The Allegations Against Assange: Views from Sweden

Most Swedes want the Wikileaks founder to respond to their country's legal inquiries but a vocal few feel Sweden's definitions of rape have gotten too stringent

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Thomas Campean / London News Pictures / ZUMA PRESS

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaking from a balcony at The Ecuador Embassy in London, Aug. 19, 2012.

In a trendy suburb of central Stockholm, young hipsters with thick framed spectacles point to the apartment where Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, allegedly spent an ill-fated week in August 2010. It is the home of one of the women at the center of a diplomatic scandal taking in the unlikely international triumvirate of Britain, Ecuador and Sweden. It is one of the worst kept secrets in Stockholm.

During a speaking trip to the city, Assange  allegedly had a dalliance with the woman — a Wikileaks fan, eager for the rockstar journalist to stay in her apartment during his spell in her country. According to extradition papers filed with British courts, Assange had sex with her in her home, then reportedly went on to have sex with a second woman a few days later. Between them, the pair have accused him of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation, and rape.

(MORE: Defending Assange, Ecuador’s President Kindles a Controversy Over Defining Rape)

With established Swedish media reserve, the women have not been named, though everyone in this Stockholm suburb knows the woman from up the street, and are keen that justice be done. For the residents and commentariat of Stockholm — as natural a Wikileaks hinterland as anywhere in the world — that means making sure Assange comes back to Sweden to be questioned by prosecutors about his alleged offenses.

Assange has publicly said that his appearance in Sweden would precipitate  extradition to the U.S. on charges relating to his publication of leaked cables, to face life imprisonment or even the death penalty. He has accepted political asylum from Ecuador and is now holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

For prickly Swedes, the notion of having to seek such protection from political persecution in Sweden, is like avoiding sharks by jumping in the sea. “It’s totally unacceptable,” says Frank Belfrage, Swedish deputy foreign Minister. The case is about the sexual offenses alleged in Sweden, nothing to do with the U.S., which has anyway not issued any extradition request, he says.

“This case has nothing to do with Wikileaks. It is about two women,” emphasizes Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer representing the pair. Assange’s Ecuadorean adventure is an “absurd abuse” of the asylum system, which piles insult onto the “tragedy” which has been their life for the last two years, he says. The pair have been the subject of innuendo and abuse from Assange supporters and apologists who accuse the women of being part of a U.S.-set-up or of inflating an innocent encounter into non-existent abuse.

(MORE: Assange’s Special Asylum: Why Ecuador Isn’t Nice to Anyone Else)

Swedes are keen not to pre-judge the case, but the affair has forced the country to take a look again at its laws on sexual offenses — particularly rape. According to the European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics, Sweden has 53 rapes per 100,000 population — easily the highest number of reported rapes anywhere in Europe. The statistics paint less a picture of predatory Swedish men, and more one of female empowerment and destigmatisatisation of victimhood.

The number of convictions trebled after 2005, when the government widened the threshold for a sexual offense to be considered rape, by lowering the amount of coercion which needs to be involved. Wherever the accusations against Assange fall within the spectrum, Swedish authorities are still unconvinced that the laws are tight enough, and are discussing an amendment which would lower the threshold again. Veteran feminist journalist, Helene Bergman, says the proposals are madness. “Already since 2005, it has been far too easy in Sweden for something to be considered rape,” she says.

Assange’s lawyer Per Samuelsson agrees with the need to think again about Swedish statutes. But he says his client has not committed any sexual offenses even within the range of the laws as they stand. “He has no fear of facing questions about two women,” says Samuelsson, and would happily face an interrogation from the prosecutor, Marianne Ny, provided she came to do it in London.

(MORE: The Gunboat Diplomacy Trap: How Ecuador Used Assange to School the Brits)

“It would not be unusual for a prosecutor to travel overseas,” says Bergman “They do it for offenses all the way up to murder.” In an article co-written with fellow journalist, Anders Carlstrom, for Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter,  Bergman broke ranks with the vast majority of the Swedish media to claim Ny was sullying the whole Swedish judicial process with her refusal to conduct her interviews in London — accusing the prosecutor of orchestrating a witch hunt against the Wikileaks boss.

