It's hard to figure out why so many different countries want a piece of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Actually, it's easy to figure out why the US wants him. Leaking huge numbers of what our government calls "sensitive" documents has put the US on the defensive. However, now Sweden and Great Britain have gotten involved, and for the Brits, it's hardly their finest hour. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19th, and most recent developments indicate he may be there for awhile.
Assange is trying to block his extradition from Britain to Sweden, where he faces questioning in the sexual assault of two women. However, that's not the real issue. Thanks to some heavy-handed tactics by Britain, it's ballooned into much more. The UK government says it's duty bound to arrest and extradite Assange to Sweden if he leave the embassy. On Wednesday, officials in Ecuador accused the Brits of threatening to storm the embassy to arrest Assange.
Excuse me? Storm the embassy of a foreign government? As Ecuador's Foreign Minister angrily responded, "We are not a British colony!" And so, on Thursday, Ecuador granted Julian Assange diplomatic asylum, thereby keeping him safe, as long as he doesn't try to leave, not even for a dinner of steak and kidney pie. So why is Assange so nervous about going to Sweden? Because neither Sweden, Britain, nor the US would give any guarantees that after he was done in Sweden, he wouldn't be sent straight to our shores to face charges that could have him face up on a gurney.
The US has long maintained that WikiLeaks document dumps were putting US military and diplomatic personnel in grave danger. As yet, there are no reports of any actual casualties resulting from these dumps.And while we're at it, didn't some folks in the Bush Administration out Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, putting her life in danger?
Whether Julian Assange should be praised or condemned is for greater minds than mine to contemplate. There's a part of me that admires his guts in trying to make, in his own way, governments more transparent. That he should become the center of an international firestorm is absurd. The smart thing for all involved is to let him go to Sweden to face the charges there, but guarantee him safe passage to the country of his choice (Ecuador?) if he's found innocent. Quite frankly, he shouldn't be sent here to face charges at all, much less the death penalty.
All this for one guy? You're kidding, right? Or are they serious? You tell me.