Monday, April 22, 2019 | ePaper

Assange failed to behave like a hero he was

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SWEDISH lawyers have said they doubt that Assange will ever stand trial in Sweden even if prosecutors decide to reopen an investigation into a rape accusation. The WikiLeaks founder was arrested in London Thursday after being dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had stayed since 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations, which he has always denied.
Prosecutors in Virginia released on Thursday an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder that has been under seal since March 2018. It forms the basis of the US government's request for Assange to be extradited from the UK to Alexandria to face trial.  So, it can be easily said that actions taken for Assange are against basic activities of freedom of speech protected by the first amendment of the US Constitution. This should reverberate around the world along with a significant chilling effect. The chargesheet contains some very dangerous elements that pose significant risk to national security reporting. A key element of the indictment is a new allegation that Assange actively engaged in helping Manning try to crack a password that allowed access to highly sensitive US military computers.
Experts on freedom of the press and speech were generally more relaxed about that narrow charge, standing on its own, in that it essentially accuses Assange of violating computer hacking laws - specifically the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Whatever it is, we are not sure whether the prosecutors would succeed in presenting evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to that effect.
Whether Assange has violated the freedom of speech still remains a complicated question. To leak out the state secrets in public interest is a bold claim but debatable. If that is expected then no state secret remain a secret from the enemies. The US government will have to satisfy the court that state secrets he has revealed was truly state secrets worth protecting.
But Assange's has failed to conduct himself as hero fighting a right cause in public interest. He jumped bail in England unnecessarily. Then kept himself locked in as asylum seeker for some seven years. Now he has been dragged out the London Embassy of Ecuador disgracefully to be in England. Observers say that it will take few years for deciding his extradition requests both from the USA and Sweden if the sexual assault case revived.

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