After having been accused in Sweden of several counts of sexual assault, the editor of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, contested his extradition from the United Kingdom where he was residing. He lost his case in the trial court, in the High Court, and in the Supreme Court of England and Wales; but upon this decision, he fled into the London embassy of Ecuador, where he is now in hiding. The UK government has warned that embassies are not to be used for this purpose under the Vienna Convention, and threatens to remove him, while the Ecuadorian government (whose President, Correa, has been interviewed by Assange and knows him personally) accuses the British of imperialist threats. Behind all this is the spectre of the United States. It has not yet indicted Assange, but is plausibly suspected by many of seeking his extradition in turn in order to imprison or ‘disappear’ him, as has happened with Manning and other such cases. In other words, a perfect storm for the left.
A situation which would look very unfavorable for the imperialists, the initial blatant persecution of Wikileaks and its associates in order to cover up the ‘diplomacy’ that underwrites wars and tyrants everywhere, has turned into a source of acrimony and division among the left. In outline, a pro- and an anti-Assange camp has developed, and the situation is reaching levels of heated outrage about an individual that almost put to mind the days of Dreyfus. Contrary to that famous case, however, the individual in question does not come off so well. In order to shield the left from further division and from the strategic pitfalls confronting them, I think it is worthwhile to outline clearly my view on the Assange case, mindful of the fact that one can only judge individual cases to a limited extent and that doing so while events are ongoing can often appear foolish and unwise in retrospect. Continue reading “A Quick Note on the Assange Affair”