Wikileaks, and its Australian founder Julian Assange, have been under fire for the past two months. He has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian embassy since his bid to stay his extradition to Sweden was denied. It all came to a head late last week when Ecuador granted asylum to Assange and the U.K. threatened to storm the embassy.
According to Wikileaks, all of this could be avoided if they could just get a simple guarantee from Sweden. A spokesperson for Wikileaks said that Assange would gladly go to Sweden for questioning if they were able to guarantee that Assange wouldn’t be extradited to the United States. He’s wanted in Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual misconduct.
This particular case is made all the more strange as Ecuadorian government sources revealed that Sweden refuses to question Assange at the embassy. Sweden claims they only want to question him and that can be done anywhere. He’s not been formally convicted of any crime yet so why extradition? Wikileaks will tell you that the U.S. wants to extradite Assange from Sweden to stand trial under the Espionage Act.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister claims that they are providing asylum to Assange because the countries that “have a right to protect him have failed him.” It’s assumed that he means Australia and the U.K. as both countries are in support of Assange being extradited to Sweden. It’s made all the more problematic since Assange will not be receiving any aid from his home nation of Australia.
Regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s still crazy to think that all of this has been caused by a Web site. The Wikileaks debate just proves the power of the Web – for good or for bad. It just so happens that a hacker turned journalist from Australia turned out to be the catalyst. He also tends to further fan the flames whenever he speaks, like yesterday’s speech from the Ecuadorian embassy. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and see if anything comes out of the first international incident caused by a Web site.