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Julian Assange’s surprising bid to escape to Ecuador

You’ve got to hand it to Julian Assange. He knows how to capture the imagination. In a surprise escape bid, he is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking political asylum. He now…

Julian Assange’s appeal to the Ecuadorian authorities in Britain protects him from any potential extradiction … for now. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

You’ve got to hand it to Julian Assange. He knows how to capture the imagination. In a surprise escape bid, he is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking political asylum. He now faces arrest for breach of bail conditions, though he can’t be touched by UK authorities while he remains on embassy premises.

How did we get to this impasse? Assange is, of course, the founder of the whistleblower website Wikileaks which has poked some mighty bears, particularly the US government, in publishing enormous amounts of classified information leaked to it. In August 2010, Assange travelled to Sweden for a series of Wikileaks related public events.

While in the country, he had sex with two women, who later went to the police to see if Assange could be compelled to have an HIV test. Those claims have since escalated into allegations of rape and sexual assault. Sweden now seeks his extradition from the UK for questioning in relation to those allegations.

The case is murky. I don’t wish to impugn the allegations, and note that there have been some appalling instances of rape apologism by some of Assange’s supporters. Rape complainants have rights. However, so does Assange, who hasn’t actually been charged with anything (except now, regarding his bail conditions).

Why haven’t Swedish authorities sought to interview Assange in the UK, to at least decide if charges will proceed? As the extradition fight has lasted over 500 days, such a process would have moved things forward faster, surely good for both the complainants and Assange.

And then there’s the strange way in which a Swedish prosecutor quickly decided that Assange had no case to answer and Assange was allowed to leave the country after questioning over a month after the initial complaint, only for the matter to be resurrected by another prosecutor. These odd processes have led many to believe that Sweden wants its hands on Assange so that it can send him to the US.

Assange’s flight to the Ecuadorian embassy is apparently motivated by fear of eventual extradition to the US. Wikileaks' publications have enraged the government there, which has engaged in an unedifying trawl through its statute books to try to find something to charge Assange with.

A supporter of Julian Assange stands outside the Ecuador embassy where Wikileaks founder has sought political asylum. EPA/Karel Prinsloo

Pressure is reportedly being applied to Bradley Manning, the corporal charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks, to implicate Assange in crimes. (Manning himself has been detained since May 2010, including in conditions described as cruel and inhuman by the UN special expert on Torture, and faces life imprisonment).

Finally, Wikileaks has published leaks from the security company Stratfor, which indicate that Assange has already been secretly indicted in the US.

Assange has reason to fear his likely treatment if he is sent to the US. For a start, US prison conditions are often extremely severe, as Manning has found out. Secondly, high profile US politicians and commentators have intemperately labelled Assange a terrorist, and have even called for him to be taken out extrajudicially. Such wild west language may be mere bluster to impress Fox News devotees, but that is cold comfort for its subject.

And the situation wasn’t helped by the baseless labelling of Assange as a criminal by his own government, in the form of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and then Attorney General Robert McClelland (who later had to sheepishly concede that Assange hadn’t committed any crime in Australia).

So what happens now? The asylum claims, based on the future actions of Sweden and the US, are highly speculative. This is one reason why the Australian government hasn’t provided the protection sought by Assange (leading to the dramatic “effective declaration of abandonment” on the Wikileaks site).

I suspect it is not common for diplomatic representations to be made with regard to things that haven’t happened yet. Further, if the US wants to extradite Assange, why hasn’t it requested him from the UK?

Finally, powerful due process guarantees do exist to assist Assange in any proceedings in Sweden (in order to resist extradition) or the US (in any subsequent trial). While both countries have been complicit in instances of extraordinary rendition, such disgraceful circumventions of due process are less easy to engineer in the full glare of the publicity which will inevitably surround any course of action involving the high profile Assange.

But, to be fair to Assange, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you. And once he’s in Sweden, quite possibly in detention considering its reportedly unsatisfactory pre-trial procedures, he’ll have little opportunity to take any sort of control of his own fate. Unlike now.

Regardless, the issue of asylum is now a political question to be determined by the government of Ecuador, apparently within 24 hours. That country is no particular friend of the US, and its President reportedly got on famously with Assange when interviewed on the latter’s chat show (screened on Russia Today) in April.

