Assange is no hero, and neither is Ecuador

Assange is no hero, and neither is Ecuador

Summary: Do not celebrate Assange. This is not a "witch hunt," as he called it. This is a case of the world's most respected nations hunting an alleged criminal currently hiding out in the embassy of one of the world's least respected nations.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Security
81

The ugly story of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange took on another chapter, as the man accused of sex crimes in Sweden and espionage in the United States and the U.K. primped himself in front of the cameras once again.

On-site ZDNet team coverage by Charlie Osborne and Zack Whittaker Assange: U.S. 'witch hunt' against Wikileaks must endGallery: Wikileaks' Assange gives media statement in London

This time, Assange has teamed up with the deadbeat government of Ecuador. It's bizarre that these two -- each differently disgraced -- have dressed themselves in the ill-fitting robes of freedom fighters in their latest attempt to rehabilitate their tattered images.

You all know about Assange's various alleged acts of espionage against the United States and other western nations. You know about Wikileaks publication of confidential military dispatches from Afghanistan, and his alleged exploitation of poor, traitorous Bradley Manning. You know about the Swedish charges against him of rape (later withdrawn) and sexual molestation (for which he's still being sought). You even know about the time he reportedly tried to blackmail Amnesty International.

But what about Ecuador, that new paragon of freedom that granted asylum to Assange?

Well, according to the Financial Times, Ecuador is a country that -- with a pile of cash in the bank -- chose to default on its debts. If you look at the timing, you'll see that Ecuador contributed, in a particularly troublesome way, to the worldwide financial crisis we're all still dealing with.

In 2006 and 2007, Ecuador had what The Telegraph called a "small windfall" from exporting half a billion barrels of oil. Even so, the nation had $10 billion in sovereign debt. In 2008, Ecuador decided -- just plain decided -- it didn't want to pay $3.9 billion of it back to those who loaned it money.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa called his creditors "monsters" and disavowed the debt because it was incurred by previous administrations. The Telegraph called it a case of "won't pay" rather than "can't pay." While the price of petroleum fell on December 12, 2008 to $46.28 a barrel, Ecuador's prior income from oil alone was well in excess of $23 billion.

In other words, at a time when its oil riches would have allowed it to pay off its sovereign debt more than twice over, Ecuador defaulted -- helping to push the world financial crisis over the edge.

So when Correa teams up with Assange, this is not a noble fight against the U.S. waging war on whistle-blowers as blowhard Assange claims. Instead, it's the act of a desperate criminal and a criminal regime trying to put lipstick on a mud-covered pig.

For the record, this is not the first time Ecuador has defaulted on its loans. And if you want another reason Ecuador is teaming up with the anti-American Assange, get this: most of Ecuador's debts (at least back in 1999) were to the U.S.

It's very important to note that this is not about the freedom of information. We need transparency, we need oversight, and we need to speak truth to power. But Julian Assange is not the hero many deluded fans have constructed in their minds. Wikileaks, while once a great concept and a possible force for good, has been corrupted and destroyed by illegal acts.

The world needs a safe home for whistle-blowers, it needs a central repository for disclosure and discovery. It just doesn't need a narcissistic, alleged criminal as its leader.

Do not celebrate Assange. This is not a "witch hunt," as he called it. This is a case of the world's most respected nations hunting a criminal currently hiding out in the embassy of one of the world's least respected nations.

Topic: Security

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

81 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • really unbiased article here.

    So, you KNOW he's a sexual predator because he was accused of it right? The accusations ONLY came out AFTER he released the US documents. Hmmmm, just a coincidence of course. Yes, he is going to Ecuador because they are bad "debt non-payers". Either you are a shill or an idiot.

