Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Must. Stop. Laughing.

News reaches us all that the great fighter for free speech, Julian Assange, has asked for asylum in Ecuador. It seems he walked into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and "told diplomats he was being persecuted for political reasons".

This is the man who, proclaiming that truth mattered above all, unredacted US cables that he released, thus making the names of oppositionists in countries like Belarus known to the government agencies and is highly regarded in that freedom loving country, Russia (here, here and here) but has fought tooth and nail against his own extradition to Sweden on charges of rape. Sweden is not precisely Belarus or Russia in terms of its judicial structure and openness.

Some time ago, I suggested that Assange might think of asking for asylum in Russia.
If all these people's [Jemima Khan, John Pilger et al] worst suspicions should come true and the United States asks for his extradition, Mr Assange can, one assumes, apply for asylum in Russia. Of course, he will not be able to publish any material that might damage or seriously criticize the Russian government if he wants to stay alive and healthy, but he can, as the old Soviet joke had it, criticize the United States to his heart's content.
Maybe Assange took my advice and decided on going to Ecuador, instead, where as a friend of mine has pointed out, the chocolate, at least, is excellent.

As the Guardian points out,
By choosing Ecuador, he has alighted on a country that is clearly in accord with his political views, not closely aligned with the United States and, he will hope, beyond the reach of the European arrest warrant system.
It may be beyond the reach of the European arrest warrant but it may have an extradition treaty with Sweden, anyway. My guess is that the Ecuadorian authorities are rather unhappy about the situation though they talk bravely about analyzing the situation and taking a decision on the basis of that analysis.

There is another problem but that applies to that much derided group, the trendy luvvies.
Assange was granted bail on a surety of £240,000 raised and pledged by supporters. His apparent flight from the legal process could now place that money at risk of confiscation by the court.
One really does have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the whole story.

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