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Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation (bbc.co.uk)
538 points by choult 189 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 375 comments



Reading the comments, many people seem unaware that Assange was indeed interviewed by Swedish prosecutors in London [1]. And before that, for years, Assange gave them that offer, but they refused time and time again (until they reluctantly accepted) [2].

As @belorn noted [3], the prosecutors had 3 options, and given it seems like they didn't have enough to make a case or a plan to continue the investigation, it had to be dropped.

Also note, that the UN has sided with Assange. As the confinement in the Embassy is confinement. And he's been unjustly confined for a longer period than the maximum penalty for rape in Sweden [4].

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-sweden-assange-idU...

[2] "He has offered to be questioned inside the embassy but the Swedish prosecutors only recently agreed." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/11/ecuador-to-let-sw...

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14374161

[4] https://www.rt.com/news/368746-un-ruling-free-assange/


No he wasn't, he was interviewed by Ecuadorians. Swedish officers were just "present".

> The Swedish assistant prosecutor, Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren, and a Swedish police investigator have been allowed to be present at the interview. They will report the findings to Sweden.

Edit: For people wondering what the problem is, Ecuador asked the questions and "[the Swedish prosecutor] is allowed to ask Assange to clarify his answers, but not to put additional questions, and will receive a written transcript of the exchanges from Ecuador after the interview has concluded." - https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/nov/14/julian-assange...


Are you suggesting the Swedish prosecution agreed to fly over to London just to sit and watch Ecuador interview Assange? I think we'd have heard more from Sweden about that if that were the case. :p


Yes, because that's what happened. "The questions were prepared by prosecutors in Sweden, where an arrest warrant for Mr. Assange was issued in 2010, but were posed by a prosecutor from Ecuador under an agreement the two countries made in August." - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/world/europe/assange-wiki...

I think a key part of a police interview is asking new questions based on responses and having an actual conversation, which the Swedish prosecutors couldn't do.


Your original comment made it sound like they had no input in the questions being put to Assange. Merely "present" to observe Ecuador. This article suggests Sweden was involved and I don't see anything suggesting the procedure (under "an agreement the two countries made") was problematic. Who asks the questions seems to just be a technicality here.


"Isgren is allowed to ask Assange to clarify his answers, but not to put additional questions, and will receive a written transcript of the exchanges from Ecuador after the interview has concluded." - https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/nov/14/julian-assange...

This is problematic.


Problematic for whom? You seem more concerned about this than the Swedish prosecutors. It seems this was the procedure they agreed to. Whether it's normal or not I don't know. But they haven't made a fuss about it. And I think they would have if it was a big concern.


They could ask for a second interview and present follow up questions.

But this raise a primary question. Is the distinction of being able to instantly make follow up questions of such importance that it will swing the binary choice of charging Assange of a crime or dropping the case?

The primary cause for a guilty and not guilty verdict should not be the quality of the environment for a police interview. Not for a such serious allegation like this.


>Reading the comments, many people seem unaware that Assange was indeed interviewed by Swedish prosecutors in London [1].

This is simply not true. The questions was asked by Ecuadorians and had to be approved beforehand. Swedish prosecutors where allowed in the room but could not talk to Assange. IE no follow up questions etc


To be fair, he was interviewed by the police in Stockholm, whereupon the investigation was terminated and he was told he could go home.

After a while, a senior prosecutor reopened the case for unexplained reasons, and asked him to fly back to Sweden on his own expenses so he could be interviewed a second time. When he offered to meat in London, but rejected coming to Sweden, she issued an European arrest warrant. I believe he was then interviewed by the British police and was held under custody, until he made the not so brilliant decision to seek asylum in the Embassy.

I've read the police investigation and while I don't want to diminish the alleged victims, I can understand why the (female) police told him to go home in the first place.

Simply put, and I'm basing this not on Assange's statement which was anyway consistent with everyone else's stories - behaving like a total wanker is not a crime, even if you happen to do that towards a politically active left wing feminist.

Everything else than the ass-hat bit in this story is a failure of the legal system in Sweden and it's a consequence of the government's self-image as infallible and that it's relatively unprotected from civil servants with personal agendas.


Do you have any sources for how the interview took place? And any indication that it was unfair? (I'm pretty sure Sweden would have refused to do it if they were unhappy with the process.)

I don't know who asked the questions, or what the procedure was, but I read the Swedish prosecutor's statement issued today and they do not mention the London interview being an issue.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assange_v_Swedish_Prosecution_...

>It was established that the interview would be conducted by an Ecuadorian prosecutor, with Isgren and a police officer present.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/sep/14/date-set-quest...

>According to Assange's lawyer, the "shape" of the questions was still being discussed a week before the scheduled interview.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/nov/07/julian-assange...


Thanks. Your original comment took issue with the statement that Assange was indeed interviewed in London by Swedish prosecutors. You said "This is simply not true." The issue for you seems to be that that the questions being put to Assange weren't actually put to him by Swedish prosecutors directly. Even though they were the Swedish prosecutors' questions being put to him. That doesn't sound like a huge issue to me, and I don't see why it should discount the interview. Especially as the Swedish prosecutors themselves have not taken issue with this aspect of the interview. It seems this was procedure they agreed to.


It seems to me that the real question is: is that the normal procedure for this kind of questioning in Ecuador territory?

I suspect that this is the case.


Source?


Lol. Pretty standard to tell courts and investigators: "Hey, how about we meet at my place instead?" (on top of that at a place where the investigators don't have jurisdiction)


It actually is pretty standard. Sweden has done it in many other cases. As Wikileaks highlighted when this was made into an issue.


IANAL but it seems that Sweden has agreements with certain countries to enable questioning of someone who's not in the country. When it comes to EU states it's pretty straight forward.

One thing that would complicate this matter is that there doesn't seem to be an agreement between Ecuador and Sweden regarding this. Given that JA was under Ecuadorian jurisdiction it's entirely possible that this was one of the reasons why the prosecutor didn't go down that route initially.

Sources (sorry, can only find them in Swedish):

http://www.regeringen.se/sveriges-regering/justitiedeparteme...

http://www.regeringen.se/sveriges-regering/justitiedeparteme...


It's pretty standard to go to the police for questioning when they can't/won't come to you. In the US you can assert your 5th amendment rights not to answer questions, but as far as I know Assange hasn't said he won't answer questions.


For America Yes, for Europe no


As the confinement in the Embassy is confinement. And he's been unjustly confined for a longer period than the maximum penalty for rape in Sweden.

That's valid if Sweden locked him in the Ecuador Embassy. He went there to shield himself.

Personally I think (my opinion, anyway) that the rape charges were work of the CIA, but that's another story.


It's nice of him to offer to answer their questions where he chooses, everyone should have that choice. It wasn't Assange that refused to go back to Sweden, it was Sweden to refused to come to Assange.


I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not.

His refusal to cooperate with the investigation on Sweden's terms wasn't about the alleged crime itself. His concern was that because he was involved in a criminal investigation, he could be taken into custody by either British or Swedish authorities at which point he could be extradited to the US.


Actually, his 'conditions' for meeting with the Swedish government were absurd. Basically guaranteeing his freedom no matter what. That's not how criminal investigates are done.