    While I don't agree with releasing all the information Assange released as it possible could have hurt or even killed our service members (who I respect highly) in the field, you cannot be SO naive as to believe all of the US buddy governments want him so badly for sexual accusations in Sweden. They want him so bad for those accusations that they threaten to storm an embassy. Really? When they don't even go after normal CONVICTED sex offenders like they should? Yes, it has nothing to do with the US wanting to extradite and imprison or kill him. Maybe they shouldn't be doing all the wrong things they did, while pretending they didn't. The US government is pissed because he aired their dirty laundry and want revenge, plain and simple. He's not a saint or a hero, but he IS being hunted by the US government and being on TV is his only option at this point.

    Don't be so naive or assume ZDnet readers are. If you want to post one-sided idiocy, go work for Fox News.
    Stormborn
    • ...

      Also, he did have to have some rather big balls to post all that stuff when the traitor released that information. The person who worked for the US and released it IS a traitor, btw. However, I bet that a normal reporter would be smart enough.....or scared enough not to report this information. Most likely if they did, they would be dead. Maybe Assange is simply the only one with balls (or stupidity) enough to report this...
      Stormborn
      • He released it

        for the money it got him. Nothing else. This man is a phoney, not a freedom fighter. He uses people like TP and his only interest is his own glorification and his income. Look at his lifestyle! Look at where he stays, what vacations he takes. The whole thing is a paper trail of a scumbag.

        The article only says he needs to answer the charges against him. Anyone accused of a crime in a civilized country like Sweden needs to show up and answer the charges. He is making up all these conspiracy theories to keep from answering criminal charges. All he's doing to trying to direct the public attention away from the two women in Sweden he may have victimized. And let's face it, Sweden has such a long history or abuse and suppression of human rights.

        Sure Julian. Drink some more koolaid. You are all being used.
        timspublic1@...
        • Not so fast Sherlock.

          Here is the problem.
          And it’s a problem that absolutely rife on ZDNet as it comes up over and over again on multiple issues.
          It seems that a huge number of regular posters on ZDNet, as well as numerous writers for ZDNet could care less about issues and even facts when their personal bias comes into play. Reality be damned; “I know whats right according to my thoughts and I will stand and fry anyone who thinks different, even where stark reality says I should think a little deeper.”
          First off, when it comes to Julian Assange’s issue specifically, does nobody ever ask themselves if the information he has released speaks about anything the American population should take interest in? Meaning, has Assange revealed information that while it has some negative implications for the government, and perhaps the American military, have there been things revealed that the American people should have the right to know?
          Has that question simply been forgotten in the high rhetoric of American patriotism? This is the very issue that creates such incredibly strong back blast against America. I already know there are going to be a pile of people who are going to give the very same response to that that unfortunately given weight to the phrase “American Redneck”. As I said a most unfortunate phrase to say the least, but one that continues to return over and over again in particular circles where people try to weigh the integrity of American values when the same values they try to apply to other countries are applied to America itself.
          It does no favors to America to cry out in protest “LETS FRY ASSANGE!!” when others who blow the whistle or inform about secretive documents about a particular political system in some other country are cheered in the United States for the bravery of the person who brings the issues spoken of to the media. It also does no particular good to the American public to simply say “my country right or wrong on this issue”. It’s the very same claim people around the world employed in the promotion of less than reputable political regimes in less than politically honest countries use to FRY their political whistle blowers while we cheer on the whistle blower and curse the political regime that goes after them for simply releasing that political entities documentation about less than politically correct events and policies.
          It’s the most classic case of “If I do it, its alright because I do it for good reason, but when others do it they are doing it for illicit gain and self aggrandizement, so my secrets should never be revealed and others should simply grin and bear it. If they did everything politically and socially correct they wouldn’t have this to worry about”. A little more humility would do America well. Again, I know that there are piles out there who will say, who gives a damn what you think, its America all the way, others be damned.
          Here is some news guys. That’s not going to work forever. The groups who seek the downfall of the U.S., dote and fawn over this kind of thing and preach it to wanna-be suicide bombers as proof that America has no interest in playing on a level playing field and have little interest in having the rules they want to apply to the rest of the world apply to them. Once in a while it would be in the interest of America to stand there like a hero and take it on the chin like Ali, and say I can take that, if you cannot its because you never built up your countries moral like we have in the U.S. of A. Once in a while it would be interesting to see a big country like the U.S. to simply say, this thing dosnt make us happy, it makes us upset as a matter of fact, but we can take it and the fact is, any country should be able to take it or they had better get a political system in that can take it.
          Just so you understand where I come from on this.
          -the creep who gave this info to Wikileaks is a traitor, unfortunately for him, once you sign on to protect government information, once you breach that you’re a traitor. Further, despite all the leaks, so far there has been nothing earth shattering. What he has released hardly has seemed to fall under the rubric of patriotic action taken upon the finding of classically illegal government action.
          -further than that, the U.S. reaction cannot be said to be that unpredictable. As things are, there seems to hardly be a country in the world that takes Assange’s side on this. While other countries have not done or said much of anything to chastise the U.S. about their stanch and harsh criticism of Assanges publication of these materials, you can trust they are waiting until its their head on the block (Russia, China or many others for example), and when the U.S. predictably says “Hey!!! You should just take this on the chin and not persecute the messenger about your poor actions”, then they will weigh in pointing out the U.S. reaction to such secrets reveled.
          What country was the saying “Whats good for the Goose is good for the Gander” coined?
          It applies, not just for one, but for all.
          Cayble
        • The US Army did it though.

