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Ecuador grants Julian Assange asylum (bbc.co.uk)
515 points by anons2011 on Aug 16, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 499 comments



I'm renouncing my Amnesty International-funding credit card on this. The silence on their part, when this charade goes on on their doorstep in London, is deafening.

The same goes for LibDems and Labour, but I've given up on them a long time ago (and to be fair, Labour are not even in power). Human/civil rights was just about the last platform where LibDems had a shred of credibility, and now it's shot. To maintain a few perks, they will let the Tories destroy centuries of civilisation - the Vienna Convention is a cornerstone of international relations, and hence, of world peace; threatening it over a silly man is just irresponsible. Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador and old-time LibDem, is just about as shocked as I am, and it's the only reasonable voice I've heard in the last 24 hours: http://pastebin.com/s98KhnYD

Supporting journalists in Belarus, China, Syria, Iran without supporting Assange is not grassroot activism: it's cynical, masqueraded foreign policy.


There are far bigger reasons to question Amnesty International's integrity. Search their website for the OIC's "Cairo Declaration" on Human Rights under Islam, and you'll find that Amnesty has completely ignored it. The Cairo Declaration subordinates all human rights to sharia law, and almost every islamic country in the world has signed the Cairo Declaration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Declaration_on_Human_Righ...

At the most extreme interpretation, slavery is legal under islamic law - see Sultanhussein Tabandeh, "A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". And the Cairo Declaration says that there is no crime except that proscribed by sharia. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen had slaves well into the 20th century (a 1951 UN report estimated that 5% of the population of those countries were slaves), and they only "outlawed" slavery under duress from the west. There is still slave-taking and trading in Mauritania and Sudan.

There are now plenty of serious works on the 1300 years of the islamic slave trade, e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Islams-Black-Slaves-History-Diaspora... http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christian-Slaves-Muslim-Masters-Medi...

It beggars belief that Amnesty can simply ignore it when the islamic world rejects universal human rights. But as long as Amnesty ignores it, the OIC's Cairo Declaration can fly under the radar, and be ignored by mainstream media and governments.

My understanding of the Cairo Declaration might be wrong. But until it starts to be discussed by organisations like Amnesty, it is not going to be subjected to extensive critical examination.


Let's be clear, I'm not saying that Amnesty have always been perfect before today.

What I find shocking is that they spend most of their time supporting this or that journalist in this or that country, and when something so egregious happens in the UK, in London, they stay mum because it's happening to somebody they don't like. They are failing spectacularly, in their own backyard, without any risk of repercussions whatsoever (this government is not friendly to them, they're not friendly to anyone really, so there's nothing to lose by criticising them).

I fail to see why I should support the rights of Russian rock bands to criticize Putin, but I should ignore the Metropolitan Police, down the road, banging on the door of foreign embassies to get hold of Assange. One day they might be looking for me on some trumped-up charge or other, and will Amnesty then stay silent if I'm not their pal?

That's just not how it works, and that's why Amnesty won't get any more money from me.


Your sole complaint about Amnesty is that somehow, they are too soft on Muslims. But their site is full of criticism about Muslim countries, e.g. http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/saudi-arabia - no indication that they are holding back at all with respect to actual reported human rights violations.

So what I can conclude from your post is that you are disappointed that Amnesty does not go beyond specific human rights criticisms to some kind of blanket condemnation of all Muslims, which would serve absolutely no constructive purpose except to satisfy bigotry.


He specifically says 'The Cairo Declaration subordinates all human rights to sharia law, and almost every islamic country in the world has signed the Cairo Declaration. ....It beggars belief that Amnesty can simply ignore it when the islamic world rejects universal human rights.".

'Islamic world' does not equate to 'all Muslims'. The 'Catholic Church' does not equate to all those who are Catholic Christians etc.,


Perhaps the Cairo Declaration's signatories believe that sharia law protects universal human rights adequately, and that the UN's version of universal human rights is an attempt to lump together rights that are truly universal with some "rights" that are culturally specific, dubious, and in some cases downright wrongheaded, in order to stuff them down the throats of other countries?

It makes as much sense to say that the Cairo Declaration "subordinates all human rights to sharia law" as to say that the UNDHR "subordinates all human rights to the will of the UN General Assembly". And characterizing the signing of the Cairo Declaration as "rejecting universal human rights" is exactly opposite of the truth: the Cairo Declaration is an affirmation of universal human rights.


The Cairo declaration was published in 1990. It's more productive for Amnesty to criticize specific abuses than to attack a 22-year old declaration (which, to my knowledge, has not been made law by all the countries who signed).


I think your link makes the right comparison with Chen Guangchen. When the UK can be compared unfavourably to China, it is a sad day for all of us in the Western world...


Come on, think. What would the Chinese gain by seriously pissing off their biggest trading partner, who is the cornerstone of their economy? Compare to the UK who has to weigh up pleasing their longtime ally the US and pissing off Ecuador.

If you're holding up the Chinese not violating the sanctity of the US embassy as a noble example, surely the annexing the entire nation of Tibet should counter that. Tibet was small fry. The US has the largest economy, military, and set of military allies in the world.

EDIT: Also, the "Freedom Fries" period in the last decade caused some damage to the French economy over a preceived slight that didn't even exist. Having China march into the US embassy would have a ton of ramifications from the US public pulling business, not just the government.


I don't think it is a fair comparison. There is a reason he went to the embassy of the world superpower and not Ecuador's embassy-- which China may have been much less likely to respect.



Yeah, that was a month ago, when it was all fun and games.

Now the Metropolitan Police is banging at the door of a foreign embassy to get hold of a suspect, and the time for jokes is all but gone. Now it's not about who's the best-looking media-darling, it's about principles and long-standing conventions in international relations.

They would look fabulous by coming out swinging, saying "we can't stand the man, but the asylum principle is inviolable and not worth losing just to score a cheap point, so let him go to Ecuador if they want him."

But no, silence. Had it happened in China or some godforsaken African hellhole, we wouldn't hear the end of it. It happens in London, chips are down, and now we're failing HARD at world peace.

It make me very sad.


In terms of the asylum principal, this move actually undermines it somewhat. It's intended for politically motivated charges, not simple criminal ones such as the one faced by Assange.

There may be a risk of an extradition request from the US but that can't override the fact that there is a serious crime that needs to be properly investigated and that Assange appears to have questions to answer.

And it's not as if he's being sent to somewhere with a shitty human rights record or a dodgy judicial system. It's Sweden. Even if he doesn't trust them as a member of the Council of Europe they're signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights so he has the right of appeal all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights. I honestly can't think of too many places I'd rather be if I wanted my rights respected. It's certainly way above Ecuador on my list.


The UK government has threatened the sanctity of a diplomatic mission, putting diplomats and asylum seekers everywhere at risk, over someone who is wanted for questioning, with no actual charges yet to have been filed.

