes the courts to be free from political pressure.

      What the world is trying to prevent is not a rape trial but a suspected political extradition to USA relating to Wikileaks.

      The point Murray was “trying” to make the other night (because they wouldn’t even let him speak) is the link between the reality of political persecution of whistleblowers and false allegations. He mentioned a few cases as examples of such links. And I don’t think it is a link to be ignored as it is a valid one. We have seen it done all over the world and by interests of many kinds.

      I am convinced the US will make Assange pay for the humiliation Wikileaks inflicted on it. Heard of rendition? Heard of torture? Heard of the treatment of Bradley Manning? Heard of Visa and Mastercard vetoing who we can donate our own money to? “Conspiracy theory” always pales in the face of reality.

    4. Marverde says:

      2.
      UK govt doesn´t give a hoot about any crimes against women. It would have stamped out genital mutilation, family murders, domestic violence in the UK long ago if it did care. It just doesn’t want to be the one shown to be doing the US govt bidding yet again.

      The fear that the Swedish and UK govts will buckle to US pressure when they receive that extradition request, is real. They do it all the time. Torture and death penalty are no obstacles except in “Convention print”. When a country is capable of rendition, of torture, of violating international law and dismissing human rights the way we know (not “suspect”, but “know”) the US has done and keeps doing, I don’t think it is stupid to examine closely any allegations against him. Of whatever nature.

    5. Marverde says:

      3.
      As the govt of Sweden CAN refuse even an extradition request acceptable to the Swedish courts, the world EXPECTS a political declaration now: that in the event of receiving such a request, it would not be granted. No precedent? No matter. Make case law. The world demands it. Then you can try Assange with the world’s blessing.

      The simplest thing, of course, would be for the USA to promise not to prosecute Assange. But, let´s be honest: does anyone still believe anything that govt could promise when it’s been so humiliated by what Wikileaks revealed?
      This is not a simple sexual offence case. It is a Wikileaks case. Let’s keep our focus. Because Wikileaks is the best international sanitation project this world has seen in a long time.

    6. Marverde says:

      4.
      I can recommend four excellent articles on this case:

      Seumas Milne’s http://gu.com/p/39qgm/tw for a superb analysis of the British media coverage of Assange

      Glenn Greenwald’s http://gu.com/p/39qny/tw

      Laurie Penny’s http://ind.pn/SkxhDC

      and the rebuttal “by a reader” of the awful David Allen Green’s “zombie facts” http://pastehtml.com/view/c91yw7wjy.html
      (I wish I could congratulate the author, but his/her name is not given).

    7. Marverde says:

      5.
      We didn’t have to wait long for confirmation. Police brief mentions “SO20”, that apparently is the Met’s counter-terrorism protective security command. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/aug/24/julian-assange-arrest-tactics?CMP=twt_fd

  2. Michael says:

    Good article. Personally, I think Assange should instruct his people to publish ALL the material they have in their posession, then walk out of the Embassy and let justice (good or bad), take its course. If he is as innocent as he says, he has nothing to fear, after all the British and Swedish justice system are very fair and balanced.
    The fact that he is keeping material back, just dilutes his position and does not make him friends.

    1. moje says:

      Innocent people should fear unfair trials, like what assange would face if the UK sends him to USA.

    2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      Michaeal , “If he is innocent he has nothing to fear” Do you understand the manipulation of facts, the planting of information , the destruction of real evidence that may have happened and may still be happening. I have lived through many years of corruption where facts have been twisted , lawyers cannot accept the truth ,people are doubled up because the powers that be find it more acceptable that way and at expense of the truth . No! sorry ,which ever way the die falls, he will be convicted or harrassed for one thing or another.

  3. marland says:

    Whether we like him or not, whether he is guilty or not, the facts do not explain why such European and international pressure is being exerted in a case where a charge has still not officially been brought by Sweden.

    One has to ask the further ‘conspiratorial’ question “what bit of bad news is the government trying to hide with this extraordinary diplomatic move using an abstruse bit of 1980s legislation?”

