Don’t Touch Julian Assange

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नीरज भूषणModern revolutionary Julian Assange is in chains. This because he voluntarily appeared in a London court on an extradition warrant. Interestingly, the judge appeared satisfied that there were substantial grounds to believe that the WikiLeaks founder would fail to surrender if granted bail. Ok. Denied bail in a British court on Tuesday, Assange will remain behind bars fighting extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex charges. Sex charges ! Did Assange rape someone !! Some say yes; others feel they are trumped-up charges of sex by surprise. Sex By Surprise !!! What’s that? It means that the honcho didn’t wear a condom and the women he slept with are claiming rape.

The charges have been framed in Sweden where if you consent to having sex with someone and part of the way through you say to stop and the person you’re having sex with continues to have sex with you against your wishes, that’s rape. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, is accused of using his body weight to hold a woman down in a sexual manner and also having sex with a second woman without a condom while she was asleep.

What a coincidence! Assange turned himself in after the Interpol graduated him to the most wanted list and issued a warrant for his arrest for the charges brought against him in Sweden last August. You must have noticed that the Interpol alert came immediately after Assange released over a thousand leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed Americans the world over.

“I am inclined to believe that these are politically motivated charges. This has become like a David and Goliath show, with all the governments ranged against him,” feels Anita Pratap, the former Bureau Chief of CNN. And on his arrest, she told me that: “I don’t agree with all that Assange has done, but I certainly don’t feel persecuting in this manner is either appropriate or just.”

Aniruddha Bahal, well-known for exposing corruption in India and then facing the witch-hunt for his daring journalism, makes another point. “The United States has not done anything so far (to Assange). It’s the Swedes,” he says, cautioning that a person doing things like Assange should be more careful with personal things as he will always be a target. “It just gave them a loophole.” But will the US Justice Department continue to sleep जूलियन असांजेas Assange’s whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks now vows to release more reams of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables?

And if the Justice Department swings into action against Assange, will it not be a clear cut government-media war? Will the United States then also take action against the newspapers and websites that published the controversial tapes? It is for the Justice Department to consider whether and how it might indict Julian Assange. It is for the U.S. officials to look beyond the Espionage Act of 1917 to other possible offences, including conspiracy or trafficking in stolen property.

But I would prefer advising the U.S. Justice Department not to proceed against Assange. No public domain should run like a private firm. Assange just showed that. He did not leak any of your documents. He just published them. That way he does not fall under the U.S. Espionage Act. And moreover, don’t forget that Assange is a journalist, like me. And I along with hundreds of thousands of journalists will not tolerate this attack on media freedom.

कई बड़े मीडिया हाउसों में विभिन्न पदों पर काम कर चुके लेखक नीरज भूषण इन दिनों स्वतंत्र पत्रकार और वेब जर्नलिस्ट के रूप में सक्रिय हैं.


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