Julian Assange: Locked in exile in the Ecuador embassy in the UK since 19 June 2012.
His crime: Still not established as he has not been able to defend any of the charges against him in a neutral court.
Edward Snowden: Now exiled in Russia since 23 June 2013.
His crime: Alleged leaking state secrets and their criminal acts.
Chia Thye Poh: Imprisoned for 23 years without charge or trial under Singapore’s draconian Internal Security Act. (read Let our political exiles come home)
His crime: Conducting pro-Communist activities.
The list goes on. These are happening in countries that are supposed to be defenders of democracy and human rights. Is this a mockery of western ideologies?
Both Assange and Snowden claim they cannot defend their whistle-blowing actions against the criminal acts of the state. Instead of being lauded for their daring deeds in revealing state-sanctioned crimes, they are both incarcerated. Both are fighting the nefarious powers of the state. Their fears are not unfounded. How could anyone fight against the unlimited powers of the state? Would there be real justice? If so then their fears are misplaced.
Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer told journalists on Tuesday, as cited by TASS, that “Edward Snowden is ready to return to the US, but on the condition that he be given guarantees to receive a fair and impartial trial.” Kucherena added, “So what we are being guaranteed is not the fair trial, but that Snowden will not be executed. And it’s done by a prosecutor, who according to the law, is not in any way able to determine a court’s decision.” Lawyers themselves have no confidence in the court of justice!
Based on prima facie evidence, these are patriots caricatured to become monsters, often aided by the mass media which the state controls. Their alleged crime is to expose the misdeeds and corruption of the state, and/or fighting for the rights of the average man. There is no indication of mischief or pecuniary interest being involved.
When the state gets too powerful, it becomes dictatorial. Note that the state is only an institution. In referring to the state, it really points to the people exercising powers of the state, not the state per se. History has frequently unveiled hideous crimes committed by the state and misdeeds against the citizenry that elects them to power. Hence prudence is necessary when challenging the state.
While most people will agree that corruption is the chaperon of politics, it becomes untenable when crimes and corruption are exposed with glaring evidences. It is hard to pretend that they are done for the interest of the public. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Once power is entrenched, the main focus of the state shifts from public service to self preservation of the elected men. That’s when societal decay begins.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.