Feeling spied on, Julian? You're not alone

According to reports yesterday, Julian Assange has filed a complaint to open a criminal investigation against a former US marine who allegedly spied on him during a visit to Berlin in 2009. Apparently, the marine followed him and monitored his ‘journalistic activities’ at a Chaos Computer Club conference in the capital.

Big surprise, Julian: you mix with spies and leakers to release classified information to the world and, in turn, government officials spied on you. That doesn’t make it right, but if you think that the marine in question ought to incur criminal charges, shouldn’t you face your criminal charges, too?

I appreciate the work of Wikileaks and its contribution to our knowledge of governmental activities and the like, but when the look-how-corrupted-the-world-is hype dies down and the dust settles on Wikileaks, the fact is that Assange has conspired with spies. Assange may claim that his activity is pursuit of a ‘greater good’, but the crime in this instance is the same as that of the US marine and authorities that he is trying to have hauled before the German courts.

Moreover, with the recent National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance scandal, the surveillance scandal involving the US Drug Enforcement Administration (which monitored phone calls with more accuracy than the NSA), and the revelation that Facebook complied with 79 per cent of NSA requests for user data, I think it’s fair to say we’re all being spied on a little. So you’re not so unique, Mr Assange.

Of course, many of us are unhappy that Assange has been stuck in a room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over a year. Indeed, this week he marked 1,000 days under some form of confinement. But I think this personal bite at the US spying on him undermines the more hefty, incriminating information Wikileaks has released about the actions of the US government and others in the past, relating to the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay and more.

His annoyance at a marine spying on him seems hardly important in that context. Frankly, it seems a little narcissistic.

Saira Khan is a student at the University of Oxford and a spiked intern.

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