Is Julian Assange about to get arrested? And what then?

Queensland boy Julian Assange seems set to walk out of the Ecuadorian embassy soon, hoping that the announcement by the UN human rights panel on the arbitrariness of his detention will protect him from being arrested. The baseline scenario is that he walks out, is quickly arrested by the UK authorities, and is then extradited to Sweden, which will go through its own pantomime but which in essence will just send him onto the US, where they will probably successfully convict him in a secret trial.

Julian surely expects the same, so why is he doing this and how will the Australian government react to this baseline scenario?

I understand that the main reason behind Julian’s move is medical: he is apparently in constant pain and needs to be put under an MRI scanner to ascertain the source. That is a treatment that the Equadorian embassy cannot possibly provide and the UK government refused to allow him safe passage to hospital. So his choice was stark: remain in the embassy in constant pain without hope of relief, or accept the wrath of the US secret services whilst at least getting some medical attention that might relieve the pain. He seems to have chosen the second option, maximising the degree to which he has the moral high ground with the UN ruling under his belt.

How will the Australian government react? As I have said when the Wikileaks case broke in 2010, the Australian government has so far backed the US administration and disowned Assange as much as it could. It will probably try to keep doing this (lib or Lab: doesn’t matter), but the groundswell of support for Julian will surely become quite formidable when he is in the US, particularly when Sweden dismisses the somewhat bizarre `rape case’ against him. I say ‘when’ and ‘bizarre’ because Julian is not accused of anything, has already given evidence in Stockholm before, and a previous Swedish prosecutor dismissed the case as baseless. The odds of anything but a second complete exoneration by the Swedish legal authorities seem remote. Still, that wont stop Sweden from sending him onto the US, particularly as Sweden now apparently wants to join Nato, fearful of the Russians.

So when Julian is finally in the US, one would expect a clear face-off between civil rights and the US security apparatus, where one should heavily favour the latter to win. Perhaps the Australian government will be pressured to at least openly object and secure reasonable prison lodgings for Julian, but I don’t expect the Australian government to go all out for him.

The case to me is illustrating the degree to which the US security apparatus is able to co-opt and coerce governments in the West to do its bidding. Already in 2010 I thought Julian would spend the rest of his days in some form of prison, given that small players cannot annoy big beasts without consequences, and this indeed is the scenario that has played out ever since. Sad, but I don’t see how civil society can regain its right to hold governments to account: the loss of free speech at the hands of anonymous agencies who use their discretionary powers as much for their own personal gain as for the defense of our societies, is very popular with voters who simply don’t see their loss. It is quite ironic to see Tea Party adherents in the US, who supposedly mistrust and dislike Big Government, being among the most vociferous opponents of Assange and Snowden. What would the ‘Founders’ in the US think of such open adherence to secrecy and government?

The legal profession, to its credit, is resisting the increased powers of the secret services as best it can, but at the moment it is losing. It needs a far worse scandal than Wikileaks or the Snowden revelations to bring some balance back to the way our society interacts with its secret services.

History does give us a glimpse of how hard it is for societies to bring a large secret service to heel once it has embedded itself and uses every perceived danger to increase its resources and powers. In Germany, it took a devastating 2nd world war and foreign occupation to finally break the hold of the Prussian military establishment over German society (and that war, according to president Eisenhower’s retirement speech, empowered the US military-industrial complex: you get rid of one here, you spawn another one there!). Russia is arguably still run by the secret services set up about 100 years ago. I wonder what might do the trick in Western countries? Any ideas?

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28 Responses to Is Julian Assange about to get arrested? And what then?

  1. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    two points

    The UK Government cannot give him up to Sweden if he is to be whisked off to the USA.

    The rape charges are very serious and they should be addressed.

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      Pretty sure they can and will give him up to Sweden. They have said they will. It is required under a Euro agreement. I think the rape charges have already been addressed and, as Paul pointed out, dismissed before mysteriously being resurrected.

