(I debated tackling something this big in the first real post here because no one reads this blog yet–there’s nothing to read. Then I decided, ‘to hell with it, you gotta start somewhere.’)Make no mistake – Wikileaks.org does good work. They seek to shine a light in some of the darker corners of existence, scare human cockroaches and make them scuttle into the open. However, Wikileaks was founded by a strange, troubled, brilliant man, 39-year-old Australian Julian Assange. Assange, for all his genius (and this is not debatable; there is ample evidence the man is literally a genius), also seems deeply self-absorbed, grandiose and in the grip of a persecution paranoia that may outstrip any any actual persecution thrown his way. Today he has more reason than ever to claim persecution: he has been accused of rape and molestation. He allegedly met one of his accusers last weekend in Stockholm while in Sweden to lecture on one of his pet themes, that the “first victim of war is truth.” Assange allegedly met his second accuser in Enköping last Tuesday morning, reports the Swedish tabloid Expressen. Stockholm City prosecutor Mary Häljebo Kjell Beach told the paper that Assange has been charged in absentia, as Swedish authorities have been unable to track him down. (Expressen appears to have an Enquirer-like reputation in Sweden, but The National Enquirer has also broken some very real and big news in the United States in recent years.) The Swedish paper reports, via anonymous sources, that the alleged victims are frightened of Assange’s perceived power and hesitant to go forward with their cases. A source who knows the women said they know each other. Julian Assange, as anyone might do, has defended himself against the allegations via Twitter: “Julian Assange: the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.” Wikileaks also posted a blog entry about the charges:
On Saturday 21st of August, we have been made aware of rape allegations made against Julian Assange, founder of this project and one of our spokespeople.We are deeply concerned about the seriousness of these allegations. We the people behind WikiLeaks think highly of Julian and and he has our full support…
Wikileaks stated that it will continue its normal operations while Assange defends himself against the accusations.Another tweet regarding the charges against Assange was striking in that it was clearly part of a long-term Wikileaks effort to make it clear that they are an organization (however loosely organized) under siege. The tweet contained a link to the Expressen article and this statement: “We were warned to expect “dirty tricks”. Now we have the first one…” The implication seemed clear: the accusations against Julian Assange are part of a likely CIA-sponsored campaign to discredit Wikileaks by attacking its most visible representative. This would be in retaliation, of course, for multiple (and in one case, massive) Afghan and Iraq-related leaks posted on the organization’s main website. In Wikileaks’ defense, there is no debating the fact that the Pentagon is angry at the previous exposures–they have stated as much, calling the Afghan War Diary documents damaging and dangerous, both to American soldiers in the field and Afghan operatives assisting in the fight against the Taliban. If Julian Assange is innocent of the charges and Wikileaks is correct about “dirty tricks,” the ironic thing is the incident plays into a mindset that Assange has already expressed for years–even before he had any clear, logical reason to feel as if he was being oppressed. In his blog at IQ.org, kept for several years in the last decade, Assange often expressed an outlook limned with paranoia, but one particular blog post published in July, 2006–around the time Wikileaks first went online–seemed unusually insightful:
If there is a book whose feeling captures me it is First Circle by Solzhenitsyn. To feel that home is the comraderie of persecuted, and infact, prosecuted, polymaths in a Stalinist slave labor camp! How close the parallels to my own adventures! What longing one has when reading Solzhenitsyn’s love for his first cell of self similars! Such prosecution in youth is a defining peak experience. To know the state for what it really is! To see through that veneer the educated swear to disbelieve in but still slavishly follow with their hearts!
Assange goes on a poetic tangent about Saturn’s rings after the paragraph above (he was fond of poetic tangents in many posts on IQ.org) and ends with a flourish:
True belief begins only with a jackboot at the door. True belief forms when lead into the dock and referred to in the third person. True belief is when a distant voice booms ‘the prisoner shall now rise’ and no one else in the room stands.
The takeaway? Even when accused of sex crimes, it may well be that Julian Assange is exactly where he wants to be–on a crucifix he lovingly fashioned long ago inside his mind.UPDATE: As this post was nearing completion, Swedish authorities dropped the arrest warrant for Julian Assange. Al-Jazeera reports that the chief prosecutor said there is “no reason to suspect that [Assange] has committed rape.” Given his past statements about the joy of persecution, it may be Julian Assange who is most disappointed by this development.