For over two months now, commentators or pundits in the United Kingdom (and the US) have been virulently denouncing Assange’s decision to seek asylum, something legally available to any individual who thinks they are being persecuted. They have ridiculed him for engaging in an act that they see as just another “narcissistic exploit.” They have railed against Assange’s “dodging” of due process. They have gone after “the Cult of Assange,” people who are public defenders and supporters of Assange and WikiLeaks. And, after Ecuador’s decision to grant Assange asylum, the vitriol sharply increased as those in the media only displayed even more disgust with Assange.
Much of the coverage has been filled with contemptuous remarks about Assange, hoity-toity commentary on Assange putting himself into bizarre situations and pretentious reasons for why The Free World could not possibly be after Assange. The media in the United Kingdom, as Frontline Club’s Vaughan Smith has pointed out, has railed against a WikiLeaks story that is entirely focused on Assange when it is they who are responsible for making Assange the focus. Other countries like India have spent more time on WikiLeaks and the documents released than Assange.
To further explore media coverage, the following is a thorough examination of a legal correspondent from the New Statesman named David Allen Green, who has proven himself to be a prime example of the kind of pious commentator incapable of controlling his repugnance for the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief. He sees himself as a champion of legal truths on Assange yet periodically complains about how much of a chore it is to cover this story. He writes anti-Assange posts he knows will invite the attention of WikiLeaks supporters and then laments the fact that they constantly condemning, ridiculing or trying to debate him on Twitter. For the past week or so, he has been hyping a post in response to The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald that he boasts will destroy all the alleged legal truths Greenwald thinks he has featured in his commentary. This hype has led many to ask when he was finally going to publish his post.
But, first, here is my position on the case of Julian Assange.
Where I Stand
I make no claim that I am an unbiased commentator. I have intensely covered the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and have come to conclusions. Here they are:
- The alleged rape victims deserve to be respected, not named on television and Assange should have to face the sexual allegations.
- State powers go after whistleblowers and dissidents by cooking up non-whistleblower related offenses. There is a very real possibility these allegations are being pushed by the Swedish Prosecuting Authority for political purposes.
- Assange has a legal right to pursue asylum and make a case that he is being politically persecuted.
- Ecuador has a sovereign right to grant diplomatic asylum to an individual like Assange if they believe that the person’s fears are valid and if they believe the person is indeed being targeted for political offenses and could be abused or potentially put to death if taken into custody for these offenses.
- The United States has an open criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. A federal grand jury has been empaneled to investigate. It has been meeting. A case against Assange and other WikiLeaks managers, staffers and individuals connected is being put together with resources and the support of the US Justice Department. This is critical to any conversation on Assange’s asylum request or extradition to Sweden.
Now, Green published a blog post titled, “Legal myths about the Assange extradition” on August 20. In the post, he, with great swagger, claimed to “debunk” some profound “myths” around Assange, which is cult of followers had been repeating in their efforts to disinform the world on behalf of their Leader.
There were multiple responses to this effort by Green. Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald responded to Green’s post by urging the New Statesman to retract a gross error in his post. There was a remix post that went up and featured a response to what he had written. I’ll now offer my own responses.
Extradition Requests Do Not Happen in a Geopolitical Vacuum
One of the myths he purportedly debunked involved the argument that Sweden could offer guarantees Assange would not be extradited to the United States:
It would not be legally possible for Swedish government to give any guarantee about a future extradition, and nor would it have any binding effect on the Swedish legal system in the event of a future extradition request.
By asking for this ‘guarantee’, Assange is asking the impossible, as he probably knows. Under international law, all extradition requests have to be dealt with on their merits and in accordance with the applicable law; and any final word on an extradition would (quite properly) be with an independent Swedish court, and not the government giving the purported ‘guarantee’.
This is legal reasoning that suggests extradition requests happen in a vacuum and global politics are irrelevant. Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer and member of WikiLeaks’ legal team, Michael Ratner, explained the government has to approve of the extradition. Governments make a political decision to extradite and decide whether a person will be “politically persecuted” if the extradition is carried out.
