Friday, January 15, 2021

Julian Assange: a man who thinks he’s above the law

Section:

A visit to those supporting Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorean Embassy

 

Yesterday, as I walked to The Rib Room at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower with Alexandra Naylor, I came across a media camp opposite the Ecuadorean Embassy in Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge.

 

Ben Griffin and other Assange supporters

On the other side of the road, directly next to the embassy, were four protestors and as neither of us knew what they were doing there, we decided to engage them in conversation. It turned out that these perfectly polite, yet somewhat misguided individuals were there to support Julian Assange, who is supposedly holed up inside.

 

The Wikileaks founder, who faces accusations of sex assaults made by two Swedish women in August 2010, we were told, breached his bail conditions and arrived at the embassy on Tuesday evening. It is believed he has remained there since and Ben Griffin, one of his supporters, told us:

 

“Julian is at risk of assassination if he is extradited to America via Sweden. American politicians have publicly said they want him dead.”

 

The media scrum opposite the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, 3 Hans Crescent, London, SW1X 0LS

A selection of placards supporting Assange

This, I’d suggest, is utter nonsense and further conversation with two Ecuadoreans revealed a similar misguided attitude to this case. Equally odd, I later learnt, is that Assange’s high-profile backers are now backtracking somewhat in their attitude to this cause célèbre. Jemima Khan, who provided £20,000 to Assange’s bail fund, commented:

 

“I expected him to face the allegations. I am as surprised as anyone by this.”

 

Mr Assange, a former computer hacker, should face justice just like anyone else. Sweden is a perfectly civilised country and if indeed he is innocent, he should stand and be counted. He should jolly well stop wasting police time and he should jolly well realise that he is not above the law.

 

For more information about the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, go to: http://ecuador.embassyhomepage.com

 

For more information about the campaign to free Julian Assange, go to: http://freeassange.org

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  1. What a lowly coward Assange turned out to be. Ecuador should not set up precedent by accepting wrongdoers to seek pseudo-asylum. This is a mockery of the law . Assange should be extradited and face proceedings as everyone else would.

  2. Just a few FACTS:
    1: Assange has not been charged with any offence in Sweden – so why do they want him?
    2: No country will extradite to UK unless a charge has been made – and then only when accompanied by evidence. We have a very odd and unbalanced extradition policy.
    3: The USA want to charge him with treason which carries the death penalty, which means he cannot be extradited to the USA from here but Sweden have no such problems.
    4: You use “jolly well” rather too much. Betrays your background jolly well.

    • Hugo – If Assange had a decent bone in his body, he’d stop what he is doing and take a plane to Sweden. If he’s innocent, he’ll be cleared. If he isn’t, he’ll be jailed. No one is going to harm him. Frankly, most of us are just bored of him and his tedious time wasting.

  3. Mr. Steeples, is your News Blog simply meant as a good natured commentary of “talented, rich and powerful” people? I support freedom of speech and I am sometimes amused by your writing, but this time you have appalled me. I support Hugo Istay above when he suggests looking at the facts. Julian Assange has not breached his bail..he is in the Ecuadorean Embassy awaiting the proper process of his application for political asylum. This is a human right. An act not of a coward but that of a news editor and journalist who is being bullied. It is not an act above the law. He did so for very specific and urgent reasons. I would suggest that it is important to look in detail at the WHY of events before making comments. There are many more facts available and all in the public domain. As one of his sureties I am, therefore, in no way concerned by his relocation in respect of the bail money I put up 2 years ago. I also know that other sureties have been misquoted in this regard. It is not that I can easily afford to lose such a large amount of money …but whatever happens, I know I did the right thing by supporting the basic rights of a man…a man who had been imprisoned without charge.
    The Ecuadorean Embassy have been extremely welcoming and helpful, which is reassuring for his many friends around the world.

    • Thank you for your comment, Sarah. I am, as much as the next man, entitled to my opinion about this matter. Equally, you are entitled to yours and I certainly admire you for not only having put your faith in Mr. Assange with words but also financially. I am more than happy to offer you an opportunity to write your own article about the subject if you should so wish for The Steeple Times. Obviously this would have to be edited to fit with our magazine’s style but I would be more than happy to publish something from you should you so wish. Please email me at matthew@thesteepletimes.com if you’d like to take me up on this opportunity.

      • Well said Matthew. You always offer the opportunity for both sides to be portrayed (even when you don’t necessarily agree yourself). This is what makes The Steeple Times such a good read. I hope Sarah Saunders takes you up on your generous offer.