He is supposedly in fear of being extradited to the US and then stuck in a hole to rot. On paper Guantanamo is 'not how criminal investigations are done' either.


> He is supposedly in fear of being extradited to the US and then stuck in a hole to rot.

If the US wanted him from Britain for national security reasons (or political reasons masquerading as national security reasons), they wouldn't try to get him extradited to Sweden to do it; the US has closer security cooperation with the UK than Sweden.


You're overthinking it. Assange only has to be afraid of being arrested, for fear of being extradited somehow. The specifics of the UK/Sweden situation really don't matter.


That was his stated concern. I don't think it makes any sense because he could have been arrested by Swedish or British authorities long before the alleged rapes occurred.


Well let's assume he was scared of a random arrest before the allegations. He'd be extra scared when they emerged.

Not sure what's to doubt.


The fact that he was in Sweden already? And the fact that he fled to the UK, the closest ally of the US in Europe as well as a NATO country, unlike Sweden? And perhaps the fact that he now plans to seek asylum in France, another NATO country?

It's very convenient how this conspiracy theory of the US snatching Assange from Sweden cropped up just as he was accused of a crime in Sweden I would say.


None of this requires a conspiracy theory or 'snatching'. Assange is scared of being arrested, and once he is in custody, being extradited to the US somehow. The Sweden/UK details are irrelevant.


The conspiracy theory is the one that he will be extradited to the US on "secret charges" as soon as he is arrested in Sweden. Some others in this thread compared it to other CIA grabs, for example one in Italy.


Plus prison in Sweden is like staying at a Best Western.


"You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners". F. Dostoyevsky


Weren't the charges politically motivated? The story was too hard to believe. Does anybody have more details?


That was Assange's claim, but there are two women in Sweden who say that he sexually victimized them. The details of their claims have been out for a while: IIRC they had consensual sex with him, and later that night he had nonconsensual sex with them. It seems Sweden (rightly) takes sexual assault much more seriously than some other jurisdictions.


The two women say they were not raped, and were railroaded by Swedish police.

> "On a point of law, the Swedish Supreme Court has decided Ny can continue to obstruct on the vital issue of the SMS messages. This will now go to the European Court of Human Rights. What Ny fears is that the SMS messages will destroy her case against Assange. One of the messages makes clear that one of the women did not want any charges brought against Assange, "but the police were keen on getting a hold on him". She was "shocked" when they arrested him because she only "wanted him to take [an HIV] test". She "did not want to accuse JA of anything" and "it was the police who made up the charges". (In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been "railroaded by police and others around her".)

> Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both have denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, "I have not been raped."

-from http://johnpilger.com/articles/assange-the-untold-story-of-a...


I linked the NY Times story above, but at least one of the women remains adamant that she was raped, and is shocked by the decision to drop the case. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/world/europe/julian-assan...

'Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represents the woman who accused Mr. Assange of rape, issued a scathing response after the prosecutors abandoned the case. “A legal examination is very important for someone who has been raped, as is the possibility for redress,” she said. “In this case, there have been many turns and the wait has been very long. My client is shocked and no decision to shut the case down can get her to change her position that Assange raped her.”'


After you have brought charges it becomes up to the prosecutor. You can't take them back. If it was possible for someone to take back charges, it would be trivial for the suspect to have the charges dropped by threatening the victim.


He had consensual sex with them. The sex only became nonconsensual retroactively when they learned about one another. Which is frankly, bullshit.


My understanding is that he had consensual sex with them, they went to sleep, then he had nonconsensual sex with them while they were sleeping. They were individually disturbed by these events, but did not decide to file charges until they compared stories.

That's very different from "the sex became nonconsensual retroactively". And I don't think it's uncommon for women brave the consequences of speaking out about sexual assault when they believe there's a pattern of behavior they can protect other women from.


> My understanding is that he had consensual sex with them, they went to sleep, then he had nonconsensual sex with them while they were sleeping.

Source? Seems to differ from: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange...


Thanks. I must have been thinking of Miss W's story there. Miss A's account is even more serious: clear sexual assault.


You're just speculating. But sure, in case the accusations are fabricated that's a much more plausible explanation than that there's a big conspiracy going on.


No, one of the charges is that he started having sex with someone who was asleep.


I was unjustly confined in my bedroom this morning because I also refused to leave. In my case, it was fear of making my brats breakfast, not prosecution, but same thing.


David Allen Green‏, Law and policy commentator at @FT:

>It is now easier for US to obtain Assange's extradition, if they (ever) wanted it.

>Now only UK's consent required, not UK and Sweden.

https://twitter.com/davidallengreen/status/86550564980685619...


That assessment, though, is based on an assumption that Swedish authorities would have complied with Swedish law. Part of Assanges fear of going to Sweden, whether justified or not, is presumably that Sweden had a history of letting Swedish police get away with blatantly violating Swedish law in support of US rendition. One could argue that this risk is not real in his case, but that is/was not relevant to whether or not it affected Assange's concern about which country seemed safer.

Part of that fear was presumably based in the unusual persistence of the Swedish prosecutor, which implied something odd was going on. But that "something odd" might simply have been the prosecutors ambitions.

In any case, UK courts have a history of taking extradition hearings very seriously, and there are ample opportunities to appeal both to UK courts, the ECHR, and (for the time being) to the ECJ, so it'd by no means be easy to get him from the UK direct.


If Assange truly feared the police blatantly violating Swedish law in support of rendition, then it would seem strange for him to base himself in Sweden, remain in the country whilst being well aware of the investigation under way against him and leave only on the day they notified him they'd received legal authorisation to detain him. And then repeat the whole thing in the UK...


They had closed the case, and notified him of that. Then a new prosecutor reopens the case and goes after him.

The point is that Sweden might very well have seemed perfectly safe despite those past actions until a prosecutor took those steps which still seems exceedingly odd.

To have one prosecutor say there was no case to answer, only to have another prosecutor specifically go after the case and reopen it, is uncommon to say the least.


(i)The case was very publicly reopened the week after it had been announced it was being dropped. I mean, it's not like headlines like this would have escaped Assange's notice http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/rape-investig...

Assange spent 26 more days in the country and then flew out hours after his arrest warrant was signed.

(ii) there's nothing particularly unusual about a more senior prosecutor overriding an earlier decision of a more junior prosecutor following an appeal from the alleged victims' lawyer and an interview with the accused. Especially when it's a one-party's word against another's case and the accusing party had initially seemed reluctant to pursue a prosecution.


>Assange spent 26 more days in the country and then flew out hours after his arrest warrant was signed.

You are spreading many falsehoods here, first of all, it was NOT a junior prosecutor who dropped the case, chief prosectutor Eva Finné was the one who first handled it and immediately dropped it due to there not being any grounds for a case.

It was a junior prosector Karin Rosander who then suddenly brought the case up again, at this point (20/10 2010) Assange WAS questioned by the police.

The day after this, senior prosecutor Marianne Ny decided to restart the preliminary investigation.

At this point Assange left the country, three weeks later, Marianne Ny filed an arrest warrant on Assange for further questioning.

Assange agreed to be interviewed by video link, something Swedish prosecutors have done many times before, by Marianne Ny refused and demanded that he'd return to sweden for further questioning.