This is what happened with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, as two spokespeople from Women Against Rape wrote for The Guardian:
…In 1998 Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London following an extradition request from Spain. His responsibility for the murder and disappearance of at least 3,000 people, and the torture of 30,000 people, including the rape and sexual abuse of more than 3,000 women often with the use of dogs, was never in doubt. Despite a lengthy legal action and a daily picket outside parliament called by Chilean refugees, including women who had been tortured under Pinochet, the British government reneged on its obligation to Spain’s criminal justice system and Pinochet was allowed to return to Chile…
Writer Deepak Tripathi adds:
…The British government nonetheless allowed Pinochet to return to Chile in March 2000 on health grounds. The law was clear, but for Britain’s Labour government at the time there was no “binding obligation” to extradite Pinochet to Spain. Chile under Pinochet had backed the United Kingdom during the brief Falklands war with Argentina. Moreover, he and Britain’s former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher were admirers of each other. There was, after all, a way out for Pinochet to return home instead of being extradited to Spain…
Therefore, extradition requests are not purely legal matters but are political matters as well. Pinochet had women raped with dogs, but the British government refused to extradite him. They made a political decision with international relations considerations in mind and let Pinochet return to Chile. So, when professions are made by government officials about how the UK has some “binding obligation,” the professions are quite rich.
The UK government could overrule the courts in their country. They just have decided they do not want to overrule them and would prefer to comply with Sweden. (This, by the way, is the gross error that Greenwald asked the New Statesman to retract.)
What About Whether Sweden Could Have Questioned Assange in London?
A second legal myth Green purported to debunk involved whether Swedish authorities should interview Assange in London. Green wrote, “Assange is not wanted merely for questioning,” but also for arrest. He added, “This arrest is for an alleged crime in Sweden as the procedural stage before charging (or “indictment”). Indeed, to those who complain that Assange has not yet been charged, the answer is simple: he cannot actually be charged until he is arrested.”
It is obviously Green’s opinion Assange should not be interviewed by the Swedes and he should go to Sweden and be arrested and placed into custody. It is clearly the opinion of “Assange’s many vocal supporters” that the Swedes should interview him in London. Whether intended or not, the use of the word should makes what Green writes on this subjective and not really a fact. But that does not answer whether the Swedish authorities could interview him in London.
Green’s debunking homed in on a section of the British High Court’s decision. The Court agreed with Marianne Ny, Sweden’s chief prosecutor, who contended Sweden had the discretion to take advantage or not. Based on her legal interpretation of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued, it was not out of bounds for the Court to allow Assange to be extradited, arrested and then questioned. However, that does not fully debunk whether Swedish authorities could question Assange because it does not address the issuing of an EAW instead of making use of Mutual Legal Assistance.
Judge Howard Riddle of the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court held in February 2011 that Mutual Legal Assistance MLA “was a more proportionate response than issuing an EAW.” MLA is a mechanism available to European countries under the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Sweden, which is a party to this treaty, could have used this mechanism, which is intended to authorize joint investigative teams or video conferencing so that prosecutors can “examine witnesses personally without traveling to the host country where the witnesses reside, thereby significantly increasing the pace of transnational investigations and reducing costs.
Riddle accepted MLA could have been used instead of an EAW based on the expert opinion of Brita Sundberg-Weitman, a Swedish lawyer and former judge who was asked by lawyers for Assange “to clarify a few matters of Swedish law and procedures for the purposes of the extradition proceedings.” Sundberg-Weitman argued in her expert opinion:
…I consider it inappropriate and disproportionate that Ms. Ny sought an Interpol arrest warrant and EAW for Mr. Assange. It is not clear why she refused to interview him in London, since doing so would be in accordance with the rules set forth under the terms of Mutual Legal Assistance. Ms. Ny is reported to have first stated that it was incompatible with Swedish law to interrogate Mr. Assange in London. This is clearly not true. According to the International Judicial Assistance Act (200:562), Chapter 4, Section 10, prosecutors may hold interviews by telephone during a preliminary investigation if the person in question is in another state, if that state allows. The Prosecutors’ Manual (p. 33-34) states that holding interviews by video conference is not prohibited under Swedish law and the prosecutor can apply for legal assistance from the foreign authority to conduct an interview by video conference during the preliminary investigation of a person who is in another state, provided it is agreed with that state. The Prosecutors’ Manual further sets out that the prosecutor may simply contact the Department of Justice to contact the state from which such assistance is sought. On this basis, there were clearly other proper methods for obtaining his testimony from London that were mandated both by Swedish procedural rules and by a common sense approach. Her decision to issue an EAW in these circumstances amounts to a breach of European principles of proportionality…
Riddle also accepted the following abuses had occurred as a result of the Swedish Prosecution Authority’s handling of the case: unlawful prosecution disclosure to the media on August 20, 2010, that Assange was a suspect in a rape investigation; Assange was excluded from the appeal process where Marianne Ny overruled a Swedish prosecutor’s decision to drop the case; failing to offer to interrogate Assange over allegations until September 28, 2010; supplying documents to media before Assange’s lawyer; not disclosing “crucial exculpatory evidence in the form of SMS messages between the complainants” to the defense and “the wholly improper intervention by the Swedish Prime Minster whipping up further vilification of Mr Assange as an enemy of the Swedish State.”
