Saturday, June 23, 2012

Are Assange's Fears Justified ?

THERE has been a predictable storm of media commentary following Julian Assange's dramatic bid to seek political asylum at Ecuador's London embassy. Many commentators have been dismissive of Assange's claims he is at risk of politically-motivated United States espionage charges.

It has been repeatedly claimed there is "no evidence" of any US prosecution and that the WikiLeaks founder is only engaged in a desperate bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning about sexual assault allegations.

Prominent among the hostile press is The Guardian, the British newspaper that profited handsomely from Assange's decision to share with it an enormous bounty of leaked US military and diplomatic documents.

James Ball, who briefly served as a WikiLeaks staffer before securing a job with The Guardian and emerging as one of Assange's persistent critics, wrote of the WikiLeaks publisher this week: "Is the US really trying to extradite him? . . . There's been no evidence to support this theory, despite it being the basis of Assange's bid for asylum."

According to Ball: "Assange has spent so long conflating allegations centred around his private life on a few days in Sweden with WikiLeaks' wider battles he's come to believe his own spin."

This criticism is supported by the repeated statements of the Australian government — Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon— that they have seen "no evidence" the US government has or intends to charge Assange with any more