Assange - behind the headlines
So it was a tense day at Belmarsh Magistrates Court and what - ironically - sets this case apart from the majority heard here - the 'defendant' has not actually been charged with any offence or been proven to have done anything wrong (other than upsest a string of international authorities and corporations by facilitating the publication of their seemingly inappropriate or illegal activities).
So the case for the prosecution ( not that it is actually a case for the prosecution in that they do not have a criminal charged or the authority to act in relation to one ) is that Sweden has asked - without charge or trial - for the extradition of Assange so they can question him about a sexual encounter that was not of a nature that they could immediately invoke legal measures - in other words, the Swedish authorities want to ask him some questions about certain allegations(which he has offered to answer and this begs the real question as to why they need the posturing of an arrest warrant for). Geoffrey Robertson is defending and Assange could not have anyone better in his court but beyond Assange this case is a test for the whole spectre and point/effectiveness of the European Arrest Warrant - aimed to catch terrorists it has so far not proved itself an effective measure to capture and contain terrorists but it has been used to snare Assange who had - as one may recall - voluntarily gone to a police station....
So there has been plenty of analysis about the law and the merits - or lack thereof -of the Euroepan Arrest Warrant - and we have the case for the defence online
While there is much to debate over the legal or procedural niceities of this case the bottom line IS THIS:
He controls a website and publishes material he receives via this website
He has not hacked into or infiltrated numerous governments or corporations - he HAS received very interesting documents from those who may have worked at various government or corporate establishments.
He/his organisation do disseminate material that could be deemed condfidential.
Assange and the Wikileaks team would have neither content nor outlet were it not for the suppliers of the information they have BUT therein lies the trick - it is those who leak or expose who are falling foul of the law and breaching confidentiality or other contractual provisions. So while the US and Swedish authorities are desperately seeking to extradite and make Assange 'go away'- he and his colleagues (who will still be there no matter what happens to him) - and the Wikileaks phenomenon is here to stay.
IF the material he has is truly objectionable (which it is) then one needs to look at where it comes from - all Wikileaks does is ditsribute content that is fed to it and as such is not responsible for 'leaking' or otherwise faking any content. So if someone wanted to prevent publication they would need to go to court and persuade a judge that what was going to be published was in some way offensive (human right violating; privacy invading; risk to public order etc) and as such it should not be published. IF one could prove that the material that Wikileaks receives (and identify its source)is that objectionable then one could argue and seek that a court orders that it should be banned (a highly rare thing) - for the main though as long as there are leakers there will be Wikileaks.
If there was nothing worth leaking there wouldn't be leaks and leaking is a form scrutiny and freedom of information that is part of our 'information' society. If you want to censure and lock away all the leakers, what next? - will every whistleblower be hounded and every free speech campaigner locked up? This case is much bigger than Assange and hopefully the eventual outcome will address that.