Mass surveillance and sexual violence: The difference between Snowden and Assange

Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden: whistleblowers persecuted for exposing imperialist abuses

Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden: whistleblowers persecuted for exposing imperialist abuses

Last night’s ‘Moment of Truth’ event in Auckland, called together by Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom, revealed the extent of mass surveillance in Aotearoa/NZ. Our government, in complicity with a transnational regime headed by the US, collects extensive personal data through information technology. As seen in the 2007 Urewera Raids, governments will use this information to justify attacks on ordinary people.

The ‘Moment of Truth’ event brought Dotcom together with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, Wikileaks founding member Julian Assange, and journalist Glen Greenwald.

Although Snowden, Dotcom and Assange are all sought by authorities, the nature of the charges are different. Copyright and espionage laws are largely designed to help governments and corporations protect their power; sexual violence, in the case of Assange, is itself an abuse of power.

We can walk and chew gum, opposing both surveillance and sexual violence. Fightback supports exposing mass surveillance, however we argue it is not necessary to give a platform to Julian Assange. These cases need to be distinguished.

Edward Snowden
Snowden is a whistle-blower, known for leaking classified information from the US National Security Agency (NSA). He is sought by the US government for espionage and theft of government property, currently residing in Russia.

For socialists, the real crime is not Snowden’s betrayal of his imperialist masters, but the international system of violence and surveillance he helped expose. Betraying this system is a necessary, even heroic act.

At the ‘Moment of Truth’ event, Snowden revealed that the NSA has bases in Auckland and Northland. Progressives in Aotearoa/NZ welcome Snowden (and journalist Glenn Greenwald) in helping us expose the complicity of our government in imperialist abuses.

Kim Dotcom
Kim Dotcom is a German-Finnish resident of Aotearoa/NZ, the founder of file-sharing business Megaupload. In early 2012, Dotcom was arrested for copyright infringement at the behest of the US government.

Dotcom describes this experience of state repression as a politicising event. In opposition to imperialist agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the Five Eyes agreement, Dotcom found unity with social democratic and radical indigenous forces, forging the basis of the Internet Mana electoral alliance.

Dotcom is no angel. He’s a profiteer (although Internet Mana’s policy process has led to Dotcom advocating taxes on the rich), and was accurately described by Internet Party gender spokesperson Pani Farvid as a “product of sexist culture.”

As phrased by Jacobin Magazine’s Gavin Mueller, “it’s so easy to hate Kim Dotcom that you almost forget that the US convinced the New Zealand government to send in an assault brigade, bereft of a valid warrant but outfitted with automatic weapons and helicopters, to arrest a Finnish citizen at the demand of Hollywood studios.”

Progressives in Internet Mana unite with Dotcom around shared demands, particularly opposing corporate copyright laws and transnational state repression.

Julian Assange
Assange is a founding member of Wikileaks, an organisation whose leaking of state secrets have helped in exposing international imperialist abuses. He is also sought for questioning related to charges of sexual violence.

Some accuse the women involved of being CIA ‘honey traps,’ or the authorities of manufacturing charges.

However, the facts of the case are well-established, admitted by Assange’s legal defence. Assange had sex with a woman while she was sleeping, and had sex without a condom when requested to wear a condom. These are violations of consent.

We don’t have to trust the state to believe women’s testimony of being assaulted.

Assange should not be given a platform at progressive events. This discredits the movement against neoliberalism and mass surveillance.

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Comments

  1. As a female victim of rape, I just want to register my disgust at your appalling article entitled Mass Surveillance and Sexual Violence: Snowden & Assange. Your level of ignorance about this particular case is horrendous. You talk of charges – there are none, only allegations made by a prosecutor which both women have disavowed in text messages now in the public domain and on twitter. You use the word “violence” when the women themselves said in press interviews “He is not violent and we are not afraid of him.” At a forthcoming appeal hearing in Stockholm it is expected that a particular text message from one of the women will be read out in court in which she told a friend at the time (back in 2010) that she was in fact awake when the unprotected, consensual sex started. The first prosecutor who reviewed the police report publicly stated she was closing the case because the women’s testimony revealed “no crime has been committed”. It was re-opened by a politician in the middle of an election campaign looking to score points. All of these facts are readily available for anyone who cares to do even the minimum of research. You, however, choose instead to cast the legal principle of presumption of innocence aside and smear Julian Assange for your own political agenda. Through this idiocy you do great harm to the welfare of all genuine victims of rape because there’s going to be a helluva backlash against the kind of witch-hunt you and your ilk have conducted when Assange is inevitably exonerated, and it’s the rape victims of the future trying to report their assaults who will suffer most from that backlash you are creating. I hope you are ready for the libel suit when it comes. If you had any sense you’d take your ridiculous article offline pronto and issue an apology.

  2. With regard to the allegation made on behalf of the other woman in the Assange case (whom police records show had already left the police station when her ‘complaint’ was officially logged; she didn’t know about this until the next day), she had thought a condom had broken during protected sex with Assange and felt he might have torn it deliberately. (That’s why she decided to accompany the other woman to the police station to support her demand for police help to get Assange HIV-tested.) However, she must have imagined the condom had broken as she gave the police a used-looking, ‘torn’ condom with no DNA on it as her ‘evidence’.

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