Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Adieu, Assange

So, 5 judges have decided that Julian Assange can be deported to Sweden to be questioned (not charged) on suspicion of sexual assault. Two judges disagreed, and apparently Assange's lawyers are appealing on the grounds that the decision was made on the basis of arguments not aired in court.

From the Wikileaks press releases, tweets and followers, you'd think that Assange was being sent to a CIA black site for immediate torture and execution, rather than to one of the world's most civilised states for questioning. This is utterly disappointing: I've long been a supporter of Wikileaks' mission, but the organisation has become an unreflective propaganda machine for one particular individual: this morning they're tweeting the two judges' dissent without mentioning the majority judgement, and they spend a good deal of their time organising 'rallies for Assange', with no acknowledgement that the complainants' stories deserve investigation.

Things like this don't help:
Assange: 613 days Grand Jury, 533 days bank blockade, 530 days house arrest. Charges? None. 
Assange isn't Mandela or Dreyfus and Sweden isn't North Korea. He's been living in a massive mansion with all mod cons, whereas most people accused of sexual assaults get a shared cell in a rundown prison. I have no doubt that the US and its allies are all over Assange's life and records, but presenting him as a martyr to CIA-supported feminists is not progressive. A dignified stance would be to profess innocence and faith in the Swedish legal system, and have your day in court. Wikileaks should stick to its core purpose and resist becoming a vehicle for one man's messianic tendencies. I hope he's innocent - but turning every event into a grand conspiracy reduces the chances of Wikileaks being taken seriously when it uncovers (as it frequently does) real conspiracies.


Anonymous said...

My problem is not with him facing the charges in Sweden, it is with the fact that there is an International Arrest Warrant agreement between the US & Sweden not present in the UK.

Therefore, as I understand it, if the US produces an International Arrest Warrant for Assange to face the charge of 'treason' then Sweden are obliged to deliver him.

I agree with you RE the personality cult that has evolved around him, but it's really not as simple as that. As to his martyrdom to CIA-supported feminists not being progressive - progressive towards what? In my view it's simply an attempt to discredit and smear the man in the eyes of the public. Claims of sexual deviancy and honey-traps have been used time and time again.

The Plashing Vole said...

I'm concerned too about the EAW, but feel that it's being ramped up unnecessarily for political purposes and the legal complexities are being overlooked.

Agreed that honey-traps have been deployed before, but there's a deeply misogynist streak in a lot of the pro-Assange lobbying. I simply have no opinion about whether Assange is innocent or guilty, but I'm disturbed by the speed at which Assange and his supporters have smeared these women.

Assange hasn't been charged. I think we should let the Swedish authorities investigate before jumping to conclusions. If the Americans attempt to extradite him from Sweden, I will gladly join the fight - but his attempts to merge the Wikileaks story with these accusations seem morally dubious. Our heroes can be flawed. Maybe he's flawed. It's dangerous to assume that because someone's done something wonderful in one sphere, he must be a paragon in all aspects.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, I'm not suggesting that he is some sort of saint like figure, just concerned as to where this will all end up. I have also noticed the misogynist streak in some of the pro-Assange debates - quite worrying.