It is perhaps too much to expect people who earn their living in the ruling class environment which gives them “respectability”, to stay with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks through thick and thin. His more reliable and well known supporters, like Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, and Daniel Ellsberg (etc.), are often people who have been driven from respectable positions in society by their conflicts with the elite – and are still alive to talk about it.
Jemima Kahn is not a disinterested bystander in the saga of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. She is the executive producer of the documentary “We Steal Secrets”, and has thus a professional and financial interest in the success of her film. One can imagine her dismay that it has received a lot of criticism from the Assange camp.
Kahn’s article in the New Statesman is a rehash of many of the standard points made against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks by the mainstream media. There is no attempt to come to grips with these assertions or to look more carefully into the facts. The only thing which gives this article any credibility is the fact that the writer was once a supporter of WikiLeaks. For this reason some will read it and say: “There, I told you so!”
Given the lack of insight or independent investigation in this article, I am not surprised that Julian had nothing to do with her film. If she is surprised and disappointed with him, she only needs to have a good look in the mirror to understand why.
She had hoped that Julian would view the film “We Steal Secrets” not in terms of being pro- or anti-him. If she thought she could produce a ‘neutral’ and ‘balanced’ documentary about Assange, this is because she is captivated by the mainstream idea that there are ‘neutral’ positions on significant moral and political issues.
Personally, I don’t think such “objectivity” is possible. Still, if her article is any guide to her own ‘objectivity’, she is not the person to provide it. I won’t cover all her points in detail, but a brief look at some of them shows a pattern of omission, distortion and ignorance which contributes to a very negative picture of Julian Assange.
Jemima begins by going through a long list of “alienated and disaffected allies” which includes “Jamie Byng of Canongate Books, who paid him a reported £500,000 advance for a ghostwritten autobiography for which Assange withdrew his co-operation before publication.” She makes it appear that Byng was someone who tried to help Julian, and portrays Julian as awkward and ungrateful.
In fact Julian got no money from the ‘Autobiography’, which Cannongate published against his wishes. It was in effect stolen from him. He was unable to stop its publication because he did not have enough cash to launch a legal challenge. Byng knew the law and realized that there was nothing Julian could do. You can read Julian’s statement here. Surely Jemima knows these details, but gives an incomplete and distorted account to make Julian look bad.
Next she draws our attention to what David Allen Green considered to be legal myths about the Assange extradition. “These were myths that, as a vocal supporter, I was concerned I might have spread unwittingly. Despite several attempts to elicit a response, I never received one.”
While she got no response from Julian Assange, did she actually look anywhere else for answers to David Green’s questions? In an article posted by Stjärna Frånfälle on 21 August 2012, the day after Green’s article appeared, his comments were dealt with in some detail. Has Jemima read these answers? If not, her complaint could be seen as a ‘cheap shot’ at Julian (“HE didn’t answer MY questions!”). Is she more concerned with the PERSON than the LEGAL ISSUES?
Jemima Kahn is particularly interested in Julian’s thoughts “about the opinion of objective legal experts who – contrary to the claims made by WikiLeaks – insist that he is no more vulnerable to extradition to the US from Sweden than he is from the UK.” The article which replies to Green points out that the opinion of Kahn’s ‘objective legal experts’ is really just one educated guess among others.
“Given the complexity of extradition law, where you end up churning into political bedrock wherever you dive, ultimately all ‘expert opinion’ on this point is speculative. Arguments that it would be easier to extradite from Sweden do not hinge solely on the treaties, but make reference to the pragmatic realities of London’s larger and more robust legal community.”
So Jemima Kahn wanted to speak to Julian Assange about what SHE THOUGHT were ‘objective legal facts’ he was obliged to respond to, and was naturally disappointed when he did not respond. Again, what sin has Julian Assange committed by not answering her questions? Is there a hidden journalistic principle here: If you don’t answer my questions I will write bad things about you?
One point she mentions is completely irrelevant. “The two women at the centre of the rape allegations against Assange were subsequently named and defamed on the internet, threatened with rape and pictured with bulls-eyes on their faces.” This is indeed terrible, but JULIAN ASSANGE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. It was the work of the police!! For someone who likes objective legal facts, Jemima sadly omitted the legal fact that the POLICE broke Swedish privacy laws by giving the information from their interviews with the two women to the press.
Jemima tries to avoid commenting on Julian’s legal situation in Sweden. “It may well be that the serious allegations of sexual assault and rape are not substantiated in court, but I have come to the conclusion that these are all matters for Swedish due process…” Could it be that she has come to this conclusion because she knows almost nothing about Swedish due process?
Kahn does not acknowledge that from the beginning the police COMPLETELY IGNORED due process in this case. The two women AA and SW were interviewed together when they should have been separated. The interview was not recorded as required for such cases. The written summary of the interview of SW was never signed, so it cannot be used as evidence in any trial. The interview and the charge against Julian was immediately leaked to the press, in violation of Swedish privacy laws.
And later, AA submitted the condom allegedly used by Julian Assange which, when tested, contained no chromosomal DNA; indicating that it had never been used in a sexual act. It did show evidence however, of having been torn by a fingernail. Submitting false evidence is a crime, even in Sweden.
Kahn also raises the question of the women’s rights: “The women in question have human rights, too, and need resolution. Assange’s noble cause and his wish to avoid a US court does not trump their right to be heard in a Swedish court.”
Assange is not just avoiding a US court. He is trying to avoid torture, life-long imprisonment and a possible death penalty at the hands of the US. If you look at the ‘due process’ used by the Swedish police, you can see that whatever happened, the police have conducted themselves in such a way that it would be almost impossible to convict anyone of anything on the basis of the ‘evidence’ they have collected. Do the Swedish police themselves care about the human rights of the women?
There is an unwillingness to acknowledge the objective legal fact concerning Julian’s residence in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Jemima writes that she was invited to the Embassy “where he had recently taken refuge to avoid extradition”. She conveniently forgets to mention that Julian asked for and received POLITICAL ASYLUM from Ecuador because he is a victim of political persecution. Perhaps getting political asylum from Ecuador is of no real importance to Jemima. After all, Ecuador is just a little country in South America, not nearly as important as NATO members like UK and Sweden.
So, while Jemima Kahn accuses Julian Assange and WikiLeaks of “the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose”, it seems that she is doing much the same herself. Is it not obfuscation – throwing sand in our eyes – to bring up the issue of the two womens’ identities? Is it not misinformation to present some alleged legal facts, but ignore all the others that put Julian’s position in a better light?
And what can one say of the ignorance Jemima Kahn shows of the actions of the Swedish police? Due process her ass! This article is more like self-serving propaganda than journalism… because I Khan!