Julian Assange and state crime

Prof. Scott Poynting1
1Western Sydney University, Newtown, Australia

For over six years Australian journalist and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has been subjected in breach of international law to what the UN Human Rights Council has twice determined to be arbitrary deprivation of liberty. If he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he is a refugee with well-founded fear of persecution, he faces arrest by UK authorities for absconding on bail six years ago, because of a European arrest warrant which Sweden has long since withdrawn. If arrested, Assange risks extradition to the US to a similar fate to Chelsea Manning. The same danger from the Swedish state was why Assange declined six years ago to travel to Sweden to be interrogated in the conveniently timed and contrived assault and sexual misdemeanour case which has since been dropped. Assange has committed no crime under British law, or indeed Australian law.

The WikiLeaks Afghan war logs, the Iraq war logs and the ‘Cablegate’ documents, all published by WikiLeaks in 2010, revealed war crimes including the knowing and deliberate or reckless killing of civilians, among them children, by US forces in Afghanistan, and then torture, rape and murder of civilians in Iraq, and then (among other crimes) massive and unlawful spying by US and UK states on their own citizens. This paper argues that Swedish, UK and US state threats against Assange are because of his revelations of state crimes.


Scott Poynting is Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and also in the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology. He was Professor in Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University 2007-13, then Professor in Criminology at the University of Auckland 2013-16. His best known (joint) books are Kebabs, Kids, Cops and Crime (2000) and Bin Laden in the Suburbs (2004). His jointly edited Media, Crime and Racism was published by Palgrave in 2018.


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