It’s hard not to hate Julian Assange, he’s glib, sarcastic and self-centered. This is before you remember that his career path involves leaking confidential government documents of multinational origins. That career is probably the most likely reason you know his name… Well either that or the rape allegations.
In 2010 two women came forward and claimed that they’d been raped by Assange. He was charged and the charges were subsequently dropped. According to Assange this is nothing more than a smear campaign, and it seems to be working. “Two days ago I did a search on Google for my name, some 40 million web pages have my name in it. Now, searching for my name and the word "rape", there is some 30 mil web pages. So this has been a very successful smear,” says Assange in an interview with BBC News.
He has a point. The timing of the charges is suspicious at best and far too Bournenian for my comfort at worst. What this writer finds more disturbing is that while the charges where dropped and Swedish courts show no intentions of reinstating them, Sweden is still asking Assange to come back for questioning. Assange is refusing as he explains…
Even more disturbing still is the assertion by Assange that the complaining parties may not have claimed rape in the beginning.
While he admits that the government was unlikely to have set up a honey-pot sting, it is still very possible that they massively over stepped in possibly coercing these women to claim rape. Admittedly this is quite a strange and rare situation. From years of American spy movies we are trained to think only of the most conspiratory situations, and while that may not be the truth there is something going on here.
Until December 2010 the situation in Sweden was pretty quiet. Then The Guardian published an scathing article about Assange, Wikileaks and the situation in Sweden. The report was a dissection of a “leaked” police report that detailed all of the allegations against him. The article reignited press and public attention to the story. With the rape allegations clogging up the news cycle the original story, Wikileaks leaking legally obtained confidential US State Department cables, seems to have been overshadowed. So it would seem that this smear campaign is working.
To take a fair look at the situation, you have to look past Julian’s penchant to annoy the sensibility out of anyone with his smug, holier than thou attitude and word choice. That is understandably difficult as just reading the transcript from his BBC interview last month made this sexpert lose his cool. We need to remember that this is not a popularity contest. No matter how much we dislike this man, he is being wrongfully smeared.
Because he has never been convicted of any crime related to Wikileaks nor the Swedish situation it is only right to assume that Julian Assange is innocent. Since this is the current assumption then we, as citizens of the world and consumers of the news cycle, should be furious.
In a world where information is freely available, where history is at the tip of our fingers, and where one man can infiltrate and expose the US State Department using a burned Lady Gaga CD, it is incomprehensible why any government would try to besmirch this man’s good name using such archaic, transparent and insulting methods. (He is doing a pretty good job on his own.) More importantly they have used a very sensitive and inflammatory situation without regard for the parties involved for political gain.
Once the heat from this period disperses what we will be left with is a built in defense for any powerful person on the government’s bad side to use in court. Those people could actually be criminals, and could also benefit from the over zealous attempts of an old government to take out new media. Say this time next year a Chinese woman claims she was raped by Google CEO Eric Shmidt, and she actually was. He would wrap himself in lawyers, throw out the Assange Defense and get away with the rape of that woman. And for what?
It seems that no one else in the field of journalism has bothered to consider, let alone report, the story in this way. This entire media spectacle will inevitably change they way world government/politics function. This is why it's more important than ever to keep a level head in this crazy media whirlwind. We musn’t be willing to accept the martyrdom of a man who, as far as anyone knows, has done nothing wrong. Nor must we allow our governments to use sexuality as a weapon to do so.