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Very sad day. Remember this all started with the leak of the "Collateral murder" video. That's when the Interpol notice went out, and he had to seek asylum at the embassy. It was already quite disgusting how powerful entities were able to seemingly fabricate sexual charges as needed.

Later on he made very influential enemies by exposing corruption in the democratic political party. Instead of any follow up on that front, the pressure on Assange increased and the whole Russian scaremongering narrative was pushed. Probably to distract from own potential repercussions.

For me that looks a lot like government oppression. Something like that wouldn't fly in Germany for example. We had recently had an popular elected political removed from office for something quite insignificant - it was found out, he copy & pasted a few paragraphs in his decade old (and unrelated) doctoral work.

It doesn't look much different then the cases where Chinese or Russian governments going after journalists

>> It was already quite disgusting how powerful entities were able to seemingly fabricate sexual charges as needed.

The sexual charges really don't look fabricated or to have had any political motive at all. The wikipedia article on the allegations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange#Swedish_sexual_...) makes it clear that the charges were dropped after Assange was initially questioned by the police, then a special prosecutor reopened the case.

It's not unlikely that the special prosecutor had a political motivation for reopening the case, but it's not at all clear that the women who made the original allegations did.

From my reading anyway, Assange crossed a line, perhaps not realising that what he was doing was sexual assault, molestation and "lesser rape" under Swedish law, and he would have gotten away with it if he wasn't Assange, which makes the special prosecutor's reopening the case suspicious. But I can't see any fabrication here. Nobody forced Assange to do what he did (which, as I remember it, was to initiate sex with a sleeping woman who therefore could not give consent). The women who accused him were well within their rights to do so.

He just screwed up bad and that made him vulnerable to political persecution.

> From my reading anyway, Assange crossed a line, perhaps not realising that what he was doing

To me, this points to the fact that there are likely many transgressions of all kinds that each person in the civilized world commits. Those are unlikely to lead to anything beyond an occasional minor fine, but the government prosecutors can use those as ammunition for future cases totally unrelated to original offense. This is not how we want the law to work. My 2c.

Agreed. Essentially, someone in Assange's situation should be extremely careful, to the point of paranoia, to not get into any sort of trouble with the law because even a minor transgression (though the sexual assault allegations were not minor) could become an opportunity for a much more severe treatment than usual.


That's not a "case in point". I was talking about minor transgressions, not having sex with a minor.

I find your comment quite disturbing, to be honest.


This might be the creepiest comment ever posted to HN.

Promising to use a condom and then not using a condom is not a "minor transgression"; it's a form of sexual assault.

Minor vs major is not my point. The problem is that prosecutors did not care about this for a LONG time but suddenly went into overdrive when someone could not convict a person of interest for an unrelated offense.

Sexually assaulting people is not typically one of the “transgressions of all kinds that each person in the civilized world commits”. Sexually violating a human being is not the equivalent of a fucking speeding ticket.

It is and I find it very concerning that you are being downvoted.

It is a fact that for years they refused to interview him at the embassy. They also refused to guarantee not to give him up to U.S. authorities if he were to go to Sweden, which makes me a little suspicious of the charges, given that the UK just confirmed they arrested him on behalf of the U.S.

The original allegations and the decision of the special prosecutor to reopen the case are two distinct incidents.

Basically, it is not necessary for the original allegations to have been fabricated or politically motivated for the reopening of the case to be so. It can very well be that the reopening of the case was just an opportunistic act, with a political motive.

Wait, I know about the top-down reopening of the case, but do we know for a fact that the original accusations were kosher, or is this just presumption of innocence for the girls?

(I mean, presumption of innocence is important and too often [the word escapes me... only imperfectly/partially given to] would-be sex offenders. On the grounds that we are judging some random girls it should apply; OTOH on the grounds that we are forming an overall character judgment of Assange... this matters if it gets to a jury trial, for example.)

[Edit: I plead guilty on the count of using a casual-conversation "girls" in a more serious discussion where it can be legitimately challenged as being implicitly dismissive. Elsewhere I stand my ground, although it's better developed/explained downthread.]

I need some help unrolling your position.

If someone raped a non-random woman that you were close to and respectful of, would it be reasonable for you to draw a character inference of her rapist?

Would the accused rapist fleeing the jurisdiction to avoid prosecution make you asses his character more positively?

Would you suggest to or feel that a non-random woman that she take one for the team because her rapist is a counter-culture celebrity?

There’s a line between taking the version of the accused and the version of the accuser. In any crime situation. Many factors, including evidence, determine where this line lies.

In sex crimes where the victims are women, current mores bias it toward “believing the victims”. Whether this is not appropriate is a digression I don’t want to entertain here. Everywhere there are baseline scenarios and sex crimes with female victims have that element. For the effects of this discussion I’m willing to take that as a given.

