The recent media coverage of the row regarding asylum granted to Julian Assange by the Ecuadorian government was to be expected. Expected though not by the general public, but by the minority of Assange supporters and those watching the case carefully. When the media coverage begins, a very selective picture emerges, a scene of distorted viewpoints and false facts, and a few extremists on either side of the fence thrown in for good measure. To an outsider listening in on the latest, I’m sure it’s not difficult to quickly form an opinion strongly supporting one side or the other without regard to question whether the information presented by the mainstream media has any real factual basis whatsoever.
This side taking is what has not only divided the public, politicians and the media alike (although the general press has taken the stance against Assange), it is also the very thing which has distracted attention away from what is actually going on, or at the very least, the reasons why Ecuador has granted asylum to the Wikilleaks founder. Follow the conversation on Twitter, and you will notice a constant battle going on between those who support Julian Assange’s claims, and those who believe heart-rate-racingly strongly that the alleged victims (the women who have made the allegations against Assange) are the ones who deserve to have their case heard, now, in Sweden, despite any asylum plea which has been granted by a sovereign state.
Ignorance is a dominant thing, perhaps the thing most responsible for all the misunderstandings which result in so many of the problems we face in all aspects of society and our personal lives. In this case, the emotional heart strings have been pulled on sharply resulting in a majority which honestly believes this is all about women’s rights to justice and Julian Assange trying to escape questioning by the Swedish prosecutors. I’ll note for any that don’t know, that he is yet to be charged with an offense in any country in the world, and has agreed to be questioned inside the Ecuadorian embassy. This has been done before and could be done again, if it were not for the stubborn officials who refuse to operate outside of their terms, even if it means getting exactly what they want. And whether you agree they should question him inside the embassy or not, the fact remains he is there, he is not moving, and could be there for a very long time.
If I was a prosecutor who had the choice between breaking protocol, and losing a bit of my ego to be able to question the person I need to question inside an embassy of another country, or to wait and see if I can break international law by raiding an embassy I know which one I would choose. The fact that they flatly refuse to even consider this speaks volumes that for one, they are unrealistic about their chances of getting him to Sweden and too, there is more going on than the simple need to question him. It doesn’t take a biased view to come to that conclusion, although many will convince you it does.
The great thing for the anti-Assange brigade is that they have successfully managed to convince so many that this is all about protecting women and that it has nothing to do with the United States of America. How naive for anyone to really believe this, but it is understandable considering the way and selective nature of the arguments put forward. Most interestingly though, Naomi Wolf, the prominent feminist has written an extremely detailed piece about why the allegations against Assange are very dubious to say the least. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out here. I’ve responded to many anti-Assange twitterers with this link, who have since thanked me for giving them the real facts, and not those presented by the mainstream media, as well as those who attempt to gain the moral high ground and publicity off the back of the subject by writing about the need to protect rape victims and so on – Louise Mensch I’m looking at you.
So where are we now? The hoopla has died down a bit and things will likely be quieter now that those desperate to air their opinion have done so, and Assange doesn’t look set to be going anywhere anytime soon. What will be interesting is to see how long the US can resist getting publicly involved. There’s no doubt that behind the scenes he is causing some serious aggravation to those who do not like to have their power interfered with Incidentally, one of my favourite counter arguments is the one of their being no evidence that the US plans to extradite Assange. Do we need evidence to be concerned? Is it not a good idea that despite what anyone may believe regarding the case, the easiest way to make Assange face questioning is to give him a guarantee that he will not be passed onto the US? Is it not worth writing a new law in order to make this happen if it needs to be done? Many will say no, and it is for that reason that we should be worried. When a perfectly logical solution is shunned by law makers, we know for sure that either they do not want him enough, or Julian Assange’s claims are entirely true.