Assange and human rights

Julian Assange on balcony
Tomorrow, Julian Assange is invited to speak on human rights and diplomatic asylum, via weblink from his room in Knightsbridge, at a UN event for permanent representatives to the UN General Assembly.

From Live on RT, which is to broadcast the event:

Julian Assange will address permanent representatives to the UN General Assembly at a high-level talk on the legal and ethical legitimacy of diplomatic asylum. RT has exclusive rights to broadcast the event live from the UN headquarters in New York. [Note: this will be at 8:30pm in New York, so half an hour into Thursday morning in London.]

Among those joining Assange for the panel discussion at the 67th General Assembly Debate on Wednesday will be Ricardo Patino, Foreign Affairs Minister of Ecuador, and Baher Azmy, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

It seems unlikely – though it would be interesting if they did – that the panel will discuss how Julian Assange has been given asylum not from the US, but from Swedish law enforcement seeking to investigate a crime of violence allegedly committed against two Swedish citizens.

It won’t be easy
You’ll think it strange
When I try to explain how I feel
That I still need your love
After all that I’ve done
You won’t believe me
All you will see
Is a boy you once knew
Although he’s dressed up to the nines
At sixes and sevens with you

On Thursday, William Hague and his Ecuadorean opposite number Ricardo Patino, the Foreign Affairs Minister, who are both attending the UN summit, will discuss how to resolve the Assange situation.

It would be nice to think that William Hague will begin by apologising for that indescribably foolish letter threatening to remove diplomatic status from the Ecuador embassy in London in order to allow police to enter and arrest Assange. Hague should apologise, but I’m guessing he won’t. Janet Daley comments here on the rudeness of the Tories: my guess is Hague will expect Patino to “move on”, because Hague is not interested in apologising for his past stupidities.

[Update, 27th September: Ricardo Patino and William Hague met in New York today:

“On the case of Mr Julian Assange, the Foreign Secretary told Minister Patino that the UK was under an obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden. The concept of “diplomatic asylum”, while well-established in Latin America, did not feature in UK law.

“The Foreign Secretary described the extensive human rights safeguards in UK extradition law. He requested the Government of Ecuador to study these provisions closely in considering the way ahead.

“Both Ministers agreed that they were committed to the search for a diplomatic solution to Mr Assange’s case. They were willing to meet again at this level in due course to continue these exchanges.”

The news report does not say if Hague apologised for that letter.]

David Allen Green:

Whenever the Julian Assange extradition comes up in the news, many of his supporters make various confident assertions about legal aspects of the case.

Some Assange supporters will maintain these contentions regardless of the law and the evidence – they are like “zombie facts” which stagger on even when shot down; but for anyone genuinely interested in getting at the truth, this quick post sets out five common misconceptions and some links to the relevant commentary and material.

Don’t cry for me Wikileaks
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don’t keep your distance

One of those zombie facts is likely to surface again: Ecuador apparently plan to ask the UK to allow them to transfer Assange to their embassy in Sweden, so that the Swedish police could interview him in the Ecuador embassy at Engelbrektsgatan 13 in Stockholm.

And as for fortune and as for fame
I never invited them in
Though it seemed to the world
They were all I desired
They are illusions
They’re not the solutions
They promise to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me

David Allen Green deals with this in point four:

Assange is not wanted merely for questioning.

He is wanted for arrest.

This arrest is for an alleged crime in Sweden as the procedural stage before charging (or “indictment”). Indeed, to those who complain that Assange has not yet been charged, the answer is simple: he cannot actually be charged until he is arrested.

It is not for any person accused of rape and sexual assault to dictate the terms on which he is investigated, whether it be Assange or otherwise. The question is whether the Swedish investigators can now, at this stage of the process, arrest Assange.

Have I said too much?
There’s nothing more I can think of to say to you
But all you have to do
Is look at me to know
That every word is true

Julian Assange, Ecuador flag

Amanda Marcotte wrote about three weeks ago:

Even Assange defenders who claim they want Assange to face his accusers seem to be directing anger at everyone but the person who likely bears the most responsibility for the current situation. They’re mad at Sweden for not brokering a deal that would shield Assange from extradition to the U.S. They’re mad at the U.S. for hanging on to the option of prosecuting Assange for WikiLeaks-related crimes. They’re mad at the British government for threatening to arrest Assange. But they don’t seem to hold Assange responsible for creating this situation in the first place.

Because what Julian Assange must justly fear is that, if Wiliam Hague sees sense and simply sticks to the one sure point: Julian Assange is due to be extradited to Sweden to face police questioning and charges for serious crimes – he has had his full legal rights in appealling against this extradition, and now he is simply denying the two women their legal right to see the case through – and if Assange will not cooperate with this, why then, let that be his problem and that of the Ecuadorean embassy staff.

Julian Assange has imprisoned himself indefinitely without trial:

But he has made his choice, and continues to pretend that he will totally be extradited to the USA from Sweden, despite the USA never having asked for anything of the sort. He continues to make the whole saga about him, poisoning Wikileaks with his egomania.

And so I think the best possible course of action now is to ignore him. Let him fade into obscurity, living out his days in a tiny room somewhere in West London. He feeds on attention, let us starve him. Let him become a mild annoyance to Ecuadorian diplomats and nothing else. Let him become a nobody, a nothing. He chose this.

Update: Oh The Irony

Amanda Marcotte:

If the accusers in the Assange case are telling the truth—and so far, there’s no evidence that they’re lying—supporters of WikiLeaks should be furious at Julian Assange. He put the whole WikiLeaks operation at risk in order to sexually dominate women. Even if he didn’t rape the accusers, Assange’s reaction to the accusations has demonstrated a strong disdain for the notion that women have a right to bodily autonomy. He accused Sweden of being the “Saudi Arabia of feminism” for no other reason than its willingness to take seriously a woman’s claim that she was penetrated against her will. He trotted out the idea that a woman’s clothing choices and flirtatious behavior matter more than her consent. He’s admitted that he’s a “chauvinist pig” while reiterating the assertion that the only way you could read the accusations as rape is if your view is “distorted.” He doesn’t seem to give a whiff if he comes across as a dangerous sexual predator.

From Slutwalk Britain’s Facebook page:

We at Slutwalk Britain would like to assure all supporters and allies that the views recently expressed by Slutwalk London via Twitter are not the views of the entire movement, all organisers nor of many of its supporters. Slutwalk Britain is an umbrella page uniting all the British Slutwalks and their different voices; however, we cannot stand behind Slutwalk London’s tweet as we believe it goes against Slutwalk’s original message.

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