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.