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Julian Assange seeks asylum

For a man who has been detained for way too many months without being charged and whose legal options have run out, he is in one sense fighting for his life
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First Published: Thu, Jun 21 2012. 08 16 PM IST

“Welcome to the club of the persecuted,” said President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, to Julian Assange in episode six of ‘The Julian Assange Show’ on the television channel, Russia Today. Praising Assange for his efforts, and holding leaked Wikicables responsible for exposing many problems in Ecuador, especially those related to the various interests controlling mass media, the magnetic Correa talked about “kicking out” the US Ambassador for propping up corrupt police officials and then having an imperialist attitude when questioned about her actions and about giving the US an OK to continue having a military base in Ecuador if Ecuador could have a military base in Miami. The two men related warmly to each other and Correa would have found new admirers worldwide for his candid demeanor, realistic assessment of leadership and evenhanded patriotism for his country.
Julian Assange has made a smart move by seeking asylum at and checking into the Ecuadorian consulate in London. For a man who has been detained for way too many months without being charged and whose legal options have run out, he is in one sense fighting for his life. Many hold the view that Sweden is the friendly pal playing puppet to the US by demanding Assange’s extradition and that it is the United States of America who is gunning to get its hands on him. It is speculated that Sweden will simply hand over Assange to the US once he is extradited to Sweden where he could then face the death penalty.
photoSweden’s actions are questionable indeed. Assange had been accused of sexual assault by two Swedish women. Assange maintains that both women had consensual sex with him and the available facts show that the cases are weak. After the sexual assault charges had been dropped last September, Assange was denied residency in Sweden where he had hoped to set up a base for Wikileaks. This was all happening against the backdrop of Wikileaks releasing documents on the war in Afghanistan and the impending release of war documents related to Iraq. However, rather suspiciously, Sweden chose to reinstate the charges and has denied Assange’s request to be interrogated at the Swedish embassy in London or at Scotland Yard.
Assange is a modern day Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg is America’s most famous whistleblowers, having leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed the US’s dirty secrets about the Vietnam War. Ellsberg has been outspoken in his support for Assange maintaining that he, too, had been in the same position back in 1971, when he took a stand to expose the administration’s lies about a war that could not won and that Americans were being sent to war to die for no good reason. He was subsequently recognized as a hero.
Many in the US though fail to see Assange as the hero he is. They believe that Assange should be taken out for engaging in treasonous acts against the US. Assange has definitely succeeded in becoming one of the United States’ most wanted for being the preeminent voice for a free press and for the rights of citizens everywhere to know what governments are doing. The United States for all its talk about human rights and due process has shown that it is increasingly willing to trample over the rights of individuals and has no qualms about disappearing people. The founding fathers must be rolling in their graves seeing the patina of fascism creeping into the land of the free and the home of the brave. President Correa has the power to protect Assange and here’s hoping he will do the right and just thing by granting Assange asylum today.
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First Published: Thu, Jun 21 2012. 08 16 PM IST
More Topics: Julian Assange | Wikileaks | Ecquador | Asylum | Sweden |