Assange vs. the Swedes

March 3, 2012 • Blogs, The Globalist Notebook • Views: 1067

by Aube Rey Lescure

“I never reveal my sauces”, replies a yellow-faced Julian Assange to the eager-looking Marge when asked about his barbecue recipe on The Simpsons’ latest episode. The sly and greasy-haired WikiLeaks founder then disappears into a heavily barricaded and faintly Uluru-esque grotto after surreptitiously pressing the pass-code “1234”.

Indeed—despite an apparent lack of time for coiffure-related hygiene, Assange managed to record the Simpsons episode from a secret location in the UK, where he is held under house arrest. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of when Assange can extract himself from the sexual-assault related quagmire, even if he at all can regain any sort of freedom for the remainder of his life. The much-hyped “rape charges” concerning two women in Sweden may bring forth Assange’s extradition to Sweden—which, for Assange, would be like having his head delivered to his enemies on a silver platter.

Assange has never budged in his vehement denial of the sexual assaults, which he claims to be a Swedish political plot against him.  Assange is not a big fan of the Swedes, especially of their media and political elite, and the feeling is most certainly reciprocated. If extradition to Sweden does occur, however, Assange would probably rather spend a few years in a Swedish prison than face a much grimmer alternative—extradition to the U.S., where he has been branded, among other things, as a “terrorist.”

Assange, many a government’s nightmare, is wanted on ‘Red Notice’ by Interpol. (Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Assange exudes a sense of helplessness and martyrdom that isn’t completely groundless if one thinks about the dangers an extradition to Sweden or the U.S. would entail. Americans are unlikely to be kind in the event of an espionage trial; the words “death penalty” have even been thrown around. But Assange, quite characteristically, does not plan on going down without a bang. He has recently made quite overt charges that the Swedish former Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, is a U.S. spy.  Bildt, according to Assange, began his career as an informant in 1973 and has close ties with Karl Rove, Bush Jr.’ senior adviser and deputy chief of staff. WikiLeaks purportedly has evidence. Bildt responded by daring WikiLeaks to publish the “damning report.”

Aside from what has been called a “smear campaign” against Sweden’s political elite, Assange and WikiLeaks have also reportedly been involved in investigations and monitoring of a few of Sweden’s media personages. The aim, in this instance, would be to find evidence proving that these journalists and press figures had been paid-off to report negatively on Assange and WikiLeaks. One of the main characters involved is Thomas Mattson, the editor of Expressen, the newspaper that first published the sexual assault allegations against Assange.

The chances that Assange can prove the alleged Swedish conspiracy are exceedingly slim. No matter whether you believe him to be an international villain or a champion of free speech, the overwhelming likelihood is that he is going to end up in a bad place. Assange himself is hardly optimistic about his future: the U.S., he told his Rolling Stone interviewer, is lurking in the dark, waiting to pounce once the waters of the Swedish case have calmed. Surely they won’t let him get away. This, coming from a man now spending his third month hiding in the British countryside, sounds chillingly convincing.

Aube Rey Lescure ’15 is in Davenport College.  She is a Globalist Notebook Beat Blogger on E.U. affairs.  Contact her at aube.reylescure@yale.edu.

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