Reaction was swift Wednesday to the news that the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had lost his appeal in Britain’s High Court against extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of rape.
The Wikileaks revelations have embarrassed and angered a wide range of governments. They’ve been welcomed, however, by defenders of the freedom of speech. Assange’s supporters fear that extradition to Sweden will be followed in due course by extradition to the United States.
The mother of the Australian-born activist expresses that fear in blunt words. “It’s now up to the (Australian) people to use their democracy or lose it,” Christine Assange tells the AAP, Australia’s national news agency.
“If they don’t stand up for Julian, he will go to the U.S. and he will be tortured. And he is the person who stood up for the world to expose the truth.”
In Sweden, where two women have accused Assange of sexual misconduct, the daily newspaper Aftonbladet (which is partially owned by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation) has a different take.
It welcomes the news that he can be extradited and points out that it isn’t Wikileaks that stands accused, but rather Assange as an individual.
Wikileaks may have unveiled major news stories, the paper comments, but it may also have contributed to the fact American serviceman Bradley Manning who faces treason charges, is now being held in solitary confinement.
“It’s not certain that Julian Assange himself understands the difference between the website that subverted the world and his own person,” says Aftonbladet. “Swedish justice is going to make him understand that.”