    Is it an accident that Baltasar Garzón (the Spanish human rights judge discredited by the right wing government’s political machinations) is defending Assange? This was the judge who tried to extradite Margaret Thatcher’s fascist friend Pinochet, but was thwarted by Jack Straw’s use of legal ruses to say the wily dictator was too ill to stand trial (cf. Mubarak’s appearances in bed).

    One has to be politically naive in these cases not to recognise the usual international secret service ploys of legal fixes and sex conspiracies to free their friends and trap their targets (cf Israel’s track record and recently France).

    Finally, Argentina will welcome this gift to their international arguments – so why would vague Hague think it so worthwhile? Not just a ‘point of law’ …

    1. Bob says:

      He hasn’t been charged because Sweden of the way the Swedish prosecute:

      “Assange has not yet been formally charged with any offence;[35] the prosecutor said that, in accordance with the Swedish legal system, formal charges will be laid only after extradition and a second round of questioning. The High Court found that the Swedish process has reached the stage of criminal proceedings, which would be equivalent to having been charged under English process.[36]”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assange_v_Swedish_Prosecution_Authority

  4. Kate says:

    Well, tis pity that all this has managed to put a lid on Wikileaks, for which governments universally must be chuffed.
    Is it as straightforward as we are told – that he is wanted for questioning on alleged assault/rape offences or is Assange right to maintain more murky business is afoot and that the shutting down of Wikileaks is the ultimate aim?
    I lack the faith in justice systems that Britt and Michael possess. British justice may be “very fair” in comparison to other systems but it is not without its travesties.
    We did nothing over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko on British soil and yet here is Hague hinting at further action to deliver Assange.
    David Aaronovitch (last night’s CH4 News) was right to point out that the women making the allegations have a right to see justice done.
    I just hope they and he (Assange) get it.

    1. Philip says:

      We did nothing about Litvinenko because the Russians refused to allow any of the suspects to come to the UK. Personally I’d rather face British or Swedish justice than Ecuadorean.

  5. Morgan says:

    Both comments are bogus:

    Britt_W – “Why should Assange be treated any different that other possible rapists?”

    Possible rapists? What, like men in general? He is NOT being charged with rape and as such SHOULD be treated like ALL other men who AREN’T being charged with rape. In the context of his aggresive political persecution, he should consider the magnitude of his situation and conclude this has nothing whatsoever to do with the questioning he is being sought for.

    Michael – Publish everything? Absolutely, throw caution to the wind.. As a journalistic enterprise, maintain credibility by releasing a deluge of information without any attempt at fact checking. Also, is this how the populace best digests information? Like a 44 gallon drum of ice cream, all in one go.

    Also, “very fair and balanced”? Put down that ice pipe son.. We’re talking about British police breaking international law by storming the Ecuadorian Embassy to extradite a “person of interest” to Sweden. Is there any precedence? How is extradition without charge fair and balanced?

    You’re both dreaming. I wish posts like yours were written by bots because I can’t beleive any real person perpetuates this nonsense..

    1. Britt_W says:

      Morgan – Bit of a misunderstanding and wrong choice of words (from my side) here I think:

      What I meant to say was of course: “Why should Assange be treated any different(ly!) than any other person who is summoned for questioning about allegations of rape.”
      In no way did I want to say that ‘men in general’ are a bunch of potential rapists. But ANY man who is called for questioning should have to attend that questioning.

    2. Bob says:

      I hope you are a bot, how stupid can you be? You clearly don’t know the Swedish process do you.

      On your logic Ian Brady should not be in prison/mental hospital as before he was charged and then going through the judicial process because he was a man. The police should never have arrested him for murder as he hadn’t been charged before being arrested. In fact by your logic the prisons should be empty through out the world as unless they are charged, they should not be questioned.

      A lot of people have said what happened would not be illegal in the UK, but the fact is he did what he did in Sweden, therefore he should face the allegations.

      There are rules in the UK, where if someone is mentally unstable they can be removed from society and placed into an institution. This is without arrest or charge.