Ny has thus far remained unmoved, with officials inside the prosecutors’ office asking how they could have any faith that Assange would return to Sweden if the questions ended up producing an indictment.

Samuelsson says the Wikileaks boss would be on the next plane back to Sweden if he had watertight assurances he would not then be extradited to the U.S.: Assange’s legal team will wait for a guarantee from the Swedish government before deciding whether or not to head to Stockholm for questioning, he says.

To Swedes, that demand looks rather a lot like Sweden, the country, being pushed around by Julian Assange, the journalist. And anyway, says Belfarge, the government is in no position to offer assurances, which — in the hypothetical scenario of a U.S. extradition request — would be in the hands of the courts, anyway.

With the threat receding of Britain breaking diplomatic ties with the Ecuadorean government and storming the embassy, but still committed to arresting the Australian and deporting him to Sweden as soon as he tries to leave, the farcical impasse shows no sign of easing. Assange might as well make himself comfortable. “Yes,”says Samuelsson. “He’ll stay as long as he has to.”

MORE: WikiLeaks Creates Elaborate New York Times Hoax, Fooling Readers
MORE: WikiLeaks To Release Millions of ‘Syria Files’

90 comments
ArneAndersson
ArneAndersson

Quote from Anna (former girlfriend of Julian)


One reason for revenge  I have thought a lot of revenge in recent days and came across a very good site that inspired this seven-point vengeance instruction in Swedish.  


Step 1  Think very carefully if you really must get revenge. It is almost always better to forgive than to revenge


Step 2  Think about why you should be revenge. You do not need to just be clear about who to take revenge on, but also why. Revenge should never be directed at just one person, but also meet a certain action.  


Step 3  The principle of proportionality. Remember that revenge will not only match the deed in size but also in nature. A good revenge is connected to the made against you. For example, you want revenge on someone who cheated or who dumped you, so the penalty should have something with dating / sex / fidelity to do.  


Step 4  Do a brainstorm about appropriate measures for the category of revenge you're after. To continue the example above, you can Paja your victim's current relationship, fix so that his new partner is cheating or ensure that he receives a maniac behind. Use your imagination!  


Step 5  Figure out how you can get revenge systematically. Perhaps a series of letters and photos that may be new to believe that you have seen more than just a big lie on a single occasion?  


Step 6  Rank your systematic revenge schedules from low to high in terms of likely successful implementation, required input from you and the degree of satisfaction if you succeed. The ideal, of course, revenge is as high as possible in these bars, but can often be an increased effort by labor and capital provide safer output for the other two, really important parameters.  


Step 7  Screed to work. And remember what your goal is, while you are operating, ensure that your victim will suffer in the same way he made you suffer.

Erik
Erik

Why would the risk of extradition be larger in Sweden than the U.K?

That is completely unlogical.

Omniogignes
Omniogignes

Assange has been given four consecutive legal defeats. Now some want the winner of those cases to succumb to that loser's, Julian Assanges, demands. If he had any sway he would not be hiding behind Correa.

Ickenaiv
Ickenaiv

This is an absurd case but the figures about rape-statistics are facts. Blonde swedish women live dangerously nowadays in Sweden due to massimmigration from the MENA region, Somali and Afghanistan. 70% or so of all rapes in Sweden are committed by foreigners.

carl56
carl56

Belfarge is lying.  The decision would not be in the hands of the court.  The government of Sweden can easily offer assurances that Assange would not be extradited to the US, a country that can no longer be trusted to safeguard prisoners against torture and indefinite detention without trial.  The Swedish government, not the Swedish court, has the final say. That is also true in the US, which routinely harbors dictators and war criminals without even bothering to respond to extradition requests (google Emmanuel Constant, a Haitian death squad leader, or Carriles, a notorious terrorist, or Ferdinand Marcos, or Gonzolo de Lozada, etc etc).  David Allen Green of the New Statesman offered up the same falsehood, which Glen Greenwald unmasked:

"But Green claimed that "[i]t would not be legally possible for

Swedish government to give any guarantee about a future extradition, and

nor would it have any binding effect on the Swedish legal system in the

event of a future extradition request." He said that this is so in part

because "any final word on an extradition would (quite properly) be

with an independent Swedish court, and not the government giving the

purported 'guarantee'." He then cited a British lawyer (notably, not a

Swedish one) who made the same claim:

"[I]t

appears that if the extradition is contested as it would be in

Assange's case then it is a matter for the court not the government to

decide if he is extradited."

