In what is apparently a calculated swipe at the U.S., Russia is calling for Julian Assange to be awarded a Nobel prize. Noting that the secret state department cables made public by Assange's WikiLeaks has proven to be a lot more embarrassing to Washington than to Moscow, Russia is embracing the embattled Assange, the Guardian's Luke Harding reports.
Sure, Russia was described as a "mafia state" in the cables, but it has seized on revelations that NATO made plans in case Russia decided to invade the Baltic states. Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov asked NATO to explain itself, and said his attitude toward the leaks was "philosophical," Harding reports. The country's ambassador to NATO called Assange's arrest "political persecution" and a sign of "no media freedom." Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Assange's legal troubles the West was not living up to its democratic priniples: "As they say in the countryside, some people's cows can moo, but yours should keep quiet. So I would like to shoot the puck back at our American colleagues." And a source from President Dmitry Medvedev's office told the Russian press that Assange should be a Nobel laureate.
- Russia's Having a Lot of Fun, Andy writes at Siberian Light.
Although there were initial worries that Russia would be embarrassed ... no smoking guns have been found that would provide any real evidence of corruption by high level Russian officials, let alone the hoped for revelations that Putin was on the take. Instead, the Russian Government have realised that the US, by taking the whole affair far to seriously, is the party looking stupid, and the Kremlin is contentedly crowing. ... Next thing you know, they'll be offering Assange a seat in the Duma, so that he can claim immunity from prosecution.
- Fallout from the Leaked Cables, Politico's Ben Smith notes. Russia's Nobel swipe offers a "glimpse at the way in which WikiLeaks is wearing on U.S. relationships."
- What Is Russia Up To? Ernie Smith wonders at ShortFormBlog. The country is "offering Wikileaks the kind of head-scratching support that instantly suggests 'ulterior motive.'"
- Russia Loves Dissidents, When It's Not Poisoning Them, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey writes. Apparently, "the Kremlin thinks that Julian Assange is too important for a Time Magazine Person of the Year and needs more substantial recognition for his work--like, say, sharing the stage with Barack Obama with a Nobel Peace Prize." Of course, Morrissey writes, Russia doesn't have a great reputation for freedom of the press--Russian dissident Alexander Litvenenko was murdered with radioactive poison. "So shall we take this paranoia party seriously and think that the Kremlin wants Assange to get a Nobel Prize? Well, [the newspaper that reported the Nobel nomination] is funded mainly by the Russian government, not exactly known for its tolerance of heterodox opinions in the media, so it seems that's the story it would like to circulate. They may want Assange to get it posthumously, however."
- Actually, We Have Lost the Moral High Ground, Mike Masnick writes at Techdirt.
We've pointed out the general hypocrisy of US politicians calling for an end to internet censorship, while threatening Wikileaks at the same time. If you want to see some real irony, check out the fact that Senator Joe Lieberman, who has been the loudest voice in pushing for censorship of Wikileaks and of others in the press, just so happens to be a member of the 'Global Internet Freedom Caucus.' Yeah, except here in the US. ... What's really stunning, beyond just the sheer uselessness and impotence of the US government's response to Wikileaks, is the fact that it's inevitably destroying any moral high ground on claims of freedom and support of free speech we might have once had.