  6. Lawrie Wright says:

    Anyone wanting to see the timeline of events will find this on the BBC website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11949341
    It would appear very much to have been a split decision in Sweden on whether to prosecute him. Sweden’s legal system has probably the strongest anti-rape ethos and has done most to redress the pro-male bias in rape cases in the world. Consequently probably Sweden would be the only country in the world at the moment where he would have been prosecuted. Notice that even in this context the first prosecutor did not consider the charges serious enough, and was over-ruled ten days later by a second prosecutor. Whether or not Assange is guilty as charged, something of which I have no knowledge and consequently no opinion, the pre publicity severely compromises the likelihood of a fair trial, If Assange is extradited to Sweden and then to the US, a dangerous precedent is set and a working method is set in place for any state security organisation in future to deal with those it considers to be a threat.

  7. Morgan says:

    And as far as extradition procedures go.. it is NOT as easy to extradite from the UK.. Sweden has temporary surrender clauses and a closed court proceeding. The UK (allegedly) and Ecuador have strong provisions against extradition for political purposes, which is becoming easier every day to for Assange to justify.

    I agree that Mannings treatment is unjustifiable and that storming the embassy is ABSOLUTELY the wrong thing to do.

    But how does a journalist organisation being selective about the publication of material dilute his position? Especially considering the pressure his organisation is under? How is the slur, bias and ommissions of mainstream media any better? The man is not the message here! Wikileaks’ work is the message and for the most part it is a message of health for democracy.

    I have yet to hear a convincing argument stating otherwise. There have been serious crimes committed that have been exposed and I have yet to see the outrage or justice. This consolidates the peoples fears that factions of our governments no longer represent their interests.

    /end rant

  8. NGO worker says:

    Jon, there was some very serious disruption to the relief effort in the Somali region of Ethiopia last year due to one cable amongst a mega bundle released by Wikileaks.

    Experienced and committed relief workers were forced to leave the area as a direct result of this cable, operations in an already excruciating relief operation were negatively impacted.

    So while you say we can’t say for sure that anyone has died as a result of Wikileaks, I rather suspect that some of the world’s most vulnerable people (Somali refugees in Ethiopia) may have done.

    Two days ahead of World Humanitarian Day, and its focus on the security and safety of humanitarian workers, I think few humanitarians will be shedding tears at this particular would-be refugee and his personal, narcissistic and accountability-avoiding theatre of the absurd.

  9. Tanya Spooner says:

    I think Assange was caught in one of the oldest honey traps known to man. It’s sad,but shows s flaw in hs understanding of his own vulnerability. I seriously doubt that the women were harmed, but with an enemy the size if the USA I fear for his freedom for much longer.

    1. Philip says:

      What is your evidence that this was a honey trap?

  10. Gary says:

    It is all politically motivated, period.
    His site has published damaging evidence of the atrocities of so called upstanding governments and they want their pound of flesh, whatever the means of getting it.

    The two ladies in question have made claims and the swedish authorities turned down the offer to question Mr Assange, in the embassy, about his side of the story. In effect he is guilty until proven innocent, bases on accusations that may have been engineered in order to prosecute him for showing that the governments are acting like despots in their actions of war and trade.

  11. Mudplugger says:

    Tricky case. At the FOI level, Assange is a hero, exposing much double-dealing across the world which would otherwise have gone unreported.

    At a personal level, he is probably his own worst enemy. If you’re playing games at that level, you sure as Hell don’t expose yourself to the risks he apparently has. Whether he’s really guilty of those seedy sex charges, we may never know, even if the vaunted Swedish justice system completes its processes.

    One factette to consider – Sweden was an active participant in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme. Does that indicate a ‘beacon of justice’ ? Assange may indeed be wise to question any journey to Sweden.

  12. Aidan Turner says:

    The one thing that bothers me are the reports that Sweden was involved in the U.S. Rendition
    operations. If so, how can Assange have any
    confidence in the Swedish Authorities?

