Britain’s Supreme Court will soon decide whether the latest appeal by the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has merit. If so, more legal wrangling lies ahead. If not, Assange has one last appeal to the European Court on Human Rights. Failing there, he will be extradited to Sweden. Or he could be snatched at any minute for extradition to the United States.
The paradox is that only a US extradition, presumably now in preparation before a federal grand jury, might resurrect Assange as this generation’s Daniel Ellsberg or Anthony Russo, and focus public attention on the WikiLeaks war revelations as the contemporary equivalent of the Pentagon Papers.
Hunkered down with close associates in London, Assange has had difficulty re-focusing public attention away from his legal troubles and back to the secret US documents, which riveted the mainstream media and global public when they first appeared.
Assange has been unable to build public support in Sweden, his likely destination if extradited from the UK. He is wanted for questioning concerning allegations of sexual offenses by two Swedish women. According to one of Assange’s closest original associates in Sweden, the journalist Donald Bostrom, “There is no sign of support in Sweden yet; on the contrary, it decreases.” Bostrom was directly involved in bringing Assange to speak in Sweden in 2010, and an eyewitness to the back-and-forth controversies between Assange and the two women. “Many people think that he made too many miscalculations and wrong decisions,” Borstom said.
At the same time, Bostrom tells The Peace and Justice Resource Center, “Many are critical of the Swedish legal system and how Assange has been treated. And if U.S. makes a clumsy chess move public, the opinion can turn to Assange’s advantage.”
In the meantime, the court-martial proceedings against Pfc. Bradley Manning continue, with the prosecution seeking to link Manning to Assange. Manning was entrapped in a series of online correspondences in 2010 with a mysterious hacker, Adrian Lamo, which were then disclosed to the FBI.
There is little doubt that the Obama administration, with its penchant for suppressing leakers, would like a photo of “Julian Assange in shackles at Reagan International,” in the words of the late attorney Leonard Weinglass, who was researching extradition issues for Assange before his death last year.
The question is whether the mainstream media, the general public, and the 12 members of a jury actually find Assange and Manning guilty of conspiracy to reveal secret crimes and deaths for which the Pentagon is responsible.