Jun 20, 2012

Rundle: Assange makes his escape into a diplomatic storm

Julian Assange has shocked his supporters with a creative new twist -- turning up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London and asking for asylum. The international diplomatic mess is enormous.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Six months ago. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on bail awaiting a decision about extradition to Sweden, quietly moved his official bail residence from Suffolk to Kent. The ostensible reason was that his Suffolk host — Vaughan Smith, founder of Frontline Media and the Frontline Club and his wife — were expecting a baby imminently, and Mrs Smith was finding the perpetual presence of a dozen or so WikiLeakers stressful.

Myself, I thought one thing: channel run. Two hours after a judgment came down from the UK Supreme Court authorising Assange’s extradition to Sweden, he would be on a yacht, one of those super-yachts that the cypherpunks of the ’90s bought after they all got rich. It was easy to game it out. The super-yacht only has to get beyond the 12-mile UK waters line before it is in international waters. Assange would then be in a legal limbo.

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184 thoughts on “Rundle: Assange makes his escape into a diplomatic storm

  1. Chess C

    Thanks for this excellent article and analysis.
    I was surprised he hadn’t made his bid for asylum earlier. But I was expecting him to seek it with either Venezuala or Cuba, i.e. countries which have already trashed their relationships with the US and would therefore be beyond the reach of US pressure. (The other countries which fall into this category are obviously less attractive, i.e.: Zimbabwe, Iran and the “Democratic” People’s Republic of Korea.)

  2. zut alors

    The Oz government is handling this abysmally.

    It was bad enough when J W Howard gift-wrapped Hicks for the US govt but we expect Gillard and Roxon to behave with more intelligence and compassion.

  3. puddleduck

    Thanks for the re-cap and update, Guy.

    Poor bastard. Assange will last as long as a snowflake in hell if he is ever in the clutches of the US. They will eat him alive. Frankly, I’m surprised he hasn’t run sooner and I don’t blame him for doing it.

    I imagine his team has gone through all the options for asylum – Equador must be the least worst. I can’t imagine they informed any of those who paid his bail – as if they could trust Ms Khan with such info’. Hopefully, though, she’s just tweeting that to cover herself so there’s no suggestion of conspiracy.

    I agree with Zut – our government has behaved shamefully throughout this. I’ll never forget Prime Minister J Gillard’s sucky statement that he’s done something illegal blah blah. It was pythonesque.

    Good luck to Julian – he’s going to need it.

  4. Microseris

    Everyone who saw the 4 Corners report on the treatment currently being meted out on Bradley Manning (described in the report as torture), would not be surprised Assange is petrified as to what may await if he is extradited to the US. Possibly a life term in jail whilst many of their right wing Fox Media inspired commentary was calling for his extra judicial execution.

  5. Scott

    Bail jumping coward or political prisoner seeking asylum? I guess history will be the judge.

    Regardless of the asylum decision, it might not help. Ronnie Biggs made it to South America as well and he is still served some time at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

    I think he will lose a few fans over this. Running away is not quite the stuff of leftist folk songs. It’s more about standing your ground.

  6. mick j

    It is terrible that justice is something which can be denied when powerful governments want nothing more than to make an example of an individual. In Australia a few years ago we saw a Microsoft jet turn up to pick up one of our citizens who had hacked into Microsoft’s source code. This was an Australian citizen and the young boy was sold out by the then Liberal government, never to be heard from again.

    If Assange were here in Australia it is my bet that he would be handed over to the US, no questions asked.

    It is my hope that Julien Assange is afforded some genuine justice.

  7. parisaustralien

    Nice conspiracy theories. But if Assange is so wanted why hasn’t the USA asked it’s closest ally the UK to extradite him from Britain?

  8. Damien

    Umm… what exactly should the Australian Government do about this? Ask the US not to extradite assange when there has been nothing to indicate it will but media speculation about possible international conspiracies? Maybe it needs a process to actually begin before making representations. Also, I really can’t see the Australian Government pre-judging sexual assault allegations by intervening with Sweeden on JA’s behalf. The whole thing’s a bit hysterical in my view.

  9. 81dvl

    Once, just once I would like to see an Australian government act independently, on principle, and against the ‘wishes’ of the US. There is only one way to get the respect of a bully and it would be both cathartic and character-building.

    Without being known to assert an independant opinion on a matter of national principle (something we expect and accept as a natural function from the US), what hope have we of ever being a truly independent republic?

    I feel sick.

  10. ed moran

    “standing your ground” upside down in an orange overall with water running up your nose? like to see you hold your ground you would be yelling for mumma

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