ONTD Political

Julian Assange finds no allies and tough queries in Oxford University talk

5:32 pm - 01/24/2013
His critics were reasoned, those who queued for over an hour in the snow to hear him speak were thoughtful. It was Julian Assange – the man at the centre of controversy – who refused to be gracious.

Speaking by video link from his refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy to undergraduates at Oxford University as part of an awards ceremony celebrating whistleblowers, Assange gave an impassioned defence of WikiLeaks and against censorship of all kinds.

But in the Q and A session that came afterwards, the former winner of the Sam Adams award repeatedly refused to answer questions about his decision not to return to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

"How much longer are you going to stay in the Ecuadorean embassy?" asked one undergraduate. "We will see," Assange said, then smiling: "Who knows?"

The next student fared no better. "Sweden is a free country with an independent judiciary. Why do you resist being questioned in that country?"

Assange's smile faded. "I have answered these questions extensively in the past," he replied sharply and referred the student to a website.

A question about cyber terrorism was greeted with verbose warmth. Rachel Savage, a 22-year-old PPE student then asked: "What would you say to the protesters outside who say your appearance tonight diminishes the seriousness of rape and sexual assault?"

Assange half closed his eyes and sighed. "I heard there was a protest but we sent our cameras out there before joining you tonight and there were 28 supporters of me and of no one else."

Before the event, however, there had been at least 50 protesters and no supporters of Assange to be seen. After the ceremony, security staff confirmed they had not seen anyone defending the WikiLeaks founder all evening.

Waving her anti-Assange banner while around 400 undergraduates queued to get into the hall, Simone Webb, the protest organiser, insisted the demonstration was not a stand against free speech.

"I don't think that by saying the Oxford Union should not have invited Assange I am in any way questioning their right or freedom to do so," she said. "Nor do I think Assange should be censored. I'm not necessarily advocating a blanket no platform policy: I would feel somewhat differently were he speaking at a debate where there would be more opportunity for him to be challenged and held to account.

"The motivation for this protest is twofold. Primarily that Assange's continued evasion of justice makes it hugely ironic that he's speaking at an awards ceremony about truth, justice, integrity and courage. And, secondly, protesting to challenge the marginalisation of rape allegations in society as a whole and also by the union in particular."

Driven by a determination to see Assange, around 400 students had waited for over an hour in the driving snow to get a seat. "I'm conflicted about being here," said David, who refused to give his full name, "because I'm struggling to figure out where I stand on this Assange issue. I believe he should be on trial but he's an important figurehead and I'm interested in what he has to say."

As she stood waiting to enter the hall, Savage said: "I'm glad the protesters are demonstrating about the evasion of the rape allegations but I'm not standing with them because I don't oppose him speaking."

After Assange's response to her question however, Savage was left sanguine. "This has confirmed to me that he's evading justice," she said. "He didn't even answer my question, he just made a disparaging comment about the protesters. He showed no respect at all for victims of the types of crime that he has been accused of."

Source
lady_borg 25th-Jan-2013 12:17 am (UTC)
This guy is still relevant.

ugh.
charenton_ 25th-Jan-2013 12:22 am (UTC)
"I DEMAND TRANSPARENCY! But not about my own life."

Love the double standard.
intrikate88 25th-Jan-2013 12:45 am (UTC)
Pre-fucking-cisely.
casablancagirl 25th-Jan-2013 01:40 am (UTC)
Aw wow, never ever thought that my name would appear anywhere in an ontd_p article. (I'm Simone Webb the protest organiser.) Ridiculously proud right now.
omimouse 25th-Jan-2013 02:09 am (UTC)
From where I'm sitting, you sure as hell deserve to feel proud!
zinnia_rose 25th-Jan-2013 02:18 am (UTC)
:D Go you!
tsu_ 25th-Jan-2013 04:35 am (UTC)
lift my hat off to you!
85redberries 25th-Jan-2013 10:09 am (UTC)
Heeeyyyy! Good job!!
kagehikario 25th-Jan-2013 10:17 am (UTC)
You are winning at all the things
wrestlingdog 25th-Jan-2013 12:45 pm (UTC)
Well done! Keep fighting the good fight.
msloserrific 25th-Jan-2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
WOOOOO!! That's so awesome. Great quote, by the way.
the_gabih 25th-Jan-2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
/applauds
muggy_wump 25th-Jan-2013 01:40 am (UTC)
zinnia_rose 25th-Jan-2013 02:19 am (UTC)
Waving her anti-Assange banner while around 400 undergraduates queued to get into the hall, Simone Webb, the protest organiser, insisted the demonstration was not a stand against free speech.

No shit it's not. The very fact that counter-protesters were there is a testament to free speech. Free speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of your actions.

Julian Assange is a gross human being.
girly123 25th-Jan-2013 03:05 am (UTC)
"How much longer are you going to stay in the Ecuadorean embassy?" asked one undergraduate. "We will see," Assange said, then smiling: "Who knows?"

Wow, I wish he would fall in a boiling lake of piss.
mary_pickforded 25th-Jan-2013 03:40 am (UTC)
He makes me sick.
alryssa 25th-Jan-2013 06:16 am (UTC)
"I'm glad the protesters are demonstrating about the evasion of the rape allegations but I'm not standing with them because I don't oppose him speaking."

> The Point
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> Your head

:/
metanoiame 25th-Jan-2013 08:01 am (UTC)
Julian Assange is still a complicated figure for me. I can't think of his case as being either entirely about rape / rape allegations / culture or about government censorship. I approve of people who protest his fucked-up defense against being accused of rape, but I doubt he would get any "justice" if he gave himself up, and I hope his protestors realize this.
asrana 25th-Jan-2013 09:16 am (UTC)
Well certainly I've been wondering for a while just how anyone would be able to arrange a fair and impartial trial for him, with an unprejudiced (in either direction) jury...
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