Amanda Marcotte has noted that we should be able to entertain multiple ideas at once. a) Julian Assange does great work fighting government secrecy; b) He is facing some serious allegations of sexual misconduct for which he deserves a fair trial; c) There are reasons to worry that justice has been politicized; d) It's even possible, though as yet unproven, that Assange's enemies somehow contrived to get him charged; e) Even if the charges are politically motivated, it doesn't necessarily mean they are unfounded. Naomi Wolf suggests reasons to believe that the charges are politically motivated (photo from Wikipedia):
As I have been making the case on media outlets in the past few days that the British and Swedish sex crime charges related actions against Julian Assange are so extraordinarily and unprecedentedly severe — compared to how prosecutors always treat far more cut-and-dry allegations than those in question in this case worldwide, including in the Scandinavian countries, and that thus the pretext of using these charges against Assange is a pimping of feminism by the State and an insult to rape victims — I have found myself up against a bizarre fantasy in the minds of my (mostly male) debating opponents.
The fantasy is that somehow this treatment — a global manhunt, solitary confinement in the Victorian cell that drove Oscar Wilde to suicidal despair within a matter of days, and now a bracelet tracking his movements — is not atypical, because somehow Sweden must be a progressively hot-blooded but still progressively post-feminist paradise for sexual norms in which any woman in any context can bring the full force of the law against any man who oversteps any sexual boundary.
Well, I was in Norway in March of this year at a global gathering for women leaders on International Women's Day, and heard extensively from specialists in sex crime and victims' rights in Sweden. So I knew this position taken by the male-dominated US, British and Swedish media was, basically, horsesh-t. But none of the media outlets hyperventilating now about how this global-manhunt/Bourne-identity-chase-scene-level treatment of a sex crime allegation originating in Sweden must be 'normative' has bothered to do any actual reporting of how rape — let alone the far more ambiguous charges of Assange's accusers, which are not charges of rape but of a category called 'sex by surprise,' which has no analog elsewhere — is actually prosecuted in Sweden.
Guess what: Sweden has HIGHER rates of rape than other comparable countries — including higher than the US and Britain, higher than Denmark and Finland — and the same Swedish authorities going after Assange do a worse job prosecuting reported rapes than do police and the judiciary in any comparable country. And these are flat-out, unambiguous reported rape cases, not the 'sex by surprise' Assange charges involving situations that began consensually.
Indeed, the Swedish authorities — who are now being depicted as global feminist sex-crime-avenger superheroes in blue capes — were shamed by a 2008 Amnesty International report, “Case Closed”, as being far more dismissive of rape, and far more insulting to rape victims who can be portrayed as 'asking for it' by drinking or any kind of sexual ambiguity — than any other country in their comparison group.