For over three years Julian Assange’s life has been on hold, but the more time passes the more clear it becomes that he cannot remain in Britain indefinitely
Allegations of rape against Julian Assange were dropped this August by Swedish authorities due to them being ‘time-barred’. This involved the dropping of two separate charges against the WikiLeaks founder by Swedish prosecutors claiming sexual assault involving two women. The whole business with Assange has aggravated British officials such as Hugo Swire, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State, who released the following statement:
‘Ecuador must recognise that its decision to harbour Mr Assange more than three years ago has prevented the proper course of justice. As a result, some of the serious sexual allegations against him will now expire. It is completely unacceptable that the British taxpayer has had to foot the bill for this abuse of diplomatic relations.
I want to make clear that as an allegation of rape remains outstanding, the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden. I have instructed our Ambassador in Quito to reiterate to Ecuador that the continuing failure to expedite the Swedish Prosecutor’s interview, and to bring this situation to an end, is being seen as a growing stain on the country’s reputation. I will also repeat this to the Ecuadorean Ambassador in London’.
The team of prosecutors, headed by Marianne Nye, have stated publicly that, ‘The status of the evidence is unchanged and the possibilities to continue the investigation by interviews with the suspect are not exhausted’. Nye followed this by claiming that ‘Julian Assange, on his own accord, has evaded prosecution by seeking refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador’.
According to Swedish law, no charge can be laid without an interview with the suspect in question. On the matter Assange claims that: ‘There was no need for any of this. I am an innocent man. I haven’t even been charged’. And that: ‘From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both. She even refused a written statement’.
Having remained in asylum within the confines of the Ecuadorean embassy in London the 16th of August 2012 (and reportedly cost the UK around £12million), Mr Assange is refusing to leave due to fear of being extradited to the US for interrogation regarding his activities with WikiLeaks. Jen Robinson, member of the Assange legal team, spoke out about how Assange has never ‘evaded this investigation as she (Ms Nye) asserts—he has continually offered his testimony and co-operation, and agreed unconditionally to being questioned in the embassy … Ecuador granted Julian asylum due to the risk of persecution should he be extradited to the US for his publishing activities with WikiLeaks. We know from court documents released this year that the US criminal investigation into Julian and WikiLeaks continues’. On the matter, John Pilger believes that ‘By dropping most of the allegations against Julian Assange, Sweden has finally admitted to the grotesque injustice its judicial and political elite have perpetrated against Assange for almost five years’.
If injustice is occurring, we have a global responsibility to fight it. Britain, Sweden and Ecuador share a common duty to work together and resolve the case as soon as possible. It seems reasonable for the Swedish prosecutors to agree to interview Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he is willing to tell his side of the story so that it can be determined whether or not he is in fact guilty. It would help the lives of the two women involved, as well as Mr Assange, if the US took responsibility for the atrocities publicised by WikiLeaks so that the case can be looked at in accordance with the regular practice of law.
Sexual violence, including perceptions of consent, remains to be a major obstacle to equality in the twenty-first century. Justice for both parties involved should not depend on the US continuing to point its fingers at others for actions caused by its own belief in American exceptionalism and a desire for cultural and imperial dominance. Some have pointed out that the conditions currently facing Assange are worse than if he were to be convicted of the grave charges resting against him.