Over the past couple of days the news that Julian Assange has lost his appeal for extradition to Sweden. As someone who considers himself a progressive, one of the most disappointing aspects of this case for me has been watching a slew of other progressives falling over themselves to embrace the worst kind of crackpot conspiracy theories. In doing so, they mostly demonstrate my view that the most accurate words a conspiracy theorist utters is when they say, “You can’t tell me that…”
Let me start by saying I have no idea whether Assange is guilty or innocent of rape. Incidentally, the appeal was equally not concerned with his guilt or innocence; merely whether he should go to Sweden and answer questions about an alleged offence. That much should be a no-brainer. Of course he should. For a more detailed response, and if you don’t feel like trawling through the 161 paragraphs of Legalese that constituted the appeal’s judgement, then I recommend David Allen Green’s New Statesman blog. Green is author of the staunchly liberal Jack of Kent blog, and is unlikely to be a CIA agent. He writes,
Assange had appealed on four grounds against the decision of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. However, the High Court dismissed each of these grounds: the warrant had been validly issued, the offences specified existed in both Sweden and the United Kingdom, the request was proportionate, and the conduct alleged amounted to a criminal offence.
Accordingly, the High Court held that the European Arrest Warrant for Assange in respect of the offences of rape, two counts of sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion, was entirely valid.
This decision is no great surprise; for Assange to have succeeded, it would have effectively required the High Court to undermine the entire EAW system.
The 161 paragraphs of the full judgment completely dismantle the four grounds of the Assange’s appeal. The two judges, including the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, provide detailed and thorough reasoning as to how each of the contentions of the Assange legal team do not succeed. It is thereby unlikely that this is a case that the Supreme Court will hear, even if there is an attempt at a further appeal.
All this seems pretty straightforward. A valid request has been made for him to be sent to Sweden and be questioned about acts that are a criminal offence in both Sweden and the UK, so he should go. If he insists he’s been stitched up by the Yanks, he should still go, and he should tell a Swedish judge he’s been stitched up by the Yanks.
Despite this, a chorus of voices across the internet are loudly insisting that because somebody did something fairly laudable in the public domain, they couldn’t possibly have also done something unpleasant in their private life. Apparently the two are mutually exclusive.
I wouldn’t mind getting credited with coining a psychological phrase, so I shall refer to this piece of cognitive dissonance as “doing a Polanski”.
The amount of rubbish being spoken by some of his supporters just beggars belief, with nominally left-wing people suddenly announcing that,
Sweden is to feminism as the Taliban are to Islam.
…or making comments such as…
There are no charges against him. Nothing alleged by these two amounts to a sex crime in England.
…which immediately demonstrates that the person writing this hasn’t read the appeal judgement.
And there’s comments such as this…
You said it – ALLEGATIONS of sexual offending.
Is this what the European extradition warrant is for?
Let’s summarise the conspiracy. The plot has been hatched by a malevolent union of the CIA and radical feminists. Well, that makes sense. Those two groups work together all the time! Practically ideological soulmates. And they want to move Assange from Britain to Sweden to make him easier to extradite to the United States.
Let me repeat that again, just to emphasise how silly it is. They want to move Assange from Britain to Sweden to make him easier to extradite to the United States.
Do I even have to deconstruct this? Can’t I just post a macro and take the rest of this blog post off to go and have a coffee?
If that was the plan, wouldn’t it be easier to…Oh, I don’t know, try to extradite him from Britain to the United States? After all, we’re Britain! When the US says, “Jump”, we say, “Would you like an infantry brigade with that?” Yet supposedly we’re less likely to send him giftwrapped on a plan to Gitmo than the liberal-lefty Swedes.
Ultimately, I’ll refer the reader back to David Allen Green, when he said on Twitter, “If you want to see lots of people very angry at prospect of alleged rapist finally answering any questions, then do follow #Assange tag.”