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!
Expert report http://www.scribd.com/doc/48396086/Assange-Case-Opionion-Sven-Erik-Alhem dated January 28; Magistrates’ Court decision http://www.scribd.com/doc/49483435/Julian-Assange-can-be-extradited-to-Sweden-UK-Court-opinion dated February 24, 2011.
Owen Jones: There should be no immunity for Julian Assange from these allegations
August 17, 2012
People who do otherwise commendable work are capable of rape and other crimes. If presented with rape allegations, they must face them like anybody else, however otherwise worthy their past contributions. Now, these statements should be so self-evidently obvious, it is ludicrous that they need to be said. But the furore over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sadly makes it necessary. Although now granted political asylum by Ecuador, Assange is a rape suspect who skipped bail. Yet some of his supporters have ended up making arguments that they would never dream of making about anybody else.
For the avoidance of doubt, I’m a strong supporter of WikiLeaks, an organisation that has exposed some of the dark crevices of Western power. Great Powers have always dominated other peoples without their consent, but high levels of secrecy are needed to maintain acquiescence from their own citizens. The leaking of 400,000 documents about the Iraq war in October 2010, for example, exposed widespread torture and the deaths of thousands of civilians.
That Western governments preferably want WikiLeaks crushed is indisputable. Former US soldier Bradley Manning languished in solitary confinement for 11 months on suspicion of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks, leading to the UN’s special rapporteur on torture to accuse the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. A US grand jury is currently examining evidence that might link Assange to Manning, though it is yet to report. Fears that Assange could end up extradited to the US – and what might happen to him there – are not without foundation.
But that does not mean Assange should be immune from very serious allegations in Sweden. Two women have both accused Assange of rape, and there have been repeated attempts by some of his supporters to discredit them. There have been suggestions that they are part of some kind of CIA honeytrap. The campaigning journalist John Pilger has described them as “concocted charges”. But Assange’s own lawyer, Ben Emmerson, does not dispute the sincerity of the accusers, arguing in court: “Nothing I say should be taken as denigrating the complainant, the genuineness of their feelings of regret, to trivialise their experience or to challenge whether they felt Assange’s conduct was disrespectful, discourteous, disturbing or even pushing at the boundaries of what they felt comfortable with.”
But what has been particularly disturbing is the attempt by some supporters of Assange to claim that the allegations do not constitute rape. It is reminiscent of the campaign mounted by certain celebrities in defence of Roman Polanski, who was finally held in 2009 after fleeing arrest in the US more than 30 years previously over the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl. We’ve heard this perverse argument that some rapes aren’t really rape in Britain, too. Last year, Ken Clarke tried to distinguish between “date rape” and what he described as “serious rape with violence and an unwilling woman”.
Let’s be clear: rape is rape. Rape is having sex with someone without their consent. And Assange is clearly accused of rape. The allegation of one woman is that Assange had sex with her while she slept, without a condom. Assange’s legal team claims that, while she immediately asked if he was wearing a condom and he answered not, she consented to continuing the encounter. But both women allegedly made their consent to sex contingent on Assange’s use of a condom: unsurprisingly, given the huge potential risk to their health if he did not.
Assange’s lawyer described the allegations of the other woman in graphic detail in court. As he tried to penetrate her without a condom, she alleges, she repeatedly attempted to avoid penetration: her claim is that she tried “several times to reach for a condom which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and try to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom”.*
Many of his supporters argued that this would not constitute rape according to English law, which is simply untrue. Our High Court ruled that: “It is clear that the allegation is that he had sexual intercourse with her when she was not in a position to consent and so he could not have had any reasonable belief that she did.”
Again, his supporters query why Sweden has not charged Assange. But that is not how the Swedish legal system works. Defendants are not charged until very late into proceedings, and just before prosecution. He cannot be charged until he is arrested, which can only take place in Sweden. The country is a democracy with an independent legal system, and it is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights. But Assange’s supporters argue that, if he is sent to Sweden to face his allegations, he will be extradited to the US. This is particularly puzzling. As leading QC Francis FitzGibbon has pointed out, under Section 58 of Britain’s Extradition Act, Sweden would have to gain the consent of the British Home Secretary first. As signatories of the ECHR, neither country can extradite a suspect to a country where they will face the death penalty or “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
In any case, why not simply extradite him from Britain? As the American Civil Liberties Union points out, our extradition treaty with the US is “lopsided”, because a suspect can be deported if “probable cause” is established, which is not the case the other way round. As a result, the organisation says, UK residents are at risk of “ill-founded” extradition requests to the US. That’s why Gary McKinnon, an autistic Scotsman wanted over claims of hacking, and Richard O’Dwyer, a 24-year-old wanted for alleged copyright infringement, face extradition. Christopher Tappin, a 47-year-old businessman accused of selling batteries to Iran that could be used to manufacture missiles, has already been extradited.