That threat in itself is shocking. If they were to go through with it, dictatorships everywhere would instantly ensure every dissident who as much as looks towards a foreign embassy will get slapped with criminal charges so they can use it to justify entering the embassy to pull them out.

> And it's not as if he's being sent to somewhere with a shitty human rights record or a dodgy judicial system. It's Sweden

It's Sweden, the country who has admitted to having handed Egyptian dissidents over to masked CIA agents who proceeded to strip them, drug them, chain them, and ship them off to Mubarak to be tortured, in violation of Swedish law and international treaties.

The European Court of Human Rights didn't help them much.

The kicker?

Said Egyptians were in Sweden seeking political asylum because they presumably believed the same you do.


I completely agree that the UK statements about revoking the embassy's status are dumb on a massive level and they need to back off of that position in a hurry. I think Ecuador are abusing the asylum process but your point about what the UK's actions if they did it mean is completely right.

In terms of the being charged thing, that's a technical distinction based on how the Swedish process works where you have to be formally questioned before you can be charged. As the UK judges at his appeal stated, it's misleading to say that, criminal charges have in effect been bought.

But that still doesn't justify storming the embassy.

I'm not saying that mistakes haven't been made in the past but Assange will, I suspect have far better legal representation and a far better PR apparatus than the Egyptian's had. This is a trial that would be in the glare of the world's media which makes any kind of cover up far, far harder.


Assange has been formally questioned. He was formally questioned back in 2010. Then the prosecutor decided there was no indication of a crime.

It took another prosecutor to take the extremely unusual step of swooping in and reopening the case before it was suddenly imperative he was questioned in Sweden, after he had been given the go-ahead to leave.

Meanwhile the Swedish police are happily interviewing suspected murderers elsewhere without the same insistence.

As for the Egyptians - it caused a massive uproar, then as stated, the US was shown to be right back at it again shortly afterwards, ignoring the political fallout of the initial cases. Even if Sweden doesn't want to be involved in the dirty work - and they have a lengthy history of bending over for the US -, that is by no means any guarantee of anything.


> If they were to go through with it, dictatorships everywhere would instantly ensure every dissident who as much as looks towards a foreign embassy will get slapped with criminal charges so they can use it to justify entering the embassy to pull them out.

Unnecessary. As I pointed out the last time you made this argument, dictatorships already have more effective ways of doing this: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/world/asia/chen-guangcheng...


Unnecessary for China, against someone whose family was within their grasp. That does not mean it wouldn't be a very convenient tool.

You'll note that China found it less troublesome to threaten someones family with violence than to risk a diplomatic incident by violating the integrity of a diplomatic mission.


Well the US is not exactly a country to get on the wrong side of. It's pretty clear the US never really went to bat for the guy either, not wanting to be on the wrong side of China. Britain and Ecuador have no need to maintain good relations so it's an entirely different kettle of fish.


Considering the actions of UK government in the last 24 hours, denials that this is a political persecution sound much weaker than before. Do you think Chinese authorities don't brand their actions "simple criminal matters" in most cases? Of course they do. There is no such thing as a "political crime" in undemocratic countries; they're all "internal criminal matters".

Regardless, there are many ways of going about obtaining justice for alleged "simple" crimes. Violating the Vienna Convention and jeopardising the basic cornerstones of human-rights policies is simply not worth it for such a small-time criminal matter. A long-sighted view would see that, and find a compromise that Sweden could live with.


Do you think Chinese authorities don't brand their actions "simple criminal matters" in most cases? Of course they do. There is no such thing as a "political crime" in undemocratic countries; they're all "internal criminal matters".

Even the UK has engaged in this renaming of terrorist/paramilitary actions as "criminals", especially in their own country. Just look at the recent history of "political status" for prisoners in Northern Ireland ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1981_Irish_hunger_strike )


Rape is a "small time criminal matter" now?

Personally I'd class it as the second most significant crime against the person that the law recognises after murder.

There's no suggestion that these charges have been manufactured or that he's only being prosecuted for who he is. There are real victims who have made real accusations and for all the other bullshit going on, Julian Assange isn't above the law

(And before we get into the whole "it was about using a condom" thing, one accusation is that he had sex with a sleeping woman which, as well as being really classy, is something that would be recognised as rape in pretty much every civilised country in the world including the UK and the US.)

The UK's threat to change the status of the embassy is a massively stupid move (and would violate the Vienna Convention as far as I can see) but everything else is a distraction. Julian Assange may be a freedom fighter, a brave campaigner for truth and whatever else people want to believe, but he's also an accused rapist and none of the other stuff over rides that.


The beauty of rape as an accusation is that it is so reviled that people tend to suspend their objectivity and take the view of guilty until proven innocent. Even people who are cleared of rape charges are viewed in a highly negative light, by virtue of association.

Even if the people who set this up drop everything and don't try for an extradition to the united states, they will have succeeded in thoroughly sliming Julian. They don't need to kill him or imprison him (that would probably backfire anyhow), they only need to classically condition people to associate JULIAN ASSANGE and RAPIST. You realize that the central intelligence agency actually had plans to make Castro's beard fall out because they believed that Cubans would view him as less virile and thus easier to depose? Or that they wanted to dose him with LSD so he would act crazy during a major speech? You really think the United States intelligence apparatus wouldn't try to break someone that burned them very hard by playing on views like "Personally I'd class it as the second most significant crime against the person that the law recognises after murder"???? Particularly given that rape can be her word versus his, and that can be sufficient to get a conviction? With murder, you need a body, and that can be hard to produce.


The fact it's easy to falsify and that such a false accusation can ruin lives doesn't change the nature or severity of the crime.

And the fact that the CIA have a real history of crap like this doesn't change the possibility that this is a real accusation of a real crime with real victims.

I'm not saying he's guilty and I agree that what we know of the evidence at the moment means that the whole thing isn't cut and dried (rape cases rarely are, the nature of the crime makes the investigation and prosecution of them messy in the extreme and there are far too many false accusations - something which should be a crime). What I am saying that he's wanted for questioning and that situations like this where things aren't clear are why we have due process.

Is it possible that he's being set up? Yes. Is it possible that he's committed a significant crime? Yes.

How best to deal with this? Using an established, public process based on solid principals of justice established over centuries which may be flawed but is the best thing we have at present, or some curious combination of political manoeuvring, PR and who knows what else?

The Swedish justice system may not be perfect, but it's surely a far better way of establishing what might have happened between Assange and the two women than what we're seeing now. If the case is that weak and the police have been that remiss then his lawyers should have a field day.


The Swedish justice system might have been a better way, if they had not in the past demonstrated they are prepared to hand even asylum seekers over to the CIA to be shipped off to be tortured and if it wasn't for all the irregularities with this case so far.

Given that, I see no reason at all to trust that he would get a fair trial, if he'd get one at all.