A policeman stands under an Ecuadoran flag at the country’s embassy in central London. AAP/Karel Prinsloo

But then we come to the logistics: how does Assange get out of the embassy, where he is safe, and onto a plane to Quito? A diplomatic car can’t drive all the way up to the airport tarmac. His safe passage out of the embassy can only be achieved with the cooperation of the UK authorities.

An example of such cooperation arose recently when a deal facilitated the safe passage to the US from China of the activist Chen Guangcheng in May on a scholar’s visa.

Otherwise the standoff could be very long indeed. After being granted political asylum in 1956 by the US embassy in Budapest, Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty remained on embassy grounds until 1971 when Pope Paul VI managed to negotiate a deal with Hungary allowing him to leave the country. Less successful was the Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega, who sought refuge in the Vatican Embassy in Panama after the US invasion in 1989. After 10 days, Noriega surrendered after being subjected to a barrage of psychological warfare (along with the embassy employees), including the playing of very loud rock music.

The UK probably won’t blast the Ecuadorian embassy with the latest from Lady Gaga, but it seems doubtful that it would choose to favour the interests of Ecuador over the interests of its EU partner Sweden (and, maybe lurking in the background, the US). In which case Assange could be in for a long stay in the embassy. Unless he has another surprise to spring.

Join the conversation

57 Comments sorted by

  1. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    It appears the bail money has been lost (over $300,000), but one of his accusers is not even in Sweden.

    An accuser said Julian Assange had carried out “sexual misconduct”, but then slept with him in the same bed 4 days later.

    Another accuser said he had sex with her when she was asleep, which is completely unlikely or not possible.

    Anyone found making false accusations against Julian Assange
    is likely to get off very lightly compared to what has occurred to Julian Assange since.

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  2. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Poor bloody Assange. Hung out to dry by Australian parliamentarians and justifiably terrified of being given the gnarly treatment by the USA.

    Sarah Joseph writes:

    "While both countries (Sweden/USA) have been complicit in instances of extraordinary rendition, such disgraceful circumventions of due process are less easy to engineer in the full glare of the publicity which will inevitably surround any course of action involving the high profile Assange."

    In theory, yes, but Assange has so exposed the US political/military establishment that the closest comparison at this point has to be the fate of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who the US government executed by electric chair on June 19, 1953.

    Couldn't happen again? When Obama has agreed to assassination of US citizens deemed to be terrorists without benefit of trial? Don't bet on it.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      What I find extraordinary is that Assange was ever arrested in Britain just to answer questions on warrants that were set up to punish and arrest terrorist suspects and that the British legal system is now so debased they go along with this.

      Bail? for a man accused of and charged with no crime?

      It's just like he is an Afghan asylum seeker in Australia isn't it.

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    2. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      That is a function of the European Arrest Warrant system. I do not know a lot about it, but my understanding is that it is almost analogous to an extradition from Victoria to NSW.

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  3. Meagan Kae

    Principal, Founder at White Rabbit Studios

    It was refreshing to read such a detailed and fair assessment of the Assange situation. The Conversation is one of only two Australian media sources (include Crikey) that have provided any intelligent commentary on what has, is happening and may happen with Assange so thank you.
    I am so surprised at the overall negative support (Government, Media and general public) for Julian. I appreciate that people have differing views but I would have though that the average aussie would still care about the legal processes in place.
    It is absolutely extraordinary to think that an Australian would seek political asylum and in South America of all places.

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    1. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Meagan Kae

      I've gotten the impression that the general public in Australia has been quite sympathetic to Assange. In fact I think polls indicated he woukd gave win a Senate seat in NSW. Not so much sympathy frim the government or the media.

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  4. Colin MacGillivray

    Architect, retired, Sarawak

    Assange has greatly upset those in control in the US by being a publisher of their previously secret opinions. They obviously have great influence in the UK and Sweden. His move to Ecuador is clearly the last resort. I'm surprised his Brit supporters couldn't have hatched a better escape from the current legal lunacy. (Validated by your question- "Why haven’t Swedish authorities sought to interview Assange in the UK, to at least decide if charges will proceed?")

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    1. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Colin MacGillivray

      I would agree, particularly when one of his accusers seems to have left Sweden, and he may be placed in detention until she can be found and brought back to Sweden.

