The story we get repeatedly from the press is that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London because he fears being sent by the British to Sweden to answer sex charges and then eventually being extradited to the U.S. to answer espionage charges here.
It’s true that British Foreign Minister William Hague says the country has a “legal obligation to see Mr. Assange extradited to Sweden.” But there is no confirmation of a U.S. indictment of Assange.
Much of the coverage seems designed to make Assange into a martyr of some kind.
Some members of the press, however, are raising questions. The New York Times noted, “It struck many as odd that Mr. Assange, who shot to fame as a fighter for media freedom, chose Ecuador as a potential refuge. Mr. Correa has presided over a crackdown on journalists there.” It is only odd if one believed the propaganda about Assange being a free speech advocate or “whistleblower” in the first place. On the contrary, he has functioned as an agent of influence for the Russian government.
There is something else odd about this case. There have been numerous reports that the Justice Department has established a secret grand jury to indict Assange under the Espionage Act. But there is no hard evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder ever intended to prosecute him. From the start, while talking tough about a criminal investigation, Holder has also talked about “gaps” in the law that may prevent prosecution.
In the case of the gay Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, the Assange conspirator on trial for treason, the death penalty has been strangely taken off the table. The threat of the death penalty could have been used to get Manning to talk about the involvement of Assange and others in the conspiracy to steal and release classified information.
The Australian newspaper puts Assange and his political motives into some perspective in an editorial that says: “Julian Assange displays blinding hypocrisy trying to hide behind the skirts of Ecuador, which regularly aligns itself at the UN with the likes of Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela on issues such as support for Syria’s murderous Assad regime.”
The skirts also included those of his mother, who complained that her son had been living in cramped conditions at the embassy, under psychological stress, and had not been outside to “see the sun.”
The Australian went on, “Were Mr. Assange not so cowardly, he would recognize his best interests would be served not by pompously pursuing the role of martyr but by going to Sweden so sex-assault charges he strenuously denies can be tested. Sweden is not Equatorial Guinea. Nor is it Ecuador, a country whose anti-US President, Rafael Correa, Mr. Assange’s protector, shamelessly misused the courts against journalists after they called him a dictator—action condemned by the UN Human Rights Council and the Washington Post, which wrote of the ‘most comprehensive and ruthless assault on free media in the Western Hemisphere.’”
The latter suggests that even liberals in the press seem to be waking up to the true colors of Julian Assange. When will they wake up to the fact that the tough rhetoric coming out of the White House and the Justice Department is getting stale?