THE BLOG
17/08/2012 08:00 BST | Updated 17/10/2012 06:12 BST

Assange's Supporters Need to Think Again

One of the many curious things about Julian Assange is the calibre of supporter he attracts. On LBC yesterday afternoon, we had interviews with a lecturer in South American Studies from Kingston University, and an American management consultant, both of whom were passionate in their support of the Wikileaks founder, and clearly intelligent.

One of the many curious things about Julian Assange is the calibre of supporter he attracts. On LBC yesterday afternoon, we had interviews with a lecturer in South American Studies from Kingston University, and an American management consultant, both of whom were passionate in their support of the Wikileaks founder, and clearly intelligent.

They were convinced that the root of the argument was this: that Mr Assange, were he to submit to extradition to Sweden, would then, as swiftly as anything DHL can offer, be forwarded on to America, where he could and quite possibly would be charged with treason, which carries the death penalty.

Sweden has strenuously denied this, of course. And Britain has closer ties to America.

Neither supporter, as far as I could make out, had given much thought to whether Mr Assange might actually have something to answer: that the frankly odd, clearly offbeat, if not actively weird man they promote may have coerced two women in Sweden into having sexual relations they explicitly did not want. Clearly, nothing has been proven in a court of law. But if Mr Assange is innocent, as he claims, and given the calibre of barrister he could command, what is there to fear?

What his supporters have also managed to ignore, in their hatred of the USA, is that the Wikileaks supremo, who is supposed to be in favour of openness, and of a free press, has managed to suck up to a South American country with a less than exemplary record on journalistic rights.

The whole thing is a charade. Met police are surrounding the building; it seems unlikely in the extreme that Mr Assange could make it onto a plane and out of the country.

But it is not without a point, that point being to place Mr Assange very firmly in the spotlight, where he seems anxious to remain.

It seems fair to suggest that he wants to be seen as a hero; as the man who almost single-handedly challenged a super-power, and, while hardly bringing it to its knees, made it very angry indeed.

So it's all about Julian. Any first-year psychology undergraduate could diagnose that during their coffee break. His credulous supporters should begin to think a little more about the two women who are merely looking for due process, and a lot less about the grey-haired man who is leading the diplomatic world on a farcical, pathetically self-serving merry-go-round.