Colette Browne in the Irish Examiner looks at some of the tortuous arguments advanced by Julian Assange supporters, including Noam Chomsky:
“AS A HUGE fan of the immensely important work that Wikileaks has done in recent years, it has been depressing to watch the deranged cult that surrounds its founder sully its brand.
There is little doubt that Julian Assange, having exposed some of the barbarities perpetuated by the American military in its ill-fated war in Iraq, has reason to fear the wrath of an enraged US government — particularly given the appalling treatment meted out to whistleblower Bradley Manning, the army private accused of orchestrating the biggest leak of state secrets in US history.
However, outlandish claims that a sovereign Western state, Sweden, has morphed into a deferential colonial stooge, desperate to arrest the journalist on the flimsiest of pretexts in a nefarious plot that would ultimately see him incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, are laughable.
Assange supporters paint his plight as one of a trail-blazing political prisoner, who has been stitched up in an elaborate plot hatched between the US and Swedish governments.
They spin a convoluted tale the details of which, it has to be said, would make an excellent summer blockbuster. Hang onto your tin-foil hats, the story goes something like this.
Assange, in Sweden in 2010 to deliver a lecture, had the misfortune to sleep with two vindictive harpies who later filed complaints against him with the police, alleging a number of serious offences, including sexual molestation and rape.
Absolutely no credence should be given to these fanciful claims as the women are clearly nothing more than scorned groupies and the allegations, even if true, amount to, in the words of noted feminist George Galloway, “bad sexual etiquette” on the part of suave ladykiller Assange.
Enter stage right, in incontrovertible evidence of a high-level conspiracy, none other than Karl Rove, George Bush’s former chief of staff and evil empire spin doctor, who is now acting as an advisor to Sweden’s governing Moderate Party and demanding that country deliver Assange’s head on a plate to the Obama administration. ”
Meanwhile, his misogynistic supporters, like the odious Galloway, who have apparently developed psychic abilities which allow them to preempt due process and definitively state that the alleged offences are works of fiction, seem to think that, in Assange’s sole case, trial by their gut feeling, that he is an honourable and innocent patsy, is reason enough to dispense with the remainder of the investigation.
This belies the inconvenient truth that if the case against Assange is as weak as is being claimed it will never see the light of a Swedish court and, in the event that it does, Assange will be vigorously defended and his legal team will have ample opportunity to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
Of course, the only way he can do any of that, clear his name and save Wikileaks from the ignominy of being imminently reduced to a grotesque parody of itself, is to get on a plane and go to Sweden — a scenario that remains, for now, as incredulous as the hyperbolic conspiracy theories swirling around the case. “
As for Noam Chomsky, this article provides support for Assange is regretably littered with basic errors. Assange is not being extradited for questioning, but for arrest, that’s the way the Swedish system work. Chomsky paints the Swedish as a US poodle:
“It is worth adding that Sweden is quite willing to follow Washington’s orders in even worse circumstances than this – for example, when the United States wanted Sweden to send someone to Mubarak’s Egypt to be tortured. “
Chomsky bring up the expatriation of Ahmed Agiza in 2001 as Wiki argues:
“Before the deportation, the Swedish authorities had been concerned about the danger that the men could be tortured in Egypt. They had obtained a guarantee from Egypt that they would not be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment, that they would be given fair trials, and that the Swedish embassy personnel would be allowed to visit the men in prison. However, the Swedish decision to rely on such promises has been strongly criticized. In hindsight, it appears that the Swedish mode of action was strongly influenced by the events of the attack on the New York twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, three months earlier. At the time there was a strong desire among European governments to show solidarity with the USA, and to appear like reliable partners in security issues. “
Susan McKay in the Irish Times gets to the nub of these conspiracy theories:
“Assange has spent much of the past two years fighting these in the British courts, and when his case failed he jumped bail and took refuge in the embassy of Ecuador, the government of which this summer demonstrated its commitment to freedom of speech by shutting down eight television and radio stations.
Not one word about the allegations in Sweden was uttered during Assange’s Evita-esque performance in London last weekend. We are expected to accept by now that a vast international conspiracy exists whereby the extradition order is merely a ploy to get Assange into Sweden so that the US will be able to extradite him in relation to WikiLeaks, sling him into Guantanamo detention centre and maybe even sentence him to death.
The fact the US has not sought to extradite Assange from the UK, which has the sort of right-wing government that would probably be all too ready to comply with such a request, is not addressed.
Nor is the fact that those accused of sexual offences routinely skip across borders to evade legal proceedings, and that the ability to extradite them is vital. Think Liam Dominic Adams. Think Fr Brendan Smyth. Nor that the assumptions behind the conspiracy theory are based on deeply misogynist notions of why women make rape allegations. Nor that the Swedish justice system is internationally respected in relation to its handling of crimes of sexual violence. “
Update 1: David Penberthy’s Asylum is not a safety net for a court-dodging Assange makes many good points:
“The other problem with Assange involves his alleged behaviour as a human being. I say alleged because there should be no prejudgment of the sexual assault allegations brought against him by the police in Sweden. He is innocent until proven guilty. This simple point of law seems lost on Assange and his blind army of activist supporters who argue not that he is innocent until proven guilty but innocent full stop, and that the whole thing is some evil conspiracy by the military-industrial complex to destroy him.
Over the past month we have seen Assange pervert the concept of asylum in order to dodge scrutiny for his alleged personal conduct. Historically people have sought asylum on the basis of being persecuted for their political views, their activism, their religion. In terms of the charges he is facing, Assange is not being persecuted on political grounds, but prosecuted because he is allegedly a sex offender. A prisoner of conscience he ain’t; rather, just another bloke who allegedly cannot grasp the simple concept that when a woman says no, she means no.
If people had any sense they should at least wait until Assange’s trial is over before leaping to this man’s defence. To their shame, many of them are even arguing that a trial should not proceed anyway, as if standing up to evil Western governments is such a noble cause that it absolves you from the little matter of manfully facing court to deal with that little matter of a rape charge. “