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Assange In Waiting

  • August 24th, 2012
  • Posted by 7thmin

assange-the-conversation.jpgJulian Assange (picture) emerged to speak on Sunday but after two months under protection of the Embassy of  Ecuador in London, has remained there under threat of capture and deportation.

The Australian editor in chief and founder of the Wikileaks online operation was taken in by the embassy on 19.6.12, after losing a battle in the British courts to prevent his extradition to Sweden.

The Swedish authorities want to investigate and try him for alleged  sexual offences in that country.

Mr Assange believes they will pass him on to the United States, where high officials want him prosecuted for breach of security laws – the publication  by Wikileaks of thousands of US government diplomatic documents late in 2010.

See EUAustralia Online, “UK Supreme Court backs Assange extraditioin …”, 30.5.12.

The embassy siege has brought a diary of developments, but at the two-month point, no sign of settlement:

The British government has stationed police at the embassy building to catch Julian Assange if he ventures out, and send him to Stockholm.

It did make some comments about its power to go into embassy buildings being misused by their occupants; a feint seen as posh boys about to use bovver boys in inappropriate ways.

The government of Ecuador, entertaining  Mr Assange, it says, out of concern for his rights, understandably took exception to the  notion of a raid on its premises, and the process, if ever actually embarked on, has lapsed.

London normally would be thought of as a sanctuary for the observance of diplomatic protocols and the rights of foreigners there.

In an outstanding case of recent years, in 1998 it hosted the late Augusto Pinochet, a former South American dictator with a particularly violent history of oppression, while he fought against extradition to Spain.

That country wanted to bring charges against him for violation of human rights, but, unlike Julian Assange, he was successful in the courts, and then was allowed to go free.

Among ideas and actions on the margins of this drama:-

Ecuador’s government suggested the Swedish prosecutors might like to interrogate the accused at his London refuge; but they said it had to take place in their own court rooms.

The computer hackers’ network, Anonymous, gave some serious harassment to British government online services, letting out a statement that it was because of the treatment of Mr Assange.

The government of Australia does not see him as a Breaker Morant, (the Australian officer court martialled and shot by the British high command  for atrocities committed in the South African – “Boer” – war; who said he’d been obeying specific orders from them).

The government says he has been offered consular help, which most recently was refused; and he has complained of inadequate support from the Australian high Commission.

The government concedes it thinks that the Americans may try to get him from Sweden, disclosing in the last week that the Ambassador in Washington, Kim Beazley, has asked them to tell, if they are contemplating any actions of that kind.

The case presents special difficulties for security services and their governments askance at the mass publishing of their classified documents, directly on line and through mainstream media prepared to edit them.

The first special, and novel difficulty is that mastery of digital media has enabled the suspect person to have extraordinary impact across the world; and the second is that he is clearly not a spy, but rather a man acting on strong libertarian impulses.

In his address to the world, (hundreds in the street, millions following through news media),  from the tenuous safety of the embassy balcony last Sunday (12.8.12), Julian Assange appealed to the United States to leave off.

In particular he pleaded the case for humane treatment, a fair trial and release for Bradley Manning, the US Army private accused of making the original documents available to Wikileaks – objecting that the man has been imprisoned now for two years without trial.

He gave thanks to “people in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia who have supported me, even when their governments have not”, and spoke of fighting for justice and rights.

“As Wikileaks stands under threat so does the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies.

“The US must renounce its witch hunt against Wikileaks”, he said.

See You Tube video, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2012/aug/19/julian-assange-statement-ecuadorean-embassy-video

Reference

The Guardian, Manchester, Julian Assange’s statement from Ecuadorean embassy balcony – video, 19.8.12. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2012/aug/19/julian-assange-statement-ecuadorean-embassy-video, (23.8.12).

Picture  The Conversation

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