Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Strange Case against Julian Assange

Julian Assange is in jail in UK facing deportation to Sweden on charges of rape.  Many people, otherwise sympathetic to Assange and Wikileaks find this troubling and understandably so.

But the details are even more troubling.

Assange is accused of rape by deceit.  Violence and coercion are not alleged, just that by sleeping with one woman only a few days after sleeping with another he was committing deceit, and therefore a sex crime.  Yes, really.  Some reports state that he has two accusers, in fact there is only one as the second accuser withdrew her initial accusation - seemingly because she began to get the impression she was being used.

Which brings us to the now sole accuser - normally it would be appalling to even consider discussing her, in this case an even more appalling injustice may arise from not examining her background.
Swedish bloggers uncovered the full story in a few hours. The complaint was lodged by a radical feminist Anna Ardin, 30, a one-time intern in the Swedish Foreign Service. She’s spokeswoman for Broderskapsr√∂relsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden's Social Democratic Party. She had invited Julian Assange to a crayfish party, and they had enjoyed some quality time together. When Ardin discovered that Julian shared a similar experience with a 20-year-old woman a day or two later, she obtained the younger woman’s cooperation in declaring before the police that changing partners in so rapid a manner constituted a sort of deceit. And deceit is a sort of rape. The prosecutor immediately issued an arrest warrant, and the press was duly notified. Once the facts were examined in the cold light of day, the charge of rape seemed ludicrous and was immediately dropped. In the meantime the younger woman, perhaps realizing how she had been used, withdrew her report, leaving the vengeful Anna Ardin standing alone.

However, before we absolve the Swedish police as unwitting, if zealous, dupes, please note that Swedish law strictly forbids police and prosecutors to release to the media the details of any rape-connected complaint. The Expressen had all the details of the case, including the names of the accused and the complainant, within a matter of minutes. Please note further that the right-wing tabloid Expressen belongs to the Bonnier family, the biggest media owners in Sweden, who are not only pro-American but very much pro-Israel, too. As you know, the pro-Israeli lobby is warmly supportive of America’s Middle Eastern wars, while Assange and his WikiLeaks have the potential to undermine America’s weakening support for the war.
(Note Dec 8:  I will agree with Olberman in re: the above quote: "If the author of that article is a holocaust denier, I repudiate him and what he wrote, and apologize for retweeting the link."  There are enough reasons to be suspicious and critical of the Swedish prosecutions without the reinforcement of this one article.)

Then there's the disturbing reports that Ardin published a revenge how to guide on her blog in January, around the time of the alleged incident, specifically...:
...describing how to commit a complete character assassination to legally destroy a person who “should be punished for what he did”. If the offence was of a sexual nature, the revenge also must also be sex-related, she wrote.
All of this is disturbing enough, when you factor in her links to government and military including NATO otherwise rational cynical people might be reaching for a tinfoil hat.

The details of the accusation, the timing, the way Swedish confidentiality laws were almost instantly broken and a conservative western leaning news outlet was trumpeting them immediately and the highly disturbing writings of the accuser make the whole case against Assange deeply suspect.

UPDATE: Naomi Wolfe, who no one will ever accuse of being a pawn of the patriarchy pours scorn on the Interpol 'Dating police' - hat tip Le Daro

UPDATE 2: 'Sex by Surprise'  No allegations of force, one woman unhappy that a condom broke, another that he seemed to pay more attention to his computer than her on the trip to her apartment.  If EVERYTHING that can be legitimately verified to be part of the complaints actually happened -  he comes off as a bit of a jerk and a bit of a horndog - but by no stretch of the imagination a rapist.

Final Update, couldn't put it better myself category:


deBeauxOs said...

It's unfortunate that you didn't bother better inform yourself about rape, sexual assault, consent and the laws in that regard in Sweden.


Otherwise, you might not have gotten your male libertarian foot in your mouth by attempting the same character soiling of the two complainants that Assange has suffered.

And I'm not claiming that whatever occured in Sweden isn't being manipulated by those who want to silence Assange - permanently.

Cliff said...

Just going by the info in the sources I saw - the thing that most disturbs me is her 'revenge guide' I find that very discrediting.

deBeauxOs said...

And on the basis of this post of yours which I find disturbing, I should assume that you're the kind of guy who wouldn't stop if your sexual partner said stop?

deBeauxOs said...


Here's what strange: why are Swedish authorities manipulating these women's concerns to put Assange in harm's way?

