4 things the media won’t tell you about Assange

English: Demonstration in front of Sydney Town...

Demonstration in front of Sydney Town Hall in support of Julian Assange, 2010, December 10 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Media interest in the Julian Assange case reached fever pitch again this week with the Ecuadorian government’s decision to grant him asylum. As usual though, much of the coverage continues to ignore important facts and context, spin the story in a way that suit their own political and economic agendas or simply attack Assange and anyone that disagrees with them. It’s important to highlight some important facts that are routinely being ignored in the media regarding the current plight of the WikiLeaks founder.

1. Assange has already been questioned once in Sweden.

The prosecution is perfectly within its right to re-question Assange but hardly a single media outlet offers any context by mentioning the fact that he’s already been questioned once in Sweden and released without charge. Shortly after, the interview transcript was mysteriously leaked to the Swedish press. Nor does the media highlight that Assange waited for 5 weeks before being granted permission to leave the country and continue his work on the War Logs and Cablegate releases with The Guardian in the UK. Some newspapers, especially in Sweden, instead say that he “fled” the country implying that he is somehow “on the run” from the allegations.

2. Assange is willing to return to Sweden but prosecutors can also question him in the UK.

Assange has stated his willingness to return to Sweden if a legal guarantee is made that he will not be extradited to the USA for his work with WikiLeaks. However, there is no compelling reason for him to be in Sweden for questioning. It is standard Swedish practice that when there is no charge and someone is merely wanted for questioning, it can be conducted anywhere in the world including over the phone and via video call. Swedish prosecutors also frequently travel to other countries to question suspects as they did recently to question a man suspected of murder in Serbia. In Assange’s case however, Swedish prosecutor Marianne Nye is insisting that Assange must physically be in Sweden to be questioned. No reason has been given for this inflexibility but Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter justifies it by saying it is “a matter of prestige” for Sweden.

3. There is mounting evidence that the US are compiling a criminal case against Assange.

There is enough to suggest that Assange’s legal team’s fears are justified. Australian diplomatic cables released to the Sydney Morning Herald under the freedom of information act reveal that the Australian government has confirmed that WikiLeaks has been the target of a US Justice Department investigation in Australia “unprecedented both in its scale and nature”. The Australian government also suggests that media reports that a secret grand jury has been convened in Alexandria, Virginia, were ”likely true”. In addition, the WikiLeaks Stratfor Intelligence releases revealed that the Stratfor vice president Fred Burton claimed that: “We have a sealed indictment on Assange“. Besides this, considering the atrocious treatment of Bradley Manning currently in a military jail in the US for allegedly leaking documents to Assange, you don’t have to wear a tin-foil hat to believe that the US will do whatever it takes to get their hands on Assange and make an example of him.

4. It’s actually easier for the US to extradite Assange from Sweden than the UK.

Many people dismiss Assange’s US extradition fears on the basis that if it wanted Assange, it would be easier to get him from the UK anyway. However, it’s actually considerably harder to extradite him from the UK for various reasons. One is that the UK does not have the “temporary surrender” extradition agreement that exists between Sweden and the USA which can be used to override current international extradition agreements and effectively give the US “instant” extradition powers. Another problem is that if the US were to issue an extradition order for Assange from the UK to the US, it would put the UK in a very difficult position because normally, the first extradition request received from Sweden would have to be honored first. In addition, the more diverse media and greater public support in the UK are factors that would make it harder for the US to extradite from the UK. And for all those that think that the Swedish justice system is somehow the best in the world, the Human Rights Watch archive on Sweden makes some interesting reading.

24-08-12: It’s since come to my attention that the “temporary surrender” agreement also exists between the US and UK which is definitely something that many of Assange’s supporters don’t seem to be aware of. However, the same problem would apply – since Sweden has already issued an extradition request, it would put the British Government in a very tricky position. There’s an interesting discussion on this here.

There are many more examples of facts and context routinely left out in media coverage that are important to understanding the Assange case. These are some of the more important ones but as the propaganda war goes on in this increasingly dramatic legal battle, they surely won’t be the last.

Postscript: If you want a really revealing and disturbing insight into how the sex allegations against Assange in Sweden unfolded, read the comment thread on my original post about Assange written almost exactly 2 years ago today.

5 thoughts on “4 things the media won’t tell you about Assange

  1. Pingback: Temporary Rendition ..Swedens sordid deal with USA over extradition « toolwielder

  2. Pingback: Quatre choses que les médias ne vous disent pas sur Assange « Wikileaks Actu

  3. Pingback: Quatre choses que les médias ne vous disent pas sur Assange « Actualités Alternatives « Je veux de l'info

  4. 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.

  5. – just a point: the Australian government have never aknowledged this, at least not aware of this.. it says in the article and highlight written by Philip Dorling that y that K Rudd acknowledged -” the existence of a temporary Surrender”- see below:
    Mr Rudd said ”no formal advice” had been received from US authorities but acknowledged the existence of a ”temporary surrender” mechanism that could allow Mr Assange to be extradited from Sweden to the US. He added that Swedish officials had said Mr Assange’s case would be afforded ”due process”-

    Officially this does say that Aust Govern have been acknowledging that J Assange has been the target of US Justice Department investigation. As far as we are concerned they’ve always subtly denied this. (see cut and paste below part of P. Dorling article).

    -” the Australian diplomatic cables released to the Sydney Morning Herald under the freedom of information act reveal that the Australian government has confirmed that WikiLeaks has been the target of a US Justice Department investigation in Australia “unprecedented both in its scale and nature”. –

    from then on, only Mr K.Rudd may have acknowledged this, but not the governemt at any time whatsoever.. In an earlier article written by P.Dorling it says that Mr Rudd have failed to answe the Q. regarding the “Temporary Surrender” the article states that: -“he avoided direct reply”-

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/revealed-us-plans-to-charge-assange-20120228-1u14o.html#ixzz2KktnEWSR

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