Chiefly for my own benefit…
On August 20, 2010 two women, Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilén, attended the Klara police station in Stockholm where they were interviewed by Swedish police. Their statements form the basis of possible charges of rape and sexual assault against Julian Assange. He himself was interviewed by Swedish police on August 30, 2010. This is the only interview with Swedish police he has undertaken.
In his interview, Assange was questioned only inre Ardin’s account. Of this interview, a translation of the police record reads: “Assange did between 13-14 August 2010 at Anna Ardin’s house in Tjubergsgatan in Stockholm molest Anna Ardin by during intercourse initiated and implemented on the express condition that a condom be used intentionally destroyed the condom and continued intercourse until he ejaculated in her vagina”.
Note that Ardin’s interview is actually a summary by police of a phone conversation, later read back to and approved by her. The interview with the second woman, Sofia Wilén, was not read back to her nor did she approve its contents. At the conclusion of their interview the police interviewer/interrogator writes:
Sofia and I were notified during the interrogation that Julian Assange had been arrested in absentia. Sofia had difficulty concentrating after that news, whereby I made the judgement it was best to terminate the interrogation. But Sofia had time anyway to explain that Assange was angry with her. I didn’t have time to get any further details about why he was angry with her or how this manifested itself. And we didn’t have time to get into what else happened afterwards. The interrogation was neither read back to Sofia nor reviewed for approval by her but Sofia was told she had the opportunity to do this later.
I’m unsure if Wilén did this.
The transcripts of all three interviews — as well as those undertaken by police with a number of relevant others (the police brief provided to Assange’s lawyers) — were leaked by persons unknown and published online in February 2011; an account of the allegations was published by The Guardian in December 2010 (10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange, Nick Davies, December 17, 2010).
Between now and then a lot has happened. On May 30, 2012, the British Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Assange against a European Arrest Warrant issued by Swedish authorities for his extradition from the UK to Sweden to be further questioned over the allegations raised by the two women (Press Summary, PDF). See also : Sex, Lies and Julian Assange, 4 Corners (ABC), July 24, 2012.
Currently, Assange is seeking a guarantee from Swedish authorities that if he agrees to go to Sweden for further questioning he will not be extradited to the United States to face possible charges; most likely, charges derived from the Espionage Act 1917 and related to his involvement in Wikileaks. (See : Phillip Dorling: Revealed: US plans to charge Assange The Sydney Morning Herald, February 29, 2012 | Are Assange’s fears justified?, The Age, June 23, 2012.)
It appears possible for Swedish authorities to give this guarantee but the possibility of their doing so also appears to rest with the British Home Secretary, Theresa May. According to The Guardian‘s legal expert Joshua Rozenberg:
Julian Assange’s decision to seek [and receive] political asylum in Ecuador shows how desperate he must feel.
We may infer from it that he sees little chance that the European court of human rights would even ask the UK to delay sending him to Sweden, let alone declare that he would face a breach of his human rights in a state bound by the human rights convention.
That should come as little surprise. The Strasbourg court has regularly made it clear that it will issue what are called interim measures under rule 39 only if “the applicant faces a real risk of serious, irreversible harm”.
Assange apparently fears that Sweden would send him to the United States. He is said to believe he might face a trial there for espionage, although the US has made no announcement to this effect.
Sweden is seeking Assange’s extradition from the UK in connection with alleged offences of sexual molestation and rape.
If it turned out that this was simply a pretext for handing him over to the Americans, Sweden would risk breaching article 28 of the EU framework decision that forms the basis of the European Arrest Warrant.
The Home Secretary’s consent would be required under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003 before Sweden could order Assange’s extradition to a third state.
That said, Assange can be less sure about what would happen to him after all legal proceedings in Sweden are concluded. But even if the Americans ask for his extradition at that stage, Sweden would not agree to extradite him unless the US undertook that he would not face the death penalty on conviction…
It is for the Ecuadorians to decide whether they want to annoy the UK, the EU and, no doubt, the US by offering Assange asylum.
But to do so might be something of an empty gesture. The police will not enter a foreign embassy to make an arrest. But short of giving Assange Ecuadorian diplomatic status or hiding him in a rather large diplomatic bag, there seems no way in which he can get to Heathrow, let alone Ecuador, without being arrested for breach of his bail conditions.
Having been granted political asylum by the Ecuadorean Government, the situation appears to have reached a stalemate.
• The evidence regarding the US state’s intention to prosecute Assange is circumstantial but seemingly robust. That is, it seems fairly certain that they do. Or would very much like to… If these charges, should they eventuate, entail something less or other than the death penalty upon conviction, it would also seem possible that Swedish authorities could agree to an extradition request by US authorities upon the conclusion of legal proceedings in Sweden.
• Swedish authorities claim Assange must go to Sweden to be interviewed by a prosecutor (Assange has offered to be interviewed by them within the UK) as only an interview conducted in Sweden makes it possible for charges to be laid against him… I think. Actually, I can’t find the source for this claim. It’s disputed by legal expert Sven Erik-Alhem who reckons that the prosecutor’s refusal to interview Assange in the UK is “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate” — and presumably also unnecessary for charges to be laid.
See also : Could the US extradite Assange?, Edinburgh Eye, August 17, 2012.
As for the Australian Government’s response, it’s been to mount The Fat Tony Defence.
Fat Tony: Chief Wiggum! You honor us with your presence.
Chief Wiggum: Baloney! I’m not going to rest until one of us is behind bars. You! You wouldn’t happen to know anything about a cigarette truck that got hijacked on Route 401?
Fat Tony: What’s a truck?
Chief Wiggum: Don’t play dumb with me!