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Semiformalishmaybe

Souring on Assange

I find myself very rapidly souring on Julian Assange. I still believe Wikileaks to be a worthwhile organisation, at least in its stated goals, but I'm coming to think that it has deep problems with the people it is staffed with based on research I've done over the last few days.

As for Julian Assange, we could imagine any permutation of these pairs:

  • The US Government is keen to ask Sweden to hand him over to the US
  • The US Government doesn't particularly care because it'd have a tough time building a legal case against a non-US citizen
And:
  • He sexually assaulted someone in Sweden
  • He didn't
I suspect Assange is not actually that interesting to the United States; I doubt he knows much that couldn't be found out through other means, he's mainly a figurehead (unless he'd be useful for the Bradley Manning matter).

I would prefer that courts resolve the matter of sexual assault; it'd be an injustice to have him falsely imprisoned for assault he didn't do, but it'd also be an injustice for him to get away with it if he did do it, and a trial seems the best way to make a try at figuring out which it is.

He has decided to try to skip bail, seeking asylum in Ecuador, which really makes me uncomfortable as it's a country that is known for extensive press interference and deep anti-Americanism; should we understand Assange as more of an anti-American or a press-freedom person?

On that note, if we are to trust the Guardian's journalists who wrote a book on their experiences initially working with Wikileaks, initially Wikileaks did not intend to redact the names of U.S. collaborators with Afghanistan; when prodded about it because of the dangers, he is quoted as saying 「So, if they get killed they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it」. I'm willing to believe the press on that.

And there's Wikileaks' association with Israel Shamir, which led some other Wikileaks staff to resign, part of a long stream of people leaving the group, many of them citing Assange's arrogance and incompetence as reasons they were going.

I like what Wikileaks has done, but I now suspect they wern't doing it for the reasons I thought, I believe they are led by a narcissistic jerk who took far too little care for the lives and well-being of people around him or those affected by his actions, and his efforts to avoid trial for some kind of sexual assault by appealing to Ecuador of all places do not help matters.

Whatever happens, I would like to hear less about Assange and more about the leaked information; Wikileaks itself and particularly Assange are disposable. The importance of occasional leaks to give us some transparency in how things actually work remains high. Let's not confuse fallable movements and leaders for important causes.

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