      The processes being carried out seem to be designed to drain Julian Assange and his friends of as much funding as possible, with the probability he will not be able to adequately fight any court case in the future, even though the evidence against him may be totally circumstantial or indeed false.

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  5. Yuri Pannikin

    Director

    Sarah wrote: "Further, if the US wants to extradite Assange, why hasn’t it requested him from the UK?"

    Can anyone provide a logical answer to this question? Notwithstanding the Swedish intervention, why not allow him to settle in the UK then nab him, if that's what the US has planned.

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  6. Lu de Prís

    artist

    Honestly despicable lack of political spine by Oz, to even pretend to protect its citizen - and as for the Americans they get away with internment and nobody even says 'boo'...

    'Cos the use of state terrorism is a regrettable necessity to enshrine the benefits the state brings in the long run?

    I propose that the extradition has not taken place directly from England to US - precisely because the populous is not quite ready to swallow this brand of tripe. Yet.

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Lu de Prís

      So 'the populous' would be willing to swallow an extradition from Sweden? Is that what you're saying?

      Else . . .

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    2. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Oh for heaven's sakes Yuri, do try to keep up. US attempts to extradite UK hacker Gary McKinnon have already created significant political tension in the UK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_McKinnon). The US is more than likely wanting to avoid fueling further public concern about extradition.

      Beyond that if you had read any of Wikileaks released diplomatic cables you'd be aware the US foreign policy doesn't run on logic. The reason the US political/military establishment loathes Assange and is desperate to make an example of him is that he has exposed that the emperor not only has no has no clothes but has no pubic hair either and really laughable tiny, tiny genitals too. Except for Hil who's bigger than Bill.

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    3. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Anthony,

      Well at least it's a nice change to see that you have a sense of humour, although I'd not go to a gig to see you perform. And I will only converse with you if you promise not to dob me into the feds . . . ;-).

      So you think 'public concern' would prevent the US from having a go at Assange in the UK if they really wanted him? More likely from Sweden eh? That's pretty poor logic.

      Considering the Conservative government in the UK, I would have thought it would be no problem at all.

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    4. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      No, it won't prevent it at all. I'm guessing that they have a preferred pathway...which is the Swedish option and this presumably because of the way that Swedish law allows the extradited person to be 'loaned' to the country seeking him prior to sentencing or the serving of such a sentence in Sweden.

      Mysteries abound in this - case the greatest of which is why the Swedish prosecutors, who want Assange only for questioning, haven't traveled to the UK to do so and are insisting on extradition. Beggars belief.

      As to to the Feds...you're on your own there boy but I wouldn't worry too much as they can't even locate people smugglers driving trolley carts in the ACT so I reckon you're safe.

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    5. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      I do agree, as I say in the piece, that Sweden's actions are very odd, and so it is understandable that it is suspected of questionable motives.

      But I still don't really see why the US would prefer Sweden as its "extradition partner" to the UK. Even if Sweden loans out its prisoners, I'm not sure what difference that makes. All it means is that other countries wait until a person serves his/her domestic sentence and then extradites the person. If the US sought to extradite him from the UK, the…

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    6. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Well, I can't see Assange's extradition from the UK to the US initiating popular rebellion either. A lot of comment, mine included, is necessarily speculative due to the absence of information. It is also speculative because the serial mysteries surrounding matters. So, my comments above are really just probing around, wondering out loud, as it were. The mysteries deepen when you throw into the mix the current role of Carl Rove as adviser to Sweden's PM and the way that Wikileaks exposed Swedish co-operation wit US security services.

      In the end, however, my suspicion, terrible as it is to say this, is that the US wants Assange in Sweden because Assange is going to be "rendered". That is, disappeared, Gitmo at best, permanently at worst. Sweden has form in this; Australia has form as well in looking the other way (Mamdouh Habib).

      If I were in Assange's shoes I'd have made a run for it long ago.

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    7. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Sweden definitely has form on rendition. And I didn't know Karl Rove was an adviser to the PM. But Sweden's form on rendition was known long before Wikileaks - it has been found in breach of human rights by the UN on at least 2 occasions in cases which were classic renditions, long before Wikileaks published anything.