As legal expert David Allen Green put it to me: “The USA’s best opportunity to extradite Assange is actually whilst he remains in the United Kingdom, a country very ready to grant extradition requests.”
Ecuador’s government has a great record of challenging the disastrous record of Western neo-liberalism, but its Foreign Secretary is wrong to describe the charges as “laughable” and “hilarious”. Though its UK Embassy must be protected from any British Government attempt to attack its sovereignty, it is wrong to offer Assange political asylum. Assange should go to Sweden to face the allegations. That doesn’t mean abandoning the struggle to hold Western governments to account, and to force them to be open about how they act in our name. But this is a struggle that has become tragically compromised by Assange.
*”…Then they lay in the bed. A was on her back and Assange was on top of her. A thought Assange wanted to immediately put his penis in her vagina which she didn’t want as he didn’t have a condom on. So she tried to twist her hips to the side and squeeze her legs together to prevent a penetration. A tried several times to reach for a condom which Assange stopped her from doing by holding her arms and prying open her legs and trying nevertheless to penetrate her with his penis without a condom. A says that in the end she was ready to cry because she was pinned and couldn’t reach a condom and thought ‘this might not end well’. In answer to a question A says Assange must have known she was trying to reach for a condom and he was holding her arms to stop her.
Assange asked after a while what A was doing and why she was squeezing her legs together. A then told him she wanted him to put on a condom before he entered her. Assange released her arms and put on the condom A got for him. A felt a huge unexpressed reluctance from Assange to using a condom which led to her getting the feeling he didn’t put on the condom she’d given him. She therefore reached down with her hand to Assange’s penis to check if he’d really put the condom on. She could feel that the edge of the condom was where it should be at the root of Assange’s penis. A and Assange resumed having sex and A says she thought ‘hope it’s over soon’.
A notices after a while that Assange withdraws from her to fix the condom. Judging from the sound, it sounded to A like Assange took the condom off. He entered her again and continued the act. A again checked his penis with her hand and again felt the edge of the condom where it should be and so let the sex continue.
After a while Assange ejaculates inside her and thereafter withdraws. A saw that the condom didn’t have semen in it when Assange took it off. When A began moving her body she noticed how things were running out of her vagina. A understood rather quickly that it must be Assange’s semen. She pointed this out for Assange but he denied this and told her it was she who was wet with her own juices. A is convinced that Assange, when he withdrew from her the first time, deliberately broken the condom at the tip and thereafter continued the sex with the resulting ejaculation. In answer to a question A says she didn’t look closer at the condom, if it was broken as she thought, but she says she thinks she still has the condom at home and will look at it. She says that even the bed sheets used on that occasion are most likely still in her hamper…”
The complainants Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilén consented to sexual intercourse, which they did not take the initiative to stop: they never expressed non-consent and afterwards declared to not have felt threatened by Julian Assange. Indeed, Anna Ardin continued to see Julian Assange for four days after the alleged offence, she allowed him to continue to stay at her flat and she also engaged in further consensual sex with him. There are the photos of her smiling with Julian Assange during a dinner engagement with members of the Swedish Pirate Party two nights after the night in question.
Anna Ardin also created and then deleted evidence (tweets) indicating that she was enjoying Julian Assange’s company at a crayfish party she had arranged at her house to honour him the night after: “Sitting outside … nearly freezing, with the world’s coolest people. It’s pretty amazing!” And she deleted a blog posting detailing how to get revenge on unfaithful lovers. Anna Ardin even suggested one of her friends (Witness C) should also be intimate with Julian Assange: “Anna told her she already had done it (sex with Julian Assange) but Anna said it was the worst screw she’d ever had. Anna also told C that C could move in and take Julian if she wanted”.
The two complainants stated that they only went to the police to force Julian Assange to get a HIV test, by which time they could have just had themselves tested. Indeed Sofia Wilén had already visited a sex crimes clinic at Söder Hospital earlier the same day, where she was tested with a rape kit and received preventive medicine against HIV.
