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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/3/11

Will Sweden Kill Assange?

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Sweden banned censorship and guaranteed free speech in 1766, 10 years before the Declaration of Independence in the American British colonies, and -- apart from shameful episodes of caving in to dictatorships and Nazis -- has pretty well kept it in place.

Sweden banned the death penalty and has not used it since 1910.

Now, Sweden has an opportunity to punish the speech of a Nobel Peace Prize nominee with the death penalty by extraditing Julian Assange to the United States to be put on trial.

Dear Sweden, what will you do? You've led the way toward civility. You've banned not only the death penalty but violence up to and including spanking. You gave refuge to Denmark's Jews. You gave birth to my grandfather. Usually I look to you for leadership.

That may sound funny to you, coming from a citizen and resident of a nation with more weapons than the rest of the world combined. But I said leadership, not insanely sadistic militarism.

Unlike my country, you are at the top in income equality, democracy, well-being, food security, life expectancy, and percentage of your population out of prison.

Steven Hill, another American fan of yours, tells this story:

"A few years ago, an American acquaintance of mine who lives in Sweden told me that he and his Swedish wife were in New York City and, quite by chance, ended up sharing a limousine to the theatre district with then-U.S. Senator John Breaux from Louisiana and his wife. Breaux, a conservative, anti-tax Democrat, asked my acquaintance about Sweden and swaggeringly commented about 'all those taxes the Swedes pay,' to which this American replied, 'The problem with Americans and their taxes is that we get nothing for them.' He then went on to tell Breaux about the comprehensive level of services and benefits that Swedes receive in return for their taxes. 'If Americans knew what Swedes receive for their taxes, we would probably riot," he told the senator. The rest of the ride to the theater district was unsurprisingly quiet."

If Swedes knew that Americans and the rest of the world look to them for true leadership, would they rise up and walk like Egyptians into the streets of Stockholm and refuse to allow their government to send Julian Assange to the United States to be tried and possibly murdered for the crime of journalism? Is journalism a crime in Sweden? On the contrary, murder -- even by the state -- is a crime in Sweden.

Wikileaks threatens the governments of both the United States and Sweden with exposing to the people of both nations, among many others, what our governments are doing. There is no doubt the United States government is putting pressure on the Swedish government to turn Assange over. Here's one way that may be going on.

This is a global movement, brothers and sisters in Sweden, of people vs. secrecy, people vs. plutocracy, people vs. barbarism. Will you stand on the side of transparency, democracy, and civility? Will you help lead us away from the hell we are devising for ourselves over here? Will you lead by example? Will you stand with the people of the United States of America against the backroom dealings of its government?

We need your help.

Julian Assange needs your help.

Bradley Manning, and all the prisoners facing the threat of state killing in the USA need your help.

Please throw us a rope just this once, and we will commit to working 10 times harder to curtail our government's degenerative influence on the civilized world.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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