  2. paul walter says:

    Here is an issue that grates with me more than just about any. an innocent, authentic whistleblower persecuted by a sleazy underworld of politics, privilege, authoritarianism and surveillance.

    I despise the stupidity of those who swallowed the Establishment slur on Assange, but from a creature like Cameron, you’d expect no better…it would be beaut to see the whole lot hung, drawn and quartered- slowly.

  3. conrad says:

    At least for the US, perhaps the small chance the Bernie Sanders gets in and the even smaller chance he can do anything if he does.

  4. R. N. England says:

    Has anyone noticed how the Guardian and the New York Times have been gutted since they cooperated with the Wikileaks and Snowden revelations? It appears that no major newspaper in the world would reveal that kind of information now. Media in the West seem more and more to be pandering to their audiences rather than informing them, as well as pandering to the West’s military-industrial-espionage monopoly by churning out material designed to poison international relations. It’s a good indication how vulnerable the so-called “independent” media really are.

    I’m starting to think that this trend, and the rise of Nazism and Japanese militarism are integral to the capitalist economic cycle.

    • Nicholas Gruen says:

      We don’t need Nazism. One party states can be made quite consumer friendly – as in Singapore, which is presumably a model for China.

  5. R. N. England says:

    You bet we don’t need it, but fear and hatred are such good earners that they boom when other things go bust. That’s where hard-headed investors put their money in hard times.

  6. derrida derider says:

    I’m not so sure that the yanks will now risk the reputation costs of getting him – (though I agree that they DID – Swedish official behaviour here is only explicable on the basis that there was clearly a completely different agenda to the rape charges being run). I think they’d rather Mr Assange was just forgotten – as RN England notes above they have already deterred further such inconveniences as Mr Assange caused by other means.

    I hold the pom courts blameless though – they were tightly bound by Blair’s October 2001 (note the date) agreement that European Arrest Warrants are to be honoured no matter how weak the case or even if the offence would not be an offence in the UK. IOW, Europeans are now effectively subject to extraterritoriality – Germany, for example, has made a habit of getting extradition of holocaust deniers.

    It is possible that Mr Turnbull may rise to the occasion if Mr Assange is indeed rendered to the US Gulag – the PM made his fame as a lawyer by blocking extradition of Peter Wright when the Thatcher government was trying very hard to get their hands on Mr Wright for having washed MI5’s dirty laundry in public.

  7. paul walter says:

    Yes, RN England, the Guardian seems to have come a gutzer, so conservative now, much more lifestyle trivia and directionless since the departure of Rusbridger, himself no saint.

    I thank DD for helpful backgrounding and inform the Notrampis that the only thing serious about the accusations- not charges- is the revelation of the extent to which they demonstrate the sly and vicious way Power will lash out at and drag down anyone questioning it.

    • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

      DD has nothing of the sort. Mate if you are going to be arrested then it is highly likely you are going to be charged.The Swedish police has essentially said they will charge him.

      Rape charges are very serious ans should be treated thus.

      The UK cannot hand him over id they think he wil be sent to the US.

      What is in it for the Swedes to do thaqt.

      • paul walter says:

        You naivety is gobsmacking.

        How can you not “get” that the charges are trumped for political reasons. NO rape took place- at least in any meaningful sense- and your comment just demonstrates that you didn’t read my post.

        Or vast amounts of journalism over the last few years, that have debunked the fatuous slanders for the virtual blood libelings they are, aimed actually at silencing dissent.

        • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

          the Swedish police do not believe that and if so then it would be easy to prove in a court.

          you have been wood-ducked

      • R. N. England says:

        “Rape charges are very serious and should be treated thus”.

