Wikileaks rebel Julian Assange provokes anger with lecture at Cambridge University… while he’s still holed up in embassy
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has sparked anger among students after plans to appear in a Q&A session at Cambridge University via video link from the safety of the Ecuadorian embassy.
Mr Assange is to speak on a topic yet to be revealed followed by a question and answer session. It will be his first public talk since seeking political asylum. He will be answering questions from Cambridge Union members on November 27.
Mr Assange last visited to the university in March 2011 after a long streak of silence, and less a month after the ruling that he should be extradited to Sweden.
He is seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Union President Austin Mahler said: “The Union exists to provide a neutral forum for free speech, where members can explore ideas and pose challenging questions to some of the world’s most prominent figures.
“Hosting a speaker does not imply endorsement or disapproval on the part of the Society.
“We invite people to speak at the Union regardless of their ideology or background.”
But the announcement has caused controversy throughout the university with CUSU Women’s Campaign announcing they will protest against Mr Assange’s invite.
Dozens of comments were posted on university’s independent news website The Tab, expressing disgust at the invitation.
One web user wrote under a post titled Anon: “When he spoke last time I was ashamed that the Union gave him such a long standing ovation.
“Thankfully by now people have caught up with what a narcissistic hypocrite he is. Everyone except the new Union committee it seems.”
Another post read: “I am ashamed to be at a university associated with this.
“Assange needs to stand trail for his [alleged] crimes (and if you ignore the rape charges even wikileaks were crimes – endangering the lives of others).
“And more to the point Assange needs to grow up and stop costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds to play hide and seek with the authorities.”
The most shocking post questioned whether the union would stoop so low as to invite Jimmy Saville if he were still alive.
Feminist man wrote: “Would the Union be happy to invite him if he’d jumped out of a bush and raped someone on the street?
“Would they have invited Jimmy Saville?
“If the answer’s no then this is blatantly shameful male under-recognition of the seriousness of rape on the part of the all-male-bar-one Union committee.”
However, other students reacted more favourable and argued Assange should be allowed to speak at Cambridge.
An internet user called Annoyed women posted on The Tab website: “Crimes? Have any of you who are crapping on about his crimes even read a word about the allegations?
“Clearly not, or you would know they were trumped up charges prolonged on behalf of the U.S. government- Are you just more pr-American sycophants?”
Emily Butlin wrote: “Once again the queues to get in will prove the point. People will always be interested to hear what the revolutionary Julian Assange has to say on important and controversial matters of our time.”
Controversy engulfed the Union Society earlier this year when Dominique Strauss Kahn visited the University in March, sparked angry protests and leading to arrests.
Protestors objected to the former head of the IMF being given a platform from which to speak because he stood accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York.
French economist and politician Strauss Kahn has since filed a counter-claim against the private law suit issued by his alleged victim.