It was a huge surprise that Julian Assange suddenly checked into the Embassy of República del Ecuador in London. The twitter reaction from leading Swedish media personalities, in the midst of a Football match, was predictably myopic – and as nationalistic as Football.
The picture that came into their minds was that of an Australian brute who was invited to Sweden, raped a couple Swedish women and now applied yet another stunt tried to escape those allegations.
There are so many misunderstandings in the Assange case that someone must put the picture straight. I will divide this in 2 or maybe 3 blog postings to argue a few important points:
1) Julian Assange is regarded as an enemy of the United States. The Swedish case is a nuisance compared to that.
2) No Swedish woman has actually claimed that she was raped by Julian Assange.
3) Even if Assange would be convicted in Sweden he would not serve any time.
With that knowledge I think it would be logical that the Ecuador strategy has to do with the U.S., not Sweden per se. I develop point 1 in this posting. The others will follow.
1) Assange is regarded as an enemy of the United States of America.
Don’t make any mistake about it. The United States of America is ruthless when it comes to “national security”, as defined by themselves. The revenge will come. They collect information from all the internet companies they can, they pressure Bradley Manning with absolutely inhuman methods. There is a Grand Jury.
Could the US ask the UK to have Julian Assange extradited now? Sure, if they have built the case already, which is not certain. But that would complicate things. Sweden wants him also. The United States are very patient. I would think that the easiest way to proceed from a US perspective is to let the Swedish case have its course first. As long as Julian Assange is nailed later in order to send a message to the world: Don’t mess with the USA!
So what about the legal arguments that the UK would have to consent to an extradition to the US if he is transferred to Sweden? I have not researched this in detail but this is an irrelevant consideration. Maybe it applies formally to some limited time period when Assange is held by Swedish authorities as a consequence of an extradition from the UK. I will show in a follow-up posting that Julian Assange would be very quickly set free in Sweden, no matter if he is convicted or not even prosecuted. Even if convicted he would immediately be released. He would then be a free man on Swedish ground. I don’t see that the UK could possibly have any influence on Swedish-US bilateral dealings at that time.
Sweden has delivered what the US wants earlier. Indeed, Sweden has instituted general wiretapping of all internet and phone traffic that pass Sweden’s borders, in order to give that intelligence data to the US for something else, maybe a promise to intervene if the Russians come once again. Sweden is the country for Russian transit data since a vast proportion of their communications cables pass Sweden. We hardly have any military at home anymore. Our few troops are in Afghanistan to show that we are a reliable ally of the US without being a member of NATO.
Sweden raided the Pirate Bay at the request of USA. The mode was clear: Swedish authorities were flown to Washington, where they clearly stated that Sweden will obviously not break its own laws in Sweden to help the US. Instead they gave out very detailed instructions on what Sweden needed from American firms in order to initiate a big crack-down on The Pirate Bay. Wikileaks #cablegate cables later showed how Sweden consistently bows to demands from the USA. That piece was written by Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge.
Sweden is actually known and criticized for extra-judicial deportations when the concern is US national security.
I want to remind everyone of Rop Gonggrijp, the Dutch internet freedom activist. He held a keynote at the Chaos Communications Conference in Berlin in December 2010. He was involved for some time in Wikileaks but opted out when he realized that he would become an enemy of the American state:
I could have stuck around helping WikiLeaks also. They could probably have used me when they released the war diaries or these cables.
That did not happen. I guess I could make up all sorts of stories about how I disagreed with people or decisions, but the truth is that in the period that I helped out, the possible ramifications of WikiLeaks managed to scare the bejezus out of me. Courage is contagious, my ass.
I wish Julian and his people well, but I can’t live a life out of a backpack while on the run. Not to mention the fact that Julian has better hair and does much better soundbites.
I wrote about it in detail a long time ago. Focus on the Swedish sex case obfuscates the bigger issues here.
Oscar Swartz has a degree from Stockholm School of Economics and was a Fulbright Fellow as a Ph.D. student at Columbia University in New York.
I have written about Wikileaks since 2007, and later about Assange. I have also just written a book that helps us understand Sweden’s actions. It is named A Brief History of Swedish Sex and is a well-researched time-line of how Sweden turns from the world’s leading nation of sexual liberty to become a country where sex is regarded as something intrinsically harmful. Necessary reading to understand how the Swedish case against Assange could become a national priority. It is a great read!
I continue my posting on the misunderstandings of the Assange case. In my preceding posting I argued that the Ecuador strategy is not an attempt to avoid the Swedish sex case. Swedish media is myopic and self-obsessed. Anyone who reads my fresh and well-researched book A Brief History of Swedish Sex will understand how any sexual act involves a high amount of politics in today’s Sweden and how the Swedish state, based on an extremist view of sexuality, can spin out of control.