"This is completely and

unquestionably false. It is simply untrue that it is Swedish courts,

rather than the Swedish government, who are the final decision-makers in

extradition requests. It is equally untrue that the Swedish government

has no final decision-making power regarding extradition requests that

are legally sanctioned by the Swedish judiciary. These are not matters

for reasonable debate. The law is clear. Green's claim is false."

The author of this article should make it clear that Belfarge's assertion wilts under legal scrutiny: it's just plain false, and he knows it.

notsosincerelyme
notsosincerelyme

The prosecutor should just travel to London to interview Assange. What can possibly

be more important than saving her country from making a guarantee it can’t

insure? And did it bother anyone else that the author is blatantly bias? Why

does the statistics paint less a picture of predatory Swedish men, and more one

of female empowerment and “destigmatisatisation” of victimhood to him?

Certainty, he doesn’t have facts to say that Sweden doesn’t have the highest

number of predators relative to other European countries. When coming to conclusions,

the author shouldn’t focus on contributing causes as the main cause. What it portrays

is the author’s willingness to only hold responsible the statutes that advocate

reporting and protection rather than the actual rapes being committed along

with the statutes for the high statistics.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

Nonsense, Sweden had already decided not to pursue prosecution in this case until the US became involved in it.

We requested (coerced) Sweden into pursuing this case and the minute that Assange sets foot in Sweden you can be damn sure our government will request his extradition.

Assange didn't endanger ongoing operations, he embarrassed our government by revealing all our criminal back room dealings and lies.

Assange's culpability is no where near as important as the fact this is a witch hunt by the US with it's toadies the UK and Sweden.

We are truly the guilty party.

Suzie Siegel
Suzie Siegel

Mark Lewis didn't need to go to Stockholm for this story, which just rehashes what we know already. Did he just make some phone calls from London?

dubium
dubium

Mark Lewis, most swedes do not want Assange moved here, nor are most of us "young hipsters with thick framed spectacles" who lives "in a trendy suburb of central Stockholm."

These are our rulers, a minority of idiots (journalists, politicians, hipsters) which most swedes do not even like and we do not care about any of all the shit they are doing, Assange or whatever. Bleep him and bleep them. Bleep them all. This has nothing to do with real swedes or our view on things. Just as America is WAAY bigger than the just the liberals of New York and Los Angeles. They just make the most noise.Just wanted to say that. Assange is maybe, only interesting as an example of political hypocrisy and doublestandards.

Tommy_Funebo
Tommy_Funebo

I don't know of any polls indicating that extraditing Assange has any popular support in Sweden. My guess is that most people would respond "meh...", but asked that other question a wide majority would also urge gov't officials to travel to London for an interview - in lieu of incurring the wrath of Michael Moore and Oliver Stone upon us.

kms123
kms123

I agree with the views of  Helene Bergman who says  “Already since 2005, it has been far too easy in Sweden for something to be considered rape” . It appears from what I have read about the case so far it appears that it is all about politics. Sweden could have given Assage the guarantee that he was asking for to come to Sweden to face the prosecution or alternatively sent the prosecutors to London to question him there.

allahhhhhhh
allahhhhhhh

What would people say if it came out that Mitt Romney was having sex with a

woman using a  condom, the condom broke, and the woman told Mitt to

stop. Mitt held the woman down against her will to finish having sex

with her. The woman was concerned that she could have HIV so wanted him

to get tested. In doing so, she found out that Mitt had sex with another

woman a few days later. This time Mitt used a condom, but the next

morning while the woman was still passed out he had sex with her again

without a condom, and she didn't even know about it.

Would that make people feel less about Mitt Romney?

