Assange’s Arrest: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Yesterday, in the Globe and Mail, Doug Saunders wrote: “At the centre of a tightening web of death threats, sex-crime accusations and high-level demands for a treason trial, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to unleash a ‘thermonuclear device’ of completely unexpurgated government files if he is forced to appear before authorities. Mr. Assange . . . has referred to the huge, unfiltered document as his ‘insurance policy.”’

Events are accelerating. The New York Times reports: “Police in Britain arrested Julian Assange on Tuesday on a Swedish warrant issued in connection with alleged sex offenses, British police officials said.”

About the “insurance policy”: “‘Over 100,000 people’ were given the entire archive of 251,287 cables in encrypted form, Mr. Assange said on Friday.”

That’s some serious proliferation of his “thermonuclear device.” Doesn’t that constitute the famous ticking time bomb scenario? Let’s torture him. (Kidding, kidding.) In fact, do Focal Points readers think Assange is within his rights — ethically anyway — to pursue that course of action? Do you see it as personal revenge or a measure to protect WikiLeaks? Might it endanger lives as his previous document dumps, despite the fears that have been hyped, don’t seem to have yet?

Anyway, Assange has already begun to counter-escalate:

Perhaps in a warning shot of sorts, WikiLeaks on Monday released a cable from early last year listing sites around the world — from hydroelectric dams in Canada to vaccine factories in Denmark — that are considered crucial to American national security.

Nearly all the facilities listed in the document, including undersea cables, oil pipelines and power plants, could be identified by Internet searches. But the disclosure prompted headlines in Europe and a new denunciation from the State Department, which said in a statement that “releasing such information amounts to giving a targeting list to groups like Al Qaeda.”

We’ll have to wait to see if it’s the indictment, trial, or verdict which will occasion the leak of the rest of the documents — and they are legion. The Times again:

. . . as of Monday night the group had released fewer than 1,000 of the quarter-million State Department cables it had obtained.