So Julian Assange is to be extradited. This isn’t going to be the most surprising verdict of 2011, and having read the Judge’s summing-up, Justice Riddle’s arguments to deny Assange’s right to stay in Britain looked pretty flimsy to me.
Assange’s defence argued that when the Prime Minister has been on TV several times to explain what an asshole a person is, that person is unlikely to get a fair trial. But Riddle did not see any such ‘intent’ on the part of Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Also odd (although I’m talking as a layman here) was Riddle’s unwillingness to examine the reams of evidence suggesting that at least one of Assange’s accusers is a feminist who targeted him, and the other was seen several times in happy in his presence after the alleged rape occurred.
But none of us know the various factors behind those accusations. We can only say two things for certain: the US Government is pissed off with Assange, and Assange himself is a very, very strange cove.
There is an irony here, in that the leaks emerging from Julian’s organisation would tend to strongly support the idea that Britain (including its judiciary) is under enormous pressure from the American Government to get him to Sweden. But the dilemma for those like me who wish to encourage public-interest leaking is a continuing conviction that Assange is madder than a box of hornets.
I’ve blogged on this subject at length before, but without going through all the tedious detail again, Julian Assange is the product of a madcap mother and weirdly nomadic childhood. An early life in which it was constantly necessary to hide is now a middle life in which it is constantly necessary to hide himself….but reveal all there is to know about others. Cue Austrian Jewish voice saying “Vaaiiry intrestink”.
His former business partner (the infinitely more sane individual Schmidt, now revealed to have been Daniel Domscheit-Berg) admits in private his belief that Assange is completely paranoid, and a power-to-control freak of global proportions. DDB wishes Wikileaks well, but believes the organisation would be better off with its leader in jail. I agree with him entirely, and have written to that effect. Left outside the prison walls, he will – as all his kind do – turn to nihilism in the end.
What do I mean by ‘his kind’? Very simply, I mean people who, when in public, resonate the very quintessence of megalomania.
There is the manner of his speech. Every intonation suggests the growing boredom of a self-styled Gulliver being pinned down by little people of no import. The syntax chosen is that of a Messiah, somebody well aware that others wish him harm, but brushing their designs upon him aside from a lofty position of Deitic supremacy.
Then the eyes. Assange’s eyes are as dead as his smile is both convenient and unconvincing. This truly is a man I’d suspect of an ability to rape, kill, endanger and generally annihilate as part of his mission to be the most important man in history.
The hair colour – an unfortunate affectation in that it makes him resemble the output of a German SS baby-farm – doesn’t help his case, but suits his self-image perfectly: the golden one, the visionary, unser geliebte Fuhrer.
I’m also beginning to harbour doubts about what if anything our Julian really does have on Bank of America – or anyone else for that matter. For some months now, he’s been shooting the “you just wait and see, that’s all” line, and it’s wearing a bit thin.
I understand perfectly well the need to keep one’s powder dry, but if he really does have crap on BoA, then I cannot see how it is helping his cause to keep it secret: what will the US Justice Department do – accuse him of exposing serial fraud on a massive scale?
Surely a show of strength would be exactly the right thing for Assange to do….and thus drag more public opinion onto his side. But the longer there is nothing well, I’m left feeling that the Fuhrer’s Revenge Weapons are largely in his head.
Yes, perhaps I’m being a little harsh on Julian Assange. But unlike my minimal grasp of the detail of extradition law, I do know a thing or two about sociopaths. For a mercifully brief time, recognising them was part of my work. And over 35 years, I interviewed all manner of weird and wonderful folk as a market researcher. Equally to the point, most of that research was done from the vantage point of advertising agencies.
Advertising agencies aren’t full of Assanges, but it’s a lot easier to be crackers there than in most workplaces. I met just the three psychopaths in my advertising career, and they all looked and sounded like Julian Assange. Even the woman, God help her. I also met two clients with very severe mental illnesses, but they got away with it by having enough money and power to keep staff happy to humour them. I’d imagine it was much the same at the Court of King Ghadaffi.
The common trait in all these people was the certainty of self-destruction. One is in the funny farm, another is in jail, one remains a bitter twisted man whose excesses turned everyone away in the end, and two are dead – following funerals where mourners were somewhat thin on the ground.
Julian Assange belongs in detention somewhere. It will be safer and more productive for all concerned if this is the case: governments will have someone to hate, he can issue messages of martyrdom from his cell, the conspiracy brigade will have a lifetime of wet-dreams to look forward to, the Human Rights industry will feel needed in perpetuity – but above all, safe online leaking will grow (and hopefully mature) into a better definition of the public interest. One, perhaps, where the hacking nerd and the ordinary person in the street can agree about what it is.
Now that really would be a result.