Each is an instance of abuse that forms a part of the basis for Assange’s decision to fight extradition to Sweden. Anyone seeking fairness in a court of law would be concerned if the authority prosecuting him or her was conducting itself in this manner. But, Green chooses to downplay. the abuses of authority that have occurred in the case.
Sweden a “Proxy” for the United States?
Another “myth” Green purportedly debunked involves whether it would be more likely for Assange to be extradited from Sweden than the United Kingdom. The framing sets up a counterfactual debate that sidesteps reality. Assange is wanted for questioning and/or arrest in Sweden and there is a standing warrant for Assange’s extradition to Sweden. The United States could not ask for Assange to be extradited and reasonably expect the United Kingdom to comply. A better discussion would center on extradition to the US or whether he is likely to be extradited from Sweden to the United States if he goes to Sweden.
Such a debate over whether he will be extradited is typically dominated by speculation. It mostly depends on whether those arguing find it plausible that, as MSNBC host Chris Hayes put it, Sweden is acting out of a desire to “punish Assange and want to prosecute him” or are a “proxy” for more powerful countries like the United States.
There exists a profound example in the post-9/11 world, where Sweden acted as a proxy for the US. Sweden allowed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to operate a rendition program that violated a torture ban inside their country. If one accepts that US officials likely view the ultimate prosecution of Assange for releasing classified documents as matter of national security, they could probably get Sweden to do as requested.
Now, The Saturday Age, based in Australia, has published a report that features some critical details on the United States government’s plans for Assange. It describes Australian Foreign Affairs Department documents that were obtained under freedom of information laws and show the Australian diplomatic service “takes seriously the likelihood that Assange will eventually be extradited to the US on charges arising from WikiLeaks obtaining leaked US military and diplomatic documents.” The cables identified “a wide range of criminal charges the US could bring against Assange, including espionage, conspiracy, unlawful access to classified information and computer fraud.” They further indicated, “Australian diplomats expect that any charges against Assange would be carefully drawn in an effort to avoid conflict with the First Amendment free speech provisions of the US constitution.” And the cables also indicated that the prosecutors had uncovered “several connections between Manning and WikiLeaks.”
The reported cables make it clear that Assange’s fears of extradition are justified. There may be a small likelihood that Sweden would ever allow the US to extradite Assange over the publishing of previously classified information, however, The Age story suggests the US is unlikely to charge him for the publication to avoid accusations that they are prosecuting him for a political offense. They would rather fit Assange with a non-political offense like fraud or a charge that comes from a computer crimes law and extradite him for that offense.
Ecuador = Anti-Press
Green purportedly debunked the “myth” that “Ecuador is protecting freedom of the press” by granting Assange asylum.
It is astonishing that people would accept this as part of a debunking of legal “myths” surrounding Assange’s case because this is an entirely subjective idea. No person has suggested that Ecuador made this move for the key purpose of reaffirming press freedom in the country yet that is the impetus here. The country granted asylum because they were genuinely concerned with what might happen to Assange and they wanted to assert themselves and make a sovereign decision.
Nonetheless, Green characterized the Ecuador government as a “regime with a starkly dreadful illiberal record on freedom of expression” and a “woeful record on freedom of the press.” He cited statistics from Reporters Without Borders and the Index on Censorship.
