Naked Emperor Hails ‘Sex by Surprise’
By Pepe Escobar
Information has never been so free. Even in authoritarian countries information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.
Julian Assange, unfortunately, got it wrong. He should have tried to make it to the Tora Bora – the rugged mountains in Afghanistan and the best place to escape the emperor’s fury, as former al-Qaeda icons Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri can abundantly attest. OK, no broadband; but at least no danger of sex tricks, apart from a brush-off with a rock face.
World public opinion has not failed to notice the spectacular crossover between WikiLeaks founder Assange’s bizarre Swedish sex saga charges and the emperor’s (and his minion’s) fury. This is stuff to blow Monty Python’s Life of Brian out of the park. To the delight of those “democrats” who want to take him down – or out – Assange, now firmly established as a global underground icon, will spend his next days at London’s Wandsworth prison, which The Guardian has quaintly depicted as “a beautiful example of Victorian prison architecture”. Pentagon supremo Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this is “good news”. What is good for the Pentagon simply can’t be good for the rest of the world.
The plot thickens. The post-arrest Assange thriller will clarify everything one needs to know about the state of Western democracy as embodied by three of its supposed icons – Britain, Sweden and the United States. Imagine if the roller-coaster narrative so far – including a manhunt merging into a Burn the Witch! (pirate) hysterics among the establishment – was taking place in China, Russia or, ayatollahs forbid, Iran.
The emperor – and his minions – can hardly wait to return to business as usual, as in an ocean of hypocrisy never contaminated by the hardcore mud-wrestling match which WikiLeaks reveals to be the real “making of diplomacy”. The moment the self-satisfied Democratic West – this happy-ever-after end of history – faces a totally new, and radical, transgression, its response is to try to turn the concept of freedom of information upside down. The emperor is disgusted: Who are these “criminals” – WikiLeaks – who dare to steal what we say we are?
Sex, lies and no videotape
As Mark Stephens, Assange’s London attorney, had told AOL News this past weekend, Swedish prosecutors want Assange “not for allegations of rape, as previously reported”, but for something called “sex by surprise”, which Stephens said “involves a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715″. Stephens added, “We don’t even know what ‘sex by surprise’ even means, and they haven’t told us.”
“Sex by surprise” is legally considered an offense only in Sweden. Anywhere else – including the US and the United Kingdom – quite a few women are rushing to clarify that if it really means what the definition implies, they more than welcome it.
Four charges are involved in the Assange thriller; one “Miss A”, 31, a blonde, feminist, social democrat whom once wrote a treatise on how to take revenge against men, poses as victim of “unlawful coercion”; then sex with a malfunctioning condom; then “deliberate molestation”; and finally there’s “sex by surprise” with one “Miss W”, 27, an art photographer and avowed Assange groupie.
“Miss A” must have enjoyed the mess around, because even after the broken condom the first time, they were seen together the day after. And it was “Miss W” herself who invited Assange to her apartment – even paying for his train ticket. During the trip, Assange seems to have preferred his computer to her company – as the dejected groupie told police. Sex ensued, anyway – with no condom.
Supposing this is the real story, Assange too could have grounds for prosecuting; the resourceful groupie should have handed him both the train ticket and the condom. One thing at least is quite clear; gone are the days of free, independent and much-envied Swedish girls, now obviously replaced by guided-missile prudes.
It gets “girlish”. The two women eventually get together to gossip – and realize they had something in common; sharing a bed with Assange. That’s when “Miss W” suddenly became supremely troubled regarding her “unprotected sex” and decided to go to the police with “Miss A”. The first prosecutor – a woman – issued an arrest warrant for “rape and molestation”. She was overruled the day after by another female prosecutor. Then the current prosecutor – also a woman – reopened the investigation, claiming she had “new information”.
Top journalist John Pilger, who along with legendary filmmaker Ken Loach and others offered to stand surety for Assange in the London court for over $280,000 (bail was denied), went straight to the point; “The charges against him in Sweden are absurd and were judged as absurd by the chief prosecutor there when she threw the whole thing out until a senior political figure intervened.” Outside the Westminster court, Pilger summed it all up; “Sweden should be ashamed.”
Whether this “senior political figure” has some shady Central Intelligence Agency-style designs is open to speculation. But the most absurd thing is that “Miss A” herself told a Swedish tabloid that she never wanted Assange to be charged with rape. Maybe she should tell that to the new prosecutor. Moreover, Assange’s lawyer Stephens has said many times that his client remained in Sweden for 40 days offering to meet the accusing prosecutor to tell his version of the events.
European-wide laws list 32 violations – rape is one of them – that authorize extradition. Britain is just executing a request from Sweden. European lawyers stress Assange’s best chance is now to accept extradition and face whatever justice rolls on in Sweden.
The “sex by surprise” gambit could not be more convenient for a “Western democratic” system viciously attempting to shut down WikiLeaks at all costs.
Assange begins the op-ed he penned for The Australian this Tuesday with a bang: “In 1958, a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s the News, wrote: ‘In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win’.”
Now compare with what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a Foreign Policy article in early 2010:
On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress. But the United States does. We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. This challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the first amendment to the constitution [guaranteeing freedom of speech] are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.
What the record is actually showing is that Clinton – unlike Assange and the young Murdoch – is being buried by 50 tons of Tennessee marble. “Free exchange of ideas?” By now, the military dictatorship in Myanmar, the Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov, the array of US-friendly autocrats/dictators in the Middle East, and the leadership in Beijing are all saying to themselves that it’s cool to go after a website, their provider, their donation mechanism – and target foreigners without a warrant – simply because they don’t like what the site is saying. The emperor has proclaimed: it’s my way or the (non-information) highway.
WikiLeaks cables suggest – once again – that Saudi Arabians are the ATMs for everyone from al-Qaeda to Taliban factions. But from Amazon and eBay to PayPal, Visa and Mastercard, everyone bends over to the furious emperor who wants to shut down a website for good.
The US government doesn’t even register that Spain may want to extradite George “Dubya” Bush for war crimes; but all stops will be pulled, and maybe even laws bent, to get an Assange extradition (for the record: that’s impossible under current US espionage laws). And this from a government that in nine years was incapable of finding the “terrorists” who, according to the official narrative, actually killed over 3,000 people.
“Sex by surprise” and its derived dodgy charges may eventually keep Assange in jail. Yet this won’t kill the messenger – not to mention the message. It’s all over the net, via BitTorrent – and it’s totally viral (mirrored in 748 sites already, and counting). Moreover, two, three, a million Assanges will spring up. And they will have learned their lesson: if you want to show the emperor is naked, you’ve got to be as careful with your sex partners as you are with your sources.