Thursday, November 03, 2011


How the Mighty have Fallen

I remember when wikileaks first hit the headlines, apparently on the side of truth and transparency and against the malign and shady activities of governments keen to keep us all in the dark. It was a popular cause on the left, and in parts of the right too. He was greeted in lefty, liberal Sweden like a hero. Aftonbladet published an interview which marvelled:

"To meet Julian Assange is a bit like meeting James Bond. The man behind WikiLeaks has no public background. His name is spelled in different ways. His age is uncertain. He has no fixed address. No one has seen him in the hotel where he is staying, and when we finally meet he suddenly appears half a metre in front of me."

But then came the rape allegations and Julian's response to them. I have to say I thought they were a bit dodgy at first and blogged, I seem to recall, about him being persecuted merely for having the habit of promiscuity. Well, that might have been a tiny bit true, even in liberal Sweden and it is the case that Sweden's laws are not like our own, (though who knows, they might become so one day). Julian was terrified the Swedes were in the pocket of the CIA and muttered darkly for anyone to hear that maybe these two women were secret agents of that unwholesome institution. His fear was that the Swedes would extradite him to USA where he might face awfully punitive consequences for placing US agents and soldiers in danger This did not go down well in Sweden, which is very proud of being free and independent of any power block, especially the one led by the USA.

Then came the inexplicable spat with the Guardian, the paper who had supported him hitherto. The argument between this new hero of the left and the staff of the left's most distinguished media mouthpiece, was not edifying. We began to wonder if Jules might just be a bit too full of himself, a bit too arrogant, not to say paranoid to boot.

Then came the drama of his autobiography, for which he had received a thumping great advance which he had promptly spent, not on women but more likely on legal expenses. This ghost written book he decided was not worthy of him and disowned it but the publisher, keen to pull in some income from the lost advance, went ahead and published it. So far few copies have sold.

Reviews were not all bad, I was surprised to discover but Rod Liddle in the ST articulated a view which was gaining currency. He wrote:

"most entertaining section of the book … comes with his uncomfortable alliances with the mainstream media, most notably the Guardian and the New York Times. In both cases the relationship broke down, the Guardian making the crucial error, in Assange's view, of bothering to consider the possible outcomes of publishing secret, stolen material (such as people being shot, stuff like that)."

Kevin Donion in Scotland on Sunday was more outspoken::

"Gone is the reflective and well-crafted reminiscence, as the narrative adopts a manner which is raw, condemnatory and, perhaps inescapably, self-pitying … The final few pages consist of short-sentence rants. And then it stops … Infuriatingly then, this inside account fails to capture the significance of WikiLeaks, even if it gives a troubling insight into the current mindset of Julian Assange."

Within a very short time, as observed byKarin Olsson today, this darling of the leftwing broadsheets and student politicians had moved 'from hero to zero'. Or to quote Olsson:

He has changed in a year from the James Bond of the internet to a paranoid chauvinist pig.

It remains to be seen, now his appeal against extradition has failed, how he will fare in the country he has so badmouthed and insulted.

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