The arrest of Julian Assange by British police on 11 April 2019 raises a number of troubling questions. It naturally enough provoked the outrage of Assange’s supporters; a blandly noncommittal comment by the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs (“appropriate consular assistance”); and a wilful disregard of the many significant issues by the mainstream media who may, ironically, end up as the major victims of the pursuit of Assange by the UK and US authorities.
Assange was a founder of the Wikileaks organisation, which in its relatively brief life had exposed a significant number of documents that proved exceedingly embarrassing for the United States government. Perhaps the most infamous was a military video “Collateral Damage” released by Wikileaks in 2007. It showed US soldiers celebrating the murder of Iraqi civilians and including the murder of two Reuter’s reporters.
The video had itself been leaked by Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, whose link to Assange’s current arrest is significant. Assange had been granted bail by a British court on a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden on the basis of allegations of sexual assault by Assange when he was on a visit to Stockholm. There was a history to those charges themselves. Assange had been questioned in Sweden and allowed to leave the country without being charged. The original prosecutor had decided there was insufficient evidence to charge him.
A new prosecutor decided otherwise not on the basis of evidence, but because of political considerations, i.e. pressure from above. Nonetheless, the Swedish authorities again decided in 2013 that they wished to drop the case. We now know, as the result of Freedom of Information requests, that the British were pressuring the Swedish authorities not to do so. One document released under Freedom of Information had a British official emailing the Swedish authorities: “don’t you dare get cold feet.”
It is one of the many failings of the mainstream media in this case that it never occurred to them to ask why the British should be so anxious that Assange be prosecuted by the authorities of a foreign country in respect of the allegations about Assange (a non-British citizen) allegedly sexually assaulting two Swedish nationals.
Assange was unaware at the time of these machinations.