      I really can't see rendition arising here. It is practically very difficult to "disappear" someone as high profile as Assange. Esp when he is clearly under State control so that any disappearance would be clear attributable to it, and v obvious to any interested media (of which there would be many). And if the US or anybody wanted to take him extrajudicially, why bother with a Swedish circus? The UK has also been party to renditions. In fact, in that instance he probably wouldn't be any safer in Ecuador.

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    8. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Perhaps I've underestimated the determination of the Swedish prosecutor who wants the complaints heard in court? It does seem a long time to hold someone on bail for alleged offenses committed in the course of consensual sex when the acts leading to the complaints, on many accounts, could best be described as uncouth behaviour. I'll up the ante on that: uncouth, inconsiderate, crude and testifying to an impoverished attitude to erotic equalitarianism; a bit old fashioned in terms of a sense of male entitlement. Perhaps gendered relations in Sweden are very much more different than I'd previously thought and Assange is going to be given a lesson in modern etiquette. Which would be ok except that the hearing will be in a closed session so we'll never know.

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    9. Lu de Prís

      artist

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Yes that is right - as can be seen with the Gary McKinnon and Ryan Cleary cases, both on the Aspergers & Autism spectrum and charged with hacking CIA/military computers.
      While there may not be street riots in opposition to US extradition, there is no public appetite to see vulnerable young men shipped off & increasing calls for review the US Extradition Treaty.
      In this climate the US are unlikely to be able to extradite Assange directly & smoothly from England.
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9334419/LulzSec-hacker-Ryan-Cleary-unlikely-to-be-extradited-to-US-because-he-has-Aspergers-syndrome.html

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    10. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Lu de Prís

      So when was Aspergers a defence for a crime committed? Many Aspergees are eminently capable, even brilliant, in the world.

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    11. Lu de Prís

      artist

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Do you suggest that abnormalities displayed by Asperger people should be ignored in a court case?

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    12. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Depends on the level of abnormality, if any at all. Expert witness judgement I expect.

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    13. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Lu de Prís

      Aspberger may make you extremely focused if you have a interest and a goal, but it also makes you blind for a lot of other things that we normally take for given, as understanding others reactions to what you might do. It is all a question of how grave the Asperberger syndrome is there.

      And if you're a 'super geek' you might very well miss out on a lot. Not stating that all geeks have Aspeberger though :) But it can help..

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    14. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Hi Sarah,

      I've come across a plausible explanation of why the US won't seek to extradite Assange from the UK which is that the UK won't agree to extradition where the sentence for the offence includes the death penalty. Whereas Sweden will. If this is correct, and I'm unsure as to whether it is, then this may be why.

      Any view on the law and/or international treaties here?

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    15. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Sweden is not able to extradite a person to a place where he or she foreseeably faces the death penalty or torture. So the law is the same as the UK. That is not to suggest that it hasn't done so - it's well known Sweden was involved in renditions to Egypt. So too probably the UK (to Libya apparently) but evidence is not as clear.

      The way around the death penalty is to get an assurance that US won't impose it. Which would be given in my view to either Sweden or the UK. And the US wouldn't then breach it as no European country would ever extradite again.

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  7. Bruce Tabor

    Research Scientist at CSIRO

    Sarah, given the abuses of due process you've mentioned in your article, if I were in JA's shoes I would have little confidence in receiving anything approaching a a just hearing and fair trial.

    One thing that really concerns me is the public utterances against Assange by US politicians and media commentators. Under Australian law calling for someone's extrajudicial execution is a serious offence:
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/21/assange-attorney-palin-prosecuted-inciting-violence-visits-australia/
    One would hope our own government would be speaking out to defend it's own citizens in these circumstances:
    http://www.serendipity.li/cda/open_letter_to_julia_gillard.htm

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    1. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Bruce Tabor

      As I said, I do understand why he is worried and why he has taken that action.

      As I am not him, I have the luxury of looking at the threats more dispassionately. The public utterances in the US are likely protected by its First Amendment. I am not saying they should be taken with a grain of salt, but many have arisen on Fox News where, frankly, that sort of bluster is not unusual. Given such speech is constitutionally protected, it's rare for its govt to tell people to tone down, and such an admonition…

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  8. Robert Miech

    Retired

    Lets not foget the "secret" Grand Jury process that is running along under the covers in the US.