You're on your anti-rape high-horse but nobody is saying it's a goodness, that's just a straw man you've dragged out to beat. However if you actually cared about rape you'd be upset at the many documented cases of molestation and rape the US, UK, and Swedish governments are sitting on despite ample evidence, while pursing this nonsense.

No, it's pretty obvious you're just another anti-Wikileaks crusader because you ignore everything relevant such as how he was already questioned and released, how even with allegations of murder questioning takes place in the defendants country of residence UNTIL adequate proof has been collected for extradition, etc.

As for the possibility of Assange being a rapist, there's the same possibility you're a rapist.

But regarding probability, yes, that the CIA has pulled this shit before, and the Swedish police aren't following protocol at all, does make it far less likely that the case is real. They wouldn't need these games if he was actually accused of a real crime.

I only wish you were trolling, and not representative of Fox News viewers.


I honestly have no strong views on wikileaks (I find Assanges absolute certainty about what they do troubling but I think the principal of disclosure is fine).

I live in the UK and have voted for left wing parties every election (local, national and Euopean) for over 20 years now. My political ideals are so far from Fox News it's not true.

In terms of questioning and release, who knows maybe they'd question someone as many often as twice before charging them with rape. If you think that's suspicious then you have an odd idea of what comprises a thorough criminal investigation.

Yes, I could be a rapist though there is a key difference between Assange and myself when it comes to the possibility which is that there are currently at least two ore women making suggestions that he might have than are saying the same about me.

In terms of being anti-rape. Sorry, guilty as charged. It's a controversial view that people shouldn't be forced into sex against their will but thats the kind of troll I am. I wish that the police investigated them all with this level of vigour but the fact that they don't has no real significance here other than another example of how high profile figures of all sorts tend to get more attention in these cases.


In terms of being anti-rape, it's all you're doing, jumping up and down and telling us how against rape you are. Do you understand what a straw man is? Yes, Julian Assange needs to be handled like anyone else accused of a serious crime. That's all he wants. Quit trying to imply otherwise, as if he is somehow getting an easier time of this than a random person would.

What you are trying very hard to miss is that Assange is available for questioning. He pretty much always has been. Sweden doesn't want to question him or they would have, they want him in custody and don't want to state charges.

As for being a rapist yourself, you keep speaking in possibility. And you're still a possible rapist. You mean to speak in probability. But you fail the understand that normal probability (of charges being false, or the purpose of his arrest being limited to those charges) can't be assumed when there's obvious evidence of the circumstances being abnormal.

Your political ideals may be miles from a Fox News broadcast but your rhetorical techniques aren't that different.


Elsewhere in this thread I've actually implied he has a harder time of this. Cases like this show that investigators seem to get more interested when they have a higher profile target, a known figure, they want their 15 minutes of fame. I really don't believe he has it easier than everyone else, I think he has a far harder time of it, but I don't think that excuses his actions.

But being handled as a normal person means that he doesn't get to dictate terms to the police about how and where he'll be questioned. If he were a witness then maybe but he's not, he's a suspect being questioned for the second time. People talk about him not having been charged but if you read the UK appeals court judgement they say that the claim he's not been charged is a semantic distinction based on specifics of the Swedish legal system and that it is clear that "legal proceedings have begun against him".

Under those circumstances I don't think it would be normal or reasonable to allow him to dictate the terms under which he's questioned.

My intent in using possibility as opposed to probability is simply not not prejudge his guilt or innocence because I don't think anyone at this point has the evidence to do that.

I do believe that there is a case to be answered (I believe that's close to certain given the number of legal appeals and judges in the UK that have examined the question and the various objections) but all the evidence hasn't been heard so I don't want to start assessing likely guilt. If you have a greater level of certainty one way or another for whatever reason I have no issue with that, but I say possible because I think that's the most appropriate description at this point from what I've read and heard.

The ultimate problem is that the whole thing is messy. It's messy because rape investigations always are, it's messy because of Wikileaks and what may or may not happen as a result of that, it's messy because both of those are highly charged situations, it's messy because Assange is a complex figure and it's messy because of his actions and the ill considered actions of at least four governments have only made things worse.

The rhetoric it's a function of the medium where we all just pick up on the bits we disagree with rather than writing long form balanced pieces on the whole thing. If that's what you're interested in then this isn't a bad approximation of my view: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/16/julian-a... though there are issues with it (specifically the fact that it doesn't mention that the Swedes have handed over people to the US in the past in ways that were, to put it mildly, troubling).

The main reason I have banged on about the rape position is that it's something that a lot of people seem to be willing to discard almost completely, in some cases to the point of misogyny (to be clear that's not an accusation I'm levelling at you).

My rhetoric may be wound up but I could say the same about discussions of me as a potential rapist (just one example among several I could pick from your original post), a suggestion which even hypothetically is clearly charged enough to likely override any clarity it offers and I'd venture given it's personal nature is beyond anything I said. Dare I say that it's a touch Fox News?

Unpleasant as these things are, it's part of the medium. Hastily banged out messages, only picking up the bits you have specific issue with, little time to consider subtlety. At least we have an excuse, unlike Fox.


I keep seeing people who reflexively refuse to entertain the notion that Assange could be guilty. The other beauty if you want to call it that, of rape as an accusation is that it's so easy to brand the woman as a liar and a slut. Especially to the people who matter-- other men.

I do not know why it's so hard to believe that a driven, virile man who is gathering the reins of power into his hands for the GOOD OF MANKIND must be pure of heart and soul. My experience with suchlike is that they are bullies at heart. We hope they will be bullies on the side of light and goodness, but-- maybe not in every part of their lives.

People who KNOW WHAT IS GOOD FOR MANKIND often KNOW WHAT IS GOOD IN BED too, and go for it regardless.


When I first saw the news of the rape allegations, my reaction was "eew, what a slimy fellow". I have only changed my tune after looking at the details closely.

I do feel that these women have the right to air their grievances publicly, and be afforded the opportunity for an impartial legal process. Unfortunately, I have very strong doubts that any impartial legal process will occur, but rather a highly partial extra-legal process.

I respect that you have observed situations where men have taken advantage of women, or a woman's rights have been disregarded; it happens with alarming frequency, and it saddens me greatly. I do feel that society in general (in the west anyhow) is very sympathetic to the woman in instances of sexual assault. Because of its horrible frequency, it is very easy for any man to imagine that the woman who was raped was his mother, his wife, his daughter, his sister or a close female friend. This fills us with wrath and gives us a desire for terrible vengeance; that is precisely why we must collect ourselves and be rational. did you know that rapists and child molesters tend to be treated so savagely by other inmates that special prisons (or special wings in regular prisons) are constructed to keep them alive?


If rape is so significant a crime as to change the politics of nations, why isn't the Vatican under siege for the roles it has played in child rape? There's a hell of a lot more evidence there than against Assange, and about a great deal more rapes, too.

