When told of the death of a political rival the 19th-century French statesman Talleyrand supposedly asked: “I wonder what he meant by that?”
I rather felt the same when woken to the news that Sweden now wants to extradite Julian Assange on long abandoned “sex-charges” from 2010.
The US extradition application is already before the British courts and public opinion about the persecution of the whistleblower Assange has begun to turn. Even amongst those recently most hostile to the WikiLeaks founder – the very journalists who once waited upon his every word.
This would certainly be a reason for re-awakening the public to the twice abandoned sex-case against Assange by Sweden – a kind of re-smear. A topping up of liberal revulsion for fear that the balance of revulsion had begun dangerously to tip against the US case.
The most obvious reason though is a belt and braces, insurance policy. Should the US extradition application fail in England well it may succeed in Sweden which is if anything a country even more beholden to the US Empire than Britain is. It means Assange faces not one but two extradition battles. And so do his legal team, his friends and supporters and his fundraising network.
I’d say it was the crushing of a butterfly upon the wheel, except Assange is no butterfly – he stings like a bee – and the US Empire is way more wonky than any wheel. The US president used to pray in aid of Julian Assange, praised WikiLeaks, and yet Trump’s own Justice Department is now straining every sinew seeking to put Assange behind bars in America for the rest of his natural on an ever-lengthening number of charges.
Assange was always prepared to return to Sweden to face charges – however absurd – in return for Sweden providing undertakings that it would not then extradite him to the US to face even more absurd and life-threating charges there. That Sweden would not give those undertakings was always an indicator of the real game which was going on. It is open to Sweden to give such undertakings now but no reader should hold their breath in expectation of them doing so.