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Friday, 17 August 2012 12:02

Assange has done no wrong. But tell that to Uncle Sam

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What is the value of an Australian passport? That's the question all citizens of this country should be asking this morning after the shameful way in which WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been treated by the Australian government.

The fact that Assange has gone to a South American country for protection should leave every Australian shamefaced. These are countries that have been run down by Western nations time and again as places where there is no rule of law, where thugs rule the roost. They have been derided for their lack of proper process.

Yet an educated Australian judged that Ecuador could afford him protection that his own country could not. He has come to the conclusion that Ecuador would not hand him over to any other country willy-nilly.

And we have the Australian foreign minister Bob Carr and attorney-general Nicola Roxon saying that they have done what they could. Shades of Pontius Pilate.

Australia has behaved in a craven way at least twice in the recent past when two of its citizens - Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks - were incarcerated by the Americans. Hicks was freed only after John Howard begged the Americans to do something because the issue was affecting his poll prospects.

Assange has committed no crime. That much is clear. He was questioned by the Swedish authorities in that country and cleared of all accusations. He was allowed to leave the country but hung around for a while, just in case the authorities decided to question him again.

After he left Sweden and went to the UK - fearing that his own country, Australia, would hand him over to the US if he came here - the Swedes suddenly decided to recall him. Why?

It is impossible to see any reason in the whole affair - unless one sees an American hand at work. Why would Britain raise the spectre of its colonial past by threatening to raid the Ecuadoran embassy unless it was under serious pressure to get Assange?

Britain is on the worst of terms with one big south American country - Argentina. Does the UK, a country that is suffering economically with a double-dip recession, want to anger more of its south American trading partners?

The only logical reason for the UK behaving in a manner that reeks of thuggery is pressure from Uncle Sam.

But why is the US out to get Assange? Publishing leaked material in that country is not a crime. It is protected under the First Amendment. Or is it? You'd have to wonder.

When Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency, he promised change. He certainly has delivered. He has made the country some kind of medieval fortress. If anything, he has gone a step further than his much-ridiculed predecessor, George "Dubya" Bush.

The country that touts itself as the land of the free appears to have gone to the other end of the spectrum.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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