What is the difference between Julian Assange and Roman Polanski, two men on the run from accusations that could reasonably be described as rape? Well, there is an obvious one: Polanski is avoiding imprisonment for the sex crime, no two ways about it. There’s no question mark over his guilt.
Assange on the other hand claims the accusations were trumped up to render him into American hands and turn supporters against him. His decision to avoid investigation is not an admission of guilt at all therefore, but necessary to protect himself.
The question is whether we believe him.
I have no trouble believing that the US government is out to get Assange, by fair means or foul. America seems to hardly do anything these days except unlawfully imprison foreign nationals. Certainly they’d like to charge Assange with something, even if all he really did was act contrary to America’s interests. Call me an anti-Imperialist radical but I’d like to live in a world where it’s still legal to act contrary to America’s interests, so I am unequivocally opposed to him being extradited to the US.
But for these charges in Sweden to be such a stratagem would take what could only be described as mind-boggling, breathtaking, evil. It would require them to somehow bribe or blackmail two erstwhile supporters into bringing extremely serious accusations against an innocent man. Or, infiltrate his network with agents provocateur who presumably seduced him before accusing him of rape. That’s nightmare stuff.
The US – or if you prefer, its security services – is capable of immensely evil acts I have no doubt. What I have difficulty believing is that they would be capable of such terrible PR. To use false accusations of rape against a public figure? If the truth ever came out – which seems likely enough, as such a plan would have needed considerable arrangement – it would do more damage to the US than Assange could ever have.
And along with this we have to believe that Assange would be at greater risk of extradition/rendition from Sweden than he was from the UK – or will be from Ecuador. It is easier to think that he doesn’t want to face investigation in Sweden because he did what he’s been accused of in Sweden.
- Sweden rejects Ecuador’s asylum deal for Assange – ABC Online (abc.net.au)
- What the New York Times Won’t Tell You About Julian Assange (my.firedoglake.com)
2 replies on “The Last Refuge”
What I think that many are missing about this case, is that it’s also diplomacy by other means. The US, at this point, don’t really care all that much whether Assange gets convicted or not. The diplomatic pressure and the actions of their proxies (Sweden and Great Britain) might not lead to an extradition to the US. However, they want to make life very, very difficult for Julian Assange.
It’s the proverbial “pound of flesh” that they’re extracting.
So, do I think the Swedish charges trumped up? Of course . Any stick to hit this dog. If he hadn’t done this, it would’ve been getting a ticket every time he jaywalked. Mind you, I don’t particularly think that the allegations are false, just that without diplomatic pressure of the US, they wouldn’t have been nearly as zealously prosecuted.
The irony of it: it’s apparently working, due to Assange’s own persecution complex and paranoia. He’s made himself so afraid of the US, that he’s gone full The Fugitive. And look at what he’s reduced to. Palling up with authoritarian populists, such as Rafael Correa. It’s interesting to see how his behaviour of closing down television stations and newspapers gets excused, because of the fine points that “they were running a dirty campaign against him”. Well, MSNBC and Fox News better start packing their things.
I mean: Correa and Assange are not exactly dream partners, are they? Rafael’s Correa popularity is mostly because he’s _less_ corrupt than the other guy.
In the end, I think the US is more than happy to have him rot a few more months in the Ecuadorian embassy, let the Brits extract their own diplomatic price from Ecuador for pulling one over on them and then have Assange spend the rest of his years in Quito. They don’t even have to do much from thereon. It’ll be Assange’s paranoia again that”ll be worrying half the time whether this is the day CIA sends the snipers and the other half worrying that Rafael Correa’s days are over. Or more likely, he’ll also be considering when the day comes that Correa, his saviour, finally gets tired of Assange.
“And along with this we have to believe that Assange would be at greater risk of extradition/rendition from Sweden than he was from the UK ”
I don’t think this is the thinking behind the actions. I see the reasoning being that after being arrested he has no way of avoiding extradition by the UK but he can still avoid extradition by Sweden if he never gets there. It’s not that Sweden is more likely to send him to the US, it’s just that they still haven’t had the chance to do it or not do it, so he’ll avoid that scenario altogether. Why play two straight rounds of Russian roulette?
And I have to disagree with azijn’s characterisation of Correa. He may not be a leftie who became instantly accepted by the establishment like Brazil’s Lula, but he is far from an authoritarian maniac. Most lefties in South America are still going uphill against the establishment. Correa almost got killed during that police force coup.
And there is a good deal of truth about Correa’s views on the media. It’s one thing when lowly journalists get killed (in LatAm it will usually be by right wing henchmen, by the way) and another when wealthy media owners gang up on a left wing president. I’ll believe those media plutocrats are innocent victims the day we hold the same sympathy for Rupert Murdoch.