This for accusations which even well known feminists working daily against rape say are laughable:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/interpol-the-worlds...

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-rape...


> ii) there's nothing particularly unusual about a more senior prosecutor overriding an earlier decision of a more junior prosecutor

The prosecutor who dismissed the case was senior, and not junior in any sense of the word, rank or age.

You say it's not unusual (in Sweden). I've never seen a single example of another rape case which was dismissed and reopened in this manner. Can you give a few examples of other re-opened Swedish rape cases, seeing that it's "not unusual" from your point of view.


> > ii) there's nothing particularly unusual about a more senior prosecutor overriding an earlier decision of a more junior prosecutor

> The prosecutor who dismissed the case was senior, and not junior in any sense of the word, rank or age.

Marianne Ny was Överåklagare and she was senior to Eva Finnè who had the title Chefsåklagare. According to her, she reopened the case because new relevant information had become available.

> Can you give a few examples of other re-opened Swedish rape cases, seeing that it's "not unusual" from your point of view.

It's rare but it happens: http://www.nsd.se/nyheter/forundersokning-om-valdtakt-aterup... https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/vast/forundersokning-om-va... http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artik...


How many Swedish rape cases have you examined?

Because I have seen only one reopened, but I happen to know about exactly one, so I wouldn't presume to talk about it's irregularity.


The point being that initially it seemed safe to stay - that this case would go away and was genuinely just about those allegations. Then the longer it went on, the more unusual the case seemed.

Whether or not it was unusual enough to justify Assanges fears is irrelevant. The question is whether or not they were enough to cause him to start fearing something else was going on.


But if he's worried about the Swedish police violating Swedish law, why would he care about whether or not the case is closed? If the CIA/Swedish police were to snatch him, in blatant violation of a number of laws, it's not like they would hold back just because some rape charges were dropped?


It's also very strange that, if he was really afraid of the US & NATO, he'd flee to the UK. Sweden is not in NATO, and the UK co-founded it. The UK and the US have a long standing "special relationship", with the UK being the main other country involved in invading Iraq. If you're afraid of the US, why you'd go to the UK is beyond me.


First of all where does NATO come from here? Why would he fear NATO? It sounds to me like you just added that in because it's something that puts the UK in the same group as the US.

Where would you suggest he should go?

UK courts have a long history of letting extradition cases take years and/or denying extradition, and UK courts have a history of reacting to political pressure by standing firm rather than yielding. There are few places where I'd trust the legal system more.

Which other countries do you think have courts willing to stand up to political pressure, and where the US can't or won't just pick him off the streets without causing a major diplomatic crisis, and that would be somewhere you'd be able to get visas and where you'd want to live?

I can't think of many countries that'd fit those criterias. Most of the places I can think of where I'd believe the US would be unlikely to be able to get at someone are places I'd rather not want to live.

But the UK would be high on my list of places where I'd feel the risk would be low.


> where does NATO come from here?

I have heard people say things like "Sweden has co-operated with NATO in [....]". Maybe Sweden does co-operate with NATO, but it's not a member and the UK is.

The UK courts might seem wonderful in merry old England, but just look at what happened in Northern Ireland, and you'll see a different face of the British legal system. Interment without trial, torture, extrajudicial killing, all of UK citizens on UK soil.


It's actually tough to extradite from the UK. Lots of corrupt Indian businessmen go to the UK when they wish to flee our taxmen. And then mock us in the British papers and TV.


India != US. My bet is that UK would fall over themselves if the US demanded a corrupt businessman or a "high value target" like Assange.


Here is Theresa May, current UK PM, denying extradition of Gary McKinnon, after years of hearings, wanted for one of the largest hacks of US military networks of all time:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/16/world/europe/uk-us-mckinnon-ex...

The UK has a history of both courts and the Home Office denying extraditions. Theresa May is a "law and order" authoritarian to boot, but even she is not prepared to fall over herself to satisfy US extradition requests.


And not to mention that fear when arguing against his extradition in a UK court.


> Part of that fear was presumably based in the unusual persistence of the Swedish prosecutor, which implied something odd was going on. But that "something odd" might simply have been the prosecutors ambitions.

The law is the law, and Assange stood accused of a serious crime in Sweden. The idea that Sweden would simply forget about it because Assange had holed himself up in an embassy for five years seems misplaced.


With the "unusual persistence" I was not referring to keeping the case open, but with e.g. continuing to refuse not to interview him for four years for no good reason, while giving reasons that she eventually proved were false by finally agreeing to do it anyway.


You ignore the procedural limitations imposed by Swedish law. The law is a perfectly "good reason" for authorities to act the way they did.

It is a rather common meme to accuse Swedes of not conforming to concepts of British/U.S. law (common law system) when Swedish has another system, not any worse but somewhat different in the usage of terms like "charge".


Which procedural limitations? The ones Ny proved doesn't exist when she finally after four years interviewed him in London after all?

I'm not expected Sweden to be like the UK/US - I'm Norwegian, and our system is much closer to the Swedish and to the UK/US systems.

I am expecting a prosecutor to not stubbornly refuse to take actions for fours years while claiming it to be impossible, while being contradicted by legal experts, just to suddenly decide it's possible after all.

If that's too much to ask of Swedish prosectors, you have a big problem with your legal justice system.


> You ignore the procedural limitations imposed by Swedish law.

Can you clarify this? I'm honestly confused - the topic seems to be the refusal and then acceptance of an in-embassy interview. I could understand if the refusal was a procedural issue, but in that case why was it eventually accepted?


Exactly. Sweden was clearly trying to say the in-embassy interview was out of the question, against Swedish law. Then completely backtracked and went ahead with it anyway. Doesn't inspire much confidence. Perhaps the UN ruling against Sweden was the what pushed them to do it.


It doesn't have to be "the prosecutor's ambition"–it's just an unwillingness to let someone skip a trial just by fleeing, and the precedent it would set.


That does not explain the highly unusual step of overruling another prosecutors decision that there was no case to answer, the illegal release of information to the press, nor the insistence not to interview him in the UK - something she kept up for four years before finally accepting that there is no legal basis preventing her from doing so (one of the excuses used), and finally interviewing him last year.


Whereas the UK has a history of colluding with terrorists to murder politically annoying human rights lawyers ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Finucane ) and oppressing an ethnic minority (the whole of The Troubles in Nothern Ireland). There's a reason "People in NI should have direct access to the ECHR" (as opposed to going through UK courts) was a part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement when brought peace to NI.

UK is hardly a bastion of freedom and liberty.


I did not imply anywhere that the UK is a bastion of freedom and liberty. For starters I don't personally consider the UK a democracy at all because of the electoral system, and I do agree with you there were certainly plenty of abuses related to Northern Ireland.

But the question here is where Assange would have reason to feel safer in the UK than in Sweden, and just like many other places through history, a place can both be incredibly safe for one group of people and unsafe for other groups of people at the same time.


Other legal commentators in the thread pointing out that he is still wanted for "failing to surrender" to his bail which can face up to 12 months in prison. This is what the arrest warrant will be for, not some secret US extradition request.