The issue of press freedom in Ecuador is much more complex than a simple crackdown on media. The government decided in the past years to take on media owners that were abusing their power and operating in a manner similar to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
President Rafael Correa stated when he appeared on Julian Assange’s show, “The World Tomorrow”:
With regards to our confrontation with the media, from the very beginning of the government, don’t be deceived Mr Assange, the whole world should know about this, at least in Latin America. The private media are big business with lucrative aims. They have always attacked governments who want to change, governments who seek justice and equity. They defend openly very clear vested interests. For the goodness of our democracy, the real freedom of expression, it is necessary to regulate and control that. One of the ways of doing this is generating public media, public service media. In Ecuador, television has about 50 years offer…but it’s only three or four years since that we have public service television in Ecuador.
The issue of how Ecuador does not “respect” press freedom should—if addressed in a sober manner—be presented without overlooking how the country has been confronted by uproars manufactured by media owners. Certainly, the press’ rights should not be violated. However, if media organizations are engaged in disinformation, hype or the pushing of agendas on behalf of special interests, then government intervention, escalated regulation and competition from public media services might be necessary to neutralize such activity.
Green also wrote, “It has even recently been reported that a blogger called Alexander Barankov is to be extradited by Ecuador to Belarus, of all places, where he may face the death penalty.” In the past week, an Ecuador judge decided to reject the extradition. It was never clear that Barankov would have his asylum status in Ecuador revoked. Now that Barankov is not being extradited, one wonders what next human rights issue will be exploited by someone like Green to advance arguments against Assange.
Green concluded his debunking of “myths” by emphasizing the importance of due process. He declared it is the “formal means by which competing demands and separate interests can be accommodated and reconciled in any overall litigation process.” Assange has challenged his arrest warrant in Sweden, the European Arrest Warrant in United Kingdom three times with “first rate legal advice and advocacy from some of the UK’s leading human rights lawyers.” He’s been afforded “more opportunities to challenge the warrant for his arrest than almost any other defendant in English legal history.” A “valid European Arrest Warant” must “be enforced as a matter of international law.”
“There is nothing,” Green stated, “which actually means the due process of a current rape and sexual assault investigation should be delayed any further or abandoned. It is important to remember that complainants of rape and sexual assault have rights too, even when the suspect is Julian Assange.”
What bombast. As Ratner explained, “The whole reason you get asylum is because a prosecution is turning into persecution.” There have been instances of abuse or mismanagement in the case, which have led Assange to fear Sweden is simply pressing the case so he can then be extradited to the US.
If China prosecutes a dissident, that dissident is not required to remain in China until he or she goes to jail. The dissident can seek asylum.
Again, asylum is something legally available to anyone. The United Kingdom may claim it does not recognize diplomatic asylum, but Ecuador does recognize diplomatic asylum. Assange entered the embassy and requested asylum. What matters is what Ecuador recognizes. It does not matter what the UK does or does not recognize when one is suggesting due process is being violated. The law in the Ecuador embassy is what matters. Ecuador law recognizes diplomatic asylum.
There is no instance, to date, where Assange has violated due process. He has more than complied with the Swedish authorities. So, it really is astounding that Green makes this magnificent argument about the principle of due process and how Assange must follow it. (And it really makes one wonder if he has shown this kind of zeal for due process for war criminals.)
Green’s Conduct on Twitter
The messages Green has sent out on Twitter in the last couple weeks (and prior) offer a nice insight into what is motivating Green to pursue the truth in the Assange case with vigor.
As mentioned, Glenn Greenwald posted a response to Green, which prompted a flurry of pompous tweets. He tweeted, “My full post in response to now discredited @ggreenwald will be next week,” and mentioned an upcoming response multiple times. He stated, “I will not be demanding any ‘retractions’ or ‘apologies’ from @ggreenwald. It is enough to show that he is incorrect. All else is bluster.” He said, “And @ggreenwald can huff and puff all he likes, but UK source-based legal blogging will not be blown away by bluster, bullying and bullshit,” as if what Greenwald writes is not “source-based.”