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    1. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Robert Miech

      I don't know a lot about the Grand Jury process. But it seems to be a process used to decide whether or not to indict someone. If so, the equivalent Australian processes (decisions by the prosecutors' offices) are in fact generally conducted in secret (ie it's not a public process). Having said that, I don't know how common secret grand juries in the US are.

      A bigger problem is the alleged secret indictment. I doubt it is common in Australia to have charges that are secret. But having said that, I guess a secret indictment serves the purpose of not letting someone know he/she is "wanted". But that makes no sense here, as Assange isn't even in the country and the US can't get him unless they go public. Unless of course, there is some great plan cooked up with Sweden.

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  9. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    "I don’t wish to impugn the allegations, and note that there have been some appalling instances of rape apologism by some of Assange’s supporters. Rape complainants have rights."

    Nonsense, people who you offensively abuse as rape apologists are simply people who did what academics are too lazy to do - actually read the materials on which the process is based.
    Anyone who is not an academic and hence not necessarily congenitally intellectually lazy might wish to do the same
    http://rixstep.com/1/20110204,04.shtml

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    1. Sarah Joseph

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean,

      You have read a lot into that comment. How do you even know who I am talking about, given I did not give a link (as it could have been construed as defamatory). If people want to go through a forensic and fair dissection of the charges fine - I am no criminal lawyer and have no wish to do so. But that is not how it has been treated by everybody so yes, I do think there have been instances of rape apologism.

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    2. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      It sux, doesn't it?.

      Makes me feel I'm living in a banana republic this one :)
      Where politics rule the courts, and judges.

      I find it terribly bad publicity for Swedish justice, and fair trials.

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    3. Wei Ling Chua

      Freelance Journalist and Author at Self Employed

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Yoron, You are right, we are living in a banana republic. Not just the Assange case, in fact, in the Rio Tinto bribery case, despite of the International conventions on foreign bribery that we ratified and our relevance domestic laws on anti-foreign bribery, our politicians and media alike failed to uphold those laws and simply with holding information from the Australian public and run a smear campaign against China over a period of 9 months until the Australian executive pledged guilty and disputed only the amount of money involved: http://outcastjournalist.com/index_files/the_brutal_truth_about_rio_tinto_bribery_case.htm

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  10. Gil Hardwick

    anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

    How curious it is too, that people who upset those who think they are in a position of power, have the power to compromise and destroy someone, inevitably go for something to do with sex.

    It would be interesting to know whether in this case as well, the 'victims' went to his home, his room, his bed, yet curiously enough complained that he behaved inappropriately or criminally toward them - 'groomed' them or 'enticed' them as the wording usually goes. We don't even know what he did in fact, touched…

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    1. Lu de Prís

      artist

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Considering how terribly difficult it is to successfully prove rape in other European countries, it seems very odd indeed (regressive even) that Sweden has such sensitive definitions of consent to have swung to the opposite extreme.
      There are strange timelines and altering of stories etc by these women - I don’t know how their position can be taken seriously.

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    2. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Lu de Prís

      I can't believe I'm reading some of this . . . and from the left of politics as well.

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    3. Lu de Prís

      artist

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Let us all suspend our beliefs until something (anything!) has been proven against this man.

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Wha . . .? No Penn, Clooney or Damon?

      I worship these guys and anything good enough for Jason Bourne is good enough for me.

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  11. Ron Chinchen

    Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

    Sounds like 'something is rotten in the state of Denmark'..or should that be Sweden or the USA. Something has smelt about this case from the start.....could it be the smell of the leaking underbelly of the dirty world of politics, power, money and dirty tricks. Yes Wikigate has much more of the journalistic revelations to satisfy a besotted public before this one is finished and a proper movie version can be made.

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  12. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    "The UK probably won’t blast the Ecuadorian embassy with the latest from Lady Gaga, but it seems doubtful that it would choose to favour the interests of Ecuador over the interests of its EU partner Sweden (and, maybe lurking in the background, the US)."

    That one made me smile- I doubt Sweden by itself has any real interest in trying Julian's case. As you and me both suspect, it's murky waters here and powerful political interests driving this case.

