Wikileaks Recap: Arrest, Oz Op Ed, Ambiguous Swedish Sex Laws, Trolls To The Rescue and Gillard Stands Idly By
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Is the mountain of Wikileaks news distorting your perception of reality? Let us break it down for you.
WHERE IT STANDS RIGHT NOW
From CBS "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied bail by a judge after surrendering to British authorities over a Swedish arrest warrant Thursday. Assange vowed in court to fight extradition to Sweden, where authorities are hoping to question him over a sexual molestation case. Assange was arrested at 9:30 a.m local time Tuesday and appeared before Westminster Magistrate's Court. He surrendered Tuesday under an agreement reached between his own lawyers and the police."
LAST NIGHT, HE SAID
Hours after his arrest The Australian published an Assange-penned op ed in which he systematically defends Wikileaks' right to seek and publish information that will promote transparency in Government and serve the greater good of society. Assange notes that while respected international broadsheets such as The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel have published the same redacted cables as Wikileaks, none but Wikileaks have warranted investigation. He also cites the Queensland government (pre-Fitzgerald inquiry) as an example of how complacency begets corruption. Other key take aways? Assange calls Jula Gillard's reluctance to help him "disgraceful pandering" and claims that despite possible compromises to the safety of civilians and troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, "not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed" as a result of Wikileaks' actions. On Twitter, Dom Knight perceptively points out the error in that statement: "Assange's editorial is wrong. Wikileaks' disclosures have indisputably harmed at least one person. Assange."
SWEDEN'S DEFINITION OF CONSENSUAL SEX
After the brouhaha of Assange's capture died down, attention turned to the cause of his arrest. As it stands, Assange faces sex charges stemming from two one night stands that took place in Sweden last August. Those charges - one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape - stem, according to Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens, from a "dispute over consensual but unprotected sex". In short, one woman claims Assange continued to have sex with her after his condom broke and the other claims he refused to put a condom on to begin with. This is cognitively jarring to EVERYONE because how can consensual sex result in rape charges, right? More on that later.
First, despite the impotence of those charges, I must say that the accusers, two Swedish women known as "Jessica" and "Sarah", have been subjected to woeful amounts of conjecture and defamation online. Yes, the timing is convenient and the accusations flimsy but as Kate Harding over at Slate points out "we just don't know anything right now.". Exactly. Save the finger pointing til we know all of the facts. In light of the David Jones scandal, it's alarming how willing we are, without an iota of formal evidence, to dismiss alleged victims of sexual abuse as opportunistic or worse, machiavellian. Why is this the default reaction to alleged victims of sexual abuse? Why are their motivations questioned before any facts are presented?
Sure, they may have been coerced by the CIA (maybe?) or reacted out of jealousy or false pride but the majority of "facts" pertaining to the alleged victims comes from one source, a Daily Mail story (so treat it with all due skepticism) that posits the alleged victims as feminist radicals who may or may not have acted at the behest of the American government. It's alarming how many people are willing to believe those claims with little to no evidence. Says The Daily Mail of "Sarah": "An attractive blonde, Sarah was already a well-known 'radical feminist'. In her 30s, she had travelled the world following various fashionable causes.While a research assistant at a local university she had not only been the protegee of a militant feminist academic, but held the post of 'campus sexual equity officer'. Fighting male discrimination in all forms, including sexual harassment, was her forte. Other sites have since claimed she possesses "ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups".
It could well be true of course, but nobody knows for sure. If it is, Naomi Wolf totally owned Interpol on The Huffington Post. But yeah, nobody knows for sure yet. Cool? Now back to the sexual assualt charges. Question: How can one be accused of rape when the sex is obsetnsibly consensual? Easy, the sex is consensual to begin with. Assange's charges relate to the withdrawal of consent, that is, when two consenting adults agree to have protected sex (ie. with a condom) and that condom should happen to break, the conditions under which they agreed to have sex in the first place becomes comprimised. It's sexual intercourse with a proviso and it's hard to associate with rape because it starts off consensual but changes after penetration. Sound murky and confusing? Jezebel offers some thoughts on "sex by surprise".
MEANWHILE, BACK HOME...
ABC op-ed site The Drum have penned an open letter to Julia Gillard calling for increased Government assistance (that would be any assistance at all!) and a sterner approach to the bureaucratic line they've held thus far. More specifically the letter demands that Gillard: "provide assistance and advocacy to Mr Assange; and do everything in your power to ensure that any legal proceedings taken against him comply fully with the principles of law and procedural fairness.". A fair request since conservative American pundits have called for Assange's assassination and consider his actions tantamount to terrorism. The letter has amassed over 4000 signatures thus far including Noam Chomsky, Senator Bob Brown and legions of Australian editors, journalists and lawyers. You can pledge support too by signing your name in the comments section.
To coincide with International Human Rights Day protests against Assange's arrest will be held nationwide this Friday, December 10th. Brisbane's takes place noon at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 295 Ann Street, City. Sydney's from 1pm at Town Hall (facebook event link here) . And Melbourne's from 4:30pm at the State Library lawns (facebook event link here).
Slate suggests one reason Assange's arrest could benefit his cause: "From his jail cell, Assange becomes something he wasn't yesterday: a martyr." You know who loves martyrs? Undecided fence sitters, that's who.
Online vigilante group Anonymous (the tech savvy members of notorious internet board 4chan) have officially commenced Operation Avenge Assange, launching distributed denial-of-service attacks (the same attacks used to take down Wikileaks) against PayPal, Swiss bank PostFinance and other companies that have abandoned services to Wikileaks. Next on their list is Twitter for allegedly disallowing #wikileaks to trend worldwide and the Swedish prosecutors in Assange's sexual misconduct trial. Also, Anonymous are apparently fighting off DDoS attacks on 4chan from an unknown party.
Buisiness as usual for Wikileaks who tweeted this last night: "Today's actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won't affect our operations: we will release more cables tonight as normal".
According to leaked correspondence between the US embassy in Canberra and US secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, Foreign Minsiter and former Prime Minsiter Kevin Rudd is not only a "control freak" but made "mistakes" and "significant blunders" throughout his tenure. Thanks Wikileaks we already knew that.
Fuck Yeah Julian Assange! This Matrix themed Tumblr is hypnotic for reasons I can't articulate.
Also, Julian Assange will almost certainly take out Time's Person of the Year poll.