  13. Les says:

    I’m not sure which world you’re living in, Jon, but I strongly suspect that if there were an anonymous survey of men in the UK asking, ‘Have you ever tried to have sex with a woman you were sleeping with, without using a condom, though she wanted you to use one?’ quite a high percentage might just have the courage to answer ‘yes’. If they were asked, ‘Have you ever tried to have sex with your partner while she was asleep or drowsy?’, quite a lot might again say ‘yes’. There are numerous unasked questions in this case. However ‘ungentlemanly’ or selfish Assange’s behaviour may have been, did he know that, in Sweden, it might also be criminal? There is also the question of male psychology. What is the difference between a man who refuses to wear a condom when having sex with his partner, and a woman who tells her partner that she is on the pill when she isn’t? Perhaps both subconsciously want to cement their relationship and become parents. Is a woman’s lying about taking the pill also a criminal offence in Sweden? It’s high time for a serious, adult analysis of the complexity of these situations, instead of the black/white, victim/perpetrator approach that we’ve heard so far.

  14. James Blunt says:

    Wikileaks reveals more about what’s really going on in the world than the press releases parroted by the “official” news media.
    No wonder the likes of Jon Snow and the BBC are increasingly attacking Assange. They are jealous.
    If they were doing their job properly, they’d be explaining why British authorities so keen to get him prosecuted. Sexual misconduct allegations are just a smoke screen. How many other allegations of “sure I wanted to sleep with him, but I didn’t want to go all the way” are actually pursued through Interpol and extradition treaties each year?
    Or how many British & Swedish officials have been charged for complicity in rendition?
    Or why Sweden hasn’t interviewed him in a foreign embassy as they have done for other people in the past?
    Or why the Conservatives refused to extradite Pinochet but can’t wait to extradite Assange.
    Or why they repeatedly imply that extradition to the US is just crazy talk when there is evidence like this:
    http://intelligence.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=328832

  15. Peter Stewert says:

    The problem is that at the moment Ecuador are protecting, rightfully (and hypocritically considering the reports on a domestic crackdown amongst the press) providing protection for someone currently in a country complicit with US rendition that is being threatened with extradition to another country neck-deep in rendition. If the UK and Sweden governments hadn’t spent the past decade brazenly undermining their own justice systems they could clutch the national pearls and explain their shock at Assange’s choice.

    The question that newspapermen like yourself need to answer is why you let the Swedish government off, repeatedly. Two years on and no one can provide a sufficient reason as to why Assange must be in Sweden to answer “questions” and why the questions are so important that extradition is required, that the British must run a ridiculously expensive policing and justice operation.

    The British public are more than capable of engaging with stories where there are almost no redeeming characters, so why does the news need to reduce a story to make it more attractive to hollywood? We are capable of knowing the women involved are arguably the only innocents in this whole affair.

  16. Jennie Kermode says:

    Thank you for this. It has been distressing to see the number of usually reasonable people who seem to think rape allegations are trivial in the grand schemes of things. If we don’t seek to protect victims of such assaults, what is this justice that everyone is claiming to seek?

    Regarding Ecuador, it wouldn’t take regime change to place Assange at risk there. The country has the fourth highest rate of kidnappings in the world. Anybody who wanted him badly enough could arrange something. He would be extremely foolish to make that journey.

  17. Meg Howarth says:

    Dear Julian Assange

    Perhaps you’d like to respond to the blog above, in particular to Michael’s suggestion to publish all and then leave the embassy, letting matters take their course.

    It’s interesting that you’ve chosen asylum in the arms of a country that can hardly boast an exemplary human rights/press freedom record. Here’s a link to the latest publicised worrying episode involving the magazine Vanguardia:

    http://en.rsf.org/ecuador-weekly-unable-to-publish-after-06-08-2012,43167.html

    Perhaps you’d use your privileged position with the Ecuadorian government to put the case for the publication and its journalists. Campaigns for press freedom and accountable government can recognise no national boundaries, as you will obviously agree.

    Public support for you is undoubtedly waning. Unsurprising, as the admirable cause of freedom of information which is Wikileaks foundation has long come to play second-fiddle to your fight against extradition to Sweden. You’re not responsible for press coverage, of course.

    But breach of trust, as mentioned above, is an unendearing quality which also features, I believe, in one of the sexual-assault allegations against you.

