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Saving Julian Assange

By Lyn Bender - posted Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Under virtual house arrest, Assange is now seeking a virtual senate seat. Having been a staunch supporter of  human rights for Julian Assange, I am now left wondering. How can I  reconcile my view of the old Assange with his newly created inchoate political persona and his  opportunistic attempt to  become a Victorian Senator?

It is hard to reconcile the confident and heroically dashing, Julian Assange the activist, with the man speaking from his odd island of seclusion under virtual house confinement in his place of political asylum. Confined from 2010 to the house of a British Lord he has in addition been holed up in the Ecuador Embassy in Britain for one year.

Calling to his followers, from his small domain, he sounds strangely out of touch, despite his global worldwide web link.


In an interview with ABC Radio, referring in error to his proposed proxy running mate Leslie Cannold as Leslie Arnold, he assents precipitately to interviewer Waleed Aly's correction. But Assange sounds absent and distracted. In fact it is as though he is in a world of his own. Which, it might be argued, he is. Having been a staunch supporter of human rights for Julian Assange , I am now left wondering how to reconcile these the old Assange with his newly created political persona and wannabe Victorian Senator.

The daring courage of whistle blowers like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden is truly remarkable. They risk exile, imprisonment torture and death They are the messengers and truth tellers that through the ages have been shot down , while others deny and hide from the truth or avert their eyes in safety. As I wrote in a previous article on Assange, the truth will set you free; but incarcerated truth tellers, throughout the ages, might beg to differ.

As I listened to Assange, referencing his political platform, he sounded garbled and confused. He affirmed his admiration of the Greens and especially of the supportive[of him] "NSW Greens Senator Scott Ludlam": again interviewer Waleed corrected him, "I think Scott Ludlam is the WA Senator.

' Yes' mutters Assange, not seeming to notice how his forgetfulness contradicts his claim to be informed and in touch with Australian politics.

It would be easy to parody the launch of the WikiLeakes party in an inner suburban Melbourne library. The disembodied image of Assange appears looming from a fluctuating Skype screen, suspended above the corporeal presence of his celebrity and academic team. The bizarre nature of the launch, was further compounded by the self focused apologia of his nominated proxy member , Dr Cannold. Should he be unable to resolve his legal difficulties in time to assume his Senate seat in person, Cannold would be nominated to sit for him. But his proxy candidate reflects the confusion of agendas of this new political party. Her fledgling political coming out in The Guardian focused on her own feminist identity as a candidate in the party of [accused] rapist Assange. Yes Cannold declares herself to be a prochoice defender of women's sexual and reproductive rights. Yes, she supports Assange who is innocent until proven guilty and also his accusers, who are to be supported in their accusations of rape. A humanistic paradox I guess, but is this the denouement of politically relevant policies for Australia in the world? It strangely mirrors the complexity of Assange the man.: personal scandal which may have been inflated in order to entrap him, and an espoused vision of truth and ethics. This political reincarnation of the old Don Chipp keep the 'bastards honest' party, could be called the Saving Julian Assange Party.

It is beyond argument: the Australian Government has forsaken Assange. He has felt himself to be abandoned and Government statements have indeed confirmed this. Foreign Minister Bob Carr has in effect declared that he has washed his hands of Assange.


Fairfax news reported that 'when [Carr was] asked recently by Greens senator Scott Ludlam, whether the Australian government would raise the question of Assange's free-speech protection as a journalist under the First Amendment to the US constitution,' Senator Carr said that ''it wouldn't be a matter of concern to Australia to make a case for him. No, why would we do that?''

Assange has been abandoned as a citizen, in deference to the concerns of our US ally. If anyone doubts that the US has a strong interest in procuring Assange for trial they have not noticed the incarceration torture and trial of Bradley Manning recently. Manning stands to spend a lifetime in prison ,for delivering US Military secrets [revealing US war crimes] to WikiLeakes. Assange has dubbed Manning the activist become an unintentional martyr, This is confirmed by Manning's testimony regarding his deeply emotionally troubled reaction when viewing the gunning down of civilians including children, depicted in the now famous video

Assange has no illusions about the implications of the treatment of Manning and its relevance for himself, or for whistle blower Edward Snowdon.

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About the Author

Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.

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