Robert Hutton reports:
Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks website, said he wanted to remain “a private person” in respect of a rape claim against him in Sweden that he said is the result of women who “got into a bit of a tizzy.”
“I’ve always tried in this case and in my other dealings to be a private person and not speak about matters that are private,” he said. “I’m not going to be exposing other people’s private lives or my own. That’s not what a gentleman does.”
Read more on Bloomberg.
Had Assange not attempted to link the charges in Sweden to his WikiLeaks activities by suggesting that the latter was somehow related to the former, he might have had a case for arguing for privacy, but he and his lawyers are the ones who linked the two. Although this blog has not focused on the claims and counter-claims, and although this blog is usually very supportive of public figures who attempt to preserve some right to personal privacy, public charges of wrong-doing against a person who has made himself the face of WikiLeaks are not really a solely private matter. If, for example, it were demonstrated that Assange has lied publicly about what happened with the two women, would the public believe other denials he might offer in other matters, such as the Bradley Manning case?
Assange may not wish to discuss the Swedish matter in the media, and that is certainly his right, but in light of his own statements, I don’t think he can legitimately claim this is purely a private matter unless he retracts his statement that the U.S. was behind the accusations and that the women’s accusations had nothing to do with WikiLeaks’ activities at all.