Julian Assange and the back-story to those Swedish charges

Julian Assange made a public statement from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy overnight.

You might know that he’s there. You might have a rough idea why. If you’d like to get a better understanding as to what’s happened with Assange, I think this program will give you a much more thorough picture as to what’s going on.

This program looks at the recent history of Wikileaks but more importantly, it looks at the allegations made against Assange in Sweden and why he feels reluctant to jump on a plane back to Sweden to answer questions about them (hint: it’s not the questions that he’s worried about).

This video is 45 minutes long. It’s an episode of Australia’s premier current affairs and investigative journalism program, Four Corners (shown on our national public broadcaster, the ABC). This episode was shown on Australian television on July 19th, 2012.

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16 Comments

  1. regardless if Assnge is right or wrong about the US threat, what he does now is illegal in uk. Period.

    Very few can try to be above the lawes and still be held as a saint.

    If I a stunt like that, I would have been in custudy for while just because triyng to skip justice!

    This is not they way to behave if you want to be credible when exposing others.

    With his name, and with the US threat out in every mediaa there is. He can be sure that a lot of people will keep an eye on things, almost as you did for saab in 2009-2010. Anything that happends to Assange will be reported!

  2. Love your site Swade, but here I have to set the facts straight.

    Assange’s supporters claim the Swedish charges against him are politically motivated. Heck, Sweden’s judicial system is totally independent from the political, and Sweden consistently ranks second to none in corruption rankings. Forget about any CIA or alien conspiracies. And Elvis is not alive.

    In fact, there’s a pretty much solid case against Assange, and if he ever goes to Sweden it’s quite likely he’ll be convicted for rape, and serve time. That’s the true reason he’s afraid to go. He knows what he did to those girls.

    He claims he is afraid Sweden will extradite him to the U.S. to end up executed. Well, again just check the facts. Sweden cannot legally extradite people who risk facing the death penalty, and in this case has to have Britain’s approval. Britain delivers way more people to the U.S., so Sweden is a far better place for him to be.

    Assange wants us to believe the case is about WikiLeaks when in fact it is about a wholly unrelated sex crime. And championing Ecuador of all nations as a place for journalistic freedom is just plain laughable. Journalists are persecuted and convicted there if they print stuff the leaders don’t like.

    Sorry about the rant, but there’s just too much crap about this. Again, love your site Swade.

    1. Steve – answer me one question honestly…..

      Did you take the time to watch the video?

      Because if you did, there’s no way you could be so assured about the Swedish issue and the way it’s being prosecuted by the Swedish judiciary. I didn’t say “Swedish charges” there because he hasn’t actually been charged with anything as yet. He’s wanted for questioning. They can, and do, facilitate questioning remotely yet they outright refuse to do so in this instance (and it’s not as if he’s difficult to pin down). The recent public and quite definitive statements by various Swedish politicians about an ongoing case are of concern, too.

      What you say about non-extradition to death penalty countries is true, but perhaps the grand jury that’s already been convened (again, did you watch the video) just has life in prison in mind. If it were you, and you know there’s a grand jury looking into you – in secret – would you want to take that chance? Some clear statements from the US would provide assurance on that but they refuse to say anything officially.

      The irony/hipocracy of Ecuador is plain to see, I agree. I think the appropriate saying is “Any port in a storm”.

      Assange has definitely lost his grace under pressure, but as Allan mentions in another comment, Wikileaks is a positive thing on balance and I hope this whole thing, including him answering those charges without further threats to his safety, can be taken care of soon.

        1. I had a read of what you linked to. However can I point out soome problems with the case that I haven’t seen answered.

          1) Miss W claims she was asleep, however her tweets show she was infact awake.

          2) Swedish Police do not let two women report an accusation about one man together. This is the only time it has happened

          3) Police never take testimony from former boyfriends. There’s a rape shield law in Sweden that means that they’re not allowed to.

          4) Prosecutors never let two alleged victims have the same lawyer. This means it’s easy for the judge to throw the case out because of contamination of evidence

          5) A rape victim never uses a corporate attorney.

          This all makes it look like there aim isn’t to get a successful conviction, it’s to get Assange to Sweden. Once in Sweden he’ll simply be kidnapped by the USA, something the UK don’t allow. rather than extradited. UK didn’t even allow the USA to kidnap the nine people who were residing in the UK that ended up in Guantanamo.

          1. If there’s any merit to your objections, a Swedish court or prosecutor is likely to drop the case at a later stage.

            Thanks for reading the article. But seriously, do you really believe the U.S. would kidnap Assange in Sweden? That’s highly unlikely. Crucially, as noted in the article there’s no reason the U.S. would want him in Sweden as it would be easier to get him from the UK.

