I must own up and say that I’ve never had much sympathy for Julian Assange and the reasons have nothing to do with what he may or may not have done, it’s just that he always looks like a sneaky looking whiner. At school he was the kid you wanted to smack in the gob but never did because it would be too easy and there was no challenge in that.
But the latest episode complete with a bunch of brainless Muppets from the United Nations really takes the biscuit, what on earth were these people smoking or snorting when they came out with this one ?
One suspects that Julian Assange’s main problem is that in between the time he incarcerated himself inside the Ecuadorian Embassy and today, his ‘thunder’ has been totally stolen by one Edward Snowdon and that must really hurt an egocentric person like Assange. One can image him thinking that here he was going to become a grand cause célèbre an instead has just become a fugitive who refuses to deal with his own actions which may or may not have been criminal.
The core of the matter is that whilst in Sweden he had and admits to having sex with a woman which he claims was consensual and she now claims was rape. A complaint has been made, the Swedish Police are obliged to investigate and an International Arrest Warrant has been issued, as Assange was in the UK, extradition hearings have been held and rather than go to Sweden, he sought sanctuary in the Embassy. His claim then being that he feared being extradited from Sweden to the USA which is an odd claim as I personally would have reckoned that he was in far more danger given the ties between the US and the UK on security matters, of being extradited to the US from the UK.
However you juggle this, the plain fact is that he is facing a criminal investigation in Sweden which may well just end with the charges being dismissed if there seems little chance of a conviction. Leaving aside Mr Assange’s fantasies about his own importance, if the woman who claimed she was raped were your or my wife, girlfriend, daughter etc, we would expect the matter to be fully investigated and Assange should have cooperated with that full stop.
Bring Into Disrepute
The UN panel who came up with this no binding legal opinion are clearly stupid because they have totally ignored the alleged criminal behaviour of Assange. It is not as if he is accused of something and denies that he was even there, he admits to having sexual relations with this woman, the only dispute being the question of consent. Instead they have focused only on what Assange asserts that if he went to Sweden there was a clear probability that he would end up being extradited to the US.
He ran away to escape investigation and from this they have concluded that he has in effect been ‘incarcerated’ by the UK and Swedish Authorities and therefore that all charges should be dropped against him and he should be financially compensated. These people are clearly totally bonkers.
Leaving aside UK tabloid headlines from time to time, the European Court of Human Rights has often bought itself into disrepute by passing judgements that fly in the face of all reason, the killing of IRA terrorists in Gibraltar comes to mind in particular. There is the saying that laws should never be passed that are obviously unenforceable because if you cannot enforce a particular law, all it does is bring the whole concept of Law into disrepute. Pretty much the same can be applied to legal judgements and pronouncements such as this.
If you want to build up the position and authority of pan national institutions and especially in the administration of Law, you really need to restrict your actions to fundamental principles only. The authority of the ECHR would be far greater today if it had done that rigorously from inception instead of allowing itself to get enmeshed in the details of specific cases where no great principles were at stake.
It was heartening to hear Philip Hammond give the whole thing short shrift and say quite rightly that it changes nothing, the extradition requirement still stands and that he will be arrested and shipped off to Sweden if he leave the Embassy.
Assange is no victim except of his own ego and sense of self importance, yes I do feel sorry for him but, it is a position he put himself in and nobody else. I suspect that even if he had been found guilty of anything in Sweden, he likely would have served whatever sentence by now and been a free man if he had dealt with it at the time instead of running away. Further than that, as it was a “He said/She said” thing, no charges may have been bought anyway.