But you said it yourself: rape (like murder) is a crime against the person. Not against the nation. Nations shouldn't be violating treaties just to 'get their man'. It's a bit like the point of the 5th Amendment in the US: sure, some bad guys get away with it, but overall it protects everyone.

Here's another example: elsewhere in the thread someone mentions China not going into the US embassy to get their man. But if the UK does this, China now has a clear and more importantly very public precedent and the UK embassy becomes more insecure in China: "Hey, you've shown us that if you really want the guy, it's okay to break the rules".


I'm not saying for a minute that my (the UK) government should. It would be a dreadful precedent and a misuse of the law and I'm glad to see them backing away from it this evening

But asylum was never meant for this either and while they shouldn't go in and get him I see no reason why they should grant him safe passage either.

I suspect that the next step may well be a legal challenge to the grant of immunity.


According to the alleged victim she was "half-asleep". Also it was not their first or last (consensual) sexual interaction.


Rape is not a small matter. But it is not nearly that clear cut

> There are real victims who have made real accusations

This is misleading at best.The current prosecutor made the accusations in the forms they have been presented. The only hint we have of what may be in the police's version of the statements from the women are in illegally leaked documents and in statements made by a prosecutor who took over the case after a previous prosecutor claimed the same police investigation showed that no crime had taken place.

At least one of the women stated early on that she refuses to sign the statements the police took down because she was severely distraught at the manner in which the police was pursuing this. Said statements were further taken down in violation of Swedish police procedure, by failing to record them, so ensuring that we don't have a reliable way of ascertaining how the wording in the statements were arrived at, or whether the police documents actually match what the women actually said.

Having had to read and sign statements taken down by police, I see exactly zero reason to assume that just because police has written it down that it bears any resemblance to what was actually said. In my case, it was because I was refusing conscription in Norway, and it is a formality to be interviewed by a police officer as to the reason why; said officer was friendly and trying to accurately represent what I was saying, but despite that it took several hours of hard work to correct the statement before it represented what I had said in a remotely accurate manner. Of course this is just one anecdote, but it did make me appreciate why recordings are so important).

If it is indeed correct that one of the women is categorically refusing to sign, that is significant.

In either case, not even the prosecution have claimed that either alleged victim have made any statement claiming rape or sexual assault, nor have they filed complaints, nor as I understand have the police claimed to even have asked whether or not they considered themselves to have been victims of anything.

Any inference of the presence of a crime thus rests with the prosecutor, based on information of an unclear provenance, and where the public record is full of holes.

When another senior prosecutor came to the opposite conclusion, it does seem not seem unreasonable to ask the question whether or not there are in fact any real accusations from real victims.

One or the other of two senior Swedish prosecutors have necessarily made a substantial mistake in their assessment, or been biased or motivated by other factors. None of the alternatives surrounding that are particularly pleasant to consider.

Maybe Assange did commit these crimes. Maybe he didn't. Regardless, the Swedish prosecutors do have some serious questions to answer about why this case has been handled in this highly unusual manner. Not least for the sake of the alleged victims and the future public trust in their office.


The idea that all political arrests are going to be labelled as such is absurd. Of course they are calling it something else.


Assange is facing politically motivated charges in the US that may include the death penalty.


Then he'll be fine in Sweden, the Swede's won't extradite anyone who will face the death penalty.

See here: http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/01/54/35/77809ec6.pdf. Page 3, Section 12, Point 3.

Worth noting that this is the text of the "THE EXTRADITION FOR CRIMINAL OFFENCES ACT (1957:668)", rather than some statement of government position and therefore is binding in Swedish law. The government simply couldn't send him to the US without suitable assurances.


You should probably read up on the situation before commenting.


I have. Any specifics?


No, I don't believe that. Or more specifically, I don't believe anyone who has spent any time looking into this case can honestly deny that it's a politically motivated prosecution, as you just did.

One can reasonably believe that persecuting journalists who expose government wrongdoing is good or bad, of course, but to deny that political motivations exist here is simply lying. It's not a position that can be honestly held.

But for whatever reason, lying about this case appears to be important to you - as if the Hacker News discussion is somehow going to affect the course of world events - so go right ahead.


I'm going to charitably believe that I've been unclear and that you've misunderstood me.

What I believe is that two women have made serious allegations which I think deserve to be properly heard and subject to due process.

Whatever else Julian Assange has or has not done (on which I have mixed opinions) and whatever political manoeuvering has gone on around it, there is a serious criminal allegation with two alleged victims and I think that matters.

If the case is that weak, the evidence that circumstantial and the police process that unprofessional, I'm sure his lawyers will do just fine.

Is there a risk to Assange? Maybe, but if the Americans really want him we in the UK have a long history of being America's bitch and I suspect would have handed him over in a trice. I simply can't see how being in Sweden is a greater risk to him than being here.

I believe in due process. Not because it's perfect, but because it's better than all the other stuff that's been tried in these situations. You can call me naive or ill-informed but please don't call me a liar, it adds nothing to the debate and you really haven't enough evidence to back it up.


Well, I know full well that 'sexual assault' does not have to be linked with physical violence, but lack of it certainly makes it somewhat less serious than other cases, does it not? Also, the victims did not want to persecute him, they just wanted to know how they could make him take some test. Also, attorney (is it correct word?) who looked at the case closed (dismissed?) it, it was only reopened later, by another attorney. Also, it's not certain that the victim was 'asleep' or just 'half asleep', which would mean that she was NOT raped (because she was able to protest, which she didn't do, it's how I understand this). Also, interrogating suspects abroad IS possible and happens often - not that long ago two swedish officials were sent to my country (Poland) to interrogate someone.

And so on. Sorry, I know that rape is very serious crime and should be punished, but I don't think your stance in this matter - that Assange is guilty of RAPE, omg, omg! - is valid. I think you're needlessly emotional about the matter. You may dislike him, but you should at least try being objective - you'd realize that finding him guilty here on forum is not a good thing at all, not to law, not to his victims, and not even to you.


http://www.justice4assange.com (Obviously biased but has the best presentation of details of the case I have found.)


You do know the UK has its hands tied here? The European Union requires member states to respond to EU Arrest Warrants. Sweden issued one, the UK must respond to it. Failing to appropriately enforce such a warrant would be a very serious matter.


Respecting a minor treaty on european police procedures is not worth jeopardising the Vienna Convention -- which is the cornerstone of any such treaty in the first place.

European rules can and will be broken whenever national governments see fit, often without real consequences. You should know by now, after years of haggling on broken treaties about economy, national budgets etc. Besides, the UK government could simply broker an agreement between Sweden and Ecuador, where Sweden renounces the warrant in exchange for something else. Obviously, they are not even trying. This is what Amnesty should complain about, and loudly.

So no, the UK government has not had its hands tied. Craig Murray states that Foreign Office civil servants rightly opposed the decision to pressure the embassy, and were overruled by William Hague. This is because they know what they're doing, whereas Hague is just the last of a long list of amateurish Tory hacks.


