Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
12 April 2019updated 07 Jun 2021 1:38pm

Wikileaks was the future once. Then it became Julian Assange

By Suzanne Moore

O frabjous day! We are all bored out of our minds with Brexit when a demented looking gnome is pulled out of the Ecuadorian embassy by the secret police of the deep state. Or “the met” as normal people call them.

Julian Assange – freedom fighter extraordinaire, friend of Pamela Anderson and Vivienne Westwood, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, cat neglecter, anti -feminist, criminal mastermind, founder of Wikileaks – has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for years.

It’s all been going on for ever. Wikileaks was the future once. Remember? We were all excited about the vast info dumps revealing horrific war crimes and the killings of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then it became something else. It became him, and he did not care if the information he was releasing was helping Trump or Putin, outing gay men in Saudi Arabia, identifying informants or rape victims. Their names were out there and they were at risk. He did not mind working with notorious anti-Semites, or giving us his theories on how often females should reproduce. It was no longer clear what oppression he was fighting, and there was no transparency about the organisation that preached all this. 

Indeed, if you have been watching him as long as I have, it’s all there in the early blogs he wrote as a teenager. An incredible intelligence, an understanding of systems, a denial of individual feeling – and a messiah complex. It’s all a bit pre-Incel. The judge yesterday called him a narcissist as he sat and read Gore Vidal in court. Ever the rebel without a hard drive

Somehow, though, you can pretty much divide the word into those who support Assange and those who don’t. Support for him depends on a clichéd anti-imperialist view of the world. So up pop the old charmers like Glenn Greenwald, Craig Murray, and John Pilger. I once sat in a radio car arguing with Pilger over this. I, like the women who accused Assange of rape and sexual assault, apparently work for the CIA. This seems likely, I expect a cheque soon. 

And inevitably now comes Corbyn, who can hardly stir himself over Brexit, to defend him. No I don’t believe he should be extradited to America, but it turns out he is not under the threat of the death penalty as he always said he was. So a lot of misinformation is being mooted about press freedom – and anyone who is really concerned about press freedom should get off RT and Press TV. But let’s not go there.

Instead we are treated to Diane Abbot not getting her facts right. Again. Charges have not been dropped. The Swedish criminal process only charges before trial and he has been “unavailable”. The most serious charge can therefore be resumed. He could be extradited to Sweden, where he may or may not be found guilty. It could of course all come down to what that great defender of women’s rights George Galloway claimed: simply a case of “bad sexual etiquette”, he said. “I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.”

Of course not. Women are just waiting for unprotected insertions in the name of freedom I suppose. There was Assange’s girlfriend, being made to get out of the car to check for bombs while he waited inside; and there are his increasingly dubious and paranoid views of women. Charming. 

What does this all add up to? In the big picture, this is a story about power, publishing and press freedom. A story where men tell us what matters and what doesn’t.For many of us, it also looks like a deluded, creepy man who has been hiding in a cupboard is being lauded by Labour’s front bench. It looks like sexual assault against women is somehow irrelevant, and human rights don’t mean women’s rights. 

Wikileaks once revealed the sexual abuses of war time. But now? Priorities chaps. Lay back and wait for an insertion. All of this is as sick-making as Assange looks. Freedom? Don’t you dare use that word if it doesn’t apply to women. 

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action