          2. Steve J,

            But seriously, do you really believe the U.S. would kidnap Assange in Sweden? That’s highly unlikely. Crucially, as noted in the article there’s no reason the U.S. would want him in Sweden as it would be easier to get him from the UK.

            The argument they make for staying in the UK was that even though he had to wear the ankle bracelet, he wasn’t in state custody there and had the chance to claim asylum (which is what has ended up happening).

            If he’s shipped to Sweden under an extradition order, he automatically spends 4 days in custody in Sweden and it’s that period that they fear. He’d be in custody, would be unlikely to be granted bail at the end of those 4 days and it would be much easier to transfer custody to US authorities in that situation.

            The precedent – those two guys who were transferred back to Egypt under US custody a few years ago. I can look up their names and circumstances but I think you might know the situation I’m referring to.

          3. Swade, you’re right. Many agree that Sweden deserves criticism for the 2001 treatment of two Egyptians. But the argument’s not especially strong; it should be noted that it was an exceptional incident which is over 10 years old and Sweden’s legal system remains one of the world’s most respected.

            Referring to the article I linked to above, the key point here is that the extradition conditions that have to be satisfied in Britain are a smaller subset of those in Sweden. Indeed, Britain has proven to be much happier to comply with U.S. extradition requests than Sweden.

            So, if it really is extradition that concerns Assange, then why did he voluntarily go to England, exposing himself to a much greater risk? That makes no sense. Ergo, his primary objective of collaborating with Ecuador’s regime is to escape a rape conviction, not the U.S.

      1. The 2006 case you’re referring to shows that Sweden’s not perfect. But it is an exceptional case, and saying that Sweden has a “poor human rights reputation” is wrong. In fact, rankings will show you that the Scandinavian countries consistently offer the best protection for human rights there is in the world. 

  3. I haven’t had time to watch the doc yet, but a few observations:

    There is a strong argument for saying that absolute freedom of information is inimical to effective government. But I would say that WikiLeaks is, on balance, a good and necessary thing.

    There are people out there who want it taken down, and will do whatever it takes to achieve that. I do think we are in real-life Parallax View / Bourne Identity / All The President’s Men (hang on, that one is real life) territory here.

    Mr Assange may or may not have a Jesus complex. Does it matter?

    Mr Assange may or may not be guilty of the things he has been accused of in Sweden. It could be dirty tricks, or it could be he has done these women wrong in a serious way, serious enough to merit prosecution. Or, if there has been outside interference, it could be a bit of both.

    If the accusations are legitimate, then Mr Assange should stand trial in Sweden.

    I understand there is a lot of anger in Sweden at the idea they would simply subject Mr Assange to a kangaroo court and then hand him over to be given the full MK-Ultra treatment in the US. It does seem to me that Sweden, given its track record on human rights and comparatively cool attitude towards the US, is a safer bet than being in an embassy in the UK – all other things being equal, which perhaps they aren’t. You never know, given that it is after all a Conservative administration in Sweden at present. Plus the murky spectre of Olof Palme’s killing still makes me wonder about the Swedish establishment.

    It also seems to me that if Bradley Manning (the guy whom people should really be fearing for) were Chinese and had leaked papers and operational footage of chinese soldiers callously killing unarmed civilians, including children, as though playing a computer game, he would be hailed as a hero in the West and the White House would be lobbying for him to be released and for both he and Julian Assange to be jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    I watched some of the footage leaked by Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks, in a Swedish documentary a year or two ago, and it made me feel sick and really depressed. What has America actually learned from Vietnam?

  4. Interestingly our good old friend Hagglund weighed in on the situation the other day:

    “Sick. A coward who does not dare to have his case tried by the court. If the accusations against him are true, he is a scumbag.”

    Not exactly an impartial fence-sitter.

  5. Julian Assange has learned the risks of being a celebrity. But, sometimes the sex charges are real. Just ask the Catholic church.

    1. Sometimes they are, indeed. And he should face the questions (which are not charges, as yet).

      I think his concerns are that if he returns to Sweden to answer those questions, the potential for charges is not all that he has to worry about. And going on what’s been made public, it’s not hard to see why.

  6. Some more interesting Assange reading:

    NY Times Op-Ed from Michael Moore and Oliver Stone:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/opinion/wikileaks-and-the-global-future-of-free-speech.html

    If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil. If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws. The setting of such a precedent should deeply concern everyone, admirers of WikiLeaks or not.

    And I’d also encourage anyone to Google Rolling Stone’s interview with Assange from earlier this year. Shows that he’s a bit of a maniacal type, but with a more-than-reasonable sense of history.

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