Prosecution guidance on the offence: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/bail/#a32


But now the UK government can surrender that right to prosecute him if they want to. The political responsibility is pretty clear at this point.


Why? He had the opportunity to appeal all the way to the UK Supreme Court who ruled that the extradition request was valid. Those who pledged surety over his bail were ordered to pay £93,500 back in 2012. This absolutely should not be about politics but about the rule of law.

There is a serious point as well that bail needs to be enforced otherwise its effectiveness is reduced, which in turn makes it easier for the arguments limiting the right to bail to be made. Assange has made it more likely that future defendants will be denied bail.


Is the risk that an accused on bail can be granted political asylum a reason to deny bail for future defendants?

In the history of UK, how many times have this set of circumstances happed?


Applying for asylum is also part of the rule of law. It was granted based on real concerns. Since backed up by UN legal experts who found in his favour.


> This absolutely should not be about politics but about the rule of law.

But it is about politics. No other bail-skipper in recent memory was ever granted the attention and resources that the UK police granted to the Assange case. It's also pretty clear by now that the Swedish charges were overblown, with very strong suggestions that it was done for political reasons. Hiding behind procedures will not change that.

A "strong and stable" government, relishing its independence from foreign states, would drop this in a second and reconsider its procedures for future cases, so that other countries cannot abuse UK law to enforce bogus prosecutions. In the context of Brexit and the noise about "security cooperation", this would also be a strong message.


>It's also pretty clear by now that the Swedish charges were overblown, with very strong suggestions that it was done for political reasons.

That's not clear at all and there are no such strong suggestions from any reputable source. Assange has not been charged with anything in Sweden, he was merely wanted for questioning before any such charges could be made. People suggesting Sweden wanted him back just to hand him over to the US don't know what they are talking about, no matter how strong they are suggesting it.


Has there been any kind of comparable instance though? Had he skipped bail by just not showing up we could compare the manhunt that happened with any other bail skipper. But his location was very publicly known - what would a reasonable government do in that situation in your view?


But isn't the lack of comparable cases exactly the point?

It was claimed upthread that "Assange has made it more likely that future defendants will be denied bail." That sounds good, except that Assange skipped bail by getting political asylum. It's not exactly a generalizable argument against bail, and even within the context of leakers it appears unprecedented. The case is exceptional, which is what makes it politicized and irrelevant to 'normal' bail skip situations.

Regardless of why Assange was wanted, we can still say it's political when Britain threatened to storm a foreign embassy to recover an asylum-seeker. That's an inherently political decision, in the sense that no domestic police force in the Western world would do it without political guidance.

None of which is to say what's true in Assange's case. But I'm not impressed by the arguments "now everyone can beat rape charges by receiving asylum and spending 5 years trapped in a foreign embassy" and "threatening to raid an embassy to capture an asylum grantee is apolitical".

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-wikileaks-assange-ecuador-...


As you say, this is not a simple criminal case - criminals don't broadcast their location when skipping bail. So you have to deal with it politically. A reasonable government would have done that a long time ago, getting Sweden to change its stance sooner (as it eventually happened anyway, like most people asked for and predicted, since it had been done before). Once that is sorted, you can liquidate it all as "a big misunderstanding" without losing face.

Unfortunately now it's very late, and I find it hard to believe the person responsible for this stupid position in the first place, currently leading the country, will do anything smart to resolve this for good.


So a politically significant person should be able to leverage their celebrity and status to avoid a rape charge?


I don't see how that even comes close to being a good faith reading of toyg's point. Assange's "celebrity", to the extent that we can even use a term like that to describe him in this context, flows from the political controversy surrounding him. Calling it celebrity abstracts away the political nature of Assange's status which is critical to any consideration of the charges against him.

No one is suggesting that a celebrity like Drake could apply for political asylum at an Ecuadorian embassy to avoid rape charges. But if that's what you're taking away from the argument it's probably worth reading it again and engaging with more good faith.


Naive


It's worth noting that David Allen Green is not a neutral commentator here. He was very clearly against Assange early on. See this piece where Glenn Greenwald debunks some of his falsehoods. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/24/new-st...


Also he is still not free, UK made it clear that they would arrest him in first opportunity.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-sweden-assange-bri...


Because he skipped bail, which is against the law.

They would arrest anybody who did the same thing.


Do you think they spend as much money on less politically noteworthy bail skippers?


On a bail skipper "hiding" in plain sight in the middle of London? Absolutely. Why is how much money "they" spend even relevant? He skipped bail. He should be arrested and face the consequences just like anyone else in the same situation.


Less politically noteworthy bail skippers generally wouldn't have the connections/money to avoid bail by hiding in an embassy for years, but I would say yes.


It's always a good thing to bring cases like this into some kind of context to see the extent to which it's the rule of law or something else. Julian Assange may be a rapist but a prosecutor thought there wasn't enough to even say maybe don't leave the country. Roman Polanski may not be a child rapist but I'm not even sure he arguing that. [1]

How would you characterise the difference in the treatment of these gentlemen and I use the word gentlemen quite wrongly.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Polanski


Personally I find it appalling how freely Polanski moves around (for what is worth I like many of his films).


Why is Ecuador's consent not required if he is inside their embassy?


It is, obviously, it's just assumed that he'd rather like to leave at some point..


What about the secret US charges?

I honestly don't understand how in our democracy there is even such a concept as "secret charges". It just sounds mind-bogglingly corrupt and out of place.


There is a "kill list" [1] which is unbelievable on its own so I don't see this as much of a stretch.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disposition_Matrix


> Disposition Matrix, informally known as a kill list

God, I wish this terrible term didn't remind me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuEQixrBKCc

I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protest themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. [0]

[0]: https://www.iceboxman.com/carlin/pael.php#track15


> U.S. officials speaking to The Washington Post seemed "confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit"

Wonder how much sleep Obama's been getting these days.


Oh my god. If Trump would introduce something like that the entire internet would explode.


already exists for a long time.


"If"?


I think the relevant part of the page being "Developed by the Obama administration beginning in 2010"


I'm not sure why that's the relevant part, but the part of the Obama administration responsible was CIA director Brennan, who was doing similar stuff during the G.W. Bush administration and just happened to give it an official name while Obama was around.

It's nowhere near the first kill list the US has had, it's just the first one called "Disposition Matrix". Previous administrations had other names. For example: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_actions_of_the_CIA


He'll probably be on Hillary's kill list, at least.


Don't you need to charge someone with a crime for an arrest warrant (except for "material witness" and other shenanigans)?

Because, in that case, wouldn't you want to keep that information under wraps in quite a few cases, and completely legitimately? Preparing to arrest a foreign drug dealer when he's expected to come to the US comes to mind.

Just because it's "secret" doesn't make an evil conspiracy against democracy. The accused's rights are protected at trial, where the public cannot be excluded except in extreme circumstances. But they don't get to watch the investigations on C-SPAN.


Except that's not how it is used. For instance one person who was arrested, tried and convicted like this operated a UK based betting company that US nationals used to bet.

Instead of going after the betters a secret indictment was passed which was then used to arrest an exec of the company because of course American laws apply to any business done over the internet...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Carruthers

The general view of people in that industry was that it is A-Ok for Americans to gamble, but not ok for them to gamble abroad.


