By Alejandro A. Tagliavini *
According to Scotland Yard, the recent arrest of Assange is due to a request for extradition from the US Government, that accuses him of a serious crime – with a penalty of five years in prison – against security: the publication, on the Wikileaks website, of thousands of classified documents of the Department of Defense, with the help of Chelsea Manning who worked at the Pentagon .
Persecuted by the Swedish justice for the alleged violation of two collaborators of Wikileaks in Stockholm, in 2010, the British courts granted Assange the provisional freedom, but he mocked them and British law imposes at least a year in prison for it, so he must first meet that penalty.
Everything indicates that Assange will spend the next months in a British cell. Then, he will remain behind bars until the process, of up to two years, to decide the extradition to the US concludes. In addition, the Swedish authorities may reopen the case that had been provisionally shelved.
Now, the basic problem in all this is that modern States are configured as the monopoly of violence over a territory, guaranteed by its military and police forces. And, precisely, the most efficient weapon against violence, the most efficient weapon for peace is information. How usefull is an army if a mosquito has enough data to advance their movements and escape or even neutralize it?
Thus, Assange or anyone who reveals information that guarantees peace, by neutralizing armies, is dangerous for the States that must deprive them of their freedom, not for them to be “reeducated” and return to society (no person can be redeemed if his freedom which is essential to his nature is taken away) but only so that he does not continue to work for peace.
But these monopolies of violence – the States – besides defending themselves from external “enemies”, have to be imposed internally, to collect taxes to begin so that they can survive. And so they have their police, and jails, to force people to comply with their “laws”, those arbitrarily dictated by politicians.
A few days ago, during the fifth Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis referred to the “episode of the adulterous woman” (v. Jn 8: 1-11). They contrast two attitudes: that of the scribes and Pharisees … and Jesus … The firsts want to condemn her, because they feel they are the guardians of the Law … Instead, Jesus wants to save her, because it embodies the mercy of God who, forgiving, redeems and reconciling renews. ”
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone against her” (verse 7). In this way, Jesus appeals to the conscience of those men: they felt “defenders of justice”, but he calls them to the conscience of their condition … they can not claim the right of life or death of another human… they all left, abandoning the stoning of the woman … God “does not want the death of the sinner, but to become and live” (v. Ez 33.11), ” continued Francis. And the woman left.
In the first place, States should stop criminalizing. For example, a high percentage of convicts in world prisons are due to drug trafficking. If these drugs -even if they are very harmful- were freer, as in Portugal, there would be many less imprisoned. So, if we do not want to take revenge, but rather the delinquent to continue with his life, we must consider that depriving him of his natural liberty is not an auspicious beginning.
* Member of the Advisory Board of the Center on Global Prosperity, Oakland, California