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John Passant

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August 2012
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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
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My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
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Julian Assange must face rape accusations, not US revenge

Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder being protected by the Ecuadorian embassy in London, appeared on a low balcony last Sunday to make a speech. He seemed to be almost mocking the British police, who could not touch him writes Tom Walker in Socialist Worker UK.

Among other things, he talked about the case of Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking state secrets to him. “If Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero, an example to all of us and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners,” Assange said. He is right about that.

Bradley, 24, has now spent more than 800 days behind bars without trial in military prison. For much of the time he has been in solitary confinement for 23 to 24 hours a day and denied clothes and blankets at night.

“You can hear Bradley coming from a long way away because of the chains,” David House, a friend who visits him, has said. “His feet have chains on them, they go to a leather belt around his waist,” he adds. “His hands go into them and he has no free movement of his hands.”

There are 22 charges against Bradley, including “aiding the enemy”. This is what the US state wants to do to people who cross it—people like Julian Assange whose Wikileaks website exposed US war crimes.

The case of Assange himself, however, is far more problematic than that of Manning. He has been granted asylum by Ecuador to avoid being extradited to Sweden for arrest and questioning over accusations by two women of rape and sexual assault. He said he feared extradition to the US.

Assange and some of his supporters have refused to take the rape allegations seriously. His own lawyers have endorsed conspiracy theories calling the women a “honeytrap”. Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino even disgustingly called the accusations “hilarious”.


But the British authorities are hardly in a position to give lectures. Just this week it was revealed that the Metropolitan police’s rape unit, Sapphire, has seen the number of cases reported to it drop as victims have lost confidence in it.

If this was solely about rape, the police would likely be ignoring it. Instead we have seen Tory foreign secretary William Hague threaten to ignore international law and storm the embassy.

He said Britain could use an obscure law to revoke its diplomatic status and raid it. For their side, there is clearly something more in play. That something is Wikileaks.

Assange and his organisation have repeatedly pulled the US tiger by the tail. From the Afghanistan “Collateral Murder” video to the war logs and the cables, they have angered the imperial superpower.

We know that Assange faces a secret “sealed indictment” in the US, and a grand jury has been convened against Wikileaks. The indictment was revealed in leaks from US intelligence firm Stratfor. Many witnesses called to the grand jury have blown the whistle in the media.

Extraditions from Britain are possible, but difficult, as shown by the case of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon. Sweden has a far more compliant record.

It would be a huge victory for the US to have Julian Assange in a cell next to Bradley Manning. That cannot be allowed to happen.

The rape accusations should never be trivialised or brushed aside. But if the Swedish authorities were serious about investigating them, they would guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to the US. That could clear the way for him to face his accusers.



Comment from John Mullen
Time August 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I don’t think it’s right to use in the title “rape charges” when there haven’t been charges. “Accusations” would be correct. To say that someone has been charged with rape when they haven’t may be libellous. Although I am generally much much closer to the SWP, on this issue I thought Counterfire was better (though I am not saying the two positions are very far from each other at the end of the day).

Comment from Ross
Time August 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

According to John Pilger the initial rape charges were declared false by prosecuters and the present charges have been concocted so Assange can end up like Bradley Manning.Asssange will not get a trial or legal council if he goes to the USA.

Does indefinite dentention,Patriot Act and the NDAA not alarm us all?

Comment from John
Time August 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Yes. If you read the article Ross, you will find that it says that the US wants to put Assange in the same position as Bradley Manning. But unlike some of the left this article doesn’t descend into the gutter of demonising rape victims.

Comment from William S. Solomon
Time August 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

In October 1998 in Spain, then-Magistrate Baltasar Garzon “issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean President, General Augusto Pinochet, for the alleged deaths and torture of Spanish citizens.” The British government refused.

(The quotation is from the Wikipedia entry on Garzon.)

Comment from Binh
Time August 28, 2012 at 7:06 am

John: Under Swedish law, Assange cannot be charged until he is first detained. No libel there.

Ross: Assange current arrest warrant is based on the original incident and the original charges. The charges were never declared false.

“The rape accusations should never be trivialised or brushed aside. But if the Swedish authorities were serious about investigating them, they would guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to the US.”

If Sweden wanted to extradite him to the U.S., they’d issue a declaration saying they would never do such a thing, and then do it. Or are we naive enough to believe what capitalist governments promise to do and not do?

Comment from Grace Gannon
Time August 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I was seriously not impressed when I read that Britain threatened to raid the Ecuadorian embassy and I think the only solution to Assange volunteering to leave the asylum of the embassy is for the Swedish to guarantee he wouldn’t be extradited. Step up Sweden!

Comment from John
Time August 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

No, I am not naive enough to believe them if they do. But they won’t because it is what they will do and so don’t want to expose their hypocrisy to the world. I wonder whether the circuit breaker for the Swedish and UK governments might not be the US coming clean and asking for his extradition from Britain, or Ecuador?

Comment from Denis O’Toole
Time August 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm