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Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation (bbc.co.uk)
538 points by choult 6 days ago | hide | past | web | 374 comments | favorite





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.

Not sure where this leaves him. He is wanted by UK police for skipping bail. Presumably his US concerns still complicate his living arrangements for now.

Since he skipped bail for something which is now dropped, doesn't that move back up and nullify his wanted status as well?

Or is there a process that he could now start, like "remove my wanted status because there is no point now", and that would then get decided by some organization?


No. He gave his bonded word that he would give himself up, which is what the bail was about, then went back on it. That has consequences that are not automatically overlooked.

Well, in most countries there's a legal way to fight a legal action you consider incorrect. Fighting the legal action in another way is a new crime. It's like if someone owes you money, you cannot go and rob him. Even if your payment claim is considered valid robbing is illegal.

Is there a good article -- does even anyone know? -- on how did Wikileaks turn from a whistleblower into a mouthpiece of the Kremlin?

Edit: some examples: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/... https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2017/03/...


Assange agenda was always anti-Americanism at expense of everyone else, so he just stayed true to himself. Many of his then liberal supporters were turning a blind eye to this, until it spectacularly bit them in the ass.

when WL policy is "publish everything in the public interest we possibly can" and it looks "unamerican" to the american public, it's a clue that your government is doing some really ugly things.

What about the "Macron leak"?

I think it's less Assange having a specific pro-Russian agenda and more him rather enjoying the opportunity to make trouble for politicians and Russian affiliates being more than happy to assist him with that. The traditional Russian term for political radicals whose agitation tended to serve their state's agenda despite very different ideals is popularly translated as "useful idiot"

Well, at least in that case, I think the Russian translates more literally to "ineffectual fool".

On a more serious note: did Wikileaks actually release the Macron files? I seem to remember they were only cheerleading it. But if they did, it's probably the nail in the coffin for their reputation, considering it was obvious for even casual observers to see that the dump contained altered documents, and that the leakers only had the intention of derailing the democratic process, willing to misinform people on the way.


Wikileaks didn't release the cache, but they certainly did their best to boost its credibility with tweets like "We have not yet discovered fakes in #MacronLeaks & we are very skeptical that the Macron campaign is faster than us" (yeah, because there's no way alleged senders and recipients of emails could spot fakes faster than people analysing the meta data...) and the outstanding "assessment update: several Office files have Cyrillic meta data. Unclear if by design, incompetence, or Slavic employee."

Of course, it's entirely within Wikileaks' remit to process and publicise leaked information regardless of origin and leakers' suspected motives, but even as they asserted their experience in assessing leaked material they seemed far less willing to question what they were reading than everyone else...


> yeah, because there's no way alleged senders and recipients of emails could spot fakes faster than people analysing the meta data...

You're absolutely right, and in fact all the Macron campaign would need to do is point out a handful of them and it would call in to question the veracity of all of them. Did they do that though, or did they just insinuate that there might be fakes (like the DNC did but couldn't actually back up with evidence).


The few interesting titbits promoted by Macron's opponents (supposed offshore bank accounts, membership of gay mailing lists and an aide's supposed Bitcoin drug orders) have all been quite thoroughly debunked as crude forgeries and documents in the archive even linked to specific Russian security companies by media, security consultants and even pretty radical pro-leak publications like the Intercept. The Macron campaign even shared the phishing emails they'd received.

Wikileaks and their much trumpeted reputation for authenticating stuff's contribution to this was to deny anything they'd looked at was fake (possibly true if they only looked at the banal campaign material) and suggest the Cyrillic headers on attachments might have been evidence that Macron had Slavic employees...


I absolutely understand he coordinates with Russia, just that it wasn't some surprising development. He has a long history cooperating with dictatorships, just that it wasn't objectionable to his then fans. Nothing has changed, except the pro-liberty, pro-privacy, Guy Fawkes mask-wearing crowd is on the receiving end of his treatment now.

What about them?

That wasn't wikileaks.