Amnesty International != The UK government


He's not a suspect. He really did breach the terms of his bail. Regardless of any other allegations, he IS guilty of that.


That is immaterial. He breached his bail conditions in order to be able to apply for political asylum. By this argument any dictatorship could avoid dealing with pesky asylum issues by simply forbidding its citizens to apply for asylum, so that they'd all be criminals when they do.


When Bo, XiLai's police chief in ChongQing sought asylum from a US counsulate, the counsulate recognized the issue was less simple political and more a political AND criminal matter and sent Wang, LiJung on his way back into the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Basically, even if the US thought there was a political/persecutorial aspect to this, they recognized the gravity of the situation (that there were overriding factors) and in the spirit of maintaining relations, decided to send Wang, LiJung out on the street.

Had the US not handed him back to China, China would have made things very difficult for the US, in other areas, as they are wont to do. This illustrates, that asylum and Vienna conventions and such are respected to a good degree, but there comes a time when most actors recognize that there can be extreme extenuating circumstances which make it impractical to be strictly principled in cases resemble local disputes. In this case, Ecuador is willing to burn bridges as it were --on the other hand, it's convenient for them. It gains them some cred in their circles and have nothing to lose (immediately, commerce wise). I mean, it's not as though they are the paragon of freedom in LatAm.


You are not 'failing HARD at world peace' until you are at war, or making others go to war. Peace does not mean 'total lack of controversy or dispute'.


Isn't London that city that has fucking surface-to-air missiles on top of residential buildings?


This is really weak. Nelson Mandela gratefully accepted support from Libya and Cuba in the ANC's struggles against apartheid... Does that make him a hypocrite? Amnesty would never say that in an official blog post...


Mandela wasn't accused of rape last time I checked. I think there's a somewhat different level of self interest involved.


I was responding to the Amnesty blog post which wasn't about the rape allegations, but the ethics of Assange seeking help from Ecuador. So I'm not sure really sure how your point relates...

[edit] wont let me respond to your comment below, so I'll just say that while I'm not sure how you measure 'what the world sees as a greater good', its a reasonable point and that the Amnesty blogpost would have made much more sense if it had used the argument that you do...


My point is that Mandela was fighting for what both he and the world saw as a greater good.

Assange is fighting a personal criminal charge against himself.

If you're going to pick up dubious allies, then you should do so in a cause which justifies it, where the trade offs are worth the costs.


Refusing to put a condom is quite different from rape is all the countries except Sweden.


"Rape - On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enköping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state. It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, still consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her. The sexual act was designed to violate the injured party’s sexual integrity."

See the highlighted section. She was asleep. That's almost certainly going to be rape in the UK, the US, Australia or pretty much anywhere else you'd count as civilised.


There is evidence that she actually claimed she was "half-asleep".


If only there was some mechanism for putting all the facts in front of a group of people who could work through them and decide whether he really did it or not...

I agree, it's not clear cut. That's why we have due process, and that's all I want to see.


No, it's not. She consented on the condition that he wore a condom. This meant that not wearing a condom made the sex non-consensual, and the normal term for non-consensual sex is rape. It was ruled that in England and Wales the behaviour would be criminal, too.


Did she attempt to remove his penis from her vagina? Did she attempt to push him off of her? Did he physically prevent her from doing so? Did he coerce her using a gun, knife or some other weapon which she identified, and the police have been able to locate? Is there any sign of a struggle?

If a woman lies naked and spread eagle, and a man begins to have intercourse with her, and she makes no move to stop it, but tells him to stop in a calm tone, but in a language he does not understand, is the man raping her?


It's certainly possible he is yes.

If her compliance comes from fear (the threat may be real or perceived), if she had been clear previously about a lack of consent or a whole bunch of other situations.

Whethe you could get a criminal conviction under those circumstances is another question but sure, it could be rape.


I hear this repeated a lot, and can't for the life of me understand why it even matters?

The point is: There is an extradition order to Sweden. The Swedish police want to talk to him. He fled the country before his interview.

Last time I checked, you don't get to just tell the police "sorry, not interested" when they are investigating rape allegations. I'm pretty sure that in just about every country in the world, at some point, there are rules dictated that you have a certain level of cooperation with authority. And if you don't, there are consequences.

How is this so hard to understand?


> The Swedish police want to talk to him. He fled the country before his interview.

Assange is transparently a scumbag at best, and rapist at worst, but this isn't true.

He was given permission to leave Sweden: the authorities had finished with him. They changed their minds weeks later.

And they can talk to him as much as they like. In London. Even in the Ecuadorean embassy. He's offered this much many times.

He cooperated, and now it's escalated due to political motivation.

How is this so hard to understand?


Nah, not really true. He was never "given permission to leave". There are transcripts of his lawyer setting up the 2nd interview with the authorities. They said they would meet on a Tuesday. Oddly enough, after his attorney discusses when to meet with the police, Assange magically wasn't in the country any more, fleeing 1 day before his interview date.

In further depositions, his attorney said he "can't remember" if he mentioned to his client the pending interview.

And furthermore: What is your point? Politically motivated or not, the police are engaged in an investigation. They have, at some point in time (regardless of the timeframe) decided they are seeking a second interview and will most likely be charging Assange with a crime.

Even if what you said was true (it's not), so what? The simple fact of the matter is, as I said, that Sweden has issued an extradition order. Whether you personally agree or not, it's legal. Everyone involved knows that he will eventually be extradited. Because there is no legal reason for it not to go through.

So as I said previously: I am missing something? How is this so hard to understand?


> He was never "given permission to leave".

In the London extradition court case, the lawyer for the Swedish authorities (Clare Montgomery) admitted giving Assange permission to leave:

'She said Mr. Assange's Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, was told on Sept. 15 that his client was "not subject to any restraint and could leave Sweden."'

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870442220457612...

The authorities were in full possession of the facts of the case at this time.

Then -- weeks later -- they changed their minds.

> There are transcripts of his lawyer setting up the 2nd interview with the authorities.

Montgomery -- Sweden's counsel, remember -- also said that during this conversation, his lawyer said he was unable to contact Assange. Is that in the transcript?

> And furthermore: What is your point?

My point is that the accusation that he fled Sweden is not an established fact.

> Politically motivated or not, the police are engaged in an investigation.

You really don't think it makes any difference if it's politically motivated? No equal access to justice regardless of political opinions?

This is what you are missing.

If everything that was 'legal' was in black and white as you suggest, there would be no need of lawyers or appeal courts.


> How is this so hard to understand?

Because people are too caught up in America-wants-to-kill-Assange conspiracy theories to bother trying to understand.


Human rights of rape victims? What about those?


Ecuadorean diplomats even offered the option to send him to Sweden outright, as long as the Swedish government guarantees he will not be extradited to a third country. Swedish authorities refused.

