For those who don't follow world events or see controversial movies, rendition is when a terrorist suspect is kidnapped and sent to a country that doesn't observe the international rules of law.
In the most outrageous examples the suspect is sent to his native country, a place like Egypt for example. That could be a problem in the case of Julian Assange because he is an Australian native.
Here is how it would work. Assange is extradited to Sweden on dubious rape and sexual molestation charges. The latest reports indicate the charges are based on a claim he had consensual sex but didn't use a condom, in some versions it broke.
In the case of Sweden, the United Nations has already ruled it guilty of sending an asylum seeker to Egypt, where he was tortured on suspicion of being a terrorist.
Once Assange is in Sweden he could be extradited to the U.S., where there are hundreds of loud-mouthed parlor assassins who would like to put a bullet in his head. Some of them are in the U.S. government.
Assange's British lawyer says he has agreed to meet with police in the United Kingdom. In some cases the British government has delayed findings in controversial extradition cases for years. That would take considerable courage in this case.
Meanwhile, pressure from the United States, France and some other countries has resulted in Web servers shutting down access to Wikileaks. Two companies, including PayPal have refused to be used as an donation conduit. Amazon provided space on its servers for a brief period but then cut it off.
In the most outrageous politicization of the Internet by a Western democracy in the nearly three decades the Web has been a worldwide institution, a non-profit U.S. group that is supposed to be independent of the government, Wikileaks was denied the domain name .org. That designation is used by non-profit groups and is one of the most widely used in the world.
Now Switzerland has shut down a postal money account Wikileaks was using, although it had a pitiful $31,000 by Swiss standards. Australia may have topped that by shutting down the post office where Wikileaks had a P.O. Box.
Though it is difficult to tie presidents Obama and Sarkozy to these actions, a large portion of Web world takes it for granted. They are not sitting on their hands.
Internet users and hackers all over the world are standing up for Assange and his army of shadows. Dissidents and revolutionaries throughout history have found ways to get their message out, and without anything nearly as powerful as the Web. The days of the drop box and Smiley's People are long gone.
Hundreds of mirror sites of Wikileaks have already been set up. And then there are journalism sites that even Obama wouldn't try to shut down.
Given that the Pentagon and State Department describe Assange as a cyberhacker every change they get do they really think he and his hackers wouldn't be able to hack their way into an independent site and dump their data? There might even be Web sites that accidentally forget to close their doors.
In the case of Britain, because people are still angry about its decision to buy into President Bush's Iraq war despite serious questions about its validity, collaborating with the U.S. again could cause its government serious problems.
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