This whole Julian Assange situation is one big political minefield, no doubt about it. It is unfortunate, for him at least, that there are multiple things at stake and one of them is big enough that maybe it shouldn’t be sacrificed for his political beliefs.
It all comes down to the rape allegations. It’s also related to, but independent of, whether or not the allegations are true. And this is where it gets messy. Assange is, quite understandably, worried that Sweden would use his arrest there as a pretext to extradite him to the United States over the whole Wikileaks situation.
Here’s the problem. People cannot be treated as “too important” to face rape charges. The disturbing amount of former celebrities now recognised as sex offenders should have taught us that by now.
There are those who, having read up on the public details on the allegation, think that he is basically being stitched up on false charges simply to give the US an excuse to get Sweden to extradite him. To me, however, this is an even bigger reason why Assange absolutely must let this play out however it will. As I see it, anything else is allowing all those involved to trivialise rape.
- If Assange is guilty of rape, then he is using his status to try and avoid facing the consequences. This is not acceptable.
- If Assange is not guilty of rape, and this is all a pretext to get him to face different charges however important those changes may be, then it is saying that false rape allegations can be justified. Wrong!
All this does is trivialise actual cases of rape. This is just as unacceptable. More so, in a way, as it makes it harder for rape victims to believe they’ll be taken seriously.
The sad reality is that a case can be made for Julian Assange to effectively be “sacrificed” to test the truth of the rape allegations. Because if he really is an innocent man being stitched up for an ulterior motive then this must be brought to light and those responsible held to account.
Anything else is just turning to actual rape victims and saying, “The pain and horror you experienced is insignificant enough for us to use to bait a trap for someone else.” That is a precedent that must not be set!
Oh, and Assange did skip bail. Which, as far as I am aware, is still generally frowned upon even if you don’t get proven guilty? Whatever valid points the UN panel had, the message that “If you have powerful connections, using them to break bail conditions is fine with us” is probably not the point they’re wishing to make.