When Julian Assange walked into the Ecuadorian embassy and formally requested political asylum yesterday, Twitter and the media went, to put it mildly, batshit. There were numerous tweets from people saying things like: 'Nothing says I'm innocent like fleeing to Ecuador'.
We even have Max Fisher at the Atlantic writing that 'it would appear to be a last-ditch effort to escape the Swedish criminal charges against him'. This kind of inaccuracy in even serious media publications is commonplace...and unforgivable. These 'criminal charges' do not exist. Congratulations, Mr Fisher: you are either a propagandist or incompetent. Take your pick.
It is a measure of the level of misinformation throughout the establishment media that such inaccuracies are still reported as fact. We saw the same phenomenon in the US - huge numbers of people believing that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It happens all the time because the establishment media is, in the main, a festering pit of incompetent, cynical hacks who are either out to make a name for themselves at the expense of journalistic integrity, or out to make a fast dollar by jumping on a bandwagon here and there.
Put yourself in Assange's shoes and things become a little easier to understand.
You know that Sweden is chasing you desperately, insisting on you being extradited despite being charged with no crime in order to question you regarding allegations of sexual assault. You have offered numerous times to answer the allegations by Skype, perfectly acceptable under Swedish law, but you have been rebuffed every time. You understandably wonder why Sweden absolutely has to have you questioned on its territory, and your fears are ratcheted up even further on hearing that in 2006, the UN found Sweden to be in violation of the global ban on torture for turning over 2 people to the CIA to be rendered to Egypt. Even worse, as if that isn't bad enough: both turned out to be completely innocent (one was convicted in a 'flagrantly unfair' trial and the other released without charge). If Sweden did it once, they can do it again.
You have seen also what happens to prisoners awaiting trial in the US, and you know full well that almost every single authority figure in the US hates your guts. You know that sending a person to a country where they may be tortured is illegal under international law, but you also know you can't trust Sweden, especially with the likes of Carl Bildt possibly having influence over proceedings.
What do you do? I know I would consider every legal (and probably even illegal) avenue of escape. Julian Assange, to his credit, has gone for the perfectly legal option of requesting political asylum under the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If any person is deemed at risk of torture or mistreatment, decent members of the international community have a duty to step in and ensure their safety.
Regarding the allegations, Assange can still answer those from anywhere in the world on Skype, and if Sweden then decides it has enough evidence to charge him, we can go from there.
Julian Assange has done the only thing he can legally do to attempt to escape what is likely to be political persecution. It now remains to be seen whether Ecuador has the balls to invite the wrath of the empire. If not, it will be Sweden.
'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
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