Anyone want to give odds on the likelihood of him a) being extradited to Sweden, b) then being extradited to the US? c) then being sent off to Guantanamo Bay for an indefinite period of extra-legal torture and imprisonment?
The thing is, the second and third are unimaginable. We think "this couldn't possibly happen". The Swedes wouldn't let it. The US wouldn't really have the face (or "bad taste" or something) to do it.
The problem is, while I still find it unthinkable, we know that the unthinkable has been happening over and over recently. Why would the US not try to get Sweden to give him up? Why would US diplomats who already pressurized Germany not to investigate and prosecute CIA operatives over extraordinary rendition, not feel like pushing for Assange to be given to them? Why would Obama, with his hands on the next best public enemy to Osama Bin Laden, not feel pressurized by a rampant Republican Congress, mass right-wing wing uprising and Fox News, to toss them Assange as a distraction?
I feel frustrated and angry with myself for succumbing to such paranoid fantasies. This must be mere romanticizing and scare-mongering. And yet I don't know where to find the surety to comfort me that such events are impossible.
While on the subject of paranoia, there's an interesting quote that's been going around recently from Evgeny Morozov in the Financial Times.
There are two paths [wikileaks] could now take. One would see a radical global network systematically challenging those in power – governments & companies alike – just for the sake of undermining “the system”. Its current quest for transparency, however sloppily executed, could soon become an exercise in anger, one leak at a time. Alternatively, WikiLeaks could continue moving in the more sensible direction that, in some ways, it is already on: collaborating with traditional media, redacting sensitive files, & offering those in a position to know about potential victims of releases the chance to vet the data. It is a choice between WikiLeaks becoming a new Red Brigades, or a new Transparency International. And forcing Mr Assange to go down the former route would have far more disastrous implications for American interests than anything revealed by the current dump of diplomatic cables.
The proposal is interesting, but one thing nags me. If you were a government (or better yet, a conspiracy of the powerful, networked across governments) who were afraid of everything wikileaks represented and determined to stamp it out, which would you rather it became? A discredited, violent, almost universally reviled, group of romantic failures? Or a respected, diligent, permanent feature of the political reality? Would you rather wikileaks burned itself out in a spasm of indignant attacks on privacy, winning world-wide enmity? Or would you rather it became a permanent new check on the abuses committed by those in power?
In other words, I think there's very little chance indeed that Assange will be treated well by the authorities in order to help stabilize and normalize the relations between wikileaks and world governments.
Just saying ...