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Double standards in Assange’s arrest
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London on Thursday. Ecuador revoked his seven-year asylum, and Ecuador's embassy in London "invited" British police to drag him out. Assange may be eventually extradited to the US to stand trial.
Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 and had been disclosing countries' secret documents. The website became well-known after it published hundreds of thousands of secret US government files in 2010. Washington prosecuted him under the Espionage Act, and the Swedish government accused him of rape. During his terms of probation in 2012, he took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London.
The US charged Assange with conspiracy of trying to access US government computers. When Assange was dragged out from the embassy, the 47-year-old looked aged with grey hair and beard. He may face great difficulties.
Assange has brought trouble to many governments. Unfortunately, he brought most troubles to the US. When many countries were considering their attitude toward Assange, Washington came forward and labeled him a cyber criminal.
The US accusations of violating press freedom and cracking down on dissenters are always against non-Western countries. If WikiLeaks targeted countries like China, Russia and Iran, the US and its major allies will cheer in chorus and label Assange a hero who opposes autocracy.
However, Assange is not politically minded. He's an idealistic anarchist who is less smart than dissenters from non-Western countries. Although they were all disclosing information, some of them can be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while in prison. Assange, however, was being hunted by Western countries. He became the biggest loser among the world's dissenters.
Assange's tragedy shows that no country will allow internet activities to impact the legal order. Absolute freedom of information is not likely in today's world. It also shows that governments' attitude toward press freedom is based on their political interests. It is not decided by morality or justice, but is based on the value judgments for state governance.
What Edward Snowden did was different from Assange, but both of their revelations affected the US national image. While on the US' wanted list, Snowden is also regarded a hero in many countries. As Assange and Snowden were disclosing information, they were also revealing the truth of the world's current values system.
We will not comment on if the US should extradite Assange. But Washington should give up its double standards - one minute it chases those who challenge US views, the next it praises dissenting voices in non-Western countries. If Western countries' attitudes can be more consistent, there will be less chaos in the world.