Green asked Greenwald, “Do you still stand by all the contentions you make in this article?” He said in another tweet, “Highly amused that, having posted an attack on me, @ggreenwald’s own timeline is now full of attempts to defend himself. *blows fingers*.” And twice: “For completeness, I stand by #Assange post (as affirmed by Swedish law experts) and will be posting full response to @ggreenwald,” and, “Just to confirm, I stand by my @NewStatesman #Assange post as endorsed by Swedish lawyers. Full response to @ggreenwald later this week.”
All of which show Green views himself as a crusader for truth. Greenwald is an opponent he must vanquish. In fact, for two months now, he has been trying to setup some kind of debate with Greenwald. He said on June 24, “Happy to debate you or by an exchange of emails. Needs to be more exact than columns.” Hours later (and on a Sunday), Greenwald hadn’t responded so he notified his followers, “Still waiting for @ggreenwald’s email to set up a detailed lawyer-on-lawyer debate on Assange and law.” Then, shortly after, “One would think that Assange’s main legalistic apologist @ggreenwald would jump at chance of a detailed informed debate. But no.”
The behavior shows a person who is clamoring for attention. There’s even a tweet where Green says to Greenwald, “My full response to your post will be after bank holiday. Will you kindly RT? After all, I RT’d your post to my followers,” which is quite petulant.
Afflicted by Ability to Make Legal Arguments About Assange
Not only does the lawyer crusader have a desire to prove he is better than Greenwald, he also considers his ability to argue the Assange case to be an affliction that is burdensome. “No more on #Assange from me unless am denounced again for thought-crime, or a new development.” And, “I fear if I stay much longer in the #Assange and #WikiLeaks wonderland I will end up as mad as a hatter.” And, “Sorry to followers bored with #Assange; but it falls to this Twitter account to check relentless legal bullshit of him and his supporters.” And then, many months ago, “I can’t be bothered with Assange and his Cultish supporters until the full extradition hearing. Back to other law stuff for a while.”
Green considers WikiLeaks supporters who engage him to generally be of a Cult. He makes this plain to those who respond to anything he tweets. He persistently presses the issue of Assange not going to Sweden yet then tweets messages like, “Thanks for your support for what have been a upsetting and stressful few days re standing by my #Assange post. Appreciated,” as if he himself endured incredible persecution. [Note: He once likened WikiLeaks supporters to racist Birthers in the United States, who do not think Obama is a citizen.]
He serves up glib as good as other commentators who despise Assange: “In the meantime, #Assange is stuck in a small room in a flat, just so he can evade arrest and possible imprisonment in a similarly small room.” Also, “Assange and Garzon [former Spanish judge, now an Assange lawyer] will ‘expose the arbitrary extrajudicial actions by international financial system which target Julian Assange.” Adding in a following tweet, “At first glance, it looks like Baltasar Garzon and Julian Assange are made for each other.”
Only recently did he begin to graduate to exploring important details such as whether “conspiracy to breach US Espionage Act has equivalent in UK Official Secrets law.” He also posed the idea that “whatever US charge Assange with (if they do, as First Amendment applies) needs also to be offence in Sweden (and UK).” He asked if there was such an offense in Sweden, something that “source-based” legal bloggers in the UK should have been asking months ago.
Green’s liberal perspective
Green has written over eight posts that mention or cover WikiLeaks. He’s written a few on the Julian Assange case and has put forth a legal analysis on why Assange lost the extradition decision saying he lost because a valid “European Arrest warrant was issued and served for serious alleged offenses.” He’s written about what he calls the “bizarre legal world of WikiLeaks,” scrutinizing a tweet sent out by WikiLeaks that read, “The Guardian book serialization contains malicious libels. We will be taking action.” He wrote about the WikiLeaks non-disclosure agreement WikiLeaks staff had been asked to sign and improperly chastised Assange for putting a value on US documents he had obtained, which he had to do if WikiLeaks ever wanted to claim damages against people who violated the agreement.
As WikiLeaks began to release the US State Embassy Cables, Green published, “WikiLeaks and the liberal mind.” This still provides the best insight into Green’s views.
Green surmised, “The release by WikiLeaks of US government cables is a sheer triumph for transparency.” But, he wrote in December 2010, “WikiLeaks remains a powerful but undemocratic and unaccountable entity that shows a general disregard for both the rule of law and the practical need for certain communications and data to be confidential. So, from a liberal perspective, there is a great deal to commend WikiLeaks, but there is also a lot that should cause a liberal to be concerned.”