  18. onlygeek says:

    I would like to see some assurance that he would not be sent to the US by Sweden. If that was in place Assange should answer the charges in Sweden. As I understand it he has said he would do this…

  19. Mark says:

    A man many governments would like to see locked in a deep dark hole visits a country with the toughest stance on sex crime in the western world and he gets accused of a sex crime.

    He doesn’t need to be deported to America, Sweden will lock him up for a very long time and he’ll serve as a warning to others just like Bradley Manning does.

    It boggles the mind how easily people forget what our governments will do to further their goals.

    1. Philip says:

      Obviously you have no faith in the Swedish judicial system. Why? Why do you believe they will lock Assange up? What evidence do you have for that? Do you believe that Ecuador is a beacon of justice? Actually, thew chances are he’ll rot in a hole in the Ecuadorean embassy until such time as they get tired of having him there/the Ecuadoran regime changes.
      I believe that Wikileaks was generally a good idea, though I believe they should have thought more about the potential damage some leaks could have done to individuals. On the other hand, there are allegations made by two individuals in a country which boasts a legal system as good as anywhere in the world (& better than the vast majority) against Assange. He may be suffering from paranoia & I’m sure he’s right that ther US Government would like him to stand trial there, but as Britt says at the top, after Manning’s treatment, the chances of Sweden allowing extradition are pretty well zero. Of course they can’t promise not to extradite him – that’s a matter for judges not politicians. But while Assange refuses to face the allegations, the suspicion remains that it’s the consequences of his action with the two women he wants to dodge

  20. David_Mac says:

    Mr. Snow,
    with all due respect , I suggest you re-read your blog dated 10/12/2010. Quite a U turn in thinking I believe . It appears to me that even your judgements have fallen folly to Hague et al’s propaganda machinery.
    I would also like to comment on Michael’s comments ( see above ) referring to the British justice system . It’s not so long ago that the same crowd allowed mass-murderer and torturer Pinochet to hole up in Britain avoiding extradition to Spain to answer for unspeakable crimes against humanity.
    It is correct to mention a toppling of the government in Ecuador , however, this would most likely come about, as is normal in Central and South America as a result of CIA_MI6 maniobras.

  21. truth hurts says:

    Public support will serve him well if he is in Sweden ?

    Let’s not forget, it’s the PRESS regurgitating the governments talking points.
    Government says this… the press then says this. No questioning, just stated as fact even when it’s a lie. Like those low cost “loans” given to the banks a few weeks ago, MORE FREE MONEY STRAIGHT TO THE BANKS, but the government and press just state the press release (lie).
    Assange, according to the government and press, is an arrogant slimeball, hypocrite rapist. That’s how he is framed. Wonder why public support is dwindling.
    All the spying the government does on normal people, the corporatist ideology of the rich who want to own EVERYTHING including the police and the military. shhhh, DON’T SAY ANYTHING… you will end up in jail.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    The corruption in power.
    Jon Snow, do you report on the corruption ?

    $3.2 billion lobbying/buying American politicians last year ?
    Corporate police contracts in the U.K ?
    Ministers getting million pound jobs in private firms after bills supporting said firms ?
    etc…

    Truth hurts today’s oligarchy

    Public disdain for the oligarchy is growing, more than Assange’s support dwindles

    1. Gary says:

      I echo your sentiments. The governments are crass, existential sycophants to the corporate lobby.

  22. Ray R says:

    Sweden showed in 1939 just how neutral their soul was when Adolf was at their door. The US mean to show an exemplary chasing down of the two men most representative of showing their ‘global rape and pillaging’ as Manning and Assange have done with the Iraq video and embassy notes. Snow’s a moralising liberal with some profound, but misplaced belief in the dark forces at work in the Pentagon.

  23. Romp says:

    A person who has such serious charges should front up and face his accusers if he has nothing to hide. We would all have to face justice for our actions or lack of it. Why should Assange be treated differently. ThevUK should drag him out and deport him,

  24. Ted Welch says:

    Yes, David_Mac is right, it’s Jon Snow who needs to think again and think back to what he himself said (far more persuasively than the above “I’m a right-on feminist guy” stuff) about the extremely threatening context:

    “Washington appears to have prevailed upon a number of US web entities … this time round there is a coincidence of timing between US anger and corporate co-operation.

