Sunday, August 19, 2012

Is Julian Assange a hero?

In recent times Julian Assange has been making headlines all over the world. Many people (including Julian) would like us to believe that we have a choice between supporting him and all of his actions or supporting the actions of the US secret service and their allies. However, the reality is a little bit more complex than that.

I feel sorry for Julian. But the reason I feel sorry for him is mostly because of his dysfunctional upbringing rather than because he has been unfortunate enough to become a target for reactionary forces within the US military and their allies.

First let me state clearly that I think it is a good thing that the wikileaks site has uncovered many unsavoury actions undertaken by the western powers during their so called war on terror. This is clearly a situation where the response to the alleged threat of terrorism was in many instances much worse than what it was supposed to be preventing.

However, the credit for making this information public must go to Bradley Manning, the brave soldier who made the information public and not to Julian Assange whose only role was to design the process which was supposed to assure Bradley and similar whistle-blowers of anonymity. In fact the process which Julian designed failed  badly in this case and a a result Bradley Manning is currently held in solitary confinement due to the failure to protect his identity and has no prospect of ever addressing the world's media though the window of the Ecuadorian embassy.

Julian is currently facing extradition from UK to Sweden to face charges that have nothing at all to do with his involvement with WikiLeaks. It is true that the laws on sexual assault in Sweden are much more favourable to the victim than in the UK, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. In any case, I am sure that he would get a fair trial in Sweden if he returned there. He claims that he fears that the Swedish government might turn him over to the Americans, but in fact that UK government would be much more likely to do that than the Swedes.

I think that part of Julian's problems are that he has an inflated view of his own importance. The current outpouring of sympathy for his position is only making this situation worse.

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