Tell me please: how will Swedish rape victims' human rights be offended by the Swedish inability to ship him to another country? Are Swedish punishment terms not enough?


Sweden presumably has a treaty obligation to extradite him to other countries though - they would be legally unable to agree to such a condition. (I'm ignoring the fact that if they were able to except him, that kind of piecemeal approach to treaty obligations would be a terrible idea on the whole.)


Sweden has recently visited a different embassy to interview a suspected murderer.

Sweden was invited to interview Assange in the embassy in London. They declined.


Swedish law demands 2 stages of interviews - the second one (the "criminal proceedings" that are "equivalent to being charged" in the words of the High Court) is the one that has to take place in Sweden. If the suspected murderer was the pre-charge interview, that explains the discrepancy - if not that's very significant. Do you happen to know which set they were?


No. A terrible source too: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/aug/16/julian-assange-e...)

> A very different perspective from Vaughan Smith, a friend of Assange who put him up for more than a year at his Norfolk residence. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One this afternoon, Smith said:

>> [...] >> I think there's a lot of pride involved here... They have interviewed an alleged murderer in Serbia but they choose not to come to London to interview Julian Assange. I think that's very disappointing.


Well they don't want to interview him. They want to interrogate him. And interrogation is not something that usually takes place on the suspected's convenience. Assange have walked out of interviews in the past.


"interview" and "interrogate" are the same thing.


No — but how often are such promises made? Hypothetically, if there came up an allegation that he had murdered someone in, say, Spain, and it was obvious he was guilty, would it be just that he could not be taken to Spain to be tried as a result of such an agreement?


Agreements between foreign countries are all about trust. You'll find that there's very little law covering this sort of thing (Vienna Convention being probably the strongest of them), and governments are pretty much free to do as they please. China promised not to touch Cheng Guangcheng once he left the US embassy in Beijing, and they kept their word, because doing otherwise would have been bad business.

If Swedish public opinion were horrified to discover Assange was a serial killer in Montana, they could ship him over pronto, agreement or no agreement, and Ecuador would understand why their agreement had to be broken. No loss of trust, no loss of face.

The fact that the Swedish government won't accept this sort of agreement has nothing to do with what they can or cannot do, and all about what they plan to do. Accepting such an agreement and then turning around to extradite him to the US on espionage charges would be taken as bad faith by the international community, so Swedish diplomats cannot do it. Is this why they refused? I guess we won't know until they get hold of him.


They want to question him over a complaint regarding compelling him to take an STD test. When he was charged and then those charges were dismissed he remained in Sweden for weeks. The story is so much more complicated than a simple charge for 'rape' (Assange has not been charged) One of the people he had relations with withdrew support for prosecution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu4WCskniEc


How are the rape victims' human rights being violated in this process?

They have not charged him with a crime (rape victims should be furious about this). They want him for 'questioning' but refuse to question him in London (again, furious).


In Sweden you can't be charged without being questioned first. The questioning is clearly a precursor to charges being brought.


In Sweden you can't be charged without being questioned first.

Well there's your problem.


The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union applies to every man, woman, and child within the European Union. They apply both if you are a convicted criminal or have had a criminal offence committed against you.


How do you assume that he is guilty? The way all countries including America are taking an interest in him, it sounds less rape related and more of a power struggle.


Can we come up with a new word for this alleged crime? Saying "rape" implies they didn't consent to sex, which in this case they did.


The Vienna Convention is indeed a cornerstone of international relations and I would also be very upset to see it violated. But fundamentally it's about the rights of Westphalian states, not human rights. I think it's entirely fair for Amnesty International to say that they're only interested in securing human rights.


You cannot have human rights without peaceful international relations. You cannot have peaceful international relations without the Vienna Convention.

If Amnesty cannot see that, they're unworthy of their fame. Unfortunately, I suspect they do see that, and nevertheless they're not acting. Which is even more damning.


When Assange is on trial in the US and in jeopardy of being executed will you say that is not a case of "human rights"?

Hint: the women in Sweden won't be the point of inquiry then. It will be his actions on the internet, for which he most definitely should not face death.


Alternatively AI sees that Assange has plenty of resources to help him and are instead using their own to help the great many other people in need.


Are you implying that Assange is a political prisoner?


As for 'LibDems and Labour'?! You appear to be suggesting that it should be self-evident to everyone reading your post that the LibDems and Labour have a claim to moral superiority over Tories? The LibDems pay lip-service to Civil Liberties (they never expected power, they never expected to be called to deliver) and Labour are the most authoritarian party to ever hold power in the UK. It's just as well Labour are not in power, else Assange would have been shipped to Gitmo months ago.


I strongly doubt that Britain will take sudden action to arrest Assange in the embassy. What's likely to happen now is a stand off where he can't get out of the embassy because he'll be arrested. The UK and Ecuador will try to negotiate some sort of deal where Assange does go to Sweden to be questioned. Given that European states don't have the death penalty Assange would not be extradited to the US if there was a risk of him facing death there.

If he leaves he'll be arrested, if he manages to get in a diplomatic car the car will be stopped with Assange in it and there'll be a stand off. If Ecuador tries to make him into a diplomat the UK can simply refuse to accept that he is a diplomat. And if they try to use a diplomatic bag then the UK will claim that it's being used for improper purposes and block it. IMHO Assange is stuck there until a deal is worked out.

The granting of asylum is just one step in what will continue to be a tedious soap opera.

My interpretation of the letter that the FO sent to Ecuador is as a statement of a negotiating position given that the FO got wind of the fact that he was going to be offered asylum.


Sweden doesn't have the best of records wrt extraditions in cases where the US has an interest.

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


Can they not put him in a helicopter with a diplomatic courier or minor embassy functionary and fly him out to a boat in international waters? (Edit: I see now that was already discussed below. nm.)

That asked, I tend to agree that the most likely case is that Ecuador is only involved because they want unrelated concessions from the UK and will likely turn him over after some brief negotiations.


Wow - this comment shows just how out of touch people who do not live in day to day Latin America are, with respect to Ecuador's decision to grant asylum. I am an Aussie/Brit, who has been happily living in Ecuador for the last four years. I would never have thought the day would come where I felt prouder looking at my Ecuadorian ID than I do my Aussie or British passports. But that certainly happened today! Anyway, to the point at hand. Ecuador has given Assange asylum because it has seriously considered the situation he's ended up in, and considers that not only is the whole clusterfuck politically motivated, but that if they DIDN'T offer asylum, at the very least, Assange's human rights would be violated. It is certainly NOT some cynical exercise in obtaining "unrelated concessions" from the UK ... that much I can assure you! It seems the UK Foreign Office also made such a misjudgement in trying to actually threaten Ecuador prior to the announcement, in the hope of perhaps intimidating them into NOT giving Assange asylum. What a monumental fail that was! It is actually hard to imagine how the UK could have made this situation much worse ... oh ... wait ... yes, they could've stormed the sovereign and inviolate territory of the Ecuadorian Embassy! Anyway, the point is that Ecuador is standing on principle here (remember that quaint concept?), and fortunately they are operating at a level of integrity which has allowed them to repudiate the skulduggery of two of the most powerful nations in the world. Viva Ecuador! Shining a light on what are some very very dark dealings indeed. Anybody who hasn't woken up to what is really going on here yet, is probably not going to reach the baseline IQ requirement in this lifetime anyway! And trying to explain this sort of stuff to those sorts of people is like banging your head on a brick wall (probably more painful actually!). Ciao for now. :)


> "remember that quaint concept?"

