Consistency Kicks Back

From The Australian:

Here’s my take: if you think he was wrong in exposing stuff at WikiLeaks, then this is wrong, too. If you think he was justified, then this too is justified. I’m in the first category.

LAWYERS for Julian Assange have expressed anger about an alleged smear campaign against the Australian WikiLeaks founder.

Incriminating police files were published in the British newspaper that has used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.

In a move that surprised many of Mr Assange’s closest supporters on Saturday, The Guardian newspaper published previously unseen police documents that accused Mr Assange in graphic detail of sexually assaulting two Swedish women. One witness is said to have stated: “Not only had it been the world’s worst screw, it had also been violent.”

Bjorn Hurtig, Mr Assange’s Swedish lawyer, said he would lodge a formal complaint to the authorities and ask them to investigate how such sensitive police material leaked into the public domain. “It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position,” he told a colleague.

“I do not like the idea that Julian may be forced into a trial in the media. And I feel especially concerned that he will be presented with the evidence in his own language for the first time when reading the newspaper. I do not know who has given these documents to the media, but the purpose can only be one thing – trying to make Julian look bad.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Poetic justice. If he believes no one should be allowed secrets, by what right can he keep this private?

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    No, Scot, you are conflating separate issues — government secrecy (“we the people”) v. the right to private privacy. One can be adamant about maintaining a personal right to privacy while cheering for government lies and duplicity to be exposed.

    Not that I’m in total agreement with all that Assange has done nor his philosophical and political moorings.

    Just that you are asserting a false equivalency here.

  • Jeremy

    Not really, Naum. The documents released are government documents, not his personal correspondence. In the US, they would even be public information (with victim names redacted) once the investigation was complete.

  • http://arbevere.blogspot.com Allan R. Bevere

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Rick in Texas

    I think it is more complex. There is poetic justice. But Assange’s actions are in essence an act of war by an anarchist; acts which, as I understand it, potentially place lives at risk. Retaliatory acts in war are not morally comparable to a first strike.

    The release of documents related to his alleged sexual misconduct place no lives at risk. They do, however, put his supporters in the uncomfortable position of defending rape and sexual violence.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Two different issues. Wikileaks is battling the inherent problems in our oligarchy. Both are contemptible but there is no innate check and balance so I like that one popped up.

    Assange’s personal situation should be personal, despite how much I don’t like the guy.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    @Rick in Texas, Is Assange not innocent until proven guilty? Or are you blessed with some mystical foresight that foretells the truth? How are his defenders “defending rape and sexual violence” in a politicized case (were it not for Assange WL fame, this would have been an irrelevant side note, not for the weight of the world’s prosecutorial forces not allied in deference to U.S. state department).

    @Jeremy, #3, Did they release the text from the entire investigation (with victim names redacted) or just some juicy nuggets in the vein of a PR blitz?

    Again, situation is not the same and you who claim otherwise make a false claim.

    So let me get this straight: spilling the beans about government lies and duplicity is bad and evil but selectively “leaking” bits about what could be at totally politicized criminal prosecution is a good thing?

  • Da Grizzly Truth

    Da grizzly truth of the matter is that Assange wants personal privacy for himself (not others) and exposure for foreign governments that he dislikes (like the U.S. and others).

    Truth is, both issues are real and legitimate. Exposure of secret governmental documents known to have been obtained illegally is just what it sounds like – illegal. Exposure of allegations charging sexually predatory actions is premature at worst and certainly embarassing for a notorious exposer of others’ secrets to have to deal with in all its intimate detail.

    If Assange doesn’t like American laws regarding how secret classified material is eventually made public, he is certainly welcome to initiate immigration proceedings so that he can eventually move to correct what he sees as an inconvenient law so that foreign correspondents can get all the secret stuff while it is still juicy and hot. In the meantime he is a fencer of stolen goods (in this case, state secrets of a foreign power that has every right to be p***ed off).

    For what it is worth, it takes a court order to seal court documents and classify them as secret. And a court is a wing of a government. So when governmentally run court documents that have been or might potentially be classified as secret are leaked … voila! It is something to make a founder of a company that thrives on exposing the secrets of others proud!

    Now it is true that the government whose documents he leaked illegally is not the same government that runs the courts whose documents were leaked to Assange’s embarassment and possible legal detriment. But honestly … anyone who conducts themselves in a way that gets them charged with a crime (and most assuredly one that he admits to having committed – though he claims it was consensual) should not expect extreme deference in the way the details are handled and kept. An individual illegally obtained and leaked info on a foreign government and then governmentally run court and police records of allegations of assault against the individual are leaked by his own government.

    Bottom line – the inconsistency of Assange’s positions is ironic. In the country he offended, the allegations alone would be made public in the papers and he would be required (if convicted) to register and report his whereabouts at all times as a sexual predator/offender.

    He complains the allegations tell only one side of things and are not the whole story.
    It is a standard he fails to uphold even in his own business, therefore a disengenuous plea on his part.

    He claims it is retaliatory, while failing to note that the leak came from his own nation’s authorities and NOT from the party he offended and exposed by his illegal uploading of secret classified materials on a public website. What exactly does he think that his government was being retaliatory about?

    Shame is the legacy of fools – Prov. 3:35

    Perhaps Assange was foolish enough to think he could hold up a lamp to expose others and yet remain hidden in the shadows? Really! Julius, you should have known better.

    Grizzly T

  • http://missional.ca Jamie Arpin-Ricci

    While I am not fully supportive of what WikiLeaks has done, I don’t think these two things can be compared that simply. Intention behind both public leaks are also grossly different. However, Assange would have been wise to air his dirty laundry before someone got a hold of it. Seems like an obvious and inevitable result of his actions. That said, perhaps the allegations are so unfounded that he didn’t think it necessary. Who knows.

  • Tim

    Naum – There has been plenty of personal information in the documents that WikiLeaks has released, including the social security numbers of US military personnel. The British newspaper released police files related to Assange’s case – those are government documents, not Assange’s personal property. So, I think that it is indeed a perfect parallel to what Assange and WikiLeaks have done.

    As for your comment about innocent until proven guilty, that’s irrelevant. Assange has released documents in hundreds of cases where no guilt has been proven in a court of law.

  • Jim H.

    Scott,

    very happy you get it right most of the time. However, you start this year with a true boner! You think information disclosed concerning matters that are supposed to be done in our interest and certainly only with our support (i.e. taxes and votes) is the same as personal information that, at this point, only involves allegations? You must know that there are even procedural rules concerning what evidence a jury can hear.

    It is certainly not so cut and dry as your initial statement assumes.

    I always wonder why people who blog on one subject (i.e. Bible, theology, etc.) think they’re competent to blog on everything. But then again, it’s your blog.

    Happy New Year.

  • Jon B

    It amazes me that considering the contemptible things our government has done and then hidden from us, that when WikiLeaks exposes them the coverage of the media and the general conversation is (1) that Assange is a bad dude and (2) outrage that our government was unable to hide its evil behavior from us. Yet no outrage at what our goverenment has done in our names and with our money. Either we so badly want to maintain the illusion that America is a force for good or we’re so jaded the revelations don’t surprise us. I’m not sure which. But it perplexes me that we are so quick to call Assange to account but have no interest in doing so with our government. We’re shooting at the wrong target with our outrage…


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