That the biggest news story in the world at the moment is about a renegade website and its outlaw editor’s escapades in trying to both avoid and seemingly bring down the US government is fascinating. I’ve never looked at Wikileaks, barely heard of it before June, but people at work keep asking me about the furore.
Is it a stitch-up by the US government, coercing the UK and Sweden into pursuing him on trumped-up charges? There are still no actual charges; he’s just wanted for questioning, and yet is held in custody despite offers of tens of thousands of pounds in bail money from significant public figures. A senior judge in Sweden threw out the allegations in August because she said there was no evidence. But despite being locked up, despite having servers withdrawn and access denied, Wikileaks survives. This the internet. It perpetuates itself.
Is Assange a danger to Western civilisation? We know that royalty can be idiots, that diplomats don’t like each other. We know that the military and the executive of our country, of the US, of every country, must plan and speculate for every kind of possible action we might need to take in the event of international diplomatic meltdown. We know we have state secrets. Maybe we didn’t know that Burma, the country, thought about buying Man Utd, the football team.
I don’t know what I think about Wikileaks. The teenage liberal anarchist in me wants freedom at all costs, finds the chaos caused by simply telling the truth massively appealing. The adult in me thinks men guilty of sexual assault deserve to have the book thrown at them, and that, in order for our freedom to exist the a some things we are better off not knowing about. The rest of me just thinks “come on and release the stuff about aliens”.
That Republican politicians are calling for Assange to be executed, to be kidnapped and spirited away to the US on a rendition flight despite no one knowing if he’s actually broken a law by publishing these leaks, suggests he may be better off, short term, in Wandsworth.