Julian Assange has been ordered to return to Sweden by a British court to face rape charges.
Judge Howard Riddle, the bane of Julian Assange’s existence for the past three months, has granted Sweden’s extradition request. The WikiLeaks founder has already repealed the ruling, but his worst fears have been cemented: the rape charges are going to follow him for the rest of his life, perhaps even after years of repeals.
Assange fears the extradition. He predicts there will be a rendition effort by the United States that will take him to Cuba or Gitmo where he’ll be tortured or executed. Assange has been criticized for this extreme belief—it supports his penchant for self-aggrandizement— but a) prominent American figures have called for his execution and b) he knows as much about the dark arts of the United States as those who practice them. That’s why he is the founder of WikiLeaks.
The rape charges fit conspicuously into the Assange timeline. Assange was thrust onto the world stage in July after the White House condemned WikiLeaks for releasing over 90,000 pages of classified material on the disastrous war in Afghanistan. A CIA Task Force was set up to contain WikiLeaks. Eric Holder sought to bring him to justice even though he hadn’t broken any laws. By November 18, Assange was officially a wanted man in Sweden after having consensual-turned-non-consensual sex—a real mind-bender—with two women.
Judge Howard Riddle’s ruling is shameful. He is implicit in the first great character assassination of the 21st century and has already resigned himself to the fact his ruling will be challenged in perpetuity. Worse, he has attempted to fog the looking glass for a new generation of hyper-connected, clear-thinking young adults. This tactic will not work, so long as we don’t tire of Julian Assange, who is ripe to become a Guevara figure if killed or arrested.
Julian Assange should be freed and allowed to continue with his work as a major source for the free press that supports and defends democracy. Via the Tea Party, our founding fathers are constantly referenced in mass media. Their beliefs are divergent, but they did share one: without an informed public, there is nothing. Why kill the messenger?