Let’s talk Julian Assange.

Let’s talk Julian Assange.

The founder of Wikileaks is a controversial man, to say the least.  Feelings are pretty strong about him; sides raging about how he is a saint come to live among us or as a selfish Australian git with a penchant for sexual assault.  This is not an article looking at the allegations against him; none of us are acquainted with the finer details of the case, and I can sense the comments degrading into an argument about rape – something I’m sure we would all want to avoid.

Instead, I want to ask one simple question: is the right to free speech greater than the right for justice?

Assange and his supporters argue that the allegations in Sweden are all a big cover-up by the authorities, who actually wish to send him to America.  Assange is a martyr for the right to free speech.  His site is a perfect example of acting in the public interest; he is showing the world the truths that are hidden behind locked doors by those who think the world should be kept ignorant.  If he were sent to America, they would surely incarcerate him on a trumped up charge of treason, punishing him for the crime of exposing their crimes.  He has a duty to stay free, and be a shining light against those who would keep us all in the dark.

I personally think he’s a sociopath.  It’s all very well for him to run around inside the Ecuadorian Embassy and bleat about free speech – fairly hypocritical as well, considering the Ecuadorian record for human rights – but just because he is so firmly in the camp of free speech, does that grant him immunity from responsibility?  Whether or not you believe he committed a crime or not is irrelevant (innocent before being proved guilty, and all that) but he has been accused of a crime.  The Swedish police only wanted to question him.  Just because he’s the founder of an activist website, does that mean he can run away and abandon responsibility?  In Sweden, there are women who think that he assaulted them.  They have a right to see the man they are accusing investigated by the police.  They were unfortunate enough to accuse a man believed sacred by millions but they still have a right to search for justice.  In any other case, we would all be outraged if a suspect decided that he was above the law and could ignore it.  However, as a society we’ve decided that Assange is allowed to be above the law simply because he is so vocal about the right to speak freely and release confidential information.  It’s okay for him to escape to South America because frankly, he’s earned it.

I’m sorry, but just because he releases documents that the US government would rather not be released, this does not allow him to live above the law.  No one should be allowed to live above the law.  He should be questioned by the police, and if they find enough evidence to prosecute him, then they should take him to trial.  He’s got a right to fair trial.  Let him exercise that right.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The Assange case is very convoluted but:
    – Sweden is attempting to use the EAW to extradite him, which means that they intend to prosecute, legally the EAW does not extend to questioning. The Swedish legal system is slightly different to ours, so formal charges are comparatively late in the process. But by using the EAW they indicated that they intend to prosecute.
    – In normal extradition (the EAW falls outside of this, because hey, the EU), the country must produce satisfactory evidence to British courts to show that there is sufficient evidence for a trial. This has not been produced.
    – Although I can’t verify this, it seems that the alleged victims withdrew their complaint some time ago (after the initial questioning in 2010). Thus the case has no witnesses.
    – The US, at various levels has indicated a desire to put Assange on trial if he set foot in America.
    – The British courts, despite the issues with EAW above, indicated that they would not, under any circumstances, release him.

    I’m not saying he is a decent bloke, nor am I saying he is innocent of molestation/rape, but the use of the EAW without formal charges is technically illegal. Yet the British courts – with strong pressure from US diplomats – went along with it, despite seeing no evidence with which to base a normal extradition claim.

  2. “No they don’t, they want to hand him over to America.”

    As they say on Wikipedia, ‘citation needed’. Is there any reason to actually believe that? Or is it simply an excuse used by Assange and his defenders to allow him to escape justice?

    In any case, even if it were true, it wouldn’t make Assange’s hiding out in the embassy any more admirable or justifiable. The fact is, he is accused of very serious crimes; if he had any decency or morality at all, he would hand himself over and face trial for them. A good man would recognise the (remote) possibility that the Swedes might turn him over to the Americans, and go there anyway in order to clear his name. But Julian Assange is not a good man. He may or may not be a rapist, but there’s no doubt that he’s a coward and a hypocrite who doesn’t deserve anyone’s respect.

  3. “The Swedish police only wanted to question him”

    No they don’t, they want to hand him over to America. They are well able to question him in the UK.

    He’s a hypocrite just because he’s using the Ecuador embassy? Oh please, I am stringently against the Arab funding of terrorism but each time I fill my car up with petrol does that make me a hypocrite?

    You also keep banging on about how he has to be questioned by police, how it’s his “victims” right that he is questioned; well, erm, he was detained and questioned by Swedish police on 31st of august 2010

    In fact, even on the 18th of November Assange offered himself to be interviewed YET AGAIN but this was turned down by prosecution.

    You pretend that all of this is about ‘the law’ when in fact it is plain to see its about nothing but political pawning.

    If Assange was an average joe the initial ruling that the accusations were without merit would have stood, the two women would have been laughed out of court and Assange would have gained residency in Sweden.

    So whilst you harp on about how he or others think he’s above the law there’s far more evidence to show if anything he is below the law.

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