    But worse are the calls by US and Canadian figures for the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be killed. Erstwhile US Presidential candidate, the evangelical Mike Huckabee, has called for the death penalty for Bradley Manning … He also wants Assange charged under US terrorism legislation which also carries the death penalty… Professor Tom Flanagan, former adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, suggested Assange should be assassinated.”

    http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/battle-lines-drawn/14209

    I don’t think these people have “thought again” Assange is doing what he thinks most likely to keep him out of US hands. He’ll answer questions, but not in Sweden.

    20 police at the front of the embassy ? ! – absurd overkill and waste of tax-payers money and sign of US pressure ?

  25. Tonyy Jemmo says:

    America, Sweden, UK, have not made one statement, to convince their public that Assange fears about being extradited to the US would not happen. Until they do, he should stay where he is, I have lost confidence in governments to do the right thing, as I have with banks

  26. JonB says:

    I was losing sympathy for Julian Assange until the recent threat by the UK government that they would consider removing the registration of the Ecuador embassy so that they could send Police officers in to remove him. The justification was that they wanted to meet their extradition obligation to Sweden.

    If they did this, it would undermine the safety of every UK diplomatic mission around the world. Even threatening to take this action draws international attention to our government’s willingness to find a way around it’s international obligations. It’s a bit like walking into the bank and telling them that you are thinking about defaulting on all your loans…do you think they will ever lend you money again?

    There is no way that the UK government would do this just because Swedish peosecutors want to interview a rape suspect…remember Assange is not a convicted criminal yet.
    There have been cases in which convicted murderers and thieves have evaded extradition for years without causing this kind of response.

    My only conclusion is that the UK government is desperate to get Assange out, so that he can be hauled off to the US and sent to a supermax jail for life.

  27. Barbara says:

    If three million people had access to this material at the instigation of President Obama and the Democratic administration, then it is questionable whether it is or was classified as secret.
    Either that or the administration was incredibly short sighted or naive in making this vast scope of information available.
    Perhaps the liberalism of the Democratic establishment decided that in the present climate that high level secrecy was no longer necessary or important.I wonder if they were elected on this platform?
    Obviously access to material by three million means that it is no longer secret.Perhaps outcry by the American majority who do not hold this opinion has been influential in blaming Manning.
    In an election year there is much here that needs to be examined.
    How much damage or otherwise has been inflicted on America by this release of information. If it is highly damaging then the motives of the administration should be very closely examined.

  28. Matt says:

    It’s certainly a lot more complicated than a layman like me could fathom, given the conflicting information in the press, but there’s one aspect of Assange that bothers me.

    Through Wiki Leaks, he has been instrumental in revealing information that has been covered up.
    One would assume this is, in part, an altruistic stance – “the truth will out”

    Why is it, then, that Assange will not put his honour on the line and return to Sweden to defend himself?

    Surely this now is his most logical course of action. As support for him starts to falter, the nagging doubts about his character are getting louder and louder.

    Most of us believe he the allegations are false, however, by getting into bed with Ecuador, the entire episode is becoming “The Julian Assange show” and the original reasoning behind Wiki Leaks is fragmenting, losing focus.

    Surely, as a now exceptionally high profile individual, the chances of being ‘bumped off’ are low and ultimately, pointless.

    He needs to return to Sweden to clear his name – he may be walking into a trap with no way out, but at least he would be seen as wanting the truth about *him* to be revealed. It’s the right thing to do.

    1. Mark says:

      If it’s a choice between defending your reputation and the risk of subsequently been extradited to the US and of being imprisoned in somewhere like Guantanamo, which would you choose? In such circumstances, who would care about what people think about them? I would recommend the interesting article by Professor Rob Cryer at the Birmingham University website, and the range of comments that follow, touching upon this subject.

  29. Steve says:

    Assange mentioned Bahrain in his speech – no doubt NO mainstream media news organisation will include that in theri reports as bahrain is so blatantly off-limits, but really – Nabeel Rajab received 3 years imprisonment for a Tweet (?) –
    Sad to say, despite your love of Twitter Jon, no doubt you will never make mention of this inconvenient injustice.
    So sad, you all follow the same stories, and from the same angles.

