Wednesday, June 20, 2012

End Of The Road For Assange?

Julian Assange

Personally, I do not believe the baseless sexual assault charges thrown up against Julian Assange in order to silence him. Here is a man whose work in revealing some of the secret machinations of some governments, has served to show (in some graphic detail) the shocking extents that some highly placed government officials could go to in conducting their business. Whether the released memos were damning to the respective governments concerned is worthy of consideration, but of even graver concern is the legality or even moral soundness of the various actions secretly hatched and implemented by these affected governments. Wikileaks’ action in releasing hundreds of these classified government memos and the possible threat to national or regional security such actions could precipitate merit passionate debate and discussion, but I do not support the fierce and sustained attempts by shadowy figures to muzzle Julian Assange.

This persecution has to stop; these trumped up charges have to be decried. Having found nothing tangible with which to discredit Julian Assange and Wikileaks, they have resorted to the same well-worn smear tactics i.e sexual molestation and rape. Not surprisingly, two women have appeared out of the woodwork with sexual molestation claims. Suddenly, we are expected to believe that he sexually molested 2 women he had consensual sexual relations with for the ‘crime’ of failing to wear a condom on one occasion when the complainant requested it; and on another occasion for the ‘crime’ of having sex with her while she maintains she was asleep.
Were these women minors? Of course not. Could they have resisted Julian Assange and stopped the sexual intercourse if they really felt like they were being sexually molested? That is, when complainant 1 insisted that Assange should wear a condom and he made no apparent moves to do so, could she have ended that lovemaking session and walked away or else screamed for help? Of course she could; indeed, she would have gone to the authorities the next day to report the incident if she felt sexually violated. As for complainant 2 who claimed that she was sleeping at the time Assange supposedly had sex with her, it makes you wonder how on earth she knew what was going on if she was asleep. It also makes you wonder what sort of horrible rape scenario it really was when the supposed victim was comfortably and sleepily ensconced in her assailant’s bed! It gets ridiculous as you examine these charges. The very woman (complainant 1) who claimed that she was sexually molested on August 14, 2010, which day she claimed that Assange had sex with her without using a condom, happened to have met and had sexual relations with Assange again only 4 days later! On August 18, 2010, this time she maintains she was also sexually molested again somehow when Assange’s erect penis pressed against her body.

It is not surprising that Assange has dismissed these molestation accusations as baseless. But how will public opinion judge him? In western societies where allegations of rape are enough to ruin and discredit any man, how will Assange be viewed or dissected by the wider public? Is it possible that in order to turn the tide of public opinion against a man who has bravely fought titanic government figures and their allies by revealing highly-placed secret government machinations and subterfuge, some women who have had dealings with Assange could be manipulated or paid off to launch baseless accusations?

For months Julian Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden for these accusations. He believes that the ultimate reason why he is being considered for extradition to Sweden is not really to answer to these allegations but so that he can eventually be handed over to the US authorities. One might consider his thinking paranoid, but given the dangerous nature of his job, especially the depths that could be sunk to punish a public whistleblower, one can appreciate his concern. If you can remember, the US considers Assange’s work in exposing hundreds of diplomatic government cables ‘treasonous’ even though Assange is not a citizen of the United States. However, he has thus far not been successful in completely stopping the extradition proceedings and is therefore due to be sent back to Sweden around the 28th of this month.

So what did a desperate Julian Assange do to forestall this possibility? Yesterday, he entered an Ecuadorian embassy in London, and sought political asylum. He considers himself rightly or wrongly as being persecuted and hounded for his investigative journalism. His actions in breaking pre-arranged protocol and seeking asylum in an Ecuadorian embassy before his court-delayed extradition date of June 28 are now described as ‘breaching bail’ and so, he is likely to be arrested eventually and extradited.

As I write, metropolitan police are camped around the embassy waiting to nab Assange if he ever steps foot outside the building whilst Ecuadorian authorities consider his request for political asylum in Ecuador.

Now, I suspect that in the coming days, following intense diplomatic pressure on Ecuador, they are going to decline Assange’s request for political asylum and then hand him over to the police. At any rate, what sort of drama is going to play out on the mean streets on London if for example Ecuador accepts Assange’s request and decides to whisk him away to Quito? Will we see a Hollywood-style clash of Ecuadorian mercenary forces with London’s metropolitan police as they engage each other in a hail of bullets while Assange, disguised no doubt, is ferried hurriedly to some undisclosed aircraft and hastily extracted out of the UK? One can only wish—but one has to just marvel at the absurdities going on.

Is Assange’s life in danger? If yes, where is the outrage of a concerned public for an individual’s personal freedom and his right to self-expression without being bullied by instruments of state? Where is the concern of fellow journalists that forces beyond Assange’s control might have conspired to silence a member of a supposedly free press? Sure, it is tempting to simply dismiss this with a wave of the hand whilst asking that Assange return to Sweden to clear himself of sexual molestation charges, but is there a bigger fish to fry here? I guess we'll find out in the coming days......

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