Friday, August 17, 2012

For Assange - What now? What now?

Now that the Ecuadorian government has granted political asylum to Julian Assange (for those living on Pluto, the Wikileaks founder) to escape extradition to Sweden on sexual abuse allegations resulting in - ultimately - a snatch to the US, what now?  He is confined within the walls of the Ecuadorian London embassy.  For his purposes, not very optimal.

Leaving aside the arguments of whether publishing communications of limited value, aside from some amusing and embarrassing anecdotes and to which literally millions had access anyway, is some sort of crime - the granting of asylum could hardly have been a surprise to anyone with half a brain.  The current government in Ecuador is not especially supportive of the US and its foreign policy, for one thing.  It also sees the UK as in the pocket of the US.

However, even if there was a chance that Ecuador would reject the plea for asylum, the UK foreign office certainly slammed the door on that possibility by announcing that, under UK law, it could legally strip the embassy of its status, storm in and arrest poor Julian and ship him off to Stockholm.  Simply pointing our the law was a threat.  Have the people in the UK government been standing too long in the hot sun?  Were they running a high fever?  What ever made them think that floating the idea was a good plan?  If anything was going to guarantee a decision to grant asylum, that certainly was going to do it, while simultaneously enraging the government of Ecuador.  Furthermore, such an action would create a precedent of unaccountable proportions.  It doesn't need to be spelt out.

Why not have the Swedish government fly over a bunch of their crack prosecution team with the witness making the claims (who, apparently has not even been questioned) and conduct an interview inside the Ecuadorian embassy to determine if a case really exists?  If it is shown that the allegations are for real and that enough evidence exists to support an arrest (he has not been arrested) and criminal trial, it is likely that the Ecuadorian government will be placed in an awkward position and request his departure. 

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