The founder of WikiLeaks and his team of lawyers have had it with the leaks. Yesterday, the Guardian published information from secret police documents, detailing the sex crime allegations leveled against Julian Assange in Sweden for which he’s currently facing extradition hearings in London. (The Guardian, if you’ll recall, is also one of the newspapers Assange’s organization uses to leak diplomatic secrets.) In response, Assange’s lawyers are calling for privacy, despite his self-branding as an advocate for “radical transparency.” His Swedish lawyer reportedly told a colleague, “It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position.” More of his team’s troubled reaction after the jump.
“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.”
Another supporter close to the WikiLeaks founder said the leak appeared designed by the authorities in Sweden to jeopardise Mr Assange’s defence. “There has been a selective smear through the disclosure of material. That material, in Swedish, was passed to a journalist at The Guardian,” a source said. “The timing appears to have been cynically calculated to have the material published in the middle of the bail application and the appeal.”
The Guardian, meanwhile, laughs it off: “Julian is not a confidential source. The argument that the papers involved with the WikiLeaks cables should not report criticism of him is one all journalists would find ridiculous.”
Indeed, examine the nuance and the hypocrisy is more complicated — there is no doubt Mr. Assange is being smeared by at least some sides — but the allegations of rape are allegations of rape and should be treated seriously. As difficult as it will be to find fairness, Assange should face the accusations against him. Value judgment aside, he probably gave up presumed innocence when he became an international fugitive on at least some sort of power trip. His tough spot doesn’t seem to be softening at all.