    1. Marverde says:

      >So sad, you all follow the same stories, and from the same angles.

      Does anybody know the infamous British American Project line on Assange? Just looking for a possible source…

      We would be shouting from the roof-tops were this type of media coverage be happening in China. If we question accusations brought against critics there, why oh why shouldn’t we question them here?

  30. adrian clarke says:

    Assange is guilty of computer hacking or handling stolen goods.Both a crime in this country and no doubt inevery free democracy.Sweden has not accused himof thatose offences, nor does the arrest warrant.He is wanted for alleged rape and should be extradited to face those charges.
    He is no better than the NOW phone hackers,so why are his supporters such hypocrits?

    1. Gary says:

      Adrian
      Upon what do you base the allegations of hacking? How did he obtain the so called leaked material? Did he actually touch it?

      To the answer you have posted it is obvious that you are of the opinion that a person is “Guilty, until proven Innocent”!

      UK law is that you are “Innocent until proven Guilty”. How do you think that the bankers all got away with daylight robbery?

    2. adrian clarke says:

      Assange was found guilty of hacking in Australia and was convicted for same.The current information stolen from America by Bradley Manning was distributed by Assange as head of Wikileaks,so there is a prima facia case of handling stolen goods, but that is up tO the US to pursue.
      This case and standoff is nothing to do with that.It is the breaking of his bail conditions on a European arrest warrant to Sweden on potential sexual charges(rape).His supporters should forfeit their surety money and he should be arrested and extradited forthwith to Sweden.Ecudor does itself no favours by harbouring him

    3. Gary says:

      Ah! So he has already served a sentence, if he was convicted. Else, why aren’t Australia pursuing him?
      The current leaked information in question has been passed to the servers that host the wiki-leaks website. How does that state that Mr Assange physically handled the documents?
      The arrest warrant was served after he left the country of Sweden, so how did he break the bail conditions?
      The allegations of rape, at this time, have only one side to the argument, that of the women involved. As I understand it, these allegations came about after he had already left the country.
      The Swedish Authorities were given permission to question Mr Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy and they refused, this gives reason to believe that there is a lot more to arrest warrant than that of capturing an alleged rapist.

    4. adrian clarke says:

      how to twist facts.He was convicted and punished in Australia for hacking.
      The arrest warrant has nothing to do with that.He was arrested on a European arrest warrant for alleged rape to answer the charge in Sweden.He was bailed but broke his bail conditions.
      He is probably guilty of handling stolen goods but that is NOT at issue here.
      The sooner he is extradited the better

    5. Bob says:

      Gary, you are wrong on so many counts. He is wanted for questioning leading to arrest in Sweden. He has already been interviewed in Stockholm, therefore this is the next phase. If an arrest is made he can then be charged. But he needs to be arrested before he can be charged which a lot of sympathisers seem to miss.

      As for bail, he has jumped bail in the UK, not Sweden, so even if he doesn’t get charged or prosecuted in Sweden, he could still be charged in the UK. It would be much easier to extradite Assange to the US from the UK than Sweden (again somthing his sympathisers seem to miss).

      The wikileaks (Assange) Twitter account is referring to the Siege in the Ecudorian embassy, it is hardly a siege, just someone avoiding due process, and the question is why is he trying to avoid due process?

      It has been repeated that Assange is fearful of the death penalty, if extradited to the US from the EU, that won’t happen, he seems a little paranoid.

  31. anon says:

    I wonder when or if Wikileaks if it is still operational, is going to attempt to reveal the secrets of drug cartels etc who inflict so much misery with their drug trafficking. Is it significant that it is South America who seem to be supporting him ?

    I am also concerned as to why there is virtually no mention of the alleged assault.