The spotlight should be on whoever it is, in the judicial/prosecution office that is pushing for his extradition to Sweden.

Cliff said...

I don't think you really believe that's a fair comment, and my post clearly says I think if the verifiable non-enhanced accusations are true - a very, very big if - that I think he's a bit of a jerk.

But the articles that most rigidly adhere to the verifiable facts of the accusations do not include any such accusation. I read the source you provided and it says flatly that the 'he was asked to stop and didn't' claim is pure speculation on their part:

"It also sounds like in one case, condom use was negotiated for and Assange agreed to wear a condom but didn’t, and the woman didn’t realize it until after they had sex; in the second case, it sounds like the condom broke and the woman told Assange to stop, which he did not. This is of course speculation based on the bare-bones reported description of events,(emphasis added) but it’s at least clear that “this is a case of a broken condom” isn’t close to the whole story. (It’s also worth pointing out that the charge is actually a quite minor one in Sweden, and the punishment is a $700 fine)"

So A: you have no legitimate basis for believing that any such thing happened or has even been claimed to have happened and in fact the articles I've seen, particularly the excellent and rigorously factual Reuters one, repeatedly stress that the women involved only went to the police because of concern over Assange 'being reluctant' to get an STD test:

"At this point, Miss W, apparently exasperated at Assange's evasive behavior, decided to take her story to police, though initially she didn't want Assange to be prosecuted.

According to a version of the story published by London's Guardian newspaper, which has been in close and continuing contact with Assange for months, Miss A decided to go to the police with Miss W to offer moral support, but did not want charges brought against Assange either."

A paranoid hacker with very real, very powerful enemies is reluctant to get medically tested on demand. Shocking.

None of this sounds like women who believed they had been raped - and to be clear I do define being asked to stop halfway through consensual sex and not doing so to be rape. Unambiguously and unforgivably.

None of the claims by the women I've seen reported anywhere include such a accusation. The only source you provide that does, says flat out that it's speculation - irresponsible speculation in my opinion.

B: We've had very cordial and friendly relations over the interwebs. I've enjoyed your posts and you've indicated you've enjoyed some of mine. I would regret if that ended. That last comment by you crossed several lines of courtesy and rhetorical fairness and comes close to the sexual assault equivalent of invoking Godwin's Law.

It deeply saddened me.

Cliff said...

As to your follow up comment, on this we agree 100%.

deBeauxOs said...

The Feministe article is speculative about the facts that oppose Ardin and Assange because, in the absence of other evidence, it's basically she said/he said.

But I'm relieved the point of your post is not to discredit her right to say 'stop now' (if that's what happened) since the right to give and to withdraw consent - for women and men - is a critical issue with respect to sexuality, power and gender.

Cliff said...

Speculation about what 'she said' seems to me to be very irresponsible in the absence of verifiable facts. This is a man's reputation being destroyed - which according to the writings of one of the women involved, may have been the point.

Cliff said...

So accusations of Assange 'holding 'Ms A' down with his body weight' have now been formally entered into the record in his British court appearence. We now have a verified accusation of behaviour that unambiguously constitutes rape.

There is of course context, 'Ms A' threw a party for Assange after the alleged incident, was caught trying to delete positive tweets about him she posted after the alleged incident and published a "revenge how-to guide" on her blog around the time of the alleged incident, specifically urging sexual revenge.

She has strong links to government and military, seems to have added the physical coercion componants to her story after her initial complaint was thrown out and someone leaked the initial charges including details and names to a conservative swedish newspaper within minutes of them being issued.

Innocent until proven guilty has never seemed so important a protection.

Dana said...

"Innocent until proven guilty has never seemed so important a protection."

Might be immaterial in this instance although tracking down the information is proving quite difficult.

A couple years back some Swedish lawmakers proposed changing the laws around rape in Sweden placing the onus on the accused to prove the sex was consensual.

Finding out if the change was actually made is what has proven difficult.

If the change was in fact made then he's essentially presumed guilty first and innocent only if he has something to prove the sex was consensual.

Apparently both women have acknowledged the sex was, initially at least, consensual so that's in his favour if this is the law he's being prosecuted under.

Cliff said...

More troubling info:
The Daily Mail "the allegations simply don’t ring true."

Assange's lawyer: "Sweden is making it up as they go"

Cliff said...

'Ms A' has apparently dropped the case and is currently living in the West Bank bearing witness in a Palestinian community suffering vicious attacks by fundamentalist Israeli Settlers. Credit where credit is due; that takes guts.

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