“The IS is a direct result of the adventurism of the West”
A generation of controversy can be compressed into that spare, declarative statement by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He speaks as a free man; free in the most basic and important sense – he is free to speak his mind. Yet he speaks as a refugee, living under the diplomatic protection of the government of Ecuador since June 2012, in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
In 2010, Julian Assange supervised the examination and publication of over half a million documents from the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon. He arranged hundreds of media and human rights groups to scrutinize these documents, which revealed thousands and thousands of embarrassing misdeeds and transgressions perpetrated by the United States government. The deaths of more than 100,000 individual people in Iraq and Afghanistan were amongst the precise details.
This upset the ruthless Americans no end. They began a criminal investigation into espionage charges aimed squarely at Julian Assange and his staff at WikiLeaks. As this article goes live the investigation is ongoing.
Also in 2010, a separate investigation was initiated by Swedish prosecutors who wanted to question Julian Assange on allegations of sexual misconduct. Just questions. He was not charged with any crime, let alone convicted of anything. Despite the availability of alternatives, and complete cooperation on the part of Julian Assange and his lawyers, the Swedes insisted he answer the questions in Sweden and issued an extradition order to that effect. Under house arrest in the UK, he fought that extradition in the English courts for over two years. In June 2012, Julian Assange lost the extradition case at the final court of appeal. He was faced with indefinite pre-trial imprisonment in a Swedish jail and the reality of at some stage being handed over to U.S. authorities by the obedient Swedes.
When Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London on June 19th 2012 to exercise his superior right under international law to seek asylum, he was guilty of the following: a dedicated defence of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as well as exposing America and other countries deliberate abuse of power. After more than two years “on the run,” the threat of political persecution against him was stated simply as a fact. The Ecuadorian government granted Julian Assange asylum on August 16th 2012.
He has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy ever since.
The situation is currently gridlocked. The embassy remains surrounded by the London Metropolitan Police force prevented from entering by the Vienna Convention. The UK authorities continue to reject negotiations aimed at providing Julian Assange with safe passage to Ecuador. Ecuador continues to offer the Swedish government an interview with Julian Assange on its premises, thereby facilitating Swedish due process and at the same time protecting Julian Assange from being transited to the United States. To date, the Swedish government continues to rebuff this offer.
So far, the UK taxpayer has spent multiple millions of £GBP keeping Metropolitan Police officers stationed 24/7 outside the Ecuadorian Embassy, on the off chance that Julian Assange will just nip out for a cuppa coffee (see the real time running total here https://govwaste.co.uk -).
Swedish Attorney General Anders Perklev was recently quoted via Rixstep News, saying “Costs to UK taxpayers [is] not our problem.” London Mayor Boris Johnson called the situation “absolutely ridiculous…[money] completely wasted.” Deputy chair of the Police & Crime Committee at the London Assembly, Baroness Jenny Jones said the situation had reached ridiculous proportions – “It’s time to end the stalemate and stand down the officers.” Former Scotland Yard royalty protection chief Dai Davies echoed the sentiments of many British subjects when he stated: “It is unfair for taxpayers to continue to fund this farce.”
It is an acutely embarrassing situation for all powers concerned, especially Prime Minister David Cameron. The UK government can’t back down from its position: Julian Assange must be arrested if and when he steps outside the building. Therefore, while America and Sweden remain in bed with one another the UK taxpayer is effectively paying for their room service.
In February 2015, Swedish State TV channel SVT2 aired an episode of Agenda discussing whether the case against Julian Assange should be dropped. Swedish Liberal Party spokesman Johan Pehrson stated, “All are losers in a lawsuit that drags on.”
But truth is rarely so simple, especially in a case that has stirred so many emotions and is so intertwined with issues just as large as the documents on WikiLeaks. The UK Inspectorate of Constabulary says that in austerity Britain, police can’t give priority to property crimes because they don’t have the personnel to attend the scenes of such crimes in person. But the UK’s domestic security apparatus does have millions to squander on a full time stake out of Julian Assange.
How long will this waste continue? It is a question to which UK taxpayers must demand an answer. For almost 3 years, defenders of Julian Assange have protested his maltreatment (and that must continue); surely now it is time to effectively protest the mounting costs to UK taxpayers, with full mention, in all instances, of the grounds which have shifted under this fundamentally important issue.
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