Mass surveillance and sexual violence: Assange and Snowden
Mass surveillance and sexual violence: The
difference between Snowden and Assange by Fightback Admin
16 September 2014
Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden:
whistleblowers persecuted for exposing imperialist
Last night’s ‘Moment of Truth’ event in Auckland, called together by Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom, revealed the extent of mass surveillance in Aotearoa/NZ. Our government, in complicity with a transnational regime headed by the US, collects extensive personal data through information technology. As seen in the 2007 Urewera Raids, governments will use this information to justify attacks on ordinary people.
The ‘Moment of Truth’ event brought Dotcom together with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, Wikileaks founding member Julian Assange, and journalist Glen Greenwald.
Although Snowden, Dotcom and Assange are all sought by authorities, the nature of the charges are different. Copyright and espionage laws are largely designed to help governments and corporations protect their power; sexual violence, in the case of Assange, is itself an abuse of power.
We can walk and chew gum, opposing both surveillance and sexual violence. Fightback supports exposing mass surveillance, however we argue it is not necessary to give a platform to Julian Assange. These cases need to be distinguished.
Snowden is a whistle-blower, known for leaking classified information from the US National Security Agency (NSA). He is sought by the US government for espionage and theft of government property, currently residing in Russia.
For socialists, the real crime is not Snowden’s betrayal of his imperialist masters, but the international system of violence and surveillance he helped expose. Betraying this system is a necessary, even heroic act.
At the ‘Moment of Truth’ event, Snowden revealed that the NSA has bases in Auckland and Northland. Progressives in Aotearoa/NZ welcome Snowden (and journalist Glenn Greenwald) in helping us expose the complicity of our government in imperialist abuses.
Kim Dotcom is a German-Finnish resident of Aotearoa/NZ, the founder of file-sharing business Megaupload. In early 2012, Dotcom was arrested for copyright infringement at the behest of the US government.
Dotcom describes this experience of state repression as a politicising event. In opposition to imperialist agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the Five Eyes agreement, Dotcom found unity with social democratic and radical indigenous forces, forging the basis of the Internet Mana electoral alliance.
Dotcom is no
angel. He’s a profiteer, (although Internet Mana’s
policy process has led to Dotcom advocating taxes on the
rich) and was accurately described by Internet Party gender
spokesperson Pani Farvid as a “product of sexist
As phrased by Jacobin Magazine’s Gavin Mueller, “it’s so easy to hate Kim Dotcom that you almost forget that the US convinced the New Zealand government to send in an assault brigade, bereft of a valid warrant but outfitted with automatic weapons and helicopters, to arrest a Finnish citizen at the demand of Hollywood studios.”
Progressives in Internet Mana unite with Dotcom around shared demands, particularly opposing corporate copyright laws and transnational state repression.
Assange is a founding member of Wikileaks, an organisation whose leaking of state secrets have helped in exposing international imperialist abuses. He is also sought for questioning related to charges of sexual violence.
Some accuse the women involved of being CIA ‘honey traps,’ or the authorities of manufacturing charges.
However, the facts of the case are well-established, admitted by both Assange and his legal defence. Assange had sex with a woman while she was sleeping, and had sex without a condom when requested to wear a condom. These are violations of consent.
We don’t have to trust the state to believe women’s testimony of being assaulted.
Assange should not be given a platform at progressive events. This discredits the movement against neoliberalism and mass surveillance.