Julian Assange has now been under virtual house arrest in the London Embassy of Ecuador for a year. Some would say that even if he is guilty, he has served his time and charges against him should now be dropped.
Let us assume for the moment that Julian Assange did in fact sexually assault two women in Sweden, women with whom he was having consensual sex. Leaving aside the fact that this sort of nonsense leaves no man safe from any allegation of sexual assault anytime he shares a bed with a women, even his own wife, it would appear, how serious are these allegations, and how much hard time do they warrant?
Yesterday, the former BBC presenter Stuart Hall was given a 15-month sentence for 14 sexual assaults on young girls, one of whom was only 9 years old at the time.
Although the Attorney General is currently considering an appeal, and some allowance will have been made by the trial judge for Hall's age, it is clear is it not that Hall's offences are far, far worse than the alleged offences which have yet to be proved—and may never be proved—against Assange?
By February this year, the bill for guarding Assange had run to around £3 million; it is now close to £4 million, and that does not consider all the other related expenses.
Although Assange is technically at liberty, he is a prisoner in all but name. He has been trapped in the same building for a year, which can't be good for either his physical or mental health. In the UK and most other countries, time spent on remand counts towards time served. If for example a man is convicted of burglary and given a six month sentence after four months on remand, that four months will count towards it, which means that in practice—with the usual discount—he will walk free. Assange has then in effect already served a two year gaol sentence, so both natural justice and common sense dictate that if he should now be extradited to Sweden, tried and convicted, he would be released immediately.
The big question is of course, would he simply be tried and then released—whether convicted or not—or would he be spirited away to the United States? Why don't we ask Bradley Manning?
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