Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A very naughty boy.

AND LO, it came to pass the Messiah entered the embassy, and demanded protection.

"Infamy! Infamy!" cried St Julian of Assange, for it was he. "They've all got it in for me! Suffer the little Ecuadorians to come unto me, for blessed are the WikiLeakers, and save me from these Pharisees who conspire to entrap me!"

Never mind that his attitude towards protection in the first place is what led St Julian to this sorry pass, and never mind that the ancient right to claim asylum is for those fleeing political or religious persecution. The fact is that St Julian feels persecuted, and he thinks he's at the centre of his own new faith.

Anyone who denies his messianic status is an unbeliever. Those who point out he is of questionable mental health are denounced. Mentioning the possibility he might be a bit odd, or even in the wrong, makes you an infidel in the world of the internet where the ability to understand computer code makes you 30 per cent more powerful than other mortals.

The fact is St Julian is mortal, and just like prophets of the past if you take a prosaic look at what he gets up to you start to wonder whether he's a bit unhinged.

First St Julian nicked the name of his website from another, unrelated one in a bid to piggyback on its success. His disciples issued a press release saying he was setting up the "Wikipedia of secrets", which prompted the real Wikipedia to register a few domain names in case they were under cyber attack.

They had a chat and things were resolved, so Wikipedia let St Julian have some of those domain names. He failed to change the register about who owned them, and hey presto it still looks like he's linked to the world's most popular online encyclopedia. He's not.

A 'wiki', in simple terms, means a website which the public can log on to and edit. WikiLeaks doesn't allow that, so it's not really right to call it wiki-anything. Not unless you want to pretend it's something it isn't, anyway.

The site he runs has revealed some amazing things; there was a period a couple of years ago when it dominated the news agenda all over the world. WikiLeaks released 250,000 pages of confidential documents, and in so doing proved two Reuters journalists were killed by a US helicopter gunship in Baghdad, that 15,000 more civilians than thought were killed in the Iraq War, that prisoner abuse was ignored, that governments worldwide covered up torture and carried out spying, and Prince Andrew is a bit of a pillock.

Good stuff. Well done, even though we could have guessed most of that anyway. Despite hysterical claims the leaks would lead to deaths of servicemen in retribution, the Pentagon has had to admit there's no evidence any such thing happened - not least because the people who want to kill soldiers are doing it anyway, leaks or no.

But you can't do that kind of thing without upsetting the big boys, and moves were made to cut off the money supply, to court martial a US soldier who had leaked lots of the cables, and to indict St Julian for - whether you approve of what he did or not - quite plainly breaking the law.

At which point WikiLeaks became less about the information we ought to know, and more about sanctifying one of the people who set it up.

St Julian began to sermonise and preach, to insist he had a higher calling to wage an online guerilla war against the powers that be who were persecuting him for his efforts. He wrapped himself in a cloak of sanctimony, and the flood of leaks slowed to a trickle.

On a visit to Sweden St Julian had a diddle with two disciples, and they later complained to the police that he may have assaulted them because he either didn't use a condom or removed it during sex. The police ummed and ahed, they talked to him about one accusation but not another, he caught a plane out, and then the police decided they wanted to talk to him some more.

An arrest warrant was issued and Interpol alerted, and eventually St Julian - sadly not riding on a donkey - presented himself at a London police station. Efforts began to extradite him, he dug in his heels, and he lost a series of legal moves which other people paid for. He agreed to write a book about his fight for more openness, then refused to answer personal questions and fell out with a lot of the people who had tried to help him.

St Julian thought it was all a conspiracy, that Sweden was like Saudi Arabia, while his followers claimed the women were CIA plants and it was all part of a plot to get him to America and kill him.

That's as may be. Most of it sounds pretty mad, and in my experience that means it probably is mad. The fact is that St Julian hasn't been charged with anything and the Swedes want only to ask him if what the girls say is true. If it is, and if they decide it's worth prosecuting him, there'll be a trial and sentence before anything else happens.

Maybe after that they will deport him to the US. Maybe if they do he'll be dropped into solitary at Guantanamo Bay, go on trial and potentially face the death penalty.

But unlike the rulers of pre-Christian Jerusalem I doubt any American president would want that on his watch. Assange has been in Britain for 18 months and we happily deport people to the US all the time, but our Government doesn't want to be seen sending him off to a possible death sentence.

Sweden will be in the same tricky diplomatic position if he goes there, and so would Ecuador. Australia doesn't want to get involved for the same reason. Crucifying people for saying unwelcome things, these days, doesn't look good.

