This weekend, Julian Assange poked his head out of his secret hiding place, the Ecuadorian embassy, to make a rousing speech to his fans, and to the world's press.
He pleaded for President Obama to "renounce its witch-hunt against Wikileaks". He spoke of freedom, and "journalistic expression". He even drew comparisons between himself and Pussy Riot, saying: "There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response."
But the main difference between Pussy Riot and Julian Assange is that while the three, young women of Pussy Riot are going to a Russian jail for two years because of their beliefs and activism, Assange is hiding out and creating a pussy riot of his own.
Despite Assange's fears that he'll be extradited to the US as part of this "witch hunt" he's the victim of, the charges he's avoiding have nothing to do with Wikileaks, but rather two women in Sweden who claim he sexually assaulted them. One woman claims that Assange held her down with his body weight so she couldn't grab a condom, and then purposefully tore the condom once he put it on. The other claims that while she had consensual sex with Assange earlier in the evening, she awoke to him have unprotected sex with her.
Whether or not this is some crazy, cleverly plotted, secret vagenda organized by US government like Assange and lawyers claim isn't the point. Even if, like George Galloway says, it's found that Assange is simply guilty of "bad sexual etiquette" and the Swedish government agree that "not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion", Assange should still go back to Sweden and face the charges made against him.
As Ian Duck pointed out,
"Assange's dismissal of these charges, and that of his overly-eager supporters, is simply abysmal. It is part of a depressing tapestry, where violence against women – alleged or proven – is treated as a sub-plot to politics, music or sport. "
Assange is not just wanted to for a "chat" with the Swedish government about the sexual assault charges, they want to arrest him. And he, the mighty whistle blower and brave political activist, is hiding out in a South American embassy in London, crying witch-hunt and honey-trap.
As Alison Forms said on Twitter, "Governments used to HUNT WOMEN and then burn them. Your thing is different."
Indeed, it is.
Image via Espenmoe's Flickr