Friday 3 December 2010

The Missing Stieg Larsson Book?

I’ve no idea whether Julian Assange is guilty of the sexual misconduct charges that have been levelled against him in Sweden. I do, however, find the timing of this new warrant for his arrest disturbing. These charges first appeared earlier this year, then seemed to vanish, then returned more strongly just as Wikileaks was about to come out with its new batch of revelations.

Timing, as they say, is everything. Add to that the hacking of the Wikileaks site and pressure on various hosts (reportedly from the US Department of Homeland Security) to take it down and the whole thing is beginning to take on a bizarre conspiracy theory feel.

There’s a rumour that there’s another, unfinished Stieg Larsson novel on a laptop, which may, or may not, see the light of day. Whatever your opinion of his three books, they’ve sold in huge quantities and have, perhaps, made people more aware of conspiracies and the darker corners of politics. That can be no bad thing. Maybe it’s the Swedish association, but what’s going on with Wikileaks and Assange has all of the feel of a Larsson novel coming to life.

It’s far from an exact analogy, of course. For a start, this is real life, not fiction. But it certainly raises plenty of questions, especially when Assange’s lawyer says his client has asked to meet with prosecutors to answer questions and was rebuffed. If he ends up in court there will be questions marks over any evidence present (from both sides) and the verdict.

What is perhaps unsurprising is some of the American reaction to these leaks. Sarah Palin suggested he be hunted down and killed like Al-Queda, which hardly comes as a shock from her. But the assertion that these leaks put lives as risk seems excessive. In many ways this was a series of revelations waiting to happen, as the US supposedly gave a staggering three million people access to these documents. Not what anyone would call secure, by any means.

Yes, some communications do need to be secret. There’s no doubt about that. But the putting them on a network available to so many who don’t need to see them, that’s just asking for trouble. And that, it appears, is just what the US government got.

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