I'm American. It's been a while.

My hat is truly off to Ecuador and its people if they're taking the altruistic route.


Assange would not be extradited to the US if there was a risk of him facing death there.

There is no legal risk of Assange facing death in the US, is there? As far as I've read, he's just a nuisance to the US government, not wanted for any crimes. Or is that mistaken?


For an example of what the US will likely to do Assange you need look no further than how they have treated Bradley Manning.


That's not the sort of thing you can take for granted. Bradley Manning was a member of the US military and the world generally is relatively tolerant of countries abusing their own enlisted citizens. Assange isn't even American -- it would be a much bigger deal.


But America is not well known for extending more -- never mind equal -- rights to non-citizens than to citizens, despite the clear intentions of the authors of the Bill of Rights.


This is how they treated another Australian called David Hicks ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hicks ... who by any measure has done far less "damage" to the US than has Assange. ________________________ Quote - "Hicks's legal team attributed his acceptance of the plea bargain to his "desperation for release from Guantanamo" and duress as "instances of severe beatings, sleep deprivation and other conditions of detention that contravene international human rights norms." ________________________ The US is effectively a Police State right now (read Pt 5 here: http://vrec.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/vilcabamba-ecuador-real...) ... and getting worse. If anybody believes they wouldn't throw Assange in the deepest darkest most inhospitable hole they have, I'm afraid they are deluded. He simply must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the USA.


Some Senators or whoever said he should be killed. That has been accepted as proof that once he's in the US, he'll be killed.


That has 'been accepted' BY WHOM? How on earth do you get to "PROOF"?


Dude, I reddit on reddit.


Or Guantanamo for a suspected terrorist, or is that word no longer flavor of the month? I'm never sure these days. These fads come and go so quickly.


I doubt the US would seek the death penalty. It would be way too public, instead they'd probably just put him in a black hole like Gitmo or some super max. And that would be that.


In the two reports I've seen, the only evidence of the British threat to enter the embassy are representations by Ecuador. We haven't seen the letter and we haven't heard those suggestions from any British government spokesman.

It shouldn't surprise me to learn the Ecuadorans are making more of some reference than is actually there. I can't see what interest they have in Assange beyond tweaking the US, which is probably great domestic and regional politics for their government.

Nor would it surprise me if the British letter included some clarification of that embassy's status, without suggestion of entry in this matter. The British have had at least one police officer shot dead by a sniper from an embassy and are probably at pains that everyone understands there are limits.

The British aren't going to complicate diplomatic immunities over a two-bit twerp like Assange. They'll be content to let him get moldy in there. Eventually people will lose interest, he'll get bored, and he'll likely emerge of his own will to get back into the papers.


Your characterization of Julian Assange as a "two-bit twerp" is weird. You are aware he is an extraordinarily high profile figure on the world stage, yes?


He is 'two-bit' as in 'not worth a major international incident, neither superhero nor supervillain'. His high publicity only reinforces his relative lack of actual importance against the cost of making a REAL international incident which isn't just talk.

For Ecuador's government he is worth a little more - as a way of proving that they are anti-colonialist and not afraid of Uncle Sam. Other than that, Wikileaks doesn't require Assange to function, which means both that protecting Assange is incidental to protecting Wikileaks and also that attacking Assange is not an effective way of suppressing Wikileaks.


Yes to all of that. But the central question this story is going to answer is "What happens to people who embarrass the U.S. Government in the 21st century?" The answer to that question answers the fate of Wikileaks, which is ultimately just a collection of people. And it's going to inform the behavior of anyone else down the line who might embarrass the U.S. Government.


So is Kim Kardashian.

Assange is hardly Nelson Mandela.


Ah, you view him as a celebrity gadfly and this event of no real world consequence. OK.


I'd be more than happy to have Kim Kardashian spent the rest of her life in the Ecuadorian embassy.

My point is that although Assange is well known, he is not a prisoner of conscience like Mandela, Ai WeiWei, Ghandi etc etc. He is not being pursued for bravely standing up to an oppressive regime. He is being pursued for taking sexual advantage of two women.


"He is not being pursued for bravely standing up to an oppressive regime. He is being pursued for taking sexual advantage of two women."

Ah, there's where we have to part ways. I believe that's willful ignorance of the situation.


Kim Kardashian is not really that famous globally, I only know who she is because of the internet. My parents and all my friends have no idea who she is.

Assange on the other hand has made the newspaper here many times.


You are either lazy or deliberately obtuse. Here's the letter. Pretty unambiguous effort at intimidation. A monumental FAIL for that matter as well. http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_21326040/letter-uk...


It seems England is really serious about sexual assault.


Sorry but sexual assault is a very serious crime. Never mind the unusual circumstances of this particular case, your comment is insulting to sexual assault victims as it implies sexual assault is a lesser crime.


This entire fiasco is insulting to sexual assault victims, as it trivializes their plight, unless the person in question is of some repute.

Has any international incident ever happened over a college date rape?! Do you recall an incident that a nation threatens to violate sovereignty of another nation over questioning of sexual misconduct?! Maybe the Trojan war!

An Interpol Red notice issued over sexual misconduct, while Assad is butchering the Syrian population by the thousands...

A farce.


Claiming that a problem isn't valid because there are bigger problems than it, is logic fail.


Yes the alleged crime is serious.

There is still something very funny about this insistence that the questioning happens in Sweden. Swedish police can come to UK to question. UK police could question on behalf of Swedish police, there are arrangements for that I think.

Extradition when there are no charges is unusual.

The UK have been here before, General Pinochet and the Spanish judges spring to mind.

Edit: further reading on European arrest warrants makes me realise that each country in Europe has a different definition of 'arrest'.


> Swedish police can come to UK to question

Ecuador offered this, saying they are welcome to question him in their embassy but the Swedes refused. It's blatantly obvious the US is leaning very hard on both the UK and SE.


You have an ... interesting definition of "blatantly obvious".

There are a number of legitimate reasons Sweden would refuse this idea. Foremost among them is that, in the event this questioning leads to a decision to arrest, it likely can't be performed.


Exactly. This is obvious. That is why law enforcement wants to perform interrogations in an environment they control, when they are dealing with a suspect.


