Little is likely to change for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who just learned on Friday that his arrest warrant issued by Swedish authorities back in 2010 has been revoked. Until the British government decides to revoke its own warrant for Assange jumping bail in November of that year, he’ll stay put inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Sweden’s top prosecutor, Marianne Ny, said she gave up trying to serve him but added that “if he were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitations on this case expires in August 2020, the preliminary investigation could be resumed.”
At issue was a rape charge levied against Assange by two women with whom he had sexual relations while in Sweden to make a speech in 2010. When Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest, Assange gave himself up. In December that year he posted bail in London but jumped bail in 2012, hying himself over to the Ecuadorian Embassy. Now that Sweden has dropped its charges London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is reducing its level of surveillance of Assange. Said the MPS: “Now that the situation has changed, and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr. Assange remains wanted [but] for a much less serious offense. [Accordingly] the MPS will provide a [lower] level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.”
That’s likely to be small comfort for Mr. Assange. If he so much as steps outside the Ecuadorian embassy he could be arrested, charged with jumping bail, fined and perhaps jailed for a period of time. The big risk is that during that time the United States could move against him for various charges relating to WikiLeaks’ publishing secret and embarrassing emails, files and videos in 2010. One of the most notorious is a video titled Collateral Murder, showing unarmed Iraqis being gunned down by American helicopters. This was in addition to the exposure of Iraq and Afghanistan war logs revealing the true ghastly human cost of those conflicts, along with over 250,000 diplomatic cables which placed what the British Telegraph described as “an uncomfortable spotlight on U. S. foreign policy.”
Assange well knows how Attorney General Jeff Sessions feels about those “uncomfortable” revelations. Said Sessions in April:
We have professionals in the security business of the United States for many years [who] are shocked by the number of leaks, and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.
As noted by The New American on Wednesday, building that case could take some doing, especially in light of a Supreme Court ruling that allowed the New York Times and Washington Post to publish the damning Pentagon Papers more than four decades ago. The majority opinion cited First Amendment rights that remain in place today.
At the moment, Assange has asked his attorney to seek to have his bail-jumping arrest warrant quashed. After all the British government has the $250,000 he forfeited. That would, if granted, allow him to fly to Ecuador to enjoy his self-imposed exile in nicer surroundings. And out of reach of Sessions thanks to an enviably loopholed extradition treaty dating back to 1872.
And it would allow him to continue to expose, embarrass and confound various agencies seeking to develop surveillance techniques without the public spotlight on them. For example, WikiLeaks published more of its Vault 7 secrets including Archimedes on May 5, After Midnight on May 12, and Athena on May 19, the day the Swedes gave up on trying to serve him their arrest warrant.
As Assange made clear in his book Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, published last August, he is using WikiLeaks to disrupt and expose the secret webs so that its operators no longer trust each other. Wrote Assange:
Not every conspirator trusts or knows every other conspirator even though all are connected. Some are on the fringe of the conspiracy, others ... [may] be a bridge between important sections or groupings of the conspiracy.
By exposing their machinations, the linkage breaks down, according to Assange:
A conspiracy sufficiently engaged in this manner is no longer able to comprehend its environment and [thus continue to] plan robust action.
Whether Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London or is able to escape to Ecuador proper isn’t likely to hamper in any way his efforts to expose, disrupt, and interdict the machinations of those who would otherwise continue to operate in secret.
Photo of Julian Assange: AP Images