I agree with all of this, but I'd note that there have still been some exceptional rumblings about Assange in the States.

Specifically, the suggestion was made that by several political figures that he shouldn't be charged until after extradition. Since treason charges can carry the death penalty, and would thereby block extradition from no-death-penalty Sweden, it was proposed that he should be extradited to answer a subpoena (no legal issue), and then immediately charged when delivered to the United States.

To my knowledge, this is pretty bizarre. It blatantly circumvents the intent of most extradition agreements, which is to only extradite where the crime and penalty are acceptable in the host company. Not exactly 'secret charges', since it made the news, but at least an open secret where a subpoena would be issued specifically to avoid normal procedures.

(Of course, nothing ever came of it that I saw. I don't mean to claim there are secret charges, only that this idea might be what people meant.)


The closest thing to 'secret charges' is a secret indictment. This is a normal grand jury indictment, except its existence is not made public.

"Prosecutors may request a secret indictment if they are concerned that someone may flee if he or she becomes aware that trial proceedings are being set in motion. It is also possible to ask for one to protect witnesses and other people involved with the case. "

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-secret-indictment.htm


An indictment itself means nothing. A Grand Jury either returns "True Bill" or "No Bill". In this case it would be a sealed "True Bill".


Do they really exist though? Assange travelled to the US on several occasions before the Swedish charges came up ...


I think the best indication that's emerged is in Comey's recent testimony[1]

> before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey was asked why the United States had not charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with a crime. Comey said he had to be careful with his answer, because he did not want to confirm whether there were charges pending against Assange, but then responded: “He hasn't been apprehended because he is inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.”

1: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/03/james-comey-wikilea...


Which, as evidence to that goes, isn't any.

Comey can't comment on classified or open cases (which Assange would be because, duh, WikiLeaks) just procedural things. Which that was.

It says nothing other than they have an investigation- well we knew that.


> It says nothing other than they have an investigation- well we knew that.

To me, the words “he hasn't been apprehended because he is inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London" strongly imply, in context, that the US has an intention to "apprehend" Assange.


Well yes. We knew that already too.

The US already wanted to apprehend him while he was walking around London before his Embassy period so it's clearly not a snatch & grab situation.

He's not been officially charged with a crime in the US yet either so extradition isn't an issue.


> > > > > do secret charges exist?

> > > > The best info we have is from Comey's testimony which says 'maybe' and they want to arrest him

> > > It says nothing other than they have an investigation- well we knew that.

> > and they want to arrest him

> Well yes. We knew that already too.

Anything else that we already know you would like to add?


Nah. Given you've already devolved into misquoting and misrepresentation, I'm pretty sure we're done here.


Not sure about 'secret charges' but there are these recent charges. [1]

[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/20/politics/julian-assange-wi...


What base do these have? Assange isn't a US citizen, so he can't be charged for treason like Snowden and Manning. He just gained information and published it.


AFAIK they could try and charge him under the Espionage Act but it would be difficult and unlikely to succeed. I think there are one or two other possible charges but both are also unlikely to succeed. As long as they can make his life a living hell though (long trial, loss of freedoms until found innocent) that would hopefully (from the USG perspective) discourage other leakers.


> AFAIK they could try and charge him under the Espionage Act but it would be difficult and unlikely to succeed.

So you are saying the US has laws which within US jurisdiction says that it's OK to file for extradition of non-US citizens anywhere in the world, if the US doesn't like what they do?

Good for them, I guess, but why should the rest of the world comply?

If we should comply with this for the US, surely we should do so too for Iran, China and Russia, just to mention a few. Is that a direction which anyone have any illusions about ever ending well?


This is nothing new. We comply with the US because it's politically good and vice versa for those other nations. However the UK does have a decent record denying extraditions to the US from what I've seen (Gary McKinnon for example).


> So you are saying the US has laws which within US jurisdiction says that it's OK to file for extradition of non-US citizens anywhere in the world, if the US doesn't like what they do?

The US certainly has laws which criminalize behavior outside of the US by non-US citizens; and certainly has attempted extradition (and simple forcible seizure, even in the presence of an extradition treaty with the country where the target was located) based on those laws.

> Good for them, I guess, but why should the rest of the world comply?

That depends on the specifics of the particular case.


Have you not heard of Kim Dotcom? He's battling extradition to the USA despite never having set foot in the country nor registered a business there.


Yes, but he deprived MPAA and RIAA of revenue, so that's fair game.


There were many cases when USA kidnapped citizens of other countries and put them to jail.


If other countries did that to US citizens we all know the uproar it would cause in the US. Incredible hypocrisy.


Neither Snowden nor Manning was charged with treason.


opponents to the US In many countries around the world were captured and sent to Guantanamo. Do you need any rules when you are the one with the largest power In the world?


It would be extraordinarily difficult to charge him with treason even if he was an American citizen.


I believe the US traditionally sidesteps this legal thorn by detaining people without charge at gitmo for as long as they like. Non-US citizens have minimal to no rights under US law, so it's all just peachy


Doesn't the US Bill of Rights talk in several places about "any person":

Fifth Amendment to USA Constitution:

>nor shall any person [...] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;

Sounds like quite a strong right.

FWIW this contrasts with the pages referring to "the people" which are limited and not universal, "any person" means any person.


Some quick Googling tells me that the fifth amendment was ratified in 1791, 74 years before slavery was abolished. So apparently the US didn't really take that one seriously from the start.

More recently, I recall the case of David Hicks, an Australian citizen. He was declared an "enemy combatant", detained without charge and tortured in Guantanamo bay until he signed a confession to a law which did not exist at the time he was detained.

You should read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hicks#Guantanamo_Bay

Regardless of the stupidity and provocativeness of Hicks' actions, he is a citizen of a nation that is supposedly a US ally, and one would think a person under the US constitution, but he received no protection. The US abused him while the AU government did nothing.

The US government ignores it's own constitution whenever it finds it inconvenient, and any objections are arm-waved away as being legal by the findings of a secret court no US citizen is allowed to know the inner workings of.

It doesn't matter what's written on some crusty paper in a museum somewhere if no one actually abides by it. The US constitution is dead, and I would certainly not trust my liberty to the tender mercies of those who have nailed it's corpse to their standard.


Yes, but Guantanamo is outside the US and so the Constitution doesn't apply.


> Yes, but Guantanamo is outside the US and so the Constitution doesn't apply.

Nowhere in the Constitution is there any support for the idea that the Constitution only limits the actions of the US government that happen to be within the US rather than on territory leased from another country and subject to full control by the US government.


It doesn't say "any person in the USA" nor "any US citizen", when it wants to specify that then the amendment uses "the people". Would be interested in the actual caselaw for this?


I'm not a US legal scholar but I wouldn't be surprised to know the US Supreme Court might have ruled that such rights do not apply to non-US citizens.


yeah otherwise it would be hard to justify the invasion of Iraq among other things.


such laws generally don't apply to war. they don't even apply to soldiers.

an officer can order hundreds of soldiers to charge into certain death without repercussions - as long as the military goal he's trying to achieve is justifiable.


> such laws generally don't apply to war. they don't even apply to soldiers.

