JULIAN ASSANGE (Editorial in The Australian newspaper today)

This says it all …

Assange’s hypocritical homily

IN his political sermon, uttered from the open-air balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy to the adoring crowd below, Julian Assange confirmed what many have always suspected: his hypocrisy and cowardice is rivalled only by his self-aggrandisement and arrogance. In pleading his case for martyrdom, he was quick to berate US and British authorities, but conveniently ignored the serious allegations of sexual assault against him.

He sought and gained asylum at the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where authorities want to question him over the allegations of two women that he sexually abused them. Instead of addressing the reason why he is hiding behind the walls of the embassy, Assange instead chose to deliver a homily on “the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies”, which he argues are under threat. He urged the US to end its “witch-hunt” against his WikiLeaks organisation, which leaks highly classified government documents to selected media organisations. The irony of Assange’s self-righteousness and his paean to “freedom of expression” is that it confirms his status as a false prophet, given Ecuador is hardly a bastion of the values that he supposedly fights for.

The hypocrisy of Assange’s homily is laid bare by the lack of press freedom, human rights and democratic and accountable government in Ecuador, which accepted his plea for asylum at its London embassy. As we have noted, Ecuador often aligns itself at the UN with monstrous regimes in North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe, which are regularly found to support other equally appalling regimes such as that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, whom Assange generously praised in his address, has been accused by human rights organisations of using courts to punish journalists critical of his government. Leaving aside the obvious irony of Assange’s comments in the grounds of an embassy representing a country that does not share his apparent commitment to press freedom, human rights or democracy, his real focus should be on seeking to clear his name by placing himself before the Swedish authorities, where his strident denials of wrongdoing can be properly tested. It should be noted that, unlike Ecuador, Sweden is a country that does uphold the principles of freedom, human rights and democratic government that he, and WikiLeaks, so ardently defend.

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