  32. Les says:

    As regards the sexual assault allegations, I’m at a complete loss to know how anybody in the media or elsewhere is in a position to pass judgement without, at least, a full transcript of all the conversations that took place between the three people concerned, both before and after the incidents, as well as what they each said to others about what is claimed to have taken place. Without far more contextual detail, there is no basis for forming an informed opinion, however irksome this may be to many. There are many historical examples of radical and controversial political figures being undermined by scurrilous rumours and sexual innuendos about their private lives, whether baseless or not. We have been informed via the media that these alleged offences would not be considered crimes in the UK. I find it quite odd that member states of the European Union seem to have such widely different definitions of what, legally, constitutes sexual assault and rape. Perhaps Europeans who work and travel in different EU states from their native country need to be issued with precise guidelines. Forewarned is forarmed, as they say.

  33. Andrew Dundas says:

    What ‘leaking’ offence might Mr Assange have committed anyway?
    It seems that a person or persons of the USA has committed offences by sending unsolicited information to Wikileaks that is both secret and likely to be of great use to an enemy of the USA.
    It is quite likely that US informants are even now being maltreated as a consequence of those offences, and that US policy discussions with other nations (incl the Taliban) have been made difficult. Those dire consequences may always remain secret. Whatever; the US has a strong complaint about any US leaker(s). But not against Mr Assange.
    All of which may help to explain why no extradition request on that information matter has been made against Assange/Wikileaks by any State. Perhaps none would ever be requested – unless Corporal Bradley Manning makes a credible claim that Assange coerced him (which I doubt).

  34. Thoroughly Nauseated says:

    I find it lamentable that the British media and very vocal politicians are prepared to come out in force to comment on individuals who have not even been charged with the offences of which they’re accused, but they rarely have anything to say about the diseased societies that we’re all now obliged to live in. I was shocked to learn that the violent video war games that so many young men spend hours playing in Internet cafés were originally developed in the US with the aim of helping young military recruits to overcome their inhibitions about killing other soldiers. But if there’s money to be made, why not make them commercially available, and to hell with the consequences. Every where, via the Internet, on television, and in public squares we’re being constantly bombarded with sexual images that are designed to sexually arouse – but for what purpose? To sell products. Does Mr Obama or Mr Hague ever comment on the lucrative free market in women’s eggs – given for a paltry sum by poor third-world women to wealthy upper class women in the West, after hormone treatment. This is not rape or assault, and it’s perfectly legal. So that’s all right then.

  35. Thoroughly Nauseated says:

    – and just as a post script to the above comment, what do these politicians, who care so much about respect for women, have to say about the British and American management consultancies whose highly paid employees are offered prostitutes as part of the room service for overseas trips? When the overseas trips are in cities where there is considerable poverty, the prostitutes may be as young as twelve or thirteen. For the rare senior politician who becomes exposed to the media glare in such circumstances, there are scores of anonymous management consultants and other faceless employees who nobody ever hears of and who regard the question, ‘Would you like a woman in your room?’ as perfectly normal.

  36. Pallmall says:

    This is pretty over the top, loony and hysterical stuff Jon.

    So some very ugly incidents involving US forces took place, no one is disputing that.

    However, was it US policy to target civilians? No!

    So if Manning really had wanted to expose these incidents all he would
    have had to do was leak the TWO videos.

    What he would have been exposing was incompetence/mistakes/idiocy by
    SOME members of the US forces. Not US policy.

    Yet you seem to find it quite reasonable that instead of doing that he and Wikileaks
    should release hundreds and hundreds of classified materials along with the videos in question.

    Then you want to remind us all that it was all worth it because of these two Videos.

    Yeah Right!

  37. PallMall says:

    And btw, you may be worried about governments, but many of us are more concerned with journalists and what passes as journalism these days, and the implications that has for a free press which a democratic society needs.

    Like bankers you act as if you are a breed apart.

    Many of you have shown yourself to be so arrogant as to think you are above the law, and also willing to compromise democratic process in the pursuit of ‘copy’ and your own agendas.

    The same vices btw back in more innocent times for which Nixon was rightly pursued out of office and condemned as ‘criminal’.

    If this Manning thing was a leak then Niagra is a trickle. The room for manouver the Law gave was never envisaged for such a wholesale disclosure.

    If journalists really support this then I for one have lost all faith in your integrity and judgement.

  38. Bob says:

    For more information see “Julian Assange in Sweden, what really happened.” It’s an e-book.

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