For the downvoters:

Wikileaks weren't the originator of the Macron leaks. They were put up on pastebin anonymously.

https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/860577607670276096

Wikileaks investigated them to check the veracity of the contents but they weren't behind the leak or the ones who made it public.


i think assange is a victim of an effective smear campaign, probably organized by the CIA.

He addresses this specific issue in his reddit AMA:

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/5n58sm/i_am_julian_as...


It's a fair point - I don't see how ad hominem attacks change the news.

I guess that's why painting him as a russian sympathizer is "in" now. Makes it seem like the leaks even if authentic have some agenda.

But still, parties and a gov that are threatened by their people looking in on them are just asking to be influenced by outside actors anyways, state or not. There's a reason transparency is key.


>I guess that's why painting him as a russian sympathizer is "in" now. Makes it seem like the leaks even if authentic have some agenda

You do realize that Assange signed a commercial tv deal with Russian state propaganda shortly after they threatened his life? This followed his threats to dump 'kompromat' on them (threats which never translated into action), and was later followed through by Assange censoring emails showing Russian banks involvement in Syria, and then later trying to paint the panama papers as a'CIA plot to discredit Putin.' To act like there isn't more than reasonable grounds on which to question Assanges biases is absurd and contrary to actual history.


The CIA plans an intricate effort to smear someone, to assassinate his character, and the best they come up with is "might have had sleep sex which might be quasi-consensual, said he'd wear a condom and didn't"?

That was the best they could come up with for their "smear"?!?


You know, I harbour a lot of anti-American sentiment too (US government that is, the American people seem mostly fine) and I frequently speak up about it.

Does that make me a Russian agent/mouthpiece/troll too?


Do you get paid by Russian state propaganda to censor negative news about Russia and emphasize negative news regarding the United States? If yes, you may be a Russian agent too!

Of course, comrade! From the left's point of view everyone is a Nazi, Fascist, Kremlin puppet. /s

But I am absolutely a 'lefty'.

They have a word for that too now. You're apparently a brocialist.

It is not about being vocal with anti-American sentiment that makes one a Russian agent/mouthpiece/troll.

Conduct and intent have a lot to do with it. Do you use your anti-American sentiment to push a pro-Russian agenda? Do you use inflammatory rhetoric to derail anti-Russian conversations? Do you find yourself repeating pro-Russian propaganda? When you criticize America, is your intent to widen political divides and pit Americans against each other?

If you answered yes to most of the above, it is time to pause and reflect.

The important thing to understand here is that one does not have to be a foreign agent or in the payroll of a foreign government to spread their propaganda. Many people become mouthpieces of various governments unwittingly, usually over a period of time. Then when someone points out their obvious bias, they get genuinely offended.


say he's 100% paid by russia.

ok; fine.

now let's reflect on the fact that it appears that 100% of what he's said has been true.

that is a shocking fact. no less shocking because no mainstream media outlet can even come close.

so what, exactly is the nature of your objection?

because it looks like the epitome of an ad homenim attack, and leaves the substance of everything he's released completely unanswered (and it makes you appear too partisan to see the truth).


Is there any reason for you to believe that Wikileaks is "a mouthpiece of the Kremlin"?

Assange had a very personal vendetta with Hillary Clinton, the Kremlin were merely another weapon.

When Assange was studying his PhD in the US (Bill Clinton was president at the time) the funding for his research was suddenly cut by the US Government, and he was never told why.

He's held a grudge against the US Government since then.


Losing your funding is one thing, but Hillary Clinton allegedly requested Julian Assange be killed.

It's unproven one way or the other, here's the Snopes article:

http://www.snopes.com/julian-assange-drone-strike/


> Hillary Clinton allegedly requested that Julian Assange be killed

Politicians have the weirdest rider lists


> how did Wikileaks turn from a whistleblower into a mouthpiece of the Kremlin?

Examples are not proof. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence


He hosted a show on Russia Today; he was literally a mouthpiece of the Kremlin.

If seeking a platform makes you a mouthpiece, then ISIS is just a mouthpiece for Twitter.

ISIS aren't employed by Twitter. It's completely different.

Amy Goodman hosts a show on NPR, a U.S. government news station. She is literally a mouthpiece for Trump and the U.S. government.

RT is owned and primarily funded by the Russian government.

NPR receives around 2% of its funding from the US government.


Also, as per Wikipedia:

"Democracy Now Productions, the independent nonprofit organization which produces Democracy Now!, is funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations and does not accept advertisers, corporate underwriting or government funding."

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Now!)


You're right. I should give you the benefit of the doubt and make the real argument, which is that if a government provides a platform for you to make commentary, it does not necessarily mean you are a shill for that government; rather it means that the things you want to say, a government is supportive of.

What makes you think that WL is a mouthpiece of the Kremlin?

This is the same Washington Post got caught manufacturing stories to generate anti-Russian hysteria:

https://theintercept.com/2016/12/31/russia-hysteria-infects-...

And that created an McCarthyite blacklist:

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgrace...

Of course, the Washington Post isn't really guilty of anything more than slavishly believing what US military officials are saying, who, of course, wouldn't do anything as crass as to try and denounce Assange as an enemy of the people and a puppet of Russia.


Stars align in strange ways. Chelsea Manning walked free from prison a couple of days ago. so will Assange honour promise made an Jan or will he weasel out of it.

The hypocrisy is stunning. Chinese or Russian governments harassing whistle blowers and leakers on this scale would be met by a frenzy of hysterical global condemnation by the media, human rights orgs, governments and citizens with their domestic courts systems summarily dismissed and pay a price in global reputation and even sanctions.

Yet here we have Snowden and Assange being harassed brazenly for years with little respite under the cover of 'process'. If Snowden or Assange were Russians and defected to reveal global Russian surveillance they would be legends feted by every single media organization, university, NGO and government every single day. Why the double standards.

It appears some are more intoxicated by the moral high ground than committed to it.

Kangaroo courts, secret processes and harassment of whistle blowers and journalists are the tools of trade of despots whether used brazenly by unsophisticated tinpots or covered in process by governments and their courts in the UK, Sweden and the US. The end effect is the same. Simply covering inherently despotic and corrupt action with law and 'processes' does not make it lawful.

But the big difference is chinese or russian citizens are under no illusions about their rulers while we see a dissonance in our citizens, media and organizations rushing to condemn others while completely failing to hold our governments accountable in any meaningful way.

How have Swedish and UK citizens, the media and all human rights orgs from western europe experts at creating global frenzy against despots worldwide held their own governments to account, or helped Snowden or Assange in any meaningful way all these years? So ultimately there is no accountability. Only blatant self serving hypocrisy.


> How have Swedish and UK citizens, [...] helped Snowden or Assange in any meaningful way in all these years?

Well, since I believe he's guilty of rape I have no interest in helping him.


You "believe".

I wonder how that comment would work on any other discussion on HN. You know, those ones where you are actually supposed to be rational instead of just going around with virtue signalling.

It is quite telling of the general lack of coherence about social matters in HN when in all cases of supposed sexual harassment against woman, there is a PC crowd in HN that just goes around spreading and enforcing (trough voting) the moto of "guilty until proven innocent", even in cases obviously so blatantly manipulated for political reasons as this.


Since even the lady in question has not accused him of rape I wonder where your belief emanates from?

You just can't believe someone is guilty, there has to be due process to decide guilt and the court itself has dropped charges. So there is no basis for your beliefs.

Dissidents have traditionally faced trumped up charges. It's predictable that Assange would too. When charging dissidents the evidence and process has to be extraordinary and beyond reproach. But there are too many issues with the case and it makes the Swedish justice system look corrupt.


> 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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/39973864


So the smear campaign worked then. Good job.

That is very very bad for Sweden because it proves that it was a low class political game so Sweden cannot be viewed as an independent state.

No it does not prove any such thing.

It was blindingly obvious that it was. Sweden's reputation took a huge hit because of this incident, and rightly so. They should have resolved the matter within 6 months. But it became such a hot potato that they were willing to sacrifice a man's live, and demonstrated to the world that principles and truth is inconsequential when the bully is sitting on your chest. The stench of this shit will cling to Sweden for generations.

Whether Swedens's reputation took a hit is a matter of opinion.

If he was innocent why didn't he go back to Sweden and face the charges?

All the stuff about the risk of US extraditing him in nonsense, they'd find it easier to do from the UK.

All he did is use political asylum to avoid facing charges of a sexual assault.


At the time, Sweden was a better candidate for extradition because it has less limitations on extradition than UK in Assange's case (because he is a Commonwealth citizen).

As for the 'if he was innocent', I see this argument quite often, and I have only this to say: his self-imposed punishment of being locked up in a closet for 5 years is worse than any possible punishment he would have received for the crime he was accused of. So tell me, if he was only looking to avoid punishment for the crime he commited, why did he impose an even worse punishment on himself?


Because he's a narcissist and martyrdom suits his ego

(and perhaps he figured it would come to exile in an embassy, or for so long)


So, for negative conclusions about Assange we need to apply Occam's razor (if he's innocent why didn't he turn himself in), but for positive conclusions about him we need to avoid that and invent more and more complex, evasive answers?

Thank you for your help in getting president Donald Trump elected.

Sincerely,

A Russian Bot


Gitmo was and is still full of innocent people. Just sayin.

"All he did is use political asylum to avoid facing charges of a sexual assault."

All they did was use sexual assault charges in order to force him into political asylum.


He was quite happy to use the judicial system until it ruled against his case…

Of course it does. Not wanting to interview him, not having any valid evidence, dubious victims, etc.

It really doesn't. They wanted to question him, he fled and locked himself up in an embassy. You don't know what evidence they have but rape cases such as this rarely have any physical evidence but they should still be investigated.

They had five years to question him before they finally did. The Swedish prosecutor's bluff was called by the prosecutor refusing to question him without extraditing him first.

Edit: not normally one to complain about downvotes on HN but Assange inviting Nyberg to the embassy repeatedly over the last 5 years is factually provable and not in dispute by anyone pro or anti Wikileaks.


And Assange kept offering to let them interview him in the UK. They refused for four years before finally agreeing last year. Why could they not have interviewed him for those four years?

Should the Swedish authorities chase after everyone they want to interview and do it where it pleases that person? If someone is wanted for rape and travels to Thailand, should Swedish prosecutor and police fly to Thailand to question them? What if the interview leads to them wanting to arrest that person, should they arrest them while in another country?

That depends. Should the Swedish authority care more about convenience than about seeking justice?

If they care about justice, and they are unable to get the person to Sweden, then it would seem the prudent recourse is to interview that person wherever they are.

You'll note that they finally did end up interviewing Assange in London, so they have conceded that it is possible and acceptable to do so. So the question is not whether or not Swedish authorities can or should do so - they've answered that question.

The question is what was served by waiting four years to do so. Certainly not justice.


So Assange should get special treatment? On what grounds? He was accused of rape, what if they decided after the interview to arrest him, should they ask nicely that he come along with them?

> So Assange should get special treatment

He is not the only person Swedish prosecutors or police will have interviewed in another country. During the extradition case, Swedish police sent investigators to Poland to interview two suspected murderers.

> On what grounds?

On the grounds that the alternative was to not be able interview him. On the grounds that it serves justice to attempt to investigate the case as far as possible even if you're not on your home turf where you have the advantage of being able to use force.

> He was accused of rape, what if they decided after the interview to arrest him, should they ask nicely that he come along with them?

What exactly was their alternative? What did waiting achieve?


>During the extradition case, Swedish police sent investigators to Poland to interview two suspected murderers.

I'd like to read more about that, do you have a link?

Why even have European arrest orders when prosecutors and police are expected to travel to wherever the suspect are? It makes no sense at all, Assange was wanted for questioning, the British courts asked the British police to extradite him to Sweden, but he fled to Ecuador. Where's the justice for the alleged victims in that? Why wasn't Assange afraid of being extradited from Britain to the US while the extradition case was ongoing? Because it's a made up excuse to avoid being prosecuted for rape.


By that logic, every time an investigation is dropped is proof of a world-wide conspiracy.

Or maybe just that Marianne Ny is incompetent at her job.

Article in English, by a Swedish newspaper, about the why http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/swedish-prosecutor-drops-ca...

Well - he will certainly be charged in the UK for breach of bail conditions if he steps out of that embassy.

Press conference held by Director of Public Prosecutions, Marianne Ny, listen here: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/default.aspx?programid=4540

Held both in Swedish and English


Anyone know why they dropped it?

Because it was a shady "character assassination" attempt without real standing in the first place...

  "*The woman of whom Mr. Assange is accused of the offence 
  of "lesser rape" (a technical term in Swedish law) sent an 
  SMS to a friend saying that she "did not want to accuse JA 
  [of] anything" and "it was the police who made up the 
  charges". The other woman tweeted in 2013 that she had 
  never been raped. Both women’s testimonies say that they 
  consented to the sex. A senior prosecutor already dismissed 
  the ’rape’ accusation, saying that there were no grounds 
  for accusing Mr. Assange on this basis. But a third 
  prosecutor, lobbied by a politician who was running for 
  attorney general, took over the investigation and 
  resurrected the accusations against Mr. Assange.* [1]"
That's what happens when you mess with the big powers (and of course it doesn't stop to the "politician who was running for attorney general" being a single bad apple).

[1] https://justice4assange.com/


Strangely, the women's lawyers had a slightly different view of their desire to pursue the matter through the court than the Assange campaign to prevent the matter going to trial.

It stretches credulity to argue that responsibility for the affair lies more with the "big powers" than the decision of two apparently major fans to report him to the police after comparing notes on his sexual behaviour. And suggesting the "bad apple" most at fault for the whole affair is somehow the second prosecutor to look at the case is just unhinged.

Ultimately it was pursued then dropped then pursued then dropped because murky allegations of sexual impropriety are difficult to make up stand up in court, even when the alleged perpetrator isn't an articulate celebrity with an excellent defence team and the accusers desperately want him off the streets. If the state wanted to railroad Assange, he'd have been in jail a lot quicker on much more straightforward charges without the opportunity to change jurisdictions and identify new angles to try to dismiss the whole thing on a technicality.


>Strangely, the women's lawyers had a slightly different view of their desire to pursue the matter through the court than the Assange campaign to prevent the matter going to trial.

You mean the politician-lawyer Claes Borgstrom who was subsequently fired by the woman in question because he wasn't representing her and "he just wanted to be attached to a high profile case"?

Yeah, nothing suspicious about that.

>It stretches credulity to argue that responsibility for the affair lies more with the "big powers" than the decision of two apparently major fans to report him to the police

"They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate." -- GCHQ officer, "straining credulity" with their wacky conspiracy theory.

>And suggesting the "bad apple" most at fault for the whole affair is somehow the second prosecutor to look at the case is just unhinged.

Because cases being dropped and then picked up again suddenly by people much higher up the political food chain isn't at all suspicious. That's just unhinged...

>If the state wanted to railroad Assange, he'd have been in jail a lot quicker on much more straightforward charges

Aside from the whole "first amendment" problem which prevented the straightforward charges, rape is a much better charge than treason if you can make it stick. It kills his credibility and prevents him from being martyred (like happened to Chelsea Manning).


> You mean the politician-lawyer Claes Borgstrom who was subsequently fired by the woman in question because he wasn't representing her and "he just wanted to be attached to a high profile case"? >Yeah, nothing suspicious about that

No. I mean Elizabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer who is currently making statements on their behalf that it is "a scandal that a suspected rapist can avoid the judicial system and thus avoid a trial in court" and that despite the prosecutor's latest decision her client "can't change her view that Assange has exposed her to a rape", having frequently issued statements calling for a trial over the past few years.

The fact they sacked Borgstrom and hired someone else to continue to pursue the case against Assange actually undermines the Assangist theory that actually the whole thing was a conspiracy by the authorities that his accusers had no agency in.

Yes, it is entirely unhinged (or staggeringly ignorant of how legal systems work) to suggest that a case based entirely on apparently-reluctant witness testimony being reopened on appeal by a more senior prosecutor after an appeal from the hitherto-reluctant accusers' lawyer and interview with the suspect is more likely to be evidence of a conspiracy than a properly functioning legal system.


>actually undermines the Assangist theory that actually the whole thing was a conspiracy by the authorities that his accusers had no agency in.

The thing being a conspiracy and his accusers having agency in it, are orthogonal matters.


Apropos of anything else, let's not pretend that a press release from "justice4assange.com" is going to be any kind of impartial, let alone be used as an authoritative source as to the thoughts and motivations of his accusers. That stains credibility, to say the least.

>than the decision of two apparently major fans to report him to the police after comparing notes on his sexual behaviour

OTOH, it stretches my credulity that the decision lies to the actual fans, with no external motive/pressure on them.

>If the state wanted to railroad Assange, he'd have been in jail a lot quicker on much more straightforward charges

Yes, but character assassination works better even if you have no real charges. It even keeps working after/if one is cleared...


> If the state wanted to railroad Assange, he'd have been in jail a lot quicker on much more straightforward charges

Such as?


Aside from obscure statutes to do with privacy, computer misuse etc he may or may not (probably not) have been actually guilty of under Swedish law, I'd have thought anti-terrorism legislation (fewer legal safeguards, more reason to seize Wikileaks' digital assets) would have provided the perfect opportunity to put him out of action, as well as being the basis for all these renditions Assange-supporters keep referring to.

If a government conspiracy really wants someone in jail, it's a lot easier to make a proper false allegation - of pretty much any sort - with evidence under their control rather than try to force an existing totally unexpected and rather wobbly one to stand up.

On the other hand, prosecutors and police investigators regularly have differences in opinions about the merits of pursuing borderline sexual misconduct or domestic violence accusations with unenthusiastic witnesses without any semblance of a conspiracy whatsoever.


You'd still have to extradite. I don't see that happening in those cases, for one the EU in general (even the UK, or at least that was the situation in the past, May is an unknown quantity in this respect) has a dim view of the 'war on terror' as it is perpetrated by the US, for another the UK is pretty good when it comes to being consistent in their application of the law. More so than Sweden in any case.

I would also argue the international sentiments since 2012 towards the US's "war on terror" are radically different than they were in 2001-2003. In eg December 2001 the US leaning on a friendly European country saying "but 9/11" packed a much larger punch than the US standing on the corpses of Iraq & Afghanistan saying the same thing.

I mean, I know the US burned a lot of international goodwill invading a country (Iraq) that was completely un-involved with the attack on false pretenses (weapons of mass destruction) while ignoring the mastermind (bin Laden) for a decade, all the while more-or-less flaunting an illegal off-shore prison where hundreds of people, some of whom were definitely innocent and many of whom weren't particularly guilty, in inhuman conditions, but try to remember what things were like immediately after the attacks.

Back in 2001-2003, America was still the good guys, and we'd just had two 100-story skyscrapers in our largest city destroyed in a morning, with thousands of people killed. Hell, at the time we thought it was tens of thousands. Other countries - Sweden and Italy and everyone else - weren't bending over backwards to help us extraordinarily rend people because the CIA has magic powers and can do anything they want, anywhere they want. They were complying because, well, shit, 9/11.


Not since World War II did the US have that much goodwill and they managed to squander all that and then some in a very few years.

You could very well argue that Bin Laden won, especially because I highly doubt a guy like Trump would be able to win the presidency if 9/11 never happened and Trump is doing more damage to the United States' interests at home and abroad than the last 6 presidents combined.

All that's still missing is a war.


I meant the justification for dropping it from the Swedes

Its a verdict in the Supreme court that regulates how long you can keep warrant for detention out that lead to this, but I'm not an lawyer so there maybe details to this that I miss.

Do you have a source for this verdict?

From Swedish news:

Defence laywer Per E Samuelsson identifies two reasons to why the charges were dropped: – He had a solid explanation to what really happened that night. Which means the prosecutor can't expect a conviction in court. Secondly, we can prove that the US is after him. Proof which we didn't have when the Supreme Court tested this in 2015.


>He had a solid explanation to what really happened that night. //

So why not go to court with it? He believes Sweden would have handed him over for extradition?


Director of Public Prosecutions, Marianne Ny, will hold a press conference at 12:00 CET.

EDIT: Marianne Ny has been a subject of heavy criticism in Sweden for her handling of the Assange case (primarily for refusing to take his statement remotely, and claiming his fears for extradition to nothing more than conspiracy theories).


1 hour and 30 minutes from now for my lazy friends.

Correction: 23 minutes from now, thanks svip


I think tontonius meant to say 12:00 CEST. It's summer time. So only 27 minutes from now.

Maybe this is just a bait so he goes out and is easier to apprehend?

The way the laws are, they can be bent to serve almost any agenda, given high enough payment to a skilled prosecutor.


Five years living in a single room, not able to leave or walk outside.

Millions of pounds/dollars spent enforcing the same.

A gigantic show of idiocy from both sides.


Assange was basically, from his POV, defending his future freedom and poasibly his life, and still is.

Very likely, he was right.

How is Assange showing "idiocy" here?

Also, from the perspective of a government, any government, 10 million is not even a rounding error of a rounding error in the defense budget. The intimidation might have stopped the forming of another Wikileaks or the rise of a 2nd assange. From this perspective, it's not idiocy - it's a good investment.

Which is not to say I support this perspective - I don't. But it is important to understand motives rather than dismiss actions as idiotic.


> Assange was basically, from his POV, defending his future freedom and poasibly his life, and still is.

And I suspect, his reputation/good name. If he'd gone to trial, and lost, he'd be called a "convicted rapist" for the rest of his life.


And so he should, after all at that point he would be a convicted rapist, no?

True. How very noble of him. Did not want to see his reputation challenged, so refused to deal with consequences of his actions...

Both sides? Makes complete sense from Assange, IMO. Better 5 years of prison than lifetime of torture.

All he had to do was answer some questions to the Swedish prosecutor.

I still fail to understand why Sweden, NOT a NATO member, would have been more dangerous than the UK. Also, Sweden is not exactly the worst place in the world to spend prison time (which was only the worst case scenario.)

Answer the questions, clarify everything, and walk free. He chose himself not to answer. He chose to dump all the rich people who paid for his bail.

He was always able to leave the embassy to go to Sweden for an interview.


Not being a NATO member doesn't mean they don't collaborate with the CIA:

Swedish officials handed over al-Zari and another Egyptian, Ahmed Agiza, to CIA operatives on December 18, 2001 for transfer from Stockholm to Cairo. Both men were asylum seekers in Sweden, and suspected of terrorist activities in Egypt, where torture of such suspects is commonplace. (...) Despite post-return monitoring by Swedish diplomats, both men were tortured in Egypt.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2006/11/09/sweden-violated-torture-...


Just to be clear, it's two Egypitians being transferred to Egypt. Assange is not American.

The case you quote is obviously a violation of International Law, but it doesn't make me more suspicious for the fate of Assange in Sweden.


It's two egyptians asylum seekers being illegal black-bagged and handed to a foreign power who turned around and handed them to the country they were fleeing.

It was not just a violation of international law, but a violation of Swedish law which the relevant police officers were not punished for.

So it is an indication that Swedish police can illegally pick people off the streets of Sweden, treat them in a way that is blatantly illegal, illegally hand them off to a foreign power, and not be charged with anything.

Maybe that is not enough to make you more suspicious, but the question is whether or not it gave Assange more reason to be concerned.


Sweden has an extradition treaty with the US. Also, the Swedes are unlike Germans, in that they are more eager to be seen to be doing the right thing and helping other countries than upholding principles. So it's quite likely they would have eagerly extradited him if the US asked politely.

And all they had to do was let him answer those questions. But they didn't let him until very recently. And soon after the interview they're dropping the charges.