There was never a formal declaration of war on Iraq. Just saying.


Declaration of war comes under "due process of law" surely.


> such laws generally don't apply to war. they don't even apply to soldiers.

No declaration of war was made on Iraq.


> No declaration of war was made on Iraq.

Yes, it was; no special language is needed in a declaration of war; the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force" was plainly and unmistakeably a conditional declaration of war, the conditions for which were fulfilled.


If you declare war, you have to follow Geneva rules, so you can't do Guantanamo detentions; if you do Guantanamo detentions, you're not legally at war. Pick one.


> If you declare war, you have to follow Geneva rules,

The applicability of the Geneva Conventions is affected by the fact of war, but independent of whether there is a declaration. And even if it wasn't, violations of the Conventions would not reach back in time and change whether a declaration had occurred.


They don't specifically state what they are charging him with in that article, just that they "seek to put him in jail".


That's even worse imo. They can't find something he has done wrong but still want to imprison him.


I cannot help but suspect the recent "stealthing" headlines following Comey's(?) 180° turn against Wikileaks is part of the campaign. Sure, it is an abhorrent act and justifiably prosecutable, and just so happens to be what Sweden was wanting to question Assange about, but when WSJ, WaPo, Fox, USA Today, CNN & Fox run the same headlines for two weeks on a prior low-priority subject(for them & their advertisers), I cannot help but wonder at the genesis for this particular MSM meme of late.


Interesting. So, they are not trying to charge him for publishing documents, but for helping Snowden.


They are not secret in that sense. Assange will know them when they are filed with the court.

I have a feeling that there's enough material to put him on trial in USA and he has gone tit-tat with many three-letter agencies. They have a long memory and don't like challengers. Whether he gets convicted or not that's another thing.


Congratulations Julian! It's been a long time coming.

On a related note, for those unaware, the asylum seekers who helped Snowden escape Hong Kong are currently under threat of being sent back to their own countries (which they left for various reasons including violence, torture and rape). Snowden has called for people to help them. 56% of the €100k goal has been raised so far.

https://www.gofundme.com/snowdenguardians


Really? We're congratulating people who successfully skip bail now?


Didn't they setup fake accusations to destroy his reputation and make it easier to let the US imprison him?

I thought this all was pretty obvious :/


"I thought this all was pretty obvious"

I don't know... it doesn't look like fake accusations to me. It was more like things that were there and US used for an entirely political reason, but the claim still seemed legit.

Also, it seems they dropped the charges due to a technicality: "Marianne Ny said his arrest warrant was being revoked as it was impossible to serve him notice of his alleged crimes"


The rape victim is still holding on to these "fake" accusations even after 7 years. Strange eh?


Not really. If the accusations are true they'd hold on to them, and if they are false they'd likely face consequences on dropping them.


Who knows, the accuser, Anna Ardin left Sweden for Israel shortly after making the accusations and has not made a single comment since then as far as I know.


Doesn't twitter count? https://twitter.com/therealardin If you mean that she hasn't made "a single comment" about the allegations, then it is possibly so that she is a public figure and doesn't want to be "the girl who accused Assange of rape" for the rest of her life.


Not really.

I mean, when you get in so deep, you can't just back off anymore.

Also, the background isn't know.

Those victims could be agents or be threatened by some governments.


Oh yeah, the whole government smear campaign theory. That a state could only muster "might have had quasi-consensual sex and not worn a condom".

That was the best they could come up with in a setup?


Far from it. I would watching recommend Laura Poitras' (of Citizenfour fame) new movie Risk. It follows Assange over the course of 6 years, including through the rape allegations. It's an extremely intimate view as Poitras is able to get ostensibly unfettered access to Assange.

Assange's private reactions to the rape allegations seen in the film seemed pretty telling to me. He is clearly made uncomfortable by them, and offers somewhat misogynistic conspiracy theories in his defense. I really got the sense watching it that it was more likely than not he committed some kind of sexual assault. I think even the most dyed-in-the-wool Assange supporter would be left with a lot of uncertainty at least after watching it.


It's as obvious as electricity making people sick and chem trails being used to control peoples minds. And that the earth is flat of course.


It's going to be interesting watching everyone flip sides on this from where they were 4 years ago.


It should be noted that the prosecutor had three options:

1: Drop the charges.

2: Drop the arrest order but continue the investigation. To do so require a plan which would progress the investigation.

3: Charge Assange with rape, arguing that the evidence collected so far is enough for a case.

And we got the first option, and thus we can conclude that the prosecutor don't have enough evidence to go to court and have no plans on how to further the investigation.


Yes but things might not be that black and white.

Another perspective on this whole story is that Swedish prosecution did what they are meant to do in such a case. They spent the time they were meant to spend trying to build the preliminary investigation and could not complete it.

So not wanting to give this case special treatment over other cases they chose to end it at this point. I'm sure this case has already received its fair share of special treatment considering the press conference today was held in both Swedish and English.

Fact is that if any other suspect of a sexual crime would flee custody and go into hiding for 5 years they would most likely drop the preliminary investigation.

What was special about Assange was that he was in a known location on foreign soil and in a politically charged situation.

So there is a more pragmatic and less conspiratorial view too but I can't say which is true. All I know is that Assange is a journalist being treated like a terrorist.


Well if you cannot question the accused, it sort of limits what evidence you can collect...


That question was tested by the Swedish court, and they found that the prosecutor was able to continue the investigation by questioning Assange in the embassy through an agreement between the Ecuador and Sweden. This decision to drop the case was partial because of the result of that interview.


That interview was led by a prosecutor from Ecuador. The Swedish prosecutor and police was only allowed to be present, so they could not question Assange as they wanted.


Edited:

You're right. The Swedish prosecutor and police were present but indeed the questions were posed on their behalf.

> On Monday morning, a Swedish deputy chief prosecutor, Ingrid Isgren, and a police inspector, Cecilia Redell, arrived at the Ecuadorean Embassy, in the Knightsbridge section of West London, as journalists gathered outside.

I don't think this means that Sweden didn't get the chance to ask question though - and if there were any they were prevented from asking, I'm sure they would have stated this in the aftermath.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/world/europe/assange-wiki...


Did you read your link? Ecuador was the one that shut him out and the questions were asked by a prosecutor from Ecuador.

>The questions were prepared by prosecutors in Sweden, where an arrest warrant for Mr. Assange was issued in 2010, but were posed by a prosecutor from Ecuador under an agreement the two countries made in August.

>“For some reason that I am not aware of, I am not on the list of approved persons that Ecuador has established,” Mr. Samuelsson told Radio Sweden.


Amended.


The Swedish prosecutor has said that they hoped to get a sample of Assange's DNA during the interview, but since it was carried out by a prosecutor from Ecuador that seems unlikely and I haven't seen anything about them getting it.


What on earth would they need DNA for ?

Assange has already stated that he had sex with both women.


Which means nothing unless you are talking about interrogation.

They could just have decided they didn't get good enough questions and kept the case open. They didn't because there isn't a case.


He was indeed questioned at the Ecuadorian Embassy [1]. And before that, for years, Assange gave them that offer, but they refused time and time again (until they relentlessly accepted) [2].

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-sweden-assange-idU...

