Assange is no hero

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, December 2, 2010

It is a symptom of the age we live in that a man with a chequered past like Julian Assange - currently being tried in absentia for rape in Sweden, and with a long career as a hacker – should be hailed as a hero. The facts are known – he has chosen to publish illegally stolen public property.

There is nothing immoral or illegal in what US diplomats were doing or saying in their correspondence, though there is much to question, morally and legally, in what Wikileaks did - it acquired stolen property, failed to return it, and proceeded to publish it in utter disregard of the consequences of such action. This it did out of a self-indulgent world view that is more driven by a hatred of Western governance than by a love of truth.

Politically, despite the publicity, the impact is insignificant. The leaks will not change anyone's mindset one way or another: after all, the current US administration, many of its liberal supporters in Congress, State Department officials and public servants from various other agencies of the US government, were privy to some, if not all the content of the leaks, before the public was - that did not change their worldview or the policies they pursued.

The Wikileaks then were irrelevant for the bigger picture - they revealed nothing we did not either instinctively or advisedly know about the world already.

The only thing that can be fixed in this scandal is the notion that Assange is some folk hero. His actions are reprehensible if not downright criminal. This is the one thing that deserves full exposure now.

Emanuele Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies in Washington

Last updated: 4:57pm, December 2 2010