I will help you with your failure to understand: the worst scenario was not 'some time in prison' but extradition to US and being murdered there. Assange is a citizen of British Commonwealth, and as such it would have been easier to get extradition through Sweden than through UK.


> All he had to do was answer some questions to the Swedish prosecutor.

And he did, and as a result they finally dropped the investigation.

It was the Swedish prosecutor who waited 4 years before finally interviewing him before Christmas last year, because she - despite the statement of Swedish legal experts - stubbornly insisted she couldn't interview him in the UK.

Except it appears she could, so one might ask questions about why she chose to let it drag on for so long. I can understand holding out for a bit initially in the hope he'd give in, but to me it appears that she in letting it drag on this long failed to do her job - it did not serve justice to refuse. If she after the interview still believed he needed to be interviewed in Sweden for some reason, she could have made that case. But refusing not to interview him because the conditions were not to her liking? That stinks. Not necessarily of what Assange thinks it stinks of (see below), but it stinks.

> I still fail to understand why Sweden, NOT a NATO member, would have been more dangerous than the UK. Also, Sweden is not exactly the worst place in the world to spend prison time (which was only the worst case scenario.)

Whether or not it was realistic, there were two things to fuel Assange's fear:

Firstly, the irregularities surrounding the case. He was first told he could go, then suddenly a new prosecutor picked up the case and restarted investigations.

Then said prosecutor doggedly insisted he had to come back to Sweden instead of interviewing him in the UK, despite insisting over and over it was just part of the investigation.

Additionally police investigation records were illegally handed to the press.

I've mentioned in the past that I think Ny and one of the lawyers involved had personal reasons for wanting to use Assange as an example to push for a stricter interpretation of Swedish rape law (she has argued for that in the past). It probably had nothing to do with the US - but there were multiple things that were unusual. But with Assange paranoid about the US, it's not surprising how he interpreted that.

Secondly, there was a past case where Swedish police black-bagged two political asylum seekers and handed them to the CIA (who promptly handed them to Egypt - the regime they'd been seeking asylum from - where they were tortured), in violation of Swedish law.

Years later, Wikileaks revealed that the US ambassador had been called to the Swedish foreign ministry to answer questions about why rendition flights were still going through Sweden, with the support of Swedish ground staff, despite having been officially told to stop; the Swedish public was not told of the latter until Wikileaks revealed it.

It's not unsurprising if Assange again would interpret that as implying that whatever Swedens official position is, there is from his point of view a reason to fear that 1) either there are elements in Sweden willing to break the law to hand him over, or 2) that the US might just pick him up and ignore Swedish objections. Maybe it's not realistic, but the issue is not whether or not it is realistic, but whether or not Assange feared it might happen.


So why did they not ring him up and asked him?

That strikes me as slightly unbalanced. The investigation may be debatable, but certainly not on the same level of idiocy as Assange self-imposed golden cage. And once the investigation had started, there really wasn't an option to drop it when the subject raised the stakes: there's just no concept of "oh well, if he really doesn't want to stand trial..." in any sane system of justice.

In essence he is in prison for 5 years.

In essence he imprisoned himself for 5 years.

Sigh, about time, even for the US this was starting to drag, I wonder how much it had become about saving face ? Either for the US actors or the Swedish assets.

That's arbitrary. And scary.

I wonder if he will now pay back the people that put up bail for him:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/oct/08/julian-assange...


[flagged]


Let's please not re-ignite this particular flamewar here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


If i believed for one second that he committed rape there is no way i would defend him. This was an attempt to frame him due to his political journalism. To infer otherwise is to be malicious or incredibly naive. The people out to get him have a war machine behind them that has millions of deaths on their hands and somehow we're supposed to believe he would be treated fairly. If you believe that I've got a rich deceased uncle in Nigeria who wants to send you a few million.

So innocent until proven guilty isn't a thing anymore?

The reasonable usage of that has always included "in the eyes of the law".

For example, if someone stabs you, there's no need to wait for a conviction to be upset about it. Some people may choose to get upset about things where they have less direct evidence but still believe they have sufficient evidence to come to a conclusion.


Alleged.

All I can say is... WOW.



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