That said, there are other variables at play. Parent comment was questioning the legitimacy of the entire process, including the reopening by top-down orders of a case that had been already dismissed.

We’re either willing or unwilling to lend credence to the narrative that something about this whole situation is manipulated toward getting Assange, a notorious fly in the soup of major powers with the capacity to pull a bogus extradition off. Skepticism of this narrative is not unwarranted; it has certain elements typical of conspiracy theories.

But: if we do co-sign this narrative, then as of this very moment Assange is about to face unjust trial in the US. In the face of that, we have to consider the character judgments his accusers will be able to sell to the courts.

OTOH the “random girls” have much less to lose in this whole situation if we bias our understanding of the original sex accusations in favor of Assange, considering that the case had already been dismissed and they’ve been kept anonymous enough that they’re unlikely to experience any ongoing life disruption.

The whole matter is made of uncertainties. To bias one’s subjective assessment in one direction is not to believe it wholesale. But overall the shades of gray matter dramatically.

These were grown women, not girls. Presumption of innocence is granted to the accused, not the accuser, who is not him or herself accused.

Is there any reason to assume that the original allegations were somehow "not kosher"?

Yes, presumption of innocence of the accused.

It's a weird line between accusing the... humans who accused him of false testimony and accusing Assange of serious (however "lesser") sex crimes. But since the integrity of the whole Swedish judicial process (which was too eager to deport him rather throwing the letter of the law at him) is being questioned -- in this thread in particular -- we need to be careful about the character judgement of Assange we're building up to.

There's a new lingo on reddit that I find useful -- "to cosign". I can't, with the information I have (which is not "all the information" neither "all the information well-informed folks have") cosign on the idea that the original accusations were true. It has real implications on the outcome of a trial by jury. I couldn't sleep with that.

Of course, there's a lot I don't know, and my "cosigning" is irrelevant in practice. (But I like the idea of mock-cosigning as an epistemic constraint on these online debates which are also irrelevant for the most part.)

[Edit: I've forgotten how punctuation works.]

> The sexual charges really don't look fabricated or to have had any political motive at all.

They are, quite plainly, fabricated, as there are no charges. He has not been charged with a crime. You speak of these nonexistent charges as if they are fact.

You say that the wikipedia article “makes it clear that the charges were dropped” - I just read it and it does no such thing - because it does not say he was charged in the first place - because he was not.

You are propagating a false claim.

> Remember this all started with the leak of the "Collateral murder" video. That's when the Interpol notice went out, and he had to seek asylum at the embassy.

Collateral Murder was published in April, 2010. The warrant came in November of that year, seven months later.

Yes, sure, it possibly takes that long to organise a conspiracy, especially if you have to recruit a Swedish feminist student into the CIA and also get at multiple prosecutors in one of the least corrupt countries in the world. But the connection still seems tenuous.

Interesting take on cheating on old doctoral work. However, this case had no 'national security' concern, nothing worth covering up. Instead it is a chance to maybe take out a political rival.

It's true that the german military is under constant scrutiny, but a lot of bad stuff has been covered up in Germany as well, especially in the world of sexual abuse by churches and institutions that is being uncovered in slow-motion these days.

Give me a break. This guy was a useful idiot who if he didn’t start as a tool of the FSB, became one.

The idolization of this guy on web forums is like the college kids of the 90s wearing Che Guevara T-shirt’s.

> It was already quite disgusting how powerful entities were able to seemingly fabricate sexual charges as needed.

Personally I find it disgusting that you'd dismiss these charges so quickly out of hand because they don't fit your existing bias surrounding this guy. But hey, rape isn't a big deal, right?

> Something like that wouldn't fly in Germany for example.

I'd not want to rely on that if it touches something "important"/secretive. Minor issues that can be clearly blamed on a single person are easier to admit and follow up on than things that would have widespread impact.

It’s very interesting how different parts of the web are reacting to this news. HN seems to overwhelmingly be on his side since he leaked some seriously damning stuff about the US government in the past. Reddit’s view overwhelmingly is that WL was a force for transparency and accountability that later devolved into a right wing propaganda machine. I guess a lot of people are pissed as Assange for WikiLeaks’ role in the 2016 election.

This is patently false.

The collateral damage video was published on April 5, 2010. Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy on 19th June 2012. The Interpol warrant for his arrest is dated 30 November, 2010.

As suspected, it was "on behalf of U.S. authorities"[1], exactly as WikiLeaks suspected would be the case. This sets a terrible precedent even for mainstream journalists, so if they have any sense they'd defend him.

1 - https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2f...

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