Julian Assange: From Jason Bourne to L Ron Hubbard

Jemima Khan supporting Julian Assange outside a London court in 2010. Photo Reuters: Paul Hackett

Jemima Khan supporting Julian Assange outside a London court in 2010. Photo Reuters: Paul Hackett

Jemima Khan has launched a blistering attack on Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder turned Ecuadorian Embassy stowaway, warning him that he risks going from Jason Bourne to L. Ron Hubbard.

The British heiress and former wife of cricket superstar turned Pakistani politician Imran Khan, has been a high-profile supporter of Mr Assange and was one of the people who put up £20,000 ($30,000) to ensure his bail.

She has lost that money now that he has jumped bail and is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in order to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

Writing in The New Statesman, Ms Khan characterises her journey with Mr Assange as having gone from admiration to demoralisation.

She writes that she wanted to stand up for free speech, but she says Mr Assange has let his rock star status go to his head.

“I don’t regret putting up bail money for Assange but I did it so that he would be released while awaiting trial, not so that he could avoid answering to the allegations,” she says.

“I have seen flashes of Assange’s charm, brilliance and insightfulness – but I have also seen how instantaneous rock-star status has the power to make even the most clear-headed idealist feel that they are above the law and exempt from criticism.”

She says WikiLeaks has been guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose.

But she says should the US try Mr Assange for espionage, even his most disenchanted former supporters will take to the barricades in his defence.

“We all want a hero,” she concludes.

“After WikiLeaks released the infamous Collateral Murder video in 2010, showing US troops gunning down a dozen civilians in Iraq, I jokingly asked if Assange was the new Jason Bourne, on the run and persecuted by the state.

“It would be a tragedy if a man who has done so much good were to end up tolerating only disciples and unwavering devotion, more like an Australian L Ron Hubbard.”

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