The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange found himself back in court today. He was there to discover whether or not he was to be extradited to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning in regard to sexual offenses, which he strongly denies.
Unsurprisingly, the judge decided that he should he returned to Sweden to face questions from the authorities. Assange maintains that the allegations against him are politically motivated. Whether or not this is true, it is a fact that if Assange returns to Sweden for questioning the Americans will not be far behind him.
Today’s ruling was given by a district judge, the most junior rank of the judiciary, and Julian Assange has already stated that he will appeal the decision. TheOpinionSite.org believes that as a result, a succession of hearings will follow and it could take up to a year or more to resolve the issue. This, despite the fact that Assange was arrested under the authority of a European Arrest Warrant which is supposed to fast-track extradition proceedings.
Assange may or may not be guilty of the alleged offenses but one thing is sure; if he were wanted for anything other than a sexual offense, it is unlikely that the judge would have ordered his extradition.
One can’t help but feel that Mr. Assange has fallen victim to the uniquely British way of handling alleged sex offenders in the judicial process.
The greatest irony of it all is that even if he were found guilty in Sweden, chances are he would not go to jail. What is more, any trial would be held in secret without the attendant publicity that feeds the British tabloids so regularly.
The allegations of sexual impropriety however are the least of his worries. Across the Atlantic, members of the United States government still try to find an excuse to arrest him for espionage, even though current legislation does not allow them to do so. Hence the fact that right-wingers are desperate to find an excuse to change the law in order that they may achieve their somewhat sordid objectives.
Julian Assange will not be too worried about the result of today’s court hearing. He will probably remain a free man for at least another 12 months and perhaps longer whilst this ridiculous pantomime is played out in the full glare of the media.
However, although he may have assumed the position of leader of the free speech movement in the United Kingdom, women’s groups, children’s charities and those who make their living from condemning alleged sex offenders, with or without any evidence, will be lining up to have their say.
It has already started with women politicians and female advocates all claiming that an ‘exception’ should not be made.
Even if he was returned to Sweden and then declared to be innocent of the allegations made against him, there will doubtless be plenty in the United Kingdom who will claim that he “got off on a technicality”.
His biggest enemy though is the pride and arrogance of the British establishment, for were he to win this battle against extradition, the British government might then find it difficult to extradite their own citizens from other European countries on similar charges.
The rest of Europe does not view alleged sex offenders in quite the same way as the British. Most European countries try to apply logic and common sense to such serious allegations and require hard evidence even to bring a charge, let alone imprison someone, whereas in this country it is assumed that the accused is guilty until and unless he can prove otherwise.
Julian Assange faces an uncertain future but one thing is absolutely certain and that is that at the end of this extraordinary adventure, Wikileaks may very well turn their unique investigative skills on the British justice system, the people who run it, those who make our laws and the unfair and unjust way in which we in Britain treat those accused of crimes that many consider, in some warped kind of way, to be worse than murder.