Thankfully, Ecuador granted Julian Assange political asylum this morning.
The editor of the secrecy-busting website, responsible for leaking thousands of diplomatic cables and Stratfor communications detailing heinous abuses of power, including the murder of civilians and journalists by U.S. forces in conflict zones, now faces a diplomatic dilemma of immense proportions.
Although the British are ignoring the context of the debate almost entirely (a case could be made that they don’t have to acknowledge Assange’s role within Wikileaks at all), they have been stellar executors of the law until yesterday’s threatening letter to the Ecuadorians.
The focus, as it should be, has been on Assange’s breach of bail following his extradition hearing.
But that in no way condones the threats from the British to suspend the diplomatic status of Ecuador’s embassy in order to retrieve Assange. It’s disproportionate to the issue at hand, and would not be done if Assange was an ordinary man.
It’s important to note that Assange is only wanted for questioning in relation to the sexual assault complaints against him. No charges have been laid. There are also doubts of the pretenses under which Claes Borgström is pursuing the case as representative for the complainants, given that he is both a politician and a lawyer, and holds the view that all men are collectively guilty for violence towards women, which is obviously absurd.
There are clear issues around perception and reality of the ‘superior’ Swedish courts.
In a 2006 open letter to then-Justice Minister Thomas Bodstrom, 15 attorneys unveiled some deeply terrifying attitudes towards men within the Court system accused of sexual or violent crimes against women, saying “this pattern is repeated in everything from the initial interview to the trial, which is usually held behind closed doors…. The complainant’s unsubstantiated statements quickly become the truth. In practice, the burden of proving innocence is routinely placed on the accused, in violation of principles that apply in every civilized system of justice.”
Although Assange’s constant evasion of the authorities may reek of guilt to some, it’s perfectly understandable if the Swedish courts are not the gleaming bastions of truth and justice we have previously perceived them to be, but instead a secretive and dangerous maze of corridors and dark courtrooms. To someone who stands for the open transfer of information and transparency in all facets of life, the notion of a suppressed trial is terrifying – as it should be to anyone.
Further, the sealed Grand Jury indictment currently sitting somewhere in a U.S. government building should provoke yet more terror over the state of international law.
The U.S have now held Wikileaks supplier Bradley Manning for more than 800 days without trial, his extended stay in solitary confinement described by the special rapporteur for torture to the UN as “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.
Despite President Obama’s image as a liberal white knight, evidence points to the contrary.
He’s done more to crack down on whistleblowers than any other U.S President, regardless of superficial gestures such as document transparency that essentially amount to nothing.
All of these points are the exact behaviours that Assange and others of his ilk seek to uncover. They are all clear abuses of power and justice, and should be held to account. Given the threat of prosecution in heavily-skewed Swedish courts, and a secretive indictment in the US which will no doubt hold grave consequences, Assange is right to seek asylum and protection.The question now is how they will get him to Ecuador.
Copyright © 2013 Yahoo! New Zealand
All rights reserved.
Select your region to see news and weather for your area.