Assange says it’s about you. He owes you some answers
Condemning Barack Obama from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last night (Australian time), Julian Assange found himself channeling the US president.
The Wikileaks founder’s statement to a throng of waiting press, police and protesters was Obama all over. In the hype the speech stirred, particularly among his London supporters, many of whom wore Guy Fawkes masks. Also in its flair for the dramatic (he left his audience, part of which was yearning to arrest him, waiting for a good half-an-hour).
The two men have more in common than you think. Both have been described, and criticised, as idealists.
Both were born to complex backgrounds. Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, is the son of a Kenyan politician and a Kansan anthropologist. Assange, born to Australian parents, spent a chunk of his youth growing up on Magnetic Island off Townsville and is a descendent of Taiwanese pirates.
The biggest similarity between the two men, though, is how the two men emphasise how you, specifically, can help them. You’ve got the power to change things.
Last night Assange said having the eyes of the world on his plight in recent days had saved him from UK police:
Inside this embassy in the dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up inside the building through its internal fire escape. But I knew there would be witnesses, and that is because of you.
If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, it is because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.
Sounds a bit like the man who announced in his presidential victory speech: “This is your victory”.
Both Obama and Assange are idolised. Both men owe us answers.
A good place to start for Assange is the sexual assault charges leveled against him in Sweden.
That’s not all. He should also recognise that his actions, releasing hundreds of thousands of US State Department cables without editing them, had potentially lethal consequences to people all around the world.
And the latest question: Why is Assange, who has railed about the importance of freedom of speech, snuggling up to a country that has shown antipathy to it?
Seventeen broadcast outlets in Ecuador have been forced to close by the equatorial republic’s administration since the start of 2012, according to Reporters Without Borders.
When it comes to the treatment of Bradley Manning, the private who allegedly smuggled out tens of thousands of US State Department documents, Obama’s adminstration still owes the world disclosure.
Wikileaks’s founder still owes us some disclosure too.
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