Julian Assange skirts justice
From: The Australian August 18, 2012 12:00AM
JULIAN Assange displays blinding hypocrisy trying to hide behind the skirts of Ecuador, which regularly aligns itself at the UN with the likes of Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela on issues such as support for Syria's murderous Assad regime.
Were Mr Assange not so cowardly, he would recognise his best interests would be served not by pompously pursuing the role of martyr but by going to Sweden so sex-assault charges he strenuously denies can be tested. Sweden is not Equatorial Guinea. Nor is it Ecuador, a country whose anti-US President, Rafael Correa, Mr Assange's protector, shamelessly misused the courts against journalists after they called him a dictator - action condemned by the UN Human Rights Council and the Washington Post, which wrote of the "most comprehensive and ruthless assault on free media in the Western Hemisphere".
Unlike Ecuador, Sweden is a liberal democracy where freedom and the rule of law prevail. It has an impeccable judicial system. To impugn it as Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, has done is outrageous. So, too, is the manner in which Ecuador, purporting concern for human rights, has inferred that if he goes to Sweden Mr Assange will end up in the US - a claim disputed by Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who says Washington has not sought extradition. Mr Assange has exhausted all avenues of appeal in the British legal system. Yet he has chosen the course of the opportunist, seeking the embrace of a country with a record antagonistic to his proclaimed human rights and freedom.
British authorities point out that by allowing Mr Assange to stay in its London embassy Ecuador could be in contravention of Britain's Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act. They have left Mr Correa in no doubt that Britain has a duty to enforce the ruling of its highest courts for Mr Assange to be extradited to Sweden. For all the confected outrage in Quito, what this means is that Mr Correa's asylum decision amounts to grandstanding.
Mr Assange has painted himself into a corner. If he believes in his innocence, the only viable option is to have the allegations tested in the Swedish courts. Skulking in a London embassy backroom, the guest of a regime with dodgy human rights credentials, does no good for his case or his reputation.
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