When told of the death of a political rival the 19th-century French statesman Talleyrand supposedly asked: “I wonder what he meant by that?”
I rather felt the same when woken to the news that Sweden now wants to extradite Julian Assange on long abandoned “sex-charges” from 2010.
What do they mean by that? Inevitably at this stage, one must speculate but I don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows. I think they mean no good.
The US extradition application is already before the British courts and public opinion about the persecution of the whistleblower Assange has begun to turn. Even amongst those recently most hostile to the WikiLeaks founder – the very journalists who once waited upon his every word.
The grossly disproportionate charges being lined up in the US justice system – for a man who on any honest reading AT WORST merely facilitated a leak of truthful information of great public interest and published it – might well find an honest British judge unpersuaded of the justice of the US case. Perhaps the US or British government – itself scarcely in need of another long bitter national controversy – had seen the same straws in the wind as me, a change of climate with regard to Julian Assange.
This would certainly be a reason for re-awakening the public to the twice abandoned sex-case against Assange by Sweden – a kind of re-smear. A topping up of liberal revulsion for fear that the balance of revulsion had begun dangerously to tip against the US case.
The most obvious reason though is a belt and braces, insurance policy. Should the US extradition application fail in England well it may succeed in Sweden which is if anything a country even more beholden to the US Empire than Britain is. It means Assange faces not one but two extradition battles. And so do his legal team, his friends and supporters and his fundraising network.
I’d say it was the crushing of a butterfly upon the wheel, except Assange is no butterfly – he stings like a bee – and the US Empire is way more wonky than any wheel. The US president used to pray in aid of Julian Assange, praised WikiLeaks, and yet Trump’s own Justice Department is now straining every sinew seeking to put Assange behind bars in America for the rest of his natural on an ever-lengthening number of charges.
Assange was always prepared to return to Sweden to face charges – however absurd – in return for Sweden providing undertakings that it would not then extradite him to the US to face even more absurd and life-threating charges there. That Sweden would not give those undertakings was always an indicator of the real game which was going on. It is open to Sweden to give such undertakings now but no reader should hold their breath in expectation of them doing so.
Assange voluntarily attended a police station in Sweden in 2010 and was told he would face no charges and could leave the country freely. The case was later re-opened by Swedish prosecutors before being closed again, only now to be re-opened. The allegations against him have been politically manipulated from the start by the very empire his publishing unmasked as the greatest threat to humanity there has ever been. This latest twist may not be the last turn in the Saga of Julian Assange.