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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Assange: if there was a conspiracy, the conspirators have already achieved their aims

I haven't written much about Assange because, well there's already a few years' harvests worth of wheat and chaff out there...

I'll assume regular readers of this blog (yes, it still surprises me too!) are pretty clued up on the established facts and general arguments.

One thing continues to puzzle me.  Whatever you say about the strengths or weaknesses of the Swedish legal system, I've seen not one solid piece of evidence supporting the theory that Sweden would be a stepping stone of choice towards extradition to the US.

If there was a conspiracy then I find it hard to believe the Top Secret Plan started life with one of its aims as "get Assange to Sweden."

Swedish law lecturer Mark Klamberg outlines three reasons why not on his blog.

Of these, the third reason is most compelling.  Sweden does not extradite military personnel, spies or political prisoners.

UK legal commentators have, when referring to other cases, been quick to point out there are few legal obstacles preventing either British citizens or foreign nationals from being whisked west across the Atlantic to face trial in the US.

Surely Britain would have ranked higher up the conspirators' wish list.

It's worth noting that the conspirators (if any) could not have known Assange would have been 'caught' in the UK, so any direct comparison between Sweden-US and UK-US extradition is somewhat moot.  What is relevant is that Sweden is simply a bad place to try and extradite someone for alleged spying.

All this doesn't mean there isn't a conspiracy.

Let's say the US simply wanted to damage Assange and his organisation's reputation.  Well then they've succeed.

With legal commentators and campaign groups becoming entrenched in their position on Assange, lobbing increasingly tenuous blogs and accusations to and fro.

With Assange sat somewhat impotent in the Ecuadorian embassy.

With the public's suspicions alerted to questions over the way Wikileaks is run, with Julian Assange himself alleged to have exhibited some interesting behaviour - perhaps due to spending so much time on the back foot - in his dealings with journalists; and with journalists getting quite tired of the former darling of the transparency world Wikileaks.

If there was a conspiracy, the aim wouldn't be to get Assange to Sweden...  It would have been to discredit Assange.

Fifty years ago a sex scandal might have been the tarnish of choice; but not now, surely?

Well, yes.  Because it backed Assange into a corner, exposing his paranoia and willingness to sacrifice his principles in order to survive.

It wouldn't surprise me if the rumours of a sealed Grand Jury indictment and likely extradition weren't invented by the conspirators to add to the pressure on Assange.

And these conspirators must have laughed their heads off the moment Julian Assange entered the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian embassy.  A few discrete phone calls pointing out Ecuador's questionable record on press freedom to a few journalists.  More damage done.

"A dead man can't leak stuff"... well neither can a discredited alleged sex offender holed up in an embassy, driven to distraction avoiding US extradition proceedings that might never materialise.

@JamesFirth

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