This initial complaint was escalated by the officer and friend of Anna Ardin, Irmeli Krans, to allegations of sexual molestation (both are SDP candidates for the Stockholm City Council in an election for which the campaign was currently in progress). Based on that limited information, prosecutor Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand issues a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange on suspicion of raping Sofia Wilén and molesting Anna Ardin. News of the warrant is immediately leaked by the police to the tabloid Expressen. Neither woman has been consulted about the warrant; the decision is made on their behalf by the prosecutor. The warrant is issued at 17:00, with the interview only half complete.
Irmeli Krans stated: “After being told about the arrest warrant, Sofia had difficulty concentrating on the interview. I therefore made the judgement that it would be best to break off the interview. It has not been read to or by her for approval.” As far as is known, Sofia Wilén has never approved officer Krans’s account of the interview, which is the principal basis of the most serious accusation against Julian Assange.
Her friend Marie Thorn told the police that “what happened after Sofia went to the hospital and the police was not what she wanted. The only thing she wanted was for Julian to be tested. She felt that she had been run over by the police and by others around her.”
The interviews of Julian Assange and the journalists Donald Boström and Johannes Wahlström were recorded and transcribed, the other nine testimonies taken were not recorded and were ‘narrative’ testimonies written by the interviewing officer after the interviews. Anna Ardin gave her statement by telephone the next day. She then went to a tabloid newspaper. Within days the police had leaked Anna Ardin’s and Sofia Wilén’s statements to the newspapers. When Julian Assange is eventually found for questioning his statement is also leaked.
In both emails and SMS messages provided to defence attorney Björn Hurtig, Sofia Wilén admitted that she was ‘half-asleep’, rather than ‘asleep’, and that she consented. Her ‘narrative’ testimony states: “You’d better not have HIV” and he said: “Of course not,” but “she couldn’t be bothered to tell him one more time because she had been going on about the condom all night. She had never had unprotected sex before”.
Anna Ardin alleged: “He pressed down on me”, “he held my arm in an attempt to stop me from reaching for a condom”. Finally the condom was in use, however Julian Assange must have “deliberately torn” it, they continued to have sex, and afterwards Anna Ardin did not see if the condom was broken or not. A condom was submitted as evidence by complainant Anna Ardin 12 days after the alleged incident, it contained absolutely no chromosomal DNA from either the complainant or Julian Assange.
The arrest warrant was cancelled on 21.08.2010 by Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne, and the investigation was downgraded to only cover one of the lesser allegations. Finne said in a statement to the press: “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” The warrant was subsequently re-issued on 01.08.2010 by another Chief Prosecutor, Marianne Ny, who considered that the allegations could be classed as rape after all.
At the extradition hearing 07.02.11 City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the mismatches and exaggerations between the European arrest warrant (EAW) and the original accusers’ statements to the Swedish police were revealed. In particular the original police reports showed – contrary to the EAW – absence of alleged rape, absence of alleged force or injury, admission in both cases of consensual sex on the same occasions as the allegations, and splitting of a condom used with plaintiff 1 rather than failure to use one. Text messages exchanged between complainants and their friends completely contradict the factual allegations in the EAW issued for Julian Assange and cast immense doubt on the allegations.
Claes Borgström, the Swedish MP who had the case re-opened once it was learnt that Julian Assange was the subject of the dismissed complaint, became the lawyer for Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilén. Thomas Bodström, the Swedish Justice minister responsible for the CIA renditions of Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery (two Egyptians citizens seeking asylum in Sweden), and Claes Borgström are business partners in a law firm. Claes Bodström is a friend of Irmeli Krans, Krans has political ties to the Social Democrat Party.
Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny refused to provide Julian Assange or his lawyers with information on the allegations against him in writing. This violates the Swedish Code of Procedure (RB 23:18.) and the European Convention of Human Rights (article 5) and the EU Fundamental Charter on Human Rights. The prosecution also refused all voluntary offers for cooperation that fit under the Mutual Legal Assistance Protocol, such as making use of alternative methods to interview Julian Assange.
Both the EAW and the Interpol red-notice were issued for Julian Assange by Sweden just before Wikileaks began to publish Cablegate.
In the meantime…
Don’t Call Me A Rape Apologist
August 29, 2012