Ponder that for a moment: WikiLeaks, a media organization, is “undemocratic” because people do not vote for WikiLeaks and it does not “have any form of democratic supervision.” Most media organizations do not, but Green expects WikiLeaks to because its claim that it is the “good guys” represents “self-assumed moral authority” that is “conceptually indistinguishable from the vigilante.” He also questions the legality, though he cites no laws WikiLeaks would have broken in the release of US State Embassy cables. He just attacks the character of the organization by comparing the publication to News of the World hacking.
What about UK complicity in US torture, as documented by Reprieve? What about the justice and security bill “now going through parliament,” which The Guardian reported six days ago “would give the government the power to decide that certain evidence in civil proceedings might cause “damage” or “harm” to the public interest, and therefore must be given in secret”? What about the impunity former Prime Minister Tony Blair enjoys? After all, he was involved in the US’s illegal war in Iraq.
The documents that have led Assange and WikiLeaks to be targets cataloged abuse, corruption, crimes, malfeasance, misconduct and violations of the rule of law. What about the undemocratic and unaccountable entity, which the country’s citizens call the United States? Or, is Green subservient to the culture of impunity in the US just like journalists in the US are? If that is the case, that is a sad statement on how British journalists accede to the agenda of American superpower.
Green is just one example of a UK-based commentator, who views himself as part of an elite that claim to understand the way the world works than revolutionaries like Julian Assange. Even when they think they understand what is going on legally, they still omit and obscure a whole subset of information critical to understanding the story of Assange and WikiLeaks. They all approach a possible extradition from Sweden, Assange’s requests to be questioned in London, whether the Swedish courts have the final say on extradition and the government of Ecuador with a general ignorance toward the United States’ war on WikiLeaks.
To recap, this is what appeared in media after Assange requested asylum:
Nick Cohen of The Observer (UK) argued, “The right does not have a monopoly on paranoia, as the conspiratorial fantasies of supporters of Julian Assange show” and laid into Glenn Greenwald for promoting a “‘leftist’ defense of an alleged rapist.” Ian Dunt of Politics.Co.UK accused Assange and supporters of dismissing sex crimes charges (that do not exist) and believing that “being an activist who challenges American imperialism somehow exempts” him “from criminal responsibility.” An editor for The Economist jeered at the request, suggesting both Assange and Correa are “thin-skinned, narcissistic and selective when it comes to media freedom.” And Charlie Beckett of the London School of Economics and Political Science concluded Assange was “forsaking the due process of law. He is also abandoning his supporters. He is running from the fight. He really must feel that his case is scuppered. Perhaps he has fallen victim to the conspiracy fantasies of his supporters.”
Green reacts to Assange the way he does because he is a “source-based” legal blogger. Assange is a loon whose fears are not based in any legal facts. Therefore, irrespective of political realities—such as how influenced and cooperative Sweden may be with the US—Green knows the laws and the law must be followed.
Expand the scope of the focus to media commentators throughout the world, and the bigger issue becomes clear: to media he is not one of them. He is an “agitator” with an “ego.” Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller never considered him a journalist when he partnered with the Times. To Keller, he was a “source.” Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’ Lucy Dalglish has said she doesn’t think Assange vets information, takes responsibility, or does anything original with the material so he is not a journalist (Judith Miller, known for her role in pushing claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the US invasion in 2003, argued this as well but actually conceded he is a journalist.)
WikiLeaks, led by Assange, exposed diplomatic and military activities between 2000-2010 that establishment media were not able to expose. He setup a service that a US soldier named Pfc. Bradley Manning took advantage of and allegedly sent half a million documents in order to start “worldwide discussions.”
The media organization sent power into crisis mode with Cablegate in a way that journalists committed to checking power should envy and aspire to accomplish similar journalistic feats. Instead, they despise Assange and his organization, believing it has outlived its value and gone into an unrecoverable decline not because it is targeted by the United States but because it is undemocratic, unaccountable and acts too much like a vigilante. And, even when they think they are unraveling the legal issues surrounding Assange’s case, they are conveniently omitting and obscuring a whole