Sir Bob Jones

Few people would disagree that Julian Assange is a deeply unpleasant human being.

Writer Andrew O’Hagen, employed by Assange to ghost-write his “autobiography”, spent months with him and has nothing nice to say about him, indeed very much to the contrary. So too many prominent folk who aligned themselves with him in his efforts to avoid extradition to America, all of whom came to regret it.

Britain finds itself in a difficult spot on Assange given its extradition agreement with America and has left it to the courts. But Assange is now at the end of the road, as one suspects is Dot Com here in New Zealand, in further appeal opportunities.

The Americans accuse Assange of conspiring with Bradley Manning, a soldier in Iraq at the time, to disclose classified documents.

Manning has since decided he is a woman despite the biological evidence to the contrary, and changed his name to Chelsea Elizabeth. Currently he trots about in a dress.

He was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, subsequently serving 7 years before his sentence was commuted by President Obama.

As it turned out the “classified information” was not specially significant but in various ways was embarrassing. The most publicised event disclosed US soldiers killing innocent civilians. I don’t wish to be glib about that but it’s a fact of life with warfare. It’s been a huge issue in Australia of late in a libel action by Australia’s most decorated soldier against various media outlets. The outcome is now with the judge.

Similar accusations have arisen in New Zealand in recent times with our own military. Sadly, as we read daily in the Ukrainian reports, as said, it’s a reality with warfare. That aside if anything, the documents publicised pointed up the utterly anachronistic nature of embassies as most of the material appeared to be US embassies’ reports about their host nations. Many caused offence such as the ambassador to Thailand writing that Thais have no artistic culture of dance, theatre, art etc; a ludicrously ignorant comment.

As for New Zealand, the ambassador reported on then National leader Don Brash’s love life, and so it went. By and large all utterly innocuous material.

Initially the Americans sought Assange on the grounds of publishing secret material but as every media outlet in the world also reproduced the Manning turd’s material, that change became farcical. So now the alleged crime is conspiring with Manning.

Here’s where I’m at a loss. Assange is an Australian and unless in America, is not subject to its laws. There are countless legal activities in different countries that are illegal in America but that doesn’t mean America can charge foreigners for such things.

For example, let us say I was a car buff (which I’m not) and wrote a letter to an American friend re his new Porsche. In it I urged him to get out on the open road and try it out at 200mph. He does so and gets nabbed and then the cops find my letter. Could they seek my extradition for conspiring to break their law? It’s ridiculous but no different in principle to the Assange situation.

The sole offender in this matter was Manning and there the matter should rest.

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Bob Jones

Sir Robert ‘Bob’ Jones — now New Zealand’s largest private office building owner in Wellington and Auckland, and with substantial holdings in Sydney and Glasgow, totalling in excess of two billion...