The arrest of the founder of WikiLeaks; harassment occurs amidst the siege on the leak site
It is difficult to avoid the strong assumption that Julian Assange’s arrest yesterday in London — due to charges of coercion, rape and sexual harassment in Sweden — has some motivation from the deep grudge that the U.S. official institutions have projected towards the founder of WikiLeaks because of his determination to uncover the secrets of their diplomacy. The latest leak of over 250,000 classified and confidential State Department documents, whose impact has been enhanced by the work of systematizing and contextualizing conducted by five global newspapers, has provoked angry reactions in Washington, which were understandable in some cases but absolutely absurd in others, such as requiring that Assange be treated as a terrorist and that the organization he oversees as being guilty of involvement in terrorism under the legislation put in place in the U.S. after 9/11.
The allegations that have been made in Sweden against Assange are related to common crimes and are not related to his professional activities. For the moment, the U.S. is considering how to formulate a charge, based on the revelation of the secrets of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its diplomacy, as well as the damage that has been inflicted by it, ultimately bringing the founder of WikiLeaks to American justice. The U.S. prosecutors do not have an easy task, but they are working on it.
Faced with the complaints that have been presented in Sweden, Assange has less political defense, and it remains to be seen whether there is a legal defense against what could develop due to the WikiLeaks activity. These allegations were admitted first, then dismissed, and later reopened so that the prosecution could finish filing the extradition request of the founder of WikiLeaks to Britain. Assange has no choice but to cooperate with the judicial system to fend off accusations that he considers false and avoid a conviction. This would give his enemies an excellent excuse to kill his organization, which has already been subjected to an unprecedented amount of computer and financial related harassment.
Assange’s arrest and his being brought to justice portends an extradition process that will take time, in which the Swedish justice system will have to clarify the facts and the crimes of which Assange is accused to strict and fastidious British judges, as was shown in the case of dictator Pinochet. If he rids himself of these allegations, Assange shall surely face a more serious charge, which could come from the U.S. for revealing the secrets of its diplomacy. In terms of principle, it would be a serious position for whoever can formulate the charges, but one that is very difficult to articulate in court. Assange is not a government official and does not have U.S. citizenship. Also, he is not the author of the leaks but rather its divulger, so a strong political and legal defense can be expected.