Julian Assange (Winston) the thought criminal, George Orwell birthday, Orwell could not have envisioned the level of messenger shooting, The Times “It’s time the UK forced Assange out of hiding”
“There is an epidemic of messenger shooting.”…Citizen Wells
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre. With the feeling that he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote:
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”…George Orwell, “1984”
“”You’re a traitor!” yelled the boy. “You’re a thought criminal!””…George Orwell, “1984”
From The Times via the Weekend Australian.
“It’s time the UK forced Assange out of hiding”
“That entirely speculative case is an attempt to play the British government. “I cannot imagine that anyone sensible in the British government wants to have a protracted battle to extradite me to Trump’s America.” Does he imagine this gives him leverage? He does.
The fact is his games have distorted the whole whistleblowing function of Wikileaks over the past years. It went for Hillary Clinton’s email cache, gambling that a grateful President Trump would not pursue him. It leaves Vladimir Putin alone because any country that can shelter Edward Snowden to irritate the US can do the same for Assange. And its founder’s cynical attempts to brush away rape allegations have made some whistleblowers think again about approaching his organisation.
Ecuador too has cooled. The asylum offer was extended by the former president Rafael Correa who was not exactly a champion of free speech. The ambassador to London, Ana Alban, rearranged the life of the embassy to make space for her ungrateful guest. According to Andrew O’Hagan, who was engaged to ghost the Assange memoirs, the fugitive was scathing about his host, describing her as mad, a compulsive dieter who would stalk the embassy corridors at night. Nor was Moreno (“Call me Lenin”) happy when Assange tweeted abuse against an Ecuadorean opposition politician.
So it may have been Britain’s calculation that Ecuador’s patience would crack with Assange. The turnaround in the Swedish case this spring was an opportunity to do just that and so was the presidential election. As one diplomat explained to me: “We thought they might come up with a deal — we buy more of their bananas or whatever, and they tell him to pack his bags.” Similar condescension was on display when Alban approached Hugo Swire, then minister for Latin America, and asked how the two countries could work together “to get rid of the stone in our shoes”. “Not our stone,” Swire reportedly replied, “not our shoe.”
We have been missing the point. Ecuador’s leaders earned praise from fellow leftist governments in Latin America, from the Cubans, the Venezuelans, the Brazilians, the Bolivians. Assange was cocking a snook at the United States, tapping into the anti-Yanqui sentiment; a digital standard bearer of the Bolivarian revolution. Why would they give up that prestige for a bit of extra foreign aid or some leeway on banana imports?
By letting this absurd standoff continue, Britain gives the impression that it doesn’t care enough about holding him to account. There is only one sensible recourse left: threaten Ecuador with the closure of its embassy. When Assange first walked into the embassy in 2012 the government did consider stripping immunity from the offices. This would have been feasible if the diplomats had been offered alternative property, and if there was a national security issue at stake. Ecuador has certainly allowed the premises to be used for purposes contrary to the national interest.
Nothing came of that plan. In the meantime Ecuador’s diplomats have become prisoners of Assange’s paranoia. It is their government’s failure to act that generated this absurd showdown. The surest way of ending it is to break off the diplomatic relationship in its entirety. That’s unpleasant, there will be damage to relations with other South American states and there will be a legal tangle. If the vacated embassy premises were to be managed by a third country acting on behalf of Ecuador’s interests, Assange could try to claim he is still shielded by immunity. But his days would be numbered.
Ecuador has to understand: it is not a friendly act to harbour someone who wants to drive a wedge between Britain and its primary ally. Nor is it a particularly effective humanitarian gesture. If Ecuador cannot summon the political will to surrender Assange, then its diplomats should pack their bags.”