So if St Julian's life is not at any serious risk, why run to the Ecuadorian embassy and ask for shelter? Why, for attention of course. Assange is so self-obsessed these days he makes Kim Kardashian seem plagued with self-doubt. WikiLeaks is not about the information, or freedoms, or knowledge - it's all about him, now.

It's not about the leaks, which have all but dried up and most recently revealed Robert Mugabe might have prostate cancer but is pretty healthy for it, a fact your average Zimbabwean would merely shrug over.

It's not about the sources of his information, many of whom have been tracked down, jailed, tried, convicted. He doesn't use his airtime to decry the treatment of whistleblowing US soldiers or Swiss bankers whose principled actions made him a media darling while they suffer for it.

It's all about St Julian, the man at the centre of a cult where he wants everyone to do as he says and not look too hard at what he does.

And all he does, as far as I can see, is feed his own persecution complex while leeching off others' good will. A variety of people paid £200,000 bail for him, and as he broke the conditions to stay in the embassy they will lose it. The value of his leaks, now quite distant, seems to be almost incidental rather than part of a thought-out campaign to change the world or improve the lot of anyone but himself. And with all the attention on him they've all but stopped altogether.

He was a hacker who spent too much time on his own in a darkened room; then he became an international celebrity, living out of suitcases and cocking a snook at blundering governments. Now he lives in a mansion for free, and if he goes to Ecuador there'll be more of the same.

There is one major difference between St Julian and the prophets he models his little cult on - most of them did what they did knowing it might lead to their deaths, and even welcoming it. He wants all the benefits of sainthood without the cost or questioning, which is the one evidence of sanity I can see in him. And if he's done all this while being sane, he's a calculating conman rather than a freedom fighter.

The truth is that all he's seeking asylum from is questions about whether he molested two women, that he might not get that ticket to Ecuador and will have to be arrested, no doubt with lots of photographs and an air of martyrdom. Maybe he'll even wear some thorns and a bedsheet for the full effect.

The truth is he's not the Messiah. He's not even close to it, and frankly the sooner he ascends the steps of a plane the better for all concerned.

And he dances like a twat.


Anonymous said...

I guess we should be grateful that he isn't Anders Breivik. But he does seem to display an awful lot of similar symptoms.

Andy said...

I always thought him strange way before this assault story broke, after all he must be making loads of money out of it at least mustn't he? Foxy is right, he is no Messiah, in fact his moral outrage seems indefensible and as for running to Ecuador.....hardly endears him to a belief of his innocence. An innocent man surely would welcome the chance to defend himself and clear his name?

Mr Longbrows said...

Isn't his argument that once in custody, even for just 'questioning' he will be extradited to America. Having said that, if that is his fate, why hasn't America stepped in to get him here in the UK?

Soap said...

Some of those cables he so brazenly released contained the names and addresses of the 7 or so Jewish families still living in Baghdad. These families were hiding their religion as Jews are targeted by Al-Quida, the Taliban and various other radical 'Islam' groups, the US authorities knew who they were in order to give them protection if needed. They had lived in Iraq for generations but thanks to a bunch of hacktivists who felt that governments should not keep anything secret they had to flee their homes, and the wikileaks lot still think they can stand on a pedestal.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have summed it up better myself. Or not politely.

Andrea Muhrrteyn said...

you sound like you are some supporters of white supremacy psychiatry founded on horoscope chart science. Everyone who doesn't agree with you is insane; so you don't have to make an impartial investiation into their claims. Everyone who doesn't support your rape of the planet and your lack of honour cultures is insane. With journalists like you, is it any wonder the world is fucked! thank god there is one flawed man interested in transparency and honest reporting. said...

This is a diverting hit piece, but I think you're making a massive assumption about the safety of Assange's life. I'm not so sure Sweden is a safe place for Assange.

In 2006, were written up by the UN for allowing extraordinary rendition and torture to take place on their soil. They will play ball with the US.

The US has repeatedly demonstrated that it is prepared to suspend due process to get the people they want. Last year, they ordered the assassination of one of their own citizens. I don't think they'll be above throwing a bag over Assange's head and bundling him into a plane.

Jeff Fecke said...

Andrea --

Was that English? I honestly can't tease any meaning out of the rampant paranoia in your comment.

Anonymous said...

Transparency and honest reporting should not endanger people. Assange should have the backbone to face his accusers!

Anonymous said...

He's not in to honest reporting - just his own profile. He may as well as given Al-Qaeda the names of the Jewish families. He was as near to murder as any soldier or Government. He is a nutcase, probably costing UK taxpayers more wasted cash. Deport him along with the hook!