        We should look at the kind of rape that is alleged. In Sweden, you can evidently be charged with rape (a very serious felony) if you resume copulation in the morning while your bed-partner is asleep or claims to be so, and don’t use a condom. Like failing to cover a cough or sneeze when one has influenza or tuberculosis, such behaviour is undoubtedly very inconsiderate, but there are very good arguments against a government punishing it. For one, it has the potential to catch too many people. Laws that catch too many people are tyrannical. If the law isn’t catching many people, the reason is that most people (in particular women) don’t regard the behaviour in question as a felony. That is another argument why the law shouldn’t exist. It can be used maliciously for extraneous reasons. These arguments could have been used by the British government to refuse extradition, and could still be used by the Australian Government to request the Swedish Government to abandon its prosecution. Extraneous reasons seem the most likely explanation for the behaviour of the Swedish, British, and Australian governments in the case.

        • John walker says:

          Weren’t there initaly two seperate complainants?

        • R. N. England says:

          Yes, John walker, I distinctly remember reading that two women colleagues discovered they had both got into his pants (or vice versa) on different occasions. Perhaps he committed some other breach of Swedish sexual etiquette with the other one.

  8. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    you obviously do not know who is in Government although that is problematic at present.

  9. paul walter says:

    None so blind as those who won’t see.

    Your comment re the Swedish police flies in the face of a mountain of evidence that indicates the thing was politicised further up the food chain.

    Now, I will offer a challenge to you. If the authorities want justice for the women, why are they not prepared to interview, let alone try Assange, on neutral territory?

    Why do you not think or can’t see that, Assange’s fears of extraordinary renditon are are likely justifiable and the real reason he has stayed in the Ecuadorian Enbassy?

    Why should he he expose himself to risk for something likely never committed?

    • John walker says:

      Paul
      I read somewhere, that the swedes did , fairly recently go to the embassy to interview Assange, but the embassy would not let them in, do you know if that is true?

      NTramp
      Am told that Assange is accused of ‘something’ that in the UK would not be a criminal offence and that the rules of evidence in Sweden would also be ,not on in common law.

      • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

        so Swedish law is beneath us eh!

        Again I ask why would the present Swedish government would be so subservient to the US?

        • paul walter says:

          Did you not read what John Walker said, either?

          JW, dunno. Would it be Assange or the embassy in that case?

        • derrida derider says:

          Homer, if you chase around the details of Swedish official behaviour you soon see that something really does stink in all this. Were it just an air of general stink, though, you might think it was merely publicity seeking by a crusading prosecuting magistrate determined to push a weak (and believe me, it IS weak) rape case to make a feminist point.

          But the biggest single reason to believe they were keen to send him to the US is the stubborn refusal, despite repeated questions in parliament and by domestic journalists, of the Swedish government to unequivocally deny it. When politicians use obvious weasel words when they could make an awkward question go away with a simple “no” then you’re entitled to draw conclusions.

      • John walker says:

        Paul unfortunately can’t remember where I read it, but it was the ” embassy “.

        there were initially two seperate complaints by two women .

        One of the complaints involved( From memory)one of the women and Assange going to bed, having sex and then Assange waking up in the middle of the night and having sex without a proper – ‘ are you awake’ and without protection.

  10. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    where is the ‘mountain of evidence’?

  11. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    you obviously didn’t. Read what he said carefully!

  12. paul walter says:

    John Walker, what angers me with this is the willingness of some to have Assange persecuted, perhaps murdered for obscure(d) ideological or political motives, or on nothing better than some instilled dislike for the man…no sense of inocent till proven guilty; no sense of do unto others.

    • John walker says:

      Paul
      Don’t really care for him that much, however Assange in the US faces a secret trial. He would have little or none of normal ‘ Magna Carta ‘ rights.

      And he has effectively spent years in home detention, and the charges in Sweden are not the sort of thing that most would call a criminal detention offence.
      Assange and co showed the U.S. intelligence comunity to be fools, like how the heck did bradly get that job? And that seems to be the real reason for it going on and on…

  13. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    DD,
    1) A legal case would see a weak case thrown out end of story.

    2)The government in power at that time would be in no mood to give the US any favours. That simply makes no sense. It would be illegal for the UK government to send him to Sweden if that occurred anyway.

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