Friday, April 22

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

A colleague sent me a link to a poll type of thing regarding the request by the United States for the United Kingdom to extradite Julian Assange. The general gist was to ask Boris and Priti Patel to resist on the grounds that Assange would be sentenced to 175 years in prison almost as soon as arriving in America.

I have to admit to being less well-informed on matters Assange. It has been a curious affair that I have never been able to get my head around, as I suspect has been the case for most politicians who would prefer that the problem simply goes away as they are unlikely to benefit, whatever the outcome. From what little I do know I have a lot of sympathy for the chap but I don't think he has helped himself either. There are ways to obtain information and ways to release it and I fear that he or his associates took their eye off the ball in both respects and opened the door to enable authorities to prosecute them.

Some secrets deserve to stay secret. Some don't. Probably most don't, in fact. However, to preserve the security of those that really do then laws and regulations have been constructed and need to be enforced for the benefit of those few. That system certainly may need review and the legislation may be poorly drafted but people who wish to expose the wrongdoings of a state need to do so in a way that doesn't get them caught.

The effect has been in this case that the general public is not aware in any detail of the events which Assange and his associates seek to share with us but, instead, have had headlines about his past and his being holed up in an Ecuadorian embassy and various other matters and very, very little memory now about what he actually wanted us to know.

In summary, it's a cock-up on all fronts and my guess is that, if it falls off the front pages and becomes less talked about then a deal will be made and the guy will not have to serve the ridiculous 175 years as some suggest and will be free but with some restrictions. The UK would prefer not to have to make a decision on this at all and are generally annoyed that the US has not done the sensible thing and swept this business under the carpet as a subject for historians to debate in the year 2525. There are idiots in the US as well as in the UK Civil Services, however, and there is an arrangement between the two nations that we will co-operate on matters such as extradition without argument. Assange and his people know this and have known it since day 1. They've hoped that people might have seen the sense of dropping the case but their supporters have not exactly helped that happen. It was the only way to resolve this and now he may well have to face the music over there.

Believe me, though, the support that he will have will be considerably louder should any nasty punishment be likely and it should be to the people that are requesting his extradition that we should be writing or, if unsuccessful, to the judges on the case if and when it starts.

I had to apologise to my colleague for sounding less than hopeful, but I don't see this particular protest achieving very much. If the US didn't request then wouldn't need to respond. The main threat is prosecution in the States for spying and it does seem, now that I have read more about this, that that is a bit extreme and there is a case for refusal to go along with an extradition request where the grounds for the request are political. I think the US will be effectively shooting themselves in the foot by following that line for long as the case will then be expected to cause much more rebellion and noise and, indeed, encourage more normal people to start reading all the stuff that has been put online for us to see. At the moment few of us have bothered but expect organisations soon to start digging out the juicy stuff and headlines will be all over the place when it could have all been, beneficially for everyone, left to become of interest only to the few.

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