Chris Midgley said...

He exhibits the behaviour of a guilty person!

Anonymous said...

Julian Assange was home educated. He didn't go to school. Two way communication and awareness of others is a problem.

Anonymous said...

If Journo's were free to report the facts instead of blindly regurgitating the official party line then perhaps Wikileaks would be redundant? To say Assange is safe while being held in this country is not strictly true either. Remember Dr Kelly? Remember Litvinenko? The fact is Assange has been held under house arrest for nearly two years without charge. If it takes an "oddball" to do the job of policing our Governments so be it. Christ knows they need policing!

Redundant Cityboy said...

It wouldn't be the same lambasting if it was St Julia of Assange.

Anonymous said...

Well summed up. He is a paranoid nut job who preys on simpletons to fight his cause. If he has committed any form of assault then he should be tried. I am an advocate of innocent until proven guilty so let's allow him to prove his innocence rather than trying to hide behind some ridiculous claims of conspiracy. Perhaps the people who are claiming he assaulted them are actually telling the truth. Why should they be victims of an untried criminal who (if they are telling the truth, and without further investigation assisted by St. Julian, we may never know) will walk away without facing justice. Any form of rape or sexual assault leaves victims behind or are we forgetting that. This sends a message that the UK will tolerate this behaviour which I would hope it would not. Shame on us and our elected peers if they say or order otherwise. I am not a lefty and believe in a fair country with justice for all and would hope that such behaviour is not accepted. Innocent until proven otherwise - prove you are innocent sir! Again - as usual, a very well written piece.

Anonymous said...

"to insist he had a higher calling to wage an online guerilla war"... can you provide a reference for this statement, as calling someone's mental health into question is fairly serious?

And yes it might look awful if Assange were to die, either as a result of a trial or by accident somewhere, but it is definitely not beyond certain governments of the world to do that in blatant disregard to all the people watching

Anonymous said...

"Innocent until proven otherwise - prove you are innocent sir!"

That's not really how it works, friend. Innocent until proven otherwise, so prove he is guilty. The burden of proof lies with the accuser.

That said, he is a bit of a nut. And he does dance like a bit of a twat, but hey, so do I.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything said about Assange, however, what you said about Wiki was hugely incorrect. Wiki is a general platform, and it's not supposed to only refer to the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, although that is of course it's most well known use. It has actually been in use since the early 90's! Wikipedia did not invent the word "wiki", nor does it maintain exclusive rights to the word. From my understanding (and very vague recollection), in the very early days of Wikileaks, it was indeed a Wiki.

Sorry for being pedantic!

Foxy said...

I didn't say it was owned by Wikipedia - only that Assange firstly used Wikipedia to promote himself, I explained what a wiki was and that WikiLeaks does not, and has not for quite a while, acted as a wiki.

It's not "hugely incorrect" so much as you didn't read it properly.

Anonymous said...

Don't sugar coat it; St Julian is Bat Shit Crazy!

rippon said...

If Assange is nothing more than an attention-seeking little twit, then why are so many people talking about him?

If that is indeed all he amounts to, then the idiocy lies with the rest of us, not Assange.

reza said...

You sound very sophisticated and intelligent but you don't know the meaning of imperialism, war,torture, solitary confinement, execution, deception on a massive scale. To really now and experience what an apple is you must have a bite of it. Go out of your comfortable, boring, empty world. Whoever Assange is, he challenged the powers that be.He had a bite of the apple. Write a piece on the criminality of Blair and Bush and Murdoch or the arms trade with Saudi Arabia or the open wound of Gaza for a start.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Soviet Union try this tactic of accusing their enemies of mental illness? If this is the standard of British journalism, it's time Leveson put the boot in.

Is it objective? said...

A couple of corrections to your article:

1) Mr Assange is not wanted for questioning. Criminal proceedings have begun; it would not be legal to extradite him merely for questioning. See here for the court sources on that:

2) All EU countries have signed the same Human Rights treaties; neither the UK nor Sweden could extradite unless the USA gave firm guarantees that the death penalty would NOT be called for. They would also have to guarantee no torture (this includes solitary confinement) and would be unable to submit any evidence gathered by torture either in extradition or at a trial (so the Bradley Manning interviews would be discounted).

See here for details of the torture of Mr Manning:

Put together, this makes Mr Assange's claims both of the process being abused (in the Swedish case) and of his danger (in the hypothetical USA case) look a little far fetched to say the least.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with Julian Assange standing trial but this reads like a J'accuse on behalf of the establishment.

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