Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and the Damage Done
Over a year ago, I discussed some of the actions by Wikileaks leader Julian Assange to control the organization and to limit leaks of it’s own materal. I felt that Julian Assange Hurts Wikileaks Credibility with those moves, and more than a year later, we see more proof that he isn’t thinking very clearly here.
Just over a year after that last post, we are now looking at the mindless spectacle of Julian Assange, hiding out in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, having been given asylum from that country so he can avoid prosecution. Well, you might think that this is a good thing, because clearly the US and perhaps a few other countries might want to talk to him about how various leaks were sourced. You would think this is all about freedom of the press and such. But you would be very much mislead if you felt this way.
This entire process is because Mr Assange does not want to be extradited to Sweden to be questioned (and potentially charged) in relation to two complaints of a sexual nature. It’s not a question of freedom of the press, or freedom of political ideas, or any of those things, it’s simply that Mr Assange does not want to deal with the allegations of two women who felt they are either forced into sex or forced to have non-consensual un-safe sex with this man.
Yet, there he is, at the embassy window, yabbering on about about the Geneva convention and police sneaking up the embassy fire escapes. He’s calling on Obama to do this, the world leaders to do that, the UK to do something else… and yet nowhere does he seem willing to directly address the very reason he finds himself in his current position.
There is an interesting article on CNN from Micah Sirfy, perhaps one of the best people in the world looking at Wikipedia and it’s implications in both journalism and politics. Even he can see now how much harm Assange has done to wikileaks, and how much this current circus is drawing eyes away from the message and more towards the man. To quote:
There’s something deeply ironic, and sad, about watching WikiLeaks’ founder turn to a country with a terrible record on press freedom to avoid falling into the hands of another government, or governments, if you count the United States as the other major player in this melodrama.
Wikileaks is now almost lost as an organization, lead by a man who’s own transparency is entirely under question, and who refuses to come clean. Julian Assange has allowed his personal life and perhaps his personal indiscretions to become the focal point of the discussions. He finds himself slowly backing into a corner, sleeping under a roof provided by a government who generally treats journalists poorly, who does not generally respect free speech, and he acts like the martyr all the way. It’s truly sad.
Moreover, Mr Assange’s entire logic, that he does not want to be extradited to Sweden because he may then be extradited to the US seems a fair bit wonky by itself. Clearly, the UK is capable of extraditing people, they are trying to do it right now to send him to Sweden. If the US charged him, it is very obvious that the UK (and many other countries) would do their duty and process the extradition request. The reasons for Assange to hide in Ecuador seem entirely of his own making, not on the internet, but in a bedroom or hotel somewhere in Sweden.