Tragically, Swedish media is not a mitigating force. It willingly participates in creating scandals and injuring people, based on such views on sexuality, as is clear from my book.
Internationally, it is interesting to instead look at the letter about Sweden and at the list of signatories that demand that Ecuador grant asylum to Assange.
2) No Swedish woman has claimed that she was raped by Julian Assange.
If you read the police protocols you will see that the two Swedish women (AA = the Social Democrat that Assange stayed with, SW = the one-night stand admirer) wanted Assange to commit to tests for HIV and STDs, since they realized he was sleeping around a lot when they learned about each other.
There are witnesses who talked to AA and say the demand was that Assange take an HIV test. Otherwise they would go to the police and try to force him to. He said he didn’t have time but seems to have realized that they meant it. When he consented they had however already gone to the police. Not to report rape but to simply tell their stories. None of them has ever claimed to have been raped by Julian Assange.
So how could this become a national obsession for Sweden?
Once you tell a story of sexual behavior to the police they look for Sex Offences. As I show in my book there was a connection to Swedish domestic politics with an election campaign. Based on the story that SW told the interrogating police officer (who was a party comrade and radical feminist friend of AA), the police notified the on-call Prosecutor. Based on a purely oral briefing by the police via phone she decided to seek Julian Assange for rape.
It seems that SW was quite shocked by this decision by the police and prosecutor. She had participated in sex play that ended with unprotected sex, and not objected according to her own account, but she was panically scared by sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. She never claimed to be raped but she wanted Assange to be tested. Suddenly the State sought him for a crime that normally carries a two year imprisonment as a minimum sentence. As “the victim” there is nothing you can do. The State sees it as an important task to enforce its own view of sexual encounters, independently of the people involved.
One day later a higher Chief Prosecutor read the interrogation protocol. She states that in the description of the sexual encounter where the police and a lower prosecutor found one count of “rape” there was no crime whatsoever committed. She says she believes the story that was told: “But the content of the interrogation does not support any claim that a crime has been committed”
Enter Claes Borgström. In Sweden virtually anyone who claims that someone else has commited some sexual offence gets a payed-for legal counsel by the state. S/he is supposed to help you go after the other party. The reverse of a defense attorney. Claes Borgström was a party comrade of AA, heavily involved in the election campaign, since he was the Gender Equality Spokesperson for the Social Democratic party. He would get a Ministerial post in the Government if they won. He applied to serve as the state-payed legal counsel for the two women and started running his own show. Borgström is a notorious radical feminist in Swedish politics, despised by many, loved by some. He has been running a war against men for years in Sweden and consistently picked fights, denouncing Swedish men as Taliban etc..
Borgström is the one who demanded that the Assange rape case be reopened after the Chief Prosecutor closed it. He appealed to a Head Prosecutor. Borgström himself seemed unsure whether what the women described could be seen as anything else than the weakest sexual offence category. I requested his application from the Court and I believe my book is the first and only place this document has been cited. He wrote:
“According to my evaluation the abuse of the injured parties have suffered should at least be labelled as sexual molestation, maybe also as graver sex crimes”
One of Borgström’s ever repeated views on sexuality is that people don’t understand when they are sexually abused. They have sex in ways that the state must take care of, against their wishes. Borgström commented to a newspaper when they pointed out that SW did not consider herself raped: “She is not a lawyer”.
Borgström has demanded state propaganda campaigns to teach people when they have been subject to a sex crime. In my book A Brief History of Swedish Sex, Borgström occurrs a lot. There are mindboggling citations from this man’s writings. You will not believe your eyes!
So with Borgström at the rudder the case was turned into politics and became an important principle for the Swedish state. Sex is much more harmful to Swedes than violence. In my book I show that some brief sexual touching is seen as a worse crime than kidnapping someone, keeping him locked-up and tortured for hours until he is unrecognizable to his own girlfriend, with injuries taking months to heal. Borgström is a co-architect behind this.
Assange is now wanted for questioning concerning “less aggravated rape” of SW – although she has never claimed that she was raped. There are also some lesser sexual offences that the Head Prosectuor picked out when she read the description of sexual encounters between AA and Assange. One of them concerns rubbing a penis against the backside of a person you previously had sex with.
My book does not go into details of the sex case. Rather, it puts the case in a context of vitriolic Swedish sexual politics.
Personally, when I read the interrogation protocols I see a man who is not particularly responsive to his sex partners and wants it his own way. This is not equivalent to being a rapist however, and no woman has claimed she was actually raped. But I think it is quite likely Assange will be convicted of some offence in Sweden.
There will be one more posting where I argue that Assange would not serve any time in Sweden, even if convicted of the most serious of his alleged sex offences, “less aggravated rape”..