Why is Assange worse than a pedophile?
England is threatening to revoke Ecuador's diplomatic status and raid their embassy in order to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden, even though Assange has yet to be charged with any crime by Sweden.
Yet no one revoked Switzerland's diplomatic status when they refused to extradite Polanksi - who was convicted of drugging and raping a 13 year old girl.
And no one has revoked or threatened to revoke England's diplomatic status for refusing to extradite convicted pedophile Shawn Sullivan to face trial in Minnesota for raping and sexually molesting a 14 year old girl and two 11 year old girls.
What is it that's so special about Assange's alleged rapes of two women that makes them so much worse than the proven rape of one child or the alleged sexual assaults of three other children by a known pedophile?
So let's be clear about what's happening (as I understand it):
1. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden, where he has been accused of rape by two women.
2. He has not been charged with any crime by the Swedish government, because they claim that under their system they need to question Assange before charging him.
3. For reasons that are unclear the Swedish prosecutors have refused to question him by telephone, email, Skype, or in writing; they insist that he must be personally present.
4. They refuse to promise that they will not extradite him to the United States, who Assange fears will charge him with espionage.
5. Assange has taken refuge inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London.
6. The British government is now threatening to revoke Ecuador's diplomatic status - which would be unprecedented - and raid the embassy to seize Assange and extradite him to Sweden.
It's not clear what actually happened in Sweden or whether or not Assange is in fact guilty of assaulting the two women, but it is possible. He wouldn't be the first political cause celebré to have some nasty clay feet. So I don't have a problem with him facing trial for rape, if there's legitimate cause to charge him. But even if he's a narcissistic, misogynistic sleazebag he's entitled to presumption of innocence and a fair trial, just like Kobe Bryant and any number of other alleged rapists who have been treated better than Mr. Assange. And it's his special status as the Worst Rapist Ever that I'm concerned with.
After all, Roman Polanski has been at large for over 30 years, despite being charged and convicted of drugging and raping an underage girl. There's no presumption of innocence, and there was no possibility of consent. Yet the US did not expel Swiss diplomats or conduct any raids into Swiss territory. Is what Assange may have done so much worse than what Polanski definitely did? How?
I don't buy the Swedish insistence on questioning him in person before charging him. Under US law, Assange can't be required to answer questions that might incriminate him, and if Sweden has no equivalent to the Fifth Amendment, then their otherwise brilliant experiment with democratic socialism is missing a crucial 18th Century keystone. If they have sufficient cause to believe he is guilty, then they should charge him already. If they need testimony from him to decide whether or not to charge him, then they have a weak case. And if they need him to be personally present to answer questions, then I don't for one second believe that they just need more information from him. It's pretty clear that Assange has good reason to fear they intend to extradite him to the United States.
(That intention alone may be in violation of British extradition law; I've read that it "stipulates that a criminal surrendered on demand of a foreign state shall not be tried for any other than the extradition crime proved by the facts on which the surrender is granted", but I have not yet been able to confirm this.)
But more importantly: why is the British government so hellbent on extraditing Assange to Sweden to face questioning to decide whether or not to charge him with rape? Why are they so intent on doing so that they are threatening a sovereign foreign state with removal of their diplomatic status and a police raid on their property? This is essentially an act of war - over an alleged date rapist? Really?
The British claim that "The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offenses and we remain determined to fulfill this obligation." Seem to me they've already lost custody of Assange and thus have already failed in their obligation, if in fact they ever had really one.
Is the British government known for aggressively extraditing accused rapists to other countries? Do they have a history of declaring war against other countries who refuse to hand over suspects in such crimes? We already know that revoking Ecuador's diplomatic status would be "unprecedented", so I think it's safe to say this is not a regular occurrence.
But more disturbingly, the British government is not always so eager to see rape suspects face trial in other countries. Just this past June, the British courts refused to extradite convicted pedophile Shawn Sullivan to stand trial in Minnesota, on the basis that the American justice system has a civil commitment program for sex offenders that is too draconian.
Sullivan is charged with raping a 14 year old girl and sexually assaulting two 11 year old girls in Minnesota in 1994. As proscecutors were preparing the charges he escaped to Ireland, where he sexually assaulted two 12 year old girls, was caught and convicted, and given a suspended sentence.
And the British government is more concerned with protecting this piece of shit from the American justice system than they are with ensuring that Assange does not disappear into the same black hole that Bradley Manning has been languishing in.
Remember, as far as anyone knows Assange did not steal state secrets. He just published them, which is no different from what the New York Times did with the Pentagon Papers. Yet he believes the US government intends to extradite him from Sweden and charge him with espionage, and it's not at all an unreasonable belief.
Rape is an awful thing, and if he committed rape he should face justice. Assange may well be a creep, and he may also be a rapist. But I don't understand what mysterious, mystical quality makes his rapes - which may not have even happened - so much worse than the rapes of a convicted pedophile that the British government is willing to sever diplomatic relations with another country over them.
Unless Assange is right to fear extradition.
(updated: I buried the lede.)