Julian Assange has become one of the hottest subjects for street art since Che Guevara. Hundreds of images of the web-entrepreneur have appeared in places as diverse as New York, London, Lisbon, Rio de Janerio and Tel Aviv. Although most of the Artists are anonymous It is thought that Shepard Fairey is responsible for a work in the style of the Obama ‘change’ poster. The term Wikiart has been coined to discribe the phenomenon.
Assange is the whistle-blower/founder of the website Wikileaks, which if you’ve been living in a bubble, for the last six months, has published leaked US diplomatic cables, as well as other sensitive material from governments and other high-profile organisations. On attending his first extradition hearing today, Geoffrey Robertson QC, the lawyer defending the Wikileaks founder has stated, that there is a risk of a “flagrant denial of justice, if Julian Assange is tried for rape in Sweden” He fears his client could face the death penalty if extradited to the US on separate charges relating to Wikileaks. Mr Assange, 39, denies claims of sexual assault against the two women. His lawyers also said the European Arrest Warrant for which he has been detained, is invalid because he has not yet been charged in Sweden. This all smells of a spy novel and if the charges, which seem to alter daily, are to be believed, at least one of the women involved has been linked to the CIA. The US administration, which has been embarrassed by leaks relating to its foreign policy, is believed to be looking at ways to extradite Mr Assange to face serious charges of treason in the USA. The Swedish trial, if it ever takes place looks like a set up to turn the public against Assange. It is thought, in view of a successful prosecution in Sweden for a serious sexual crime his support would wane. The current extradition hearing is expected to last two days.
The details, held by Wikileaks of Swiss and off shore bank accounts allegedly used by wealthy Artists, dealers and Collectors are yet to be released. This is expected to blow open the lid on Artists who have squirreled away funds in Swiss tax havens. It wouldn’t surprize us if it included a well-known Britain known for this spin and spots.