Julian Assange addressed his supporters and the media

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David Lowe, Principal Lecturer, Law School, Liverpool John Moores University

Clearly Assange has turned this whole affair about WikiLeaks and the USA Government wishing to interview him over it. In addition to this, Assange has has turned the whole issue on it head to be solely about crimes of the powerful and the arrest and conviction in the USA of those that assisted Assange by whistleblowing. What is in danger of being lost is the fact there are victims of alleged serious sexual assault carried out by Assange and his fear of being charged and tried in a Swedish court for these offences, where ,if found guilty, Assange would serve a lengthy prison sentence. As with all EU member states, the rule of law is an important principle that must be adhered to be it by a state or a citizen. As I have said repeatedly, Sweden is a democratic state which is underpinned by human rights law in which, if charged, Assange would receive a fair trial as per article 6 European Convention on Human Rights as well as having full legal representation. While it is laudable that individuals, especially journalists like Assange report abuses of power by democratic states, he too has an obligation to answer the serious sexual offence allegations in Sweden, yet he made no mention of this. Instead, Assange would rather make out he is being persecuted and allow diplomatic relations between states that have been in good standing to be eroded in what he is turning into a sideshow as he attempts to evade the course of justice.

Paul Arnell, Department of Law, Robert Gordon University

Julian Assange addressed his supporters and the media from a balcony of the Ecuadoran Embassy. As he remained within the walls of the Embassy he remained relatively safe from arrest by UK authorities. It remains the case that it is quite unlikely that the UK authorities will enter the Embassy. To do so could harm the UK’s reputation to a greater extent than having Assange remain for the time being in the Embassy. It appears a ‘waiting game’ will be played out.

The content of Assange’s statement was as to be expected. He criticised those who he perceives as attacking Wikileaks, and thanked those who he sees as defending it. He did, however, address several specific comments to the United States authorities. By doing so he appears to have raised the stakes – as as things stands Assange has not been charged with any crime there. This is not to suggest that his statement was itself a crime in US law, but rather it was fodder for those who see Assange as an enemy of the US.

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