Two years ago, Julian Assange was the most infamous man in the world. Discussions of Assange and Wikileaks attempted to plumb the mysteries of this renegade crusader for truth and honesty above all else. Hero to some, villain to others, Assange, most agreed, was a powerful idealist. But now, two years later, the Assange saga is getting more and more comical. He is now hiding from British and Swedish authorities in the Ecuadorian embassy. Writes Yahoo News:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is beyond the grasp of British authorities as long as he is holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy, the government said Wednesday. But he faces arrest if he steps outside.Police said Assange had violated the terms of his bail, which include an overnight curfew, and “is now subject to arrest.” Police officers were stationed Wednesday outside the Edwardian apartment block that houses the small South American country’s London embassy.
Does Assange really believe that Sweden is a country without justice, where he will not get a full and fair investigation and, if it goes past that, a trial?Sweden?The pseudo-revolutionary turned Russian television propagandist benefited from the full legal protections of the British court system. In Sweden his rights would also be well protected. But Assange doesn’t want ordinary justice. He believes he is due something special.It’s worse. When Assange refused to redact the names of individuals from his Wikileaks documents, he exposed people all over the world to retaliation from angry governments. He didn’t give these people a right to appeal, a right to argue that their confidentiality should be protected. He didn’t give them a chance to argue that the documents were inaccurate or portrayed them unfairly or were taken out of context. A citizen of a tyranny who criticized his or her ruler in a private talk could have the whole thing made public with no protection from the oh-so-idealistic Mr. Assange.But if other people deserve zero protection, Assange appears to believe that he deserves much, much more protection than ordinary citizens can have. Like the fat cat New York hotelier who said that “Taxes are for the little people,” Assange believes that only the little people need to live within the law. His place is both above and outside it.Governments try to keep secrets; journalists and others try to reveal them. Both say they do what they do in the public interest and sometimes both are right and both are wrong. But good governments and good journalists work within a set of limits and laws; this is something Assange won’t do.Perhaps he is seeking asylum because he knows he is guilty and knows Sweden has the goods on him. Perhaps in his panicky, paranoid frame of mind, Sweden is part of the great universal plot to destroy him. Either way, he’s a mess, and it’s unlikely that he has much left to contribute to the world.