          So, any penalties for massacring innocent civilians? Nope, not on your Nellie mate.

          Of course the biggest question is when are you going to execute Bush, Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and company for knowingly perpetrating the WMD big lie to justify invading Iraq and subsequently being responsible for over 160,000 deaths, mainly civilians.

          Any credible evidence that Wikileaks material caused injury or death to serving US Army personnel. I hear lots of 'may' and 'mights' but not one authenticated case to date.

          No wonder the USA is the most despised country on the planet (miles behind Ecuador) and for very good reason too.
          Ray Noel
      • Traitor

        Don't be too hard on the lad, he was only following his conscience.

        After all ...

        "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing."
        Edmund Burke (1729-1997)

        I believe that the Declaration of Independence makes mention of the responsibility to take action when a government becomes bad for the people, but this is not my area of expertise by any means lol.
        Ray Noel
    • Sure

      Your entire thought process hinges on the assumption that since the accusations surfaced after the Wikileaks dump, then it must be false. But an equally plausible scenario is that the accusations surfaced due to the publicity he generated, which pissed off the accuser giving them courage to come forward.

      "If you want to post one-sided idiocy, go work for Fox News." ah yes, pull this old line out of the DNC playbook.
      cmosentine
      • really?

        So you don't think this article, which assumes criminal guilt when no charges have even been formally filed (he's wanted for questioning) and then rants about how terrible the Ecuador president is with his debt repayment policies.....which is totally unrelated, ISN'T a one-sided shill-styled rant?? I'm sure people in other countries rant about how terrible our president is as well. You are basing your response to me on....nothing but an assumption of guilt for something not even charged. Good logic there buddy.
        Stormborn
        • Do you

          dispute anything specific about the article? I didn't read that, simply that you blindly follow Asswhatever, with nothing but him saying it never happened. He is a criminal simply because he is hiding from legitimate charges. Anyone who is reasonable knows that you don't hide out from charges like these, unless they are true.
          timspublic1@...
          • Do you what?

            Just in case you've just awoken from lengthy slumber, Assange is reluctant to go to Sweden as he seems to expect that to be only a preliminary, prior to being extradited to your country. No, there are no charges laid at this time but pointedly, no-one in authority can or will say if that situation will or will not change on Assange's successful extradition to Sweden.

            We are talking about a country that labels as "terrorists", those that defend their countries from invasion and remove detainees to other countries to avoid any scrutiny of their brutal treatment, so I guess anythiing is possible, eh?

            Geneva Convention? Surely that's just for sooks; never mind that your troops when captured, will be treated as abysmally as a result of your own sins in this regard.

