By Priyanka Mittal:
The very famous or rather ill-famed truth-teller, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks who has been at the front wheel for publishing a mass of leaked diplomatic cables embarrassing several governments and international businesses, changed gears by appealing for political asylum in Ecuador a few days ago. He has been accused of raping a women and sexually assaulting another and had taken this bold step in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden. Under normal circumstances, he would have to face questions from the Swedish authorities and/or could even be thrown into the hands of US which would give them a chance to frame charges against him for publishing classified information which had abashed Washington.
Consider a mouse in a trap, running inside for months at end and finally when it fathoms the one and only way to get out of the cage, what would its reaction be? This exactly was the condition of Assange when he chose to appeal to Ecuador as his last shot to an escape plan. However, in a sudden turn of events this brilliant move was crushed when he was served with a notice to surrender to the London police. To make things worse, his funds have been frozen and his bank accounts closed in an attempt to starve and ultimately kill his website, to end it all.
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There is no denying that Assange is definitely a clever chap. He played his cards brilliantly by trying not to fall prey into the hands of the United States. Past records have demonstrated how Sweden and other small countries have acceded to demands of the US when it comes to individuals accused of harming American national security. Not only was he within his rights to seek asylum, he was also in the right mind considering the hysteria surrounding the Wikileaks disclosures of US’s misconduct around the world. Former Alaska Governor declared him as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands” and said he should be treated no differently than an al-Qaeda terrorist. Why wouldn’t he want to stride off as far as he can from being held in the control of a country where he has already been labelled as a terrorist?
The man, who knows it all, responded to the surrender notice with a counter threat to the US saying that if he was prosecuted or assassinated he would unlock a ‘poison pill’- the entire archive of internal cables which have been downloaded in a secret document by more than 100,000 people. Just when everyone thought he had run out of options, he has once again managed to surprise us with another hard hitting comeback. He also wants a guarantee that Washington will not prosecute him.
The case is still cloudy; on one hand he has been given the notice to surrender while on the other the political implications of his appeal for asylum are being considered. US seems to be doing everything in their hands to make sure that they capture him and Assange has shown enough courage at every step showing that he cannot be taken down so easily.
So what happens now? Assange has already breached bail conditions and failure to surrender would only worsen those conditions further, leading to his arrest. While he remains in the embassy he is protected by diplomatic immunity and is beyond the reach of British authorities. An undying support for his appeal can be seen through thousands of emails pouring in to offer support. But is this enough to survive the political battle he is embroiled in? What is to be seen is how long can he survive this battle and will he emerge a winner by not being thrown into the clutches of United States? Unless he has another secret arrow in his quiver to strike the case with while it’s still hot, there is no sure answer.