Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Taking A Leak

Al Capone committed all sorts of nefarious and dastardly crimes during his reign in Chicago. He was nailed on tax evasion.
Any number of criminals have been arrested and jailed on minor charges from littering to jaywalking, nuisance infractions that are enforced only in the most extreme circumstances, or when they really need to hold someone, but have no real charges to post.
This, however, smacks of illegality:

PARIS — Interpol has placed Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowing organization, on a so-called red notice wanted list following allegations of sexual misbehavior by a Swedish prosecutor, according to the police organization’s Web site on Wednesday.

The notice said Mr. Assange, 39, was wanted for “sex crimes” on an arrest warrant brought by the international public prosecution office in Gothenburg, Sweden. Interpol is based in Lyon, France. Mr. Assange’s whereabouts were not immediately known.

Now, I don't really want to get into the merits of the charge--and if you feel strongly about them, comments are open-- although that does play a part in my analysis.

You may recall that over the summer (on August 20) an investigation was opened in Sweden, accusing him with one rape and another case of sexual harassment. The rape charge was dropped almost immediately, then re-instated a week later. Assange admits to having sex twice during the period in question, alluding to the possibility that it was with both women. He also says it was consensual, if unprotected (which might under Swedish law be an issue).

In other words, this really becomes a "he said, she said" matter (although I'm sure there must be some physical evidence tying him to the events), and consequently the purview of local authorities. A criminal investigation was handed up in November, and an arrest warrant handed down. This has ballooned into the current Interpol order.

There seems, however, to be some conflicting details about Assange's cooperation. His lawyer claims he's offered to meet on neutral territory (including a Swedish embassy), but the Swedish prosecutor has insisted he return to Sweden to face the charges. Of course, the prosecutor denies this.

Now, a Red Notice is Napoleonic in nature. The fugitive has to prove his innocence before it's lifted, and he is presumed guilty of the charges until he's tried and exonerated. There are actually two Red Notices: one is an arrest warrant, the other is for a fugitive who has been tried, convicted, and sentenced. Interpol claims that there is no arrest warrant on Assange, meaning he's wanted for fleeing a sentence.

Um, excuse me? He hasn't even been tried yet. Effectively, he's being chased down across the globe to be arrested, but yet, there's no international arrest warrant other than the Swedes own BOLO.

This disturbs me. Here we have two events that involve no physical evidence of a crime being committed, only evidence that the events happened. Yet, Assange is being equated to Osama bin Laden in criminality.

That's simply not right. Whatever you think of the leaks (the Libertarian in me thinks he did signal service, but the American in me wishes he had been a little more cautious in what he leaked), for a state, or group of states, to hunt down a person internationally on the word of two women, neither of whom has to come forward to reveal their identities is a New World Order writ small.

The timing of all this is a little suspect, as well. Who has ever heard of an international probe launched for sexual misbehavior within months of the event? It's not like Assange killed women he slept with and would be an imminent danger to be around. In July of this year, Assange released the Afghan war documents, internal Pentagon documents that detail secret conversations and discussions of the war in Afghanistan. In August, he's accused of rape. By December, he's on what amounts to an international terror watch and presumably could be assassinated by a trigger-happy cop in whatever country he lands in.

All because he spoke the truth.

Like it or not, support him or not, this has to send a chill down your spine.