    What I see it as about is making him a warning…

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    1. Ron Chinchen

      Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Actually I think an announcement of a high finance investment arrangement between Ecuador and the USA is about to be made. There will of course be certain concessions. Should be leaked to the public pretty soon I'd say.

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    2. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      In fact there's some evidence that Sweden, already a major arms manufacturer, wants to join NATO and is seeking "preferred supplier" status within NATO. So there is good economic reason for deep co-operation with the US on this matter.

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  13. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    Thinking of it. Nobody needs to extradite Julian from Sweden :)

    The effect wanted is already here I think, for all to see. People getting scared, reorganizing, allowing for governments to have a say before posting leaked documents, etc. So if that was the wanted response, then it's done and finished. The next 'real version' of Wiki leaks better be built with watertight compartments as if one can't keep ones anonymity, no one will dare to post. Maybe we're all going in the same direction here :) Can you hear the boots, all marching to the same tune.

    And not a bad word about East Europe or China any more, please :)

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      You're right, Yoron. Next thing we know there will be tanks in The Domain and people will be shot trying to flee across the Queensland border. (But which way?)

      And all the while people will be celebrating democracy in Tiananmen and the Stasi will be a popular pop group. Hey, maybe they already are . . .?

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    2. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Wikileaks was and remains tighter than a fish's arsehole. Manning was ratted, if you didn't know, not exposed by any flaw in Wikileaks security.

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    3. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      It all depends, doesn't it?

      The question you need to ask yourself is what a democracy is meant to be.
      And free speech.

      Without a ground to stand us those words becomes empty. We all want peace and prosperity, for us and our kids. But we also want to be free, and have a say, as in 'one man one vote'. And that is what our western democracy is about as far as I'm concerned. It's not about hiding dirty linen in the name of 'security' etc. And Assange is being set up as far as I can see.

      Or do you now something different there?

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    4. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Hmm. I've seen some other views there.
      But sure, maybe it's as good as you say.

      Hard to tell.

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    5. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Yoron said: "And Assange is being set up as far as I can see."

      So, you're saying that the women who accused Assange of assault made it up -- for what . . . collusion with the CIA or some such nonsense? What evidence do you have for that? Why do you disparage these women without evidence?

      Let the Swedish courts decide.

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  14. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    The linked article fully supports Assanges run for freedom and suggests that he is wise to do so. The author's CV leaves no doubt that his opnion is well informed:

    "Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publication arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served at CIA from the administrations of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush, and was one of five CIA “alumni” who created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) in January 2003."

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/9903-julian-assange%E2%80%99s-artful-dodge

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  15. Sarah Joseph

    Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

    In this article I say I suspect it's not common for diplomatic representations to be sought with regard to things "that haven't happened yet". I should qualify that coz as written, that's wrong.

    I was referring to representations wrt an extradition that hasn't (yet) been called for (and may never be). Representations are however often sought with regard to the future consequences of a deportation, an extradition or detention in train - eg assurances of no death penalty, no torture. Eg Aust govt claims it's sought guarantees of due process from Sweden, which would clearly relate to proceedings that "haven't happened yet".

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  16. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Naomi Wolf's latest red hot column on Assange in The Lebanon Daily Star (!)

    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2012/Sep-04/186637-assange-aside-swedens-rape-suspects-are-often-left-untouched.ashx#axzz25VTzaJT5

    " It is difficult for me, as an advocate against rape and other forms of violence against women, to fathom the laziness and willful ignorance that characterize so much of the media coverage of the sexual-assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    To report that we are simply witnessing Swedish justice at work, one must be committed to doing no research – not even the bare minimum of picking up a phone. In fact, we are witnessing a bizarre aberration in the context of Sweden’s treatment of sex crime – a case that exposes the grim reality of indifference, or worse, that victims there and elsewhere face".

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    1. Lu de Prís

      artist

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Thanks for posting this article Antony - how interesting (and predictable to anyone who has given the matter five seconds thought) that in actual fact, behind the false impressions of modernity, Sweden's record on convictions for rape charges is abysmally low - just like any other European country - or ‘among the lowest’ if you like. So much for that feminist Eden.

      I agree with Wolf that the special attention being lavished on these non charges against Assange only serve to highlight the insult to every other ‘non special’ case where a woman has to be half dead and packed with forensic proof before a rape conviction can be gained on her behalf.

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