            And that's the truth ...
            Ray Noel
        • IF

          If he's only wanted for questioning, then why not go to Sweden and get out from under this "black cloud"? After all, if what you say is true he has nothing to fear. It's just questioning.

          And since he chose sanctuary in Ecuador, then Ecuador's president and policies ARE related. If he chose Australia or Iceland, then wouldn't the same scrutiny be applied? It certainly would, but the leaders of these nations wouldn't allow him sanctuary, would they?
          benched42
          • Ha ha

            I hope you are joking because nobody could be so stupid. He is only wanted for "questioning", yeah.

            HA HA HA HA
            markbn
          • and only if

            Because Obama will get him if he goes to Sweden! And you don't want Obama getting his hands on you. He's nabbed twice as many whistleblowers than all previous US presidents combined.

            If it's just questioning, why don't the Swedes question him via Skype or in London? Because it's not about the trumped-up rape allegations, it's about the US administration being filthy on being called out on their nefarious activities. Don't you get that?

            Certainly the Australian government (or opposition for that matter) wouldn't, because they are gutless, look-the-other-way, US-ball-licking wastes of space.
            rah111
          • No, rah111 you are wrong

            No, Obama will not get him, because an extradiction has to be approved by Sweden and England. It isn't that hard to understand, just look here.

            http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/08/legal-myths-about-assange-extradition
            Jxn
          • And?

            There are opposing views on this issue but even if I grant you the point, your conclusion assumes that Sweden or England won't approve the extradition.

            Sweden's record of refusing extraditions to the US is, so far as I understand it, zero. They have "violated international treaties in relation to surrendering foreign nationals into US custody to be interrogated and tortured" and "Amnesty International and the UN Committee against Torture criticised
            Sweden because it rendered two refugees to the CIA who were then tortured under the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak".

            Sweden can't be trusted on this even if they give diplomatic assurances that torture, for example, won't take place. See here for a summary of Amnesty International's take on it:

            http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR42/001/2006

            Nor can I see the UK blocking the extradition, especially if Sweden gives such assurances. So I don't accept your assumption. Anyway, if you are right, why don't either of them come out and guarantee it won't happen if they are not that way inclined. Because there is a bigger playing pulling the strings. Sweden and the UK are just the puppets.
            rah111
          • Only to save then from the hitmen...

            Yes, while the Australian Govt have excelled in almost every other aspect of government, they have somewhat disappointed in this regard. Maybe preconjecture is viewed as unhelpful while background discussions continue, who knows? I'll ask Bob Carr when I next see him...

            It does beg the question as to what the US Govt have over us that we have quite strongly supported inevitably unsupportable wars and over a very long period of time too. It's certainly not the ANZUS Treaty, which some experts have almost declared a "pretend or joke treaty" compared with NATO.
            Ray Noel
          • Equadore are extradicting a blogger just now

            but Mr J. Assange is not talking about that. That the blogger Alexander Barankov that got asylum 2008 in Equador is sent to a Bellaruss where he can face death penalty.

            See how long Mr J. Assange will last there. In a way, an extradiction to Sweden might even save his life. :)

            http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021160482
            http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/08/legal-myths-about-assange-extradition
            Jxn
      • Ummm....Fox News????

        I think if you watch Fox News, their approach would be to BBQ a traitor in the big chair and ask questions later.

        I do not recall Fox News projecting any kind of stance on anything that isnt on the very very pro U.S. side.

        Rethink your statement.
        Cayble
    • Kudos

      Well said. Based on the well-considered nature of this joke of an article, I'd say that Gewirtz made it up in 5 minutes while on holiday in Hawaii. Nice shirt and shades.
      rah111
  • AngryAussie

    What is this rubbish right wing nutty article doing on a web portal dedicated to IT? Can we be spared your cretinous American political discourse at least on these specialised websites? You are drowning this planet in your stupidity (and rubbish).

    A former reader.
    teslaboy