In Europe, cooperation between different police forces is fairly routine. Below some examples from UK police forces, I'm assuming reciprocity.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-184038/Police-smash-...

http://www.sussex.police.uk/about-us/policies-and-procedures...

(UK has around 40 regional police forces along with various national agencies.)


Extradition when there are no charges is unusual.

Unusual yes, but not unheard of.

As a personal anecdote, there is a close friend of my family who has been facing extradition to another country merely for questioning over something that he allegedly did in 1944.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Zentai


"The Hungarian authorities have not explained why they could not question him in Australia under the treaty on criminal cooperation."

Seems very similar.


Depending on the jurisdiction, before charges can be formally filed, there may need to be some kind of grand jury action which may lead to an indictment. A subpoena to appear before the grand jury can lead to a bench warrant for arrest for failure to appear. The charge in such cases would therefore be "contempt of court" (or the equivalent).

Not sure it applies here, though.


Oh get off your high horse already. This kind of Fox News argumentation breaking everything down to base emotions and 'I'm offended' rhetoric is offensive to anyone with an intellect.

Of course sexual assault is a serious crime!

Personally, I just find it interesting that only Strauss Khan and now Assange get this kind of persecution when it fits someone's agenda.

If you read something else - sort out your own demons.


The "persecution" is seen as widely as the stage the actor normally plays on. Here in Pennsylvania, we have Jerry Sandusky; and closer in Philadelphia, pedophilic priest scandals.

The more people can see you, the more people will want to see what happen to you, and the more careful you need to be since people are always looking.


Noted. The next time a female blogger discusses sexism in the tech industry I'll be sure to look for your comment discussing the post as nothing more than "Fox News argumentation" that breaks everything down to base emotions.


He isn't accused of rape - it was "unprotected consensual sex", which is quite different. The charges were withdrawn by the women, but re-instated by someone TBD. I think the parent poster's description is closer to the mark. Democracy? Each to their own I guess.


It's cool. You can quibble semantics or argue which specific portion of the sexual assault laws he has or hasn't violated.

Don't understand your reference to Democracy or what it has to do with this case.

Regardless of all aforementioned responses: My point remains the same. shrugs


Note that this is not actual sexual assault. Sexual assault must be committed without consent. However Assange had consensual sex. The definition of rape in Sweden is badly broken.


More specifically, it seems the definition of rape in Sweden is not directly comparable to the definition in the United States, therefore emotional-laden reactionary arguments come across as uninformed and disingenuous. This is problematic because the debate necessarily ends up orbiting very close to "violent agreement" and "ad hominem". Neither of which are useful when the subject matter is this serious.


Actually no, the courts in England investigated it and decided that what he did would count as crimes in England aswell. He has also been 'charged' with having sex with someone who was asleep. Lots of places have that as a crime.


The nature of the charge is irrelevant. We're compelled by international agreements with Sweden to hand him over.

The question is really why would the UK want to piss Sweden off and not honour their agreement?


The nature of the charge is nonexistent. Sweden hasn't charged him with anything. Sweden is making a huge fuss over wanting to question him, and being stubborn about wanting to him to Sweden first. This implies to many of us that Sweden is not acting in good faith.


No, it seems the UK is really serious about embassies not being used to shield people pursued by its criminal justice system who are not diplomats of that embassy.

Perhaps the UK is serious about its relations with Sweden as well.

There are many things for the UK to be serious about short of alleged sexual assault in Sweden (not that one shouldn't be serious about sexual assault, in general, in any country...)


awh do you really find this narrative tedious? because now I feel silly, like I just got caught watching Jersey Shore


The British didn't seem quite so committed to extraditing Augusto Pinochet. This despite the fact that he had been indicted for crimes against humanity, not simply wanted for questioning as is the case for Mr. Assange.

In the case of Pinochet, there were four extradition requests: Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and France.

However, the British government took Mr. Pinochet's frail health into account and ultimately released him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indictment_and_arrest_of_August...


And many people detest in the UK and detest that decision and the woman who made it.

And so what if you make a bad decision historically? Are you suggesting that having made one that's a precedent and we should continue doing the wrong thing?

The rights and wrongs of this case aren't determined about mistakes that may or may not have been made in the past.


Please don't downvote, I just can't miss this opportunity to re-tell a joke from the time (Everton, an English football team, had a reputation for being boring to watch).

What do Everton and General Pinochet have in common?

They both force people into football stadiums and torture them.


Are you referring to Maggie Thatcher? She was quite vocal at the time but was long out of office by then


My mistake.

As it was Blair then obviously a decent, honest humanitarian decision... joke


EDIT: It wasn't Mrs. T but I stand by the fact that it wouldn't be a decision that most in the UK would support, whoever made it.


Tony Blair was Prime Minister when Pinochet was detained (pity the fool who calls him "Mr. T"). Thatcher, however, publicly opposed his extradition.


The rumor goes Pinochet secretly helped Britain during the Falkland islands war. Because of this, there was no way the British government would allow anyone to get their hands on him.


Pinochet was a useful asset to the UK during the Falklands war, keeping regular Argentine troops committed to the mainland and helping UK Special Forces carry out clandestine missions there. In actuality, 'morality' and the 'rule of law', when quoted by politicians, are platitudes. The reality is rewards are expected and granted for political favours, and I think it is likely Pinochet's ill health was simply a convenient excuse to release him.


Ecuadorian Anglo relations are currently strained over the sovereignty of the Falklands/Malvinas.

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-02-05/americas/world_americas_v...


Link to BBC report from the time http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/599526.stm


I am ecuadorian and currently live in Ecuador. Granting assylum to Assange is just a PR move from our government. You might not be aware of this, but our 'president' won a lawsuit for US$ 40 Mio against the 'El Universo' newspaper just because an editor wrote an article critizing him. In Ecuador government CENSORSHIP rules. Hopefully Assange can make it to Ecuador and then realizes with the type of people he got involved with and gets out of here. It so WRONG to have our government be depicted as standing for liberty, freedom of speech, by granting assylum to assange. Please do some research. This goverment is all but that!!!!!!


I think taking asylum from Ecuador compromises his integrity. Will Wikileaks publish leaks about Correa in the future?


I'd love to know what Assange's endgame plan for all of this fuss is.

The States aren't going to extradite him from Sweden nor, evidently, from the UK. It makes me feel like a kiljoy to say it, but there isn't any conspiracy here, and nor will any play out. Let's face it - everything will play out normally and boringly, no matter how many people shout "conspiracy!"

My gut instinct is that one way or another he'll end up in Sweden, either walking free or serving a year or two in jail, and then - what? Sitting in Parisian cafes gazing wistfully upon what once could have been?


> The States aren't going to extradite him from Sweden nor, evidently, from the UK. It makes me feel like a kiljoy to say it, but there isn't any conspiracy here, and nor will any play out. Let's face it - everything will play out normally and boringly, no matter how many people shout "conspiracy!"

Why not? It seems a fair number of powerful people in the US would love to extradite him.