A New International Scandal In The Making: The Fight For (And Against) Julian Assange's Passport
In a slightly unorthodox note to his readers, "Sovereign Man" Simon Black looks at the next potential escalation in the Julian Assange trainwreck, which may soon become a diplomatic fiasco all on its own, and without the need for leaked cables: it turns out that Australia is now seeking to strip Assange of his passport. However, there courtesy of a recent loophole, Assange has applied for UK citizenship (British mother). Will the UK - America's staunchest supporter, follow through with its laws, and grant the Australian a passport now that even his own nation seeks to betray him? As Black points out: "There are two important lessons in here for all of us: 1. Like Julian Assange, you never know when your own government will stand ready to "sell you out." Prepare accordingly. 2. Though you may have looked at all avenues for obtaining a second citizenship based on your family background and place of birth, it pays to constantly review the laws. Governments are always tinkering with them. Usually this is a bad thing... but as Tim's shining example shows, sometimes it works to your advantage." Lastly, one never knows when the proverbial TSHTF, and as such one should always be aware of all options should living in the US become, shall we say, problematic.
From Simon Black's The Sovereign Man
Date: December 7, 2010
Reporting From: Wellington, New Zealand
Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, is a marked man.
My hat is off to him. As far as I'm concerned, all he's done is publish some information that shines a light under some big rocks and down some very deep crevices, and that is now making quite a lot of politicians squirm.
However, in a perfect illustration of how fraught with danger it is to fight the government, Mr. Assange is now all but screwed. I hope he can find safe passage to a country that will welcome him and not turn him over to one of the dozens of governments around the world which are in bed with Uncle Sam and out for blood.
Unfortunately, this appears unlikely. The latest episode is that the Australian government has publicly stated they looked at REVOKING Mr. Assange's passport, and that they are pursuing all legal angles to nail him.
Furthermore, they admitted the only reason they DIDN'T revoke his passport already was that it would most likely be COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to their efforts to see him arrested and handed over to the authorities.
For one thing, having the passport and trying to cross a border with it would be an immediate red flag which would see Mr. Assange arrested. And, if Mr. Assange doesn't have a valid passport, there are apparently also legal questions surrounding the effectiveness of an international warrant for his arrest.
Whatever the arguments for and against revoking his passport, the very notion that the Australian government has been contemplating this sort of action made me physically ill, and sent alarm bells off in my head.
Australia's laws are quite clear. An Australian citizen by birth CANNOT have his or her citizenship revoked. Perhaps the government can revoke an Australian's PASSPORT. But, that person's rights as a citizen, according to the law, cannot be stripped from them.
Naturalized Australian citizens, on the other hand, can have their citizenship revoked if the government can prove that you were guilty of a serious crime prior to becoming a citizen, or that it would not be in the public interest for you to remain a citizen.
I was alerted to this information by one of my business partners and dear friend Tim. As one of the sharpest investors I know, you'll definitely be hearing from him more soon... but for now, I should tell you that Tim is a naturalized Australian citizen with a British mother.
Needless to say, when Tim came upon this information after doing a little digging into the facts surrounding the Wikileaks saga, he immediately began double-checking his own options for a second citizenship. And that's where today's story gets positive...
For many years, Tim had been of the understanding that, although his mother is British, he was ineligible for a British passport. Why? Because until 1983, the law was sexist, and if you were born outside of the British Isles before that date, the only way you could become a citizen of the United Kingdom by descent was if your FATHER was British.
Happily for Tim, as he got busy online this weekend looking for an "escape hatch" from the Australian government's control over his naturalized citizenship destiny, he discovered that the UK wisely changed the law just over one year ago, in October 2009.
After this latest change to the law, for someone like Tim born to a mother who is British by birth, and who would have obtained the "right of abode" in the UK when the law was last changed in 1983, obtaining British citizenship is a simple matter of filling out and submitting a form, passing a background check, and attending a citizenship ceremony.
As soon as he found this out, Tim printed off a copy of the form and filled it out. Tomorrow morning when the local British embassy opens, he'll be on the phone to them to initiate the next step in the process.
There are two important lessons in here for all of us:
1. Like Julian Assange, you never know when your own government will stand ready to "sell you out." Prepare accordingly.
2. Though you may have looked at all avenues for obtaining a second citizenship based on your family background and place of birth, it pays to constantly review the laws. Governments are always tinkering with them. Usually this is a bad thing... but as Tim's shining example shows, sometimes it works to your advantage.
Do yourself a favor. As soon as you finish reading this, check your own options one more time. And then, keep doing so every 6 or 12 months. You just never know when you might strike gold...