Why are they persecuting Wikileaks frontman, Julian Assange?

26 Oct

According to this New York Times report, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange is on the run. Wanted by the U.S. government for the 1917 Espionage Act and facing sexual assault charges by the Swedish government, he believes he has also lost the possibility of refuge in other countries such as Britain and Iceland which are likely to hand him over to the Americans. Even Australia, where he was born, will do the same. In a reported conversation with an Australian senior official, the latter said, “You play outside the rules, and you will be dealt with outside the rules.”

But exactly what are the rules? More importantly, who gets to make the rules? An easy answer would be to point the finger at the U.S.  and claims it dictate the rules. Yet, anyone with a basic understanding of international relations will scoff at this absurdity. But even if this is true, it may only be half the answer.

Perhaps what is left unmentioned is the obvious but potential threat that Assange and Wikileaks  pose to states around the world. No doubt some people, possibly including people within government bureacracies, might secretly applaud what Assange and Wikileaks is doing, they would also be wary of providing a shelter to its public spokesperson who might end up embarrassing them. Consider the amount of damage that Wikileaks has done to corporations and governments since its establishment in 2007.

In its own website, the ‘internet news organisation’ claims it has broke countless stories of these nature. For instance, the European reform CAP reform which is whitewashed or in early 2010, an undisclosed report on the German private health insurance scheme. In 2009, it was briefly banned in Australia after it leaked a ‘secret list’ of pornography websites that the government was planning to censor. The public furore that was elicited afterwards greatly hindered the actions of the Australian government to proceed with its internet censorship program. It wasn’t the West that Wikileaks is a threat to. It has also published a secret internet censorship list of Thailand’s military junta and posted embarrassing videos of its crown prince.

Still, this does not make much sense. After all, if it is Wikileaks that is a threat to states, then why would they appear to only go after Assange?

Clues can be inferred from the mainstream media such as the New York Times which has stepped in to describe the man as an obstinate fugitive who has fallen out of favour with other colleagues in the internet news organisation that he has co-founded. Given the secrecy of wikileaks, it may be difficult to flesh out the truth at this moment in time. Nevertheless, it is not ludicrous to believe that there is a factional split occurring between two camps, and not just within Wikileaks. Those who support Assange and his goals for Wikileaks and those who want the news organisation to adopt a more conciliatory approach towards states. Perhaps one of the clearest indication is Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, which has joined the Pentagon in criticizing Wikileaks  for publishing the Afghan papers that pose a threat to lives of people working for the Americans or as informers. In response to this allegation, Assange has asserted that they are baseless and fail to consider the big picture.

Regardless of what one thinks of Assange’s character or what Wikileaks will become with or without him, the more important question is whether any state would allow him permanent residence and shelter him from the reach of the American administration. This boils down to the integrity of the international legal system. The irony is not lost on the fact that states, especially those who have entered into international human rights treaties such as the refugee convention and ICCPR  are obliged to do so under international law – providing assistance and protecting those seeking political asylum. It can be convincingly argued that Assange’s situation fit this exemplary.

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One Response to “Why are they persecuting Wikileaks frontman, Julian Assange?”

  1. Benito Mussolini October 27, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    I commend WikiLeaks for releasing all of this information. No rational person believes that all horrors of war are reported but this really puts it in the light. It’s sad that it happens but hiding it doesn’t keep it from happening.

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