      • This article may help some to understand some of the complexities of the current Assange situation.
        How Julian #Assange’s private life helped conceal the real triumph of #WikiLeaks http://t.co/M86jMu3c

    • Dear Sarah – I never received an article from you, which was a shame, but I assume you have been busy or decided against it.
      You will not approve, but here are my latest thoughts following the events of yesterday and an analysis of possible escape routes for Mr Assange:
      http://thesteepletimes.com/today/assanges-asylum/
      http://thesteepletimes.com/the-fog/assanges-escape-options/
      Best wishes
      Matthew
      Dear Mr Istay
      I am sure you will have opinions on both as well.
      Best wishes
      Matthew Steeples

      • Thank you for reminding/inviting me to respond to your piece. As we have already established, we are all of us entitled to our own opinion ( not everyone has the luxury of free speech , however). I visited Julian on Thursday. I was greeted warmly by staff and I thanked them on behalf of all supporters for working hard to secure Julian’s political asylum. This was his human right to apply for. The news from the Ecuadorean government was greeted with obvious delight, but this is clearly not the end of the fight. I found him to be understandably stressed at the level of policing outside and the serious threats that the police would storm the building. The commentaries in the press are variable but that’s to be expected. I will not conjecture the next events; how he might leave the embassy, what Mr Hague will or will not do, what indeed the Swedish authorities decide to do ( btw, why haven’t they come to the UK all this time to ask him a few questions about something that he’s not even been charged with yet?….just don’t understand that) etc. etc……….those suppositions are for some other journalists to play with…..but I would encourage anyone to ask serious questions of those who can make a real difference to the current issues about our limitations on free speech .

        • Sarah, I fear we are lone voices in a sea of ill-informed hostility – but as we both point out (and no one has responded to) – why haven’t the Swedish police come to the UK all this time to ask him a few questions about something that he’s not even been charged with yet? We send Mr Plod all over the world chasing down real criminals – but it seems they can’t even stretch to a £29 Easy jet ticket?

  4. What a time waster this man is. The sooner he goes to Sweden, which has a fair system of justice, to face the charges the sooner the world can move on. I hate to know what this costing the tax payers who also have rights. I regard him as a trouble maker.

    • FACT, Peter, FACTS.
      Assange has not been charged with any offence. The extradition order is to allow the Swedish police to “question” him. What? Why don’t they come here? These are the most tenuous grounds for extradition. If we can stop the extradition of a convicted sex offender who has been charged in America with raping underage girls – one of the US’s most-wanted alleged sex criminals – on the grounds of Human Rights, why does Assange not have those same human rights? Read this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18625225. There’s something fishy about the whole Assange extradition – probably an underhand deal with the Americans. It’s nothing to do with two alleged sex incidents in Sweden… Wake up and smell the roses, matey…

      • @Hugo Istay – Lets talk about facts.
        “There’s something fishy about the whole Assange extradition – probably an underhand deal with the Americans”
        There is absolutely no fact in the above statement, I can imagine that while scribing this comment, you were wearing your tin foil conspiracy hat?
        “why does Assange not have those same human rights?”
        We can stop the extradition of anyone where there is a chance they will face the death penalty, As Sweden has no such punishment there are no grounds for us to prevent the extradition of Mr Assange. Swedish law also bars the extradition of any individual who will face capital punishment. So I shall assume you will agree that his Human Rights have in FACT been met.
        “1: Assange has not been charged with any offense in Sweden – so why do they want him?”
        He has indeed not been charged with an offense, because he has not been in Sweden to be charged. They “want” him because of the Serious Sexual Offense he has been alleged to have committed. Some may argue the seriousness of the allegations, but I think most woman will agree any from of Sexual offense in Serious!
        “3: The USA want to charge him with treason which carries the death penalty, which means he cannot be extradited to the USA from here but Sweden have no such problems.”
        This is incorrect in its entirety. The crimes Mr Assange is sought for in the USA carry the potential to be condemned to death row, the USA have not commented on whether prosecutors would be pushing for that. If you Hugo are sure they will, well that is nothing apart from your personal speculation.
        “2: No country will extradite to UK unless a charge has been made – and then only when accompanied by evidence. We have a very odd and unbalanced extradition policy.”
        Again you are totally incorrect. You can read an over view of our Extradition policy here….http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/operational-policing/extradition-review?view=Binary.
        “4: You use “jolly well” rather too much. Betrays your background jolly well.”
        Your OPINION, not fact.
        Well Hugo, I think we have been able to demonstrate that you are, how did you put it, “woefully ignorant of the facts. Do some reading , then post a reasoned comment rather than some knee-jerk suppositions.” Perhaps you will now go and Read, rethink and come back once you are more informed.
        For other interested in this case, Owen Jones of the Independent wrote a brilliant article yesterday (17/08) http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/owen-jones-there-should-be-no-immunity-for-julian-assange-from-these-allegations-8053869.html

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