Would they just say that the rape charges "must have been made up and

false" just because they came out when Mitt was running for president?

yunsikshin
yunsikshin

If the issue is about the two women, then why don't the Swedish government give Assange a guarantee that he won't get expedited to the U.S.

A guarantee doesn't cost the Swedish government anything, and it will solve the problem in Britain, Sweden and for Assange.

And yet, they refuse to and they claim this is all about the two women. People are not dumb, everyone is well aware of these governmental tactics. Time magazine is a disgrace for foolin the American population.

Historianted
Historianted

He is a terrorist and a rapist.  Execute him.

jimbojamesiv
jimbojamesiv

I highly doubt that any sophisticated Swede supports the rape claims or that Assange should be returned to Sweden. I could be wrong, but I'm no smarter than any true Swede, and I'm aware of how awful those Swedes who support the prosecution make all of Sweden look to the rest of the sane world.

Ahra Ah
Ahra Ah

the daily mail published a photo of julian assange together with a few other people including the woman who claimed to have been raped by assange, photo was taken a few days after the alleged rape ,they are all smiling except assange. 

it is hard to believe that the woman in question was so happy in the photo days after the alleged rape and even considered to appear in a photo with the alleged rapist !

needless to say that,the photo together with the article disappeared within a short period from daily mail website. 

Kyle James Brockschmidt
Kyle James Brockschmidt

I think instead of making him appear to be a 'legitimate' (sighl) rapist and how he is avoiding prosecution in a long chunk, it would be better to list what some people are saying vs. how what they're saying is bullshit.

For example: 

For prickly Swedes, the notion of having to seek such protection from political persecution in Sweden, is like avoiding sharks by jumping in the sea. “It’s totally unacceptable,” says Frank Belfrage, Swedish deputy foreign Minister. The case is about the sexual offenses alleged in Sweden, nothing to do with the U.S., which has anyway not issued any extradition request, he says.

Should be followed by: 

Samuelsson says the Wikileaks boss would be on the next plane back to Sweden if he had watertight assurances he would not then be extradited to the U.S

.

Nathan_123
Nathan_123

Does this count as "illegitimate" rape? 

Jo8
Jo8

In a day and age that has the ability to acquire proof positive using DNA testing I simply don't believe women anymore who claim rape when they had the ability to leave the "scene" and go directly to the police or a hospital but wait for days or weeks or weeks to make their claims.  The ability to use the claim of rape to hold men up for money or ruin their lives for a variety of reasons including political puposes don't wring any sympathy from me.

Anon777777
Anon777777

http://justice4assange.com/

Google Anna Ardin

Flashback.org began discrediting this sexual allegation hoax on August 25th 2010. Since then, all kinds of evidence has emerged about the case, from people who know. You could get acquainted with google translate and find even more from blogs, newspapers and other sources written in Swedish.

Also recommended: Google "Rixstep Anna Ardin"

Even the frame which you repeat about Ardin being some kind of groupie was orchestrated by Ardin herself.

You can't even begin to understand this hoax and how it was masterfully orchestrated until you have a lot more information.

Anon777777
Anon777777

Mark Lewis, you did ZERO research. I found out more info in 20 minutes than you give in this piece of crap article. I take it they sent you to Sweden? Did you have a nice trip? Time wasted the money they pay you.

J Villain
J Villain

To be clear both women agreed to have sex with him and one agreed to have sex with him again the night after she was supposedly raped.  

Guest
Guest

The new lowered threshold for "rape" in Sweden now includes non-sexual-rape of a women's dignity, including "stereotype insults'' of "women being poor drivers" and "always complaining" etc. 

David Schlesinger
David Schlesinger

"They should do the inquire on skype  it would be done and over by now."

Another non-reader.

And, should they decide to proceed with arresting and charging him, as they told the British court they currently intend to based on the available evidence, then what? Are they supposed to extradite him a second time? And from whom? The UK? Ecuador?

Joe Boyum
Joe Boyum

Sounds like one or the other females found out about the other and got a tad jealous. 

Matthew Cunningham
Matthew Cunningham

They should do the inquire on skype  it would be done and over by now.