It’s been over eighteen months since I last wrote about Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
At the time I thought it was all about a political move by the US, to stop further embarrassing documents being published on the internet. I still do.
After all those months; several extradition hearings; almost as many appeal hearings, and the financial loss of bail bonds posted by Assange’s various celebrity friends and followers, the situation has now deteriorated into farce.
After failing with his final legal appeal, Assange broke bail and took sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, whilst awaiting a decision on his last minute application for political asylum within that country. Yesterday, the Ecuadorian government officially granted that asylum.
We now have a situation where the embassy is surrounded by officers of the Metropolitan Police; our government is threatening to remove the embassy’s diplomatic status before sending in the police to arrest Assange, and the Ecuadorians are making a big political statement against the UK and the US by calling their bluff in challenging them to do so.
Of course, in reality, it is unlikely the UK threat will come to fruition. If it did, it would undermine the whole diplomatic system. In addition, the floodgates would open against our own embassies abroad; embassies which are the bases for intelligence gathering, and which hold sensitive documentation of the type that Wikileaks became famous for revealing in the first place.
So, we now have a classic Mexican standoff where no-one can afford to blink!
It’s worth remembering that Assange has been accused by the Swedish authorities of a serious sexual assault against two women. It is Sweden that wishes to extradite him to their country. To my knowledge, no details of the alleged assaults have been detailed during the extradition proceedings. I still find that to be worrying.
Assange fears once he is in Sweden, he will be held only so the US can pursue its own legal actions to extradite him to the States. There he will stand trial for past Wikileaks revelations.
In reality, this situation could have been resolved months ago, by a simple US declaration they have no interest in Assange. This has not been forthcoming!
Whether Assange is guilty, or not, his fear of possible US intentions is understandable. However,his attention seeking, and arrogance, over the last two years has not won him many friends.
Exactly how long this standoff will continue is anyone’s guess. Assange and Wilileaks have been a thorn in the side of many western governments.
But there again, if there were no dirty laundry to wash, there would be nothing to hang out on the line.
This could run and run…..