One day after a Swedish court upheld the charges of sexual assault against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the attorney general of his native country called upon him to have the courage to face the trial. Australian Attorney General George Brandis told Australia’s ABC Radio it was time for Assange to “man up.”
“I think Mr. Assange should be man enough to face the allegations against him of being a sexual predator,” said Brandis, referring to Assange’s refusal to travel to Sweden and face the charges against him. Assange is being tried for allegedly sexually molesting a woman in Stockholm and raping a second woman in Enkoping, Sweden, in her sleep. Assange has denied the charges, alleging an international conspiracy against him for having revealed government secrets.
In response to the allegations, Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK for years, where he has received asylum but cannot step out of the building, as the UK police would extradite him to Sweden.
Brandis’s impatient remark and Assange’s legal situation did not sit well with the man himself. Assange responded to Brandis’s comments by accusing him of stealing talking points from United States officials, particularly United States Secretary of State John Kerry, and calling the remarks “sexist claptrap.” He also took the opportunity to defend the honor of Wikileaks’ female coworkers against statements that Brandis did not make, despite the sexist nature of Assange’s prolonged legal mess. “WikiLeaks’ female staff members,” he added, “who squared off with a superpower over our work and brought Edward Snowden to safety during the largest intelligence manhunt the world has ever seen, have more genuine courage in their little toes than the entire Abbott cabinet.” Notably, Assange did not defend his own “genuine courage” in his response.
Wikileaks’ most prominent female former supporter, Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, demanded that Assange step down in 2010, as the allegations of sexual abuse surfaced. “If it means I get banned, I don’t care. I really care very much for WikiLeaks and I do consider myself to be Julian’s friend,” she said at the time. “But good friends are the people who tell you if your face is dirty. There should not be one person speaking for WikiLeaks. There should be many people.”