There’s a very old comedy polka that goes, “I don’t want her, you can have her, she’s too fat for me….” That pretty much sums up today’s State Department response to Julian Assange’s little Evita speech on a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Yesterday, Assange issued his “demands” of the United States government, starting with us ceasing our “witch hunt” of him, oh, yeah and his associates, too, and ending with releasing Pfc. Bradley Manning who is currently at Fort Leavenworth prison in between trips to Maryland for the long drawn-out process of being court martialed. Assange said, “The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters,” and claims that the U.S. risks “dragging us all into a dark, repressive world in which journalists live under fear of prosecution.” So, he’s hiding with the Ecuadorians, who routinely persecute the press?
Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland addressed the issues raised by Assange. First of all, Nuland asserted, the extradition case has nothing to do with the United States or with WikiLeaks’ publication of secret military and State Department documents. This situation is between Sweden and the United Kingdom, and now, because of Ecuador’s “sideshow” between Sweden, the U.K. and Ecuador.
She went on to say that Assange “is making all sorts of wild assertions about us, when, in fact, his issue with the government of the United Kingdom has to do with whether he is going to face justice in Sweden for something that has nothing to do with WikiLeaks. That case has nothing to do with us…”
Assange has been making these claims of U.S. persecution ever since Sweden filed the extradition request with Great Britain. His attorneys have made this claim in court, insisting that Britain should refuse the extradition request because it is just a ruse to get him to Sweden to be handed over to the U.S. Three levels of British court have very stoically not laughed in Assange’s face over this since he could be more easily extradited from Britain than Sweden under post-9/11 agreements.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa finally decided, after two months of housing Assange in his embassy in London, that Ecuador would give Assange asylum. And in his Evita speech, Assange praised Correa, calling Ecuador “a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.”
There is a British law, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, under which the U.K. could strip Ecuador’s embassy of its diplomatic privileges, and eject their ambassador. At that time, the Brits could seize Assange. Ecuador has appealed to the Organization of American States.
Nuland said that Ecuador is “trying to gin up trouble” with the appeal to the OAS. “We don’t see a role for the OAS in a hypothetical situation that doesn’t appear to be imminent anyway. We have very important business that we do in the OAS that has to do with the strength and health of democracy in the region and this is, frankly, a sideshow.”
So, it all comes down to “we don’t want him, they can have him, he’s too absurd us.”