George Galloway, my beloved local MP, recently made some particularly inopportune comments about the extradition of Julian Assange. To paraphrase, he said that Julian Assange hadn’t committed rape and was being extradited so the US could get their hands on him. I can see that he wanted to interrupt his exhausting schedule of not representing his constituents and doing nothing on their behalf, to weigh in on a case that has yet to be tried.
While justice has to work on a presumption of innocence, it can’t assume to predict the outcome of a pending prosecution. To dismiss a judicial process which hasn’t been completed is as dangerous to bypass judicial process altogether. However, I am not as well travelled (on the taxpayer’s expense and on their time) as Mr Galloway, so I probably missed all those show trials in Stockholm and forgot about all those untried political prisoners languishing in Sweden’s jails.
And Galloway is probably an expert in trumped up charges in the US, having himself been implicated with regards to foreign oil bribes. Mind you, I am sure he was guilty of nothing more than poor financial etiquette.
When challenged on this, Galloway did his best to melt down on twitter. He basically insulted his constituents asking questions of their MP. He disavowed part of the plank he ran on, saying that it was the council’s problem (which, actually, is true, but it didn’t stop him highlighting it in his puerile and misspelt literature) and acted in the tetchy manner of a man who doesn’t actually seem to have any intention of being held responsible or actually doing his job.
For the record, I believe Assange should only be extradited if charged, which (as I understand it) is dependent on evidence. That is to any country, which includes the US. I believe that it is in Assange’s best interest to be tried in Sweden. Or does he really believe his quest to be seen as a voice of freedom is helped by the phrases “alleged rapist” and “avoiding trial”? Certainly, it is the kind of crime that someone would want to be proved not to have committed rather than avoiding fighting.
I also think the US wants Assange embarrassed and made an example of. However, he is effectively powerless now and all that attacking him is doing is making a figurehead and martyr of him. Wikileaks is no longer a force in itself, as other sites and means of dissemination have taken up the mantle. Assange is faintly ridiculous, as his alliance with Ecuador shows.