[2] "He has offered to be questioned inside the embassy but the Swedish prosecutors only recently agreed." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/11/ecuador-to-let-sw...


> Well if you cannot question the accused

What do you mean? The Swedish prosecutor has been invited to question Assange for the last 5 years and declined to do so until a few months ago.


Julian was invited back to Sweden and he declined. It's not the job of Swedish authorities to fly all over the world to question people of interest, they would get nothing done.


1. That's a false equivalence, and you know it.

2. The swedish courts have found that it was in fact the swedish authorities job.


1. No, Julian was the person of interest, he should come to the police, not the other way around. You claim the swedish prosecutor "was invited" but "declined" to question him where he wanted. Persons wanted for questioning regarding rape or any serious crime does not get to invite prosecutors where and when they want to have a conversation about it.

2. The Swedish court found that it was ok to do so because it was being dragged out, not that that it was their job.


They were offered video link interrogation, which swedish authorities have done many times before, but Marianne Ny refused.


The defendant could choose not to answer any questions, so would it change anything?


It's one of the fundamentals of the Swedish legal system, you can't be sentenced in your absence or at least not without being heard


He was heard at the embassy, back in November.


Not by Swedish police or prosecutor, Ecuador didn't allow it. Only a prosecutor from Ecuador was allowed to ask questions.


That does not limit the amount of evidence that can be collected.


It does not but it limits the possibility to prosecute which is what the prosecutor came to terms with, at least according to her comments on the Swedish evening news. Basically the statue of limitations for this crime is 10 years, it's now been 7 and there is no resolution in sight so it's basically just a waste of time and money. Embarrassing if you ask me but that's the way it is.


No, that's not how it works. Showing up for a trial (and being represented) reduces your chances of a conviction. Sweden could have held a trial in absentia leading to a conviction if they believed they had a case to begin with.

I always wondered why they did not do that.


As it has been explained many times: no, they couldn't have.

Trial in absentia is not a universal feature of justice systems. Germany, for example, doesn't have it. Neither has Sweden.


Sweden most certainly has trial in absentia. It is up to the judge to decide if a case can be tried in the absense of the accused.

Use google translate: http://lawline.se/answers/8630


Thank you, I had heard otherwise. Upvoted.


In fact, it does. I don't know why people keep perpetrating these long ago debunked falsehoods.


This document[0] alleges Sweden has a right to remain silent. If Assange had shown up in court and refused to answer any questions, how would the case have changed? What was the prosecutor's plan in this eventuality?

[0] - https://www.loc.gov/law/help/miranda-warning-equivalents-abr...


You don't have to conclude this since the prosecutor has spoken about it directly:

From https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/world/europe/julian-assan...

"“I can conclude, based on the evidence, that probable cause for this crime still exists,” she said on Friday, the deadline for prosecutors to respond to a court-ordered deadline in the case.

But prosecutors felt that they had no choice but to abandon the investigation because they had concluded that Ecuador would not cooperate, and because all other possibilities had been exhausted."


I don't understand this terminology. In the US, probable cause is a set of circumstances that can lead to a stop or an arrest. "Probable cause for a crime" makes no sense, unless it has a different meaning in Sweden. If the Swedish prosecutor thought she could win the case, why did she not press on with it? Hypothetically, if Assange had shown up in Sweden but refused to answer any questions, how would her case have changed? Was the issue that Assange was not present and a judge had to rule in absentia? If so, why did the prosecutor drop the case instead of allowing the judge to rule on it?

This just doesn't add up.


I suppose the ball is now in the US' court .

Assange is a strange case, hes (Wikileaks is) really a journalist, and should be protected by laws and conventions protecting journalists. But he doesn't seem to identify too strongly with the press and presents more like a political dissident.

I used to live in Melbourne (where wikileaks is sort of based). I stopped to sign a petition in his support. The petition mentioned Assange at the top of a long list of dissident left issues: release off-shore asylum seekers, withdraw from afgahnistan, free palestine, jail Blaire & Bush, stop Tasmanian timber harvests, overturn some ruling on Aboriginal land title... They were also inviting people to a dissident-socialist gathering later on that day.

Now, I don't want to misrepresent the situatoin. This wasn't Wikileaks petitioning. It was a local activist group promoting their agendas, headlined by the Assange cause. That said, I do think it's kind of indicative of how present themselves & why the Assange debate is associated with the Manning or Snowden cases. They were US operatives "gone rogue." He wasn't. He was just a journalist receiving and diseminating leaked information.

I in now way suggesting the protections of a free press system are mooted because he doesn't act or present recognizably as a journalist. But I do think that statements like the CIA Director's (Wikileaks is a hostile non-state actor) would be a lot harder to say if he presented as " Senior Editor of The Wikileaks Times."


When he still was just a journalist receiving and disseminating leaked information, I supported him. But after the Manning leaks, his power seems to have gone to his head, and he thought he could get away with anything.

Journalists need to be protected from persecution for their work as journalism, but they don't get a free license to violate laws in completely unrelated cases. Rape is still rape.

And his recent grandstanding trying to manipulate elections through mostly bluff, is really disgusting. I'm done with him. He doesn't stand for anything I support anymore.


I don't feel as strongly as you do about the man himself, but he isn't my political cup of tea either. But, I think his persecution relates entirely to his work as a journalist IMO, regardless of how he sees it himself.

For that reason I support his freedom, even if I don't really care too much about his cause. The free press is important to me.


Actually, I think it wasn't the manning papers, it was being locked up in the Ecuadorian embassy, where the Russians were free to compromise him.


That happened later. He was already becoming somewhat unhinged well before that. Though living for years locked in an embassy probably hasn't done him much good either.


> hes (Wikileaks is) really a journalist

He (they) were at some point. Ask anyone that once worked with or volunteered for them back around 2010. They have long since become a wing of Russian intelligence and Assange's personal ego play.

Sad really.


It's really regrettable that he's swung hard into manipulative conspiracy theories and attacks on people he disagrees with or politicians he dislikes. It's much harder to defend his current conduct as journalism, and WL's conduct with more recent leaks and hacked documents (like Macron's campaign) leaves a lot to be desired. In the past, I think you could make a strong argument that he should've been protected as a pseudo-journalist.

I think if he had kept a level head and a more serious approach to these things it would at least be easier to defend him...


I don't think he swung. He and Wikileaks were politically fringe people all along, and they were rude and confrontational all along. All of that may make you dislike him/them, but it doesn't make him a criminal or an enemy (as the CIA director labels him).


I don't think anyone anywhere has seriously claimed he's a criminal because he was rude.


Plus, most don't even say that: just that he's a dangerous propagandist.

Which is pretty undeniable at this point.

It's a shame, because the idea of WikiLeaks is decent... but it requires someone with no agenda to skew it. Assange isn't that guy.


Given that he was trapped in the same narrow space for 5+ years, he legitimately saw the US exercise unusual power (re-open investigation, pressure on Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal, etc) it is understandable that Wikileaks evolved as it did.


The UK police will arrest him for obstruction of justice the moment he tries to leave the wardrobe he's hiding in.

He'd probably be convicted, which carries a maximum sentence of [EDIT] 1 year in prison.


