It was a huge surprise that Julian Assange suddenly checked into the Embassy of República del Ecuador in London. The twitter reaction from leading Swedish media personalities, in the midst of a Football match, was predictably myopic - and as nationalistic as Football.
The picture that came into their minds was that of an Australian brute who was invited to Sweden, raped a couple Swedish women and now applied yet another stunt tried to escape those allegations.
There are so many misunderstandings in the Assange case that someone must put the picture straight. I will divide this in 2 or maybe 3 blog postings to argue a few important points:
1) Julian Assange is regarded as an enemy of the United States. The Swedish case is a nuisance compared to that.
2) No Swedish woman has actually claimed that she was raped by Julian Assange.
3) Even if Assange would be convicted in Sweden he would not serve any time.
With that knowledge I think it would be logical that the Ecuador strategy has to do with the U.S., not Sweden per se. I develop point 1 in this posting. The others will follow.
1) Assange is regarded as an enemy of the United States of America.
Don't make any mistake about it. The United States of America is ruthless when it comes to "national security", as defined by themselves. The revenge will come. They collect information from all the internet companies they can, they pressure Bradley Manning with absolutely inhuman methods. There is a Grand Jury.
Could the US ask the UK to have Julian Assange extradited now? Sure, if they have built the case already, which is not certain. But that would complicate things. Sweden wants him also. The United States are very patient. I would think that the easiest way to proceed from a US perspective is to let the Swedish case have its course first. As long as Julian Assange is nailed later in order to send a message to the world: Don't mess with the USA!
So what about the legal arguments that the UK would have to consent to an extradition to the US if he is transferred to Sweden? I have not researched this in detail but this is an irrelevant consideration. Maybe it applies formally to some limited time period when Assange is held by Swedish authorities as a consequence of an extradition from the UK. I will show in a follow-up posting that Julian Assange would be very quickly set free in Sweden, no matter if he is convicted or not even prosecuted. Even if convicted he would immediately be released. He would then be a free man on Swedish ground. I don't see that the UK could possibly have any influence on Swedish-US bilateral dealings at that time.
Sweden has delivered what the US wants earlier. Indeed, Sweden has instituted general wiretapping of all internet and phone traffic that pass Sweden's borders, in order to give that intelligence data to the US for something else, maybe a promise to intervene if the Russians come once again. Sweden is the country for Russian transit data since a vast proportion of their communications cables pass Sweden. We hardly have any military at home anymore. Our few troops are in Afghanistan to show that we are a reliable ally of the US without being a member of NATO.
Sweden raided the Pirate Bay at the request of USA. The mode was clear: Swedish authorities were flown to Washington, where they clearly stated that Sweden will obviously not break its own laws in Sweden to help the US. Instead they gave out very detailed instructions on what Sweden needed from American firms in order to initiate a big crack-down on The Pirate Bay. Wikileaks #cablegate cables later showed how Sweden consistently bows to demands from the USA. That piece was written by Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge.
Sweden is actually known and criticized for extra-judicial deportations when the concern is US national security.
I want to remind everyone of Rop Gonggrijp, the Dutch internet freedom activist. He held a keynote at the Chaos Communications Conference in Berlin in December 2010. He was involved for some time in Wikileaks but opted out when he realized that he would become an enemy of the American state:
I could have stuck around helping WikiLeaks also. They could probably have used me when they released the war diaries or these cables.
That did not happen. I guess I could make up all sorts of stories about how I disagreed with people or decisions, but the truth is that in the period that I helped out, the possible ramifications of WikiLeaks managed to scare the bejezus out of me. Courage is contagious, my ass.
I wish Julian and his people well, but I can’t live a life out of a backpack while on the run. Not to mention the fact that Julian has better hair and does much better soundbites.
I wrote about it in detail a long time ago. Focus on the Swedish sex case obfuscates the bigger issues here.
I have written about Wikileaks since 2007, and later about Assange. I have also just written a book that helps us understand Sweden's actions. It is named A Brief History of Swedish Sex and is a well-researched time-line of how Sweden turns from the world's leading nation of sexual liberty to become a country where sex is regarded as something intrinsically harmful. Necessary reading to understand how the Swedish case against Assange could become a national priority. It is a great read!