The Assange case

Glenn Greenwald has a good post concerning Julian Assange seeking asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. As usual, he finds the need to counter the usual propaganda-style coverage by the US media.

Just to address some media chatter I’m seeing around: Assange has not “fled” anything, is not a fugitive, and did not concoct some new and exotic procedure to evade legal process. Everyone knows exactly where he is: at Ecuador’s Embassy in London. Seeking asylum based on claims of human rights violations (such as unjust extradition) is a widely recognized and long-standing right, as Foreign Policy documented during the recent Chen Guangcheng drama. It’s a right that Assange, like everyone else, is entitled to invoke. If Ecuador refuses his asylum request, then he’ll be right back in the hands of British authorities and presumably extradited to Sweden without delay. He has a lot at stake, and — like anyone else accused of serious crimes (though he’s not been charged with anything) — he has every right to invoke all legal procedures available to him.

Many people will wonder why Assange is fighting so hard to avoid going to Sweden even if they think that Sweden will hand him over to the US. Surely people seek refuge in the US and not from the US? Greenwald explains:

Over the past two years, I’ve spoken with numerous individuals who were once associated with WikiLeaks or who still are. Of those who no longer are, many have said that they stopped even though they believe as much as ever in WikiLeaks’ transparency cause, and did so out of fear: not fear that they would be charged with a crime by their own government (they trust the judicial system of their government and are confident they would not be convicted), but out of fear that they would be turned over to the United States. That’s the fear people have: ending up in the warped travesty known as the judicial system of the Land of the Free. That is what has motivated Assange to resist extradition to Sweden, and it’s what has undoubtedly motivated him to seek asylum from Ecuador.

This should cause all of us in the US to hang our heads in shame but it won’t because nothing will shake the conviction, carefully nurtured by our politicians and the media, that our system is the best in the world. USA! USA!


  1. says

    I don’t like Julian Assange and I think there’s a good chance he’s guilty of the sex charges against him. However, I do think Wikileaks is a good thing and I hope he’s made sure he’s replaceable.

  2. left0ver1under says

    There’s nothing new under the sun. Philip Agee had the same problem with England in 1977. The British government bent over backwards to please the US, engaging in all sorts of underhanded tactics to prevent Agee from a fair hearing against extradition. The hearings were a farce, valid claims dismissed by a judge who was clearly taking direction from Public Enemy #10, the British Prime Minister.

    And like Assange, Agee eventually had to look for refugee status elsewhere. He eventually went to West Germany which had a law intended for East German defectors but which Agee was able to use. He lived there safely for years until he moved to Cuba around 2000.

  3. 'Tis Himself says

    I think this describes my feelings about Assange and wikileaks as well. I think he’s a narcissistic bully. It’s entirely possible he could be convicted of rape at a fair trial. But wikileaks has made various governments and companies more transparent.

  4. says

    What do any of us know about Assange that was not conveyed by the media? Thus he is either an asshole or a saint, right?

    I suggest that none of us know enough about him to “like” or “dislike” him rationally. Given the degree to which the charges against him are obviously trumped up and inflated (how many times before has there been an international extradition attempt over a not-even-charged possible sexual assault?*) The whole thing stinks like a 7 day old anchovy pizza.

    So I am left feeling that I don’t know a damn thing about Assange that I have reason to believe is true, but the governments’ actions are stretching international law and are clearly aimed to punish him and damage his reputation. I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on the basis that perhaps you can judge something about a man by his enemies.

    (*The Swedish prosecutor even said that there’s not enough to warrant charges of rape. So, WTF?)

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