21 August 2012
Julian Assange wanted in Sweden
For the Australian ABC video on the Assange case see here.
Julian Assange is being sought for extradition by the Swedish authorities for questioning in regard to possible sexual assault allegations against two women. The allegations themselves are overblown. One women alleges he continued having sex with her after a condom broke -- but she continued to associate with him in a friendly fashion for weeks after. The other, a radical feminist university lecturer with a history of bringing complaints against men for perceived gender slights, felt rejected because he went with the first woman. Both made inquiries of the police about whether he could be forced to take an STD test. Neither were keen to lay charges.
The matter was dropped by the initial investigating officer only to be taken up later by an aggressive prosecutor who issued an Interpol arrest warrant in order to return Assange from the UK for further questioning. Under Swedish law no charges have yet been laid. Assange, was fully cooperative with Swedish investigations while in that country but has refused to return there from the UK and has offered instead to answer questions from the UK. This is a course of action previously followed by Swedish authorities but they will not agree in the case of Assange which gives rise to some suspicion that matters are not all they seem in regard to this extradition request.
Sweden has in place a temporary rendition agreement with the USA which allows them to transfer anyone in their custody to the US for criminal prosecution. The arrangement is an administrative procedure only with no extradition hearings before any Swedish court and no legal right of appeal. Put simply, if Assange is in custody in Sweden then he has no protection if the government there simply decides to transfer him to the US. There are already credible claims of a US sealed indictment against him for espionage.
So Assange is holed up in the London Ecuadorian embassy where he has been granted political asylum status. If he leaves the embassy then UK authorities will extradite him to Sweden.
Here is some interesting commentary on the legal setting in which these charges have been brought:
The Swedish legal procedures followed in the Assange case are well outside customary practice according to a former Swedish prosecutor.
Naomi Klein points to several departures from normal police practice in sexual assault cases:
1) Police never pursue complaints in which there is no indication of lack of consent.
2) Police do not let two women report an accusation about one man together.
3) Police never take testimony from former boyfriends.
4) Prosecutors never let two alleged victims have the same lawyer.
5) A lawyer never typically takes on two alleged rape victims as clients.
6) A rape victim never uses a corporate attorney.
7) A rape victim is never encouraged to make any kind of contact with her assailant and she may never use police to compel her alleged assailant to take medical tests.
8) Police and prosecutors never leak police transcripts during an active investigation because they face punishment for doing so.
There is also considerable evidence of links between Swedish and US Right wing establishments, notably in the person of Karl Rove:
One of Assange's prominent critics in Sweden is Roland Poirier Martinsson, head of the Timbro Media Institute described by Wikipedia as "a libertarian, free market think tank and book publisher based in Stockholm." Historically, Timbro was founded in 1978 by the Swedish Employers' Association and later merged with other business groups to form the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. They describe their activities as "conducting the development of ideas and opinions about the market economy to promote free enterprise and increased growth." Politically they are extreme right wing conservatives in pursuit of corporate profits. They are against public welfare, environmental regulations and basically would like to deregulate and privatize current government laws and agencies. They are closely tied to the current ruling Swedish Moderate Party and reflect the policies of the US hard Right Republican Party and Libertarian groups and not the mainstream of popular Swedish political sentiment which is somewhat more to the Left.
Timbro's directors are often visiting "fellows" at conservative think tanks such as the US CATO Institute, the Stockholm Network in London and BusinessEurope in Brussels. Timbro is funded by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, funds which have been used recently for attacks upon Assange and Wikileaks by Timbro director Roland Poirier Martinsson.
It was Martinsson who sponsored George Bush's political adviser Karl Rove on a visit to Sweden in 2008 and shared a newspaper byline with him extolling free markets. They have maintained continuing links.
The Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, an avowed critic of the welfare state, visited George Bush in the White House at the height of the Abu Ghraib scandal and in 2001 assisted the CIA to rendition two innocent Swedish asylum seekers to Egyptian torture cells. He was embarrassed when Wikileaks revealed that his government had specifically requested only informal intelligence links with the US in order to avoid domestic political scrutiny. Karl Rove, Bush's chief adviser, has been a friend and paid political adviser to Reinfeldt for over ten years.
Rove himself was behind Bush's elections, elections marked by strong evidence of fraud in both 2000 and 2004. A master of political skulduggery he was reportedly involved in the sacking of 20 US federal attorneys who refused to play ball and initiate politically based corruption charges against Democrat Party candidates. He allegedly also had a role in the jailing for seven years of Alabama Democrat Governor Don Siegelman on trumped up corruption charges. When Congressional subpoenas over these issues came to Rove he simply ignored them. And when he eventually resigned as Bush's aide in 2007 it was Frederik Reinfeldt who took up his services.
Still think everything is above board in Sweden?