Julian Assange is not the tragic hero he thinks he is

Only Julian Assange could turn sex allegations against him in Sweden into a US "witch hunt" against a website he started.

Standing at a balcony at the Ecuador embassy on Sunday , the Wikileaks founder demanded President Obama end his attacks on the site. No mention of the extradition order to Sweden, or the accusations there.

But why would he? This is about America right? And him. And the United States. And him. This is a war against Wikileaks. And him.

For Assange, everything always comes back to him. If you're against him, or even question him, you're against Wikileaks and therefore, an enemy of freedom of expression.

 Julian Assange is not the tragic hero he thinks he is

Assange is the prima donna on a balcony singing that it's all about someone else and don't mention those sex allegations. : AFP

His supporters have suggested as much. Owen Jones, writing in the Independent on Friday was accused online of being a paid member of the US security services for his balanced piece on the standoff.

Jones rightly points out that it is easier to extradite someone to the US from the UK than perhaps anywhere else. The UK was happy to make such arrangements, and plenty of people have been thrown to the US already. If they want Assange so badly, they've had ample opportunity to get him.

The US is far more distracted with locking up Bradley Manning, the former officer accused of leaking to Wikileaks. His treatment, as Jones also pointed out, is shameful, and is also entirely separate from Assange.

Assange likes to claim America is trying to silence him. I would be shocked if anyone ever could. His performance art at the Ecuador embassy is a demonstration of his need to be the centre of attention, while simultaneously pretending that it's all about Wikileaks and the US.

This reminds me of another balcony performance, though Assange is going to the wrong country in name. Argentina, or Nicaragua, or Papua New Guinea, or United Kingdom all fit better.

And as for fortune, and as for fame
I never invited them in
Though it seemed to the world they were all I desired
They are illusions
They're not the solutions they promise to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me.

To even pretend he is in the same league as Manning in terms of unfair treatment is to make a mockery of thousands of actual political refugees.

Is Wikileaks under attack, directly and by proxy? Yes. Wikileaks continues to publish controversial information and it has the right to continue to do so, provided it also protects innocent people from attack or retribution in the process.

But Assange is no longer Wikileaks, and for the sake of Wikileaks, he should walk away. If he truly believes in the work it does, then it can and should survive without him. But he doesn't. He believes in himself. He is the prima donna on a balcony singing that it's all about someone else and don't mention those sex allegations.

In his own mind, he believes what he's saying. His supporters believe him, and that this is a case of freedom of speech under threat.

Have I said too much? There's nothing more I can think of to say to you
But all you have to do, is look at me to know
That every word is true.

Your speech is under no threat. Twitter censors itself more easily than the US ever could Wikileaks. Hackers silence people all the time in the name of freedom. It's the truth of the digital age - everyone keeps talking and nobody shuts up.

First lady of Argentina, Eva Perón or Evita, was a powerful figure, and remains so even in death.

Assange might like to think he's similarly charismatic and heroic - he's certainly as divisive. But his evasion from the allegations in Sweden and protests even against supporters when they question him, show merely his paranoia and delusions of grandeur. The balcony, in that sense, is the right place for Assange. Eventually, he may find that he has "said too much" and the crowds below have gone. Who knows what country he'll be in by then. Probably Argentina.

Updated Date: Aug 20, 2012 14:55:00 IST