Can seeking asylum be used as a reason for bringing charges against someone? As far as I understand, exercising legal options cannot ever be interpreted as an illegal act. I think it's much more likely the UK will pick Assange up on behalf of the US, who have threatened to charge him.


IANAL, but fleeing from an arrest warrant is very definitely illegal in the UK.


Yes, he would be looking at 12 months in prison for that http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/bail/#a32

I'm not sure why the parent thinks he would be looking at 10 years?


Illegal, yes, but is it still prosecutable if/after the arrest warrant has been dropped?


Yes. Failure to surrender is a separate offence. The Met has already said that he's still wanted in connection with that charge, but they'll be scaling back resources as it's a much less serious offence than rape.


Assange's bid for asylum does not give him immunity, under British law, from normal criminal charges (which is how they view the Swedish charges). Witness their promises to arrest Assange if he left the Ecuadorian embassy, regardless of his subsequent right to leave for Ecuador after being tried.


They just reported on the news (ABC, aussie) that the UK police are seeking to arrest him for skipping bail.


I wonder if the UK taxpayer will be asking some questions about the justifications of policing the embassy? A pretty abysmal ROI.

So, will the police presence now simply disappear?


I really don't think ROI of individual cases should be a benchmark for the justice system (or, actually, a lot of the processes of democracy).

There are endless reasons against, but just to state an obvious one: prosecution should not depend on the subject's ability to raise the costs for the government–both because it would create an incentive for such shenanigans, as well further tilting the justice system in favour of the rich.


It's not about Assange. It's about rule of law.

If they'd allow Assange to skip bail without effectively trying to detain him, they would create a precedent for others.

In a system with rule of law, you can't make up different decisions, on the go, for people you happen to like or happen to dislike.

Likely the police presence will not disappear, it might actually be intensified for a moment. He's now not wanted for extradition to Sweden; he's wanted for skipping bail.


> So, will the police presence now simply disappear?

No. He is wanted by the UK courts for failing to appear when on bail and so will be arrested if he leaves the embassy.


I believe they stopped actively guarding it a few years ago, but presumably still monitor it.


No mention of the alleged victims in the OP?

Here's the NYTimes story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/world/europe/julian-assan...

'Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represents the woman who accused Mr. Assange of rape, issued a scathing response after the prosecutors abandoned the case.

“A legal examination is very important for someone who has been raped, as is the possibility for redress,” she said. “In this case, there have been many turns and the wait has been very long. My client is shocked and no decision to shut the case down can get her to change her position that Assange raped her.”'


There is a mention of the plaintiff in the original article:

> The plaintiff in the rape case was "shocked" by the decision, her lawyer said, and maintained her accusations against Mr Assange, Agence France-Presse reported.


According to his Swedish defence lawyer Per E Samuelson, Assange sent a text immediately after being noticed: "Seriously? Oh my god!"

Question kind of still remains: how "free" is he now?


He still can't leave. The US is just going to kidnap him off the streets of London. Wouldn't be the first time.


>He still can't leave. The US is just going to kidnap him off the streets of London. Wouldn't be the first time.

When was the last time the US kidnapped someone from London's streets?


I think you're being a tad literal there. The last case I remember was Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr who was kidnapped in Italy and brought to Egypt by the CIA in 2005. Italy's streets are not less intrinsically sacred than England's.


>I think you're being a tad literal there. The last case I remember was Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr who was kidnapped in Italy and brought to Egypt by the CIA in 2005. Italy's streets are not less intrinsically sacred than England's.

I'm being literal on purpose.

Look at the other replies to me; everyone talks about the CIA, yourself included, and ignores the fact that Italy was working hand-in-hand with the CIA:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Omar_case

That's very different, and it remains absolutely disgusting nonetheless.


Ok, so is it your contention that the UK would not co-operate in similar fashion? And, if so, why? Genuine sense of political autonomy or PR?


> Ok, so is it your contention that the UK would not co-operate in similar fashion? And, if so, why? Genuine sense of political autonomy or PR?

My contention is that the US would not kidnap him from London's streets.

Word choice is important; I'm sick to the back teeth of hyperbole backed up with "wouldn't be the first time."


Is it hyperbole when it has actually happened before?

Surely a precedent means the suggestion is not hyperbolic?


I don't know why you're being downvoted. Seems reasonable to me even if I don't agree.


There was a massive scandal over UK complicity in US extraordinary rendition over here a few years ago.

The UK government was roundly condemned and the practice stopped (including refueling US rendition flights from elsewhere).

This will not happen to Assange.


They've kidnapped people from the streets of Milan, Italy.

http://www.businessinsider.com/cia-operative-extradited-to-i...


"UK police say WikiLeaks' Assange will be arrested if he leaves Ecuador's embassy" - http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-sweden-assange-bri...

So while we don't know yet about the US, the intention of the UK is clear.



> When was the last time the US kidnapped someone from London's streets?

I don't think that they'd need to really. Much easier to have a quiet word with the co-operative British authorities who would assist with the matter and then hand over the individual in question. All soft language and avoidance of publicity, you see. But the same result.


...that we know of. The CIA and co have means of making people disappear.


If they do that, then it would just show that he was right all along. And I say that as someone who doesn't even like Assange.


We're in a chaotic political climate, it seems just as likely that a rival nation state would kill him to implicate the US and cause chaos, upset, and confusion.


He needs to face justice one way or another.


What is his crime? He isn't the one committing war crimes. He is exposing them.

Yet we continue to go after whistle blowers and journalist instead of the ones who committed these crimes against humanity.


Well he was accused of rape, or, more accurately, sexual assault by other countries' definitions. Those charges have now been dropped, for what I can only assume "a preponderance of the evidence suggesting the defendant is permanently insanity".

But he may have committed other crimes in his attempt to flee the rape charge (not sure if 'failure to appear' is a crime in the UK, that differs by jurisdiction).

None of all that has anything to do with Wikileaks, by the way. A person's good deeds in one domain don't make him immune to criminal charges for unrelated matters. The idea that two average Swedish women are somehow recruited by the CIA to smear him with (rather weak) rape accusations is rather preposterous.


You're right when you say that one person's good deed in one domain don't make him immune to criminal charges for unrelated matters. However, Assange did not just did a 'good deed', he became a very high value political target and most of the time such people are protected from unrelated charges, since it is very easy to false flag them/burden them with bs to keep them from doing their job. For example in France the president has partial immunity. The case of diplomatic immunity also comes to mind.


What makes it preposterous? You're thinking the real CIA would've at least sent Jason Bourne?


Rape


You mean he should get a compensation?


In a just world: Yes.


I suspect that he's spent longer in the Embassy than he would have in a Swedish prison if he'd been found guilty of the things he was accused of.


Or the UK secret service can do it. Wouldn't be the first time.


Out of interest, when was the last time the UK secret service did this?


In 1989 MI5 assisted loyalist paramilitaries in murdering Pat Finucane, human rights lawyer. Not exactly "kidnapped", but in many ways being shot 14 times, at point blank range, in front of your children at home, is pretty bad.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Finucane


I think I get where you're coming from, but the two situations are really unlike each other. It's not exactly an apples to apples comparison.


If he said, then it wouldn't be a secret.

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