My beloved readers, tonight I want to paint a little picture for you.
Imagine for a moment that Ecuador, to take a completely random example, wanted to extradite someone in Britain who had been accused (not charged) with sex crimes. In a complete coincidence, that person had been releasing material on the web that was extremely damaging to the Ecuadorian government.
Also imagine for a moment that that person was fairly chummy with Barack Obama, to take another completely random example, and that they had sought asylum in the US, and the US government had granted it whilst publicly stressing that this person was a political ally of the US government.
In those circumstances what do you think the response of British foreign secretary William Hague to be? Would he favour Ecuador and ‘legality’ or the US? Who do you think he would choose? Can you imagine him and his government making the statements they have made in the last 24 hours?
If I thought that there was no possibility of Assange being sent on the US from Sweden I wouldn’t be writing this. Serious allegations have been made and they need to be addressed. We all know that rape is a serious issue and is disgracefully neglected all over the world. If Assange is guilty he deserves to be punished, severely. I have no objection to international law being invoked to bring rapists to book and in fact welcome the idea.
I’m also under no illusions about the Ecuadorian government and their motivations for getting involved in this. I’m sure there are wider geo-strategic calculations here and they are not solely motivated by deep-seated belief in Assange’s innocent.
And leaving aside the allegations for a moment, Assange also has many questions to answer politically. He really is no friend of the left.
But the cynic in me is very concerned that there is something else going on here. It is not outlandish to assume that he could be extradited on to the US from Sweden, and it is also not outlandish to imagine him being treated upon arrival in a similar fashion to Bradley Manning. That is to say, unspeakably cruelly. I don’t think it is absurd to suggest that elements of the American security apparatus are out to ‘get’ Assange and Wikileaks.
I won’t say any more than that. Too many people who I respect immensely think he should be extradited to Sweden and I can understand why (and many people I have little time for think the opposite.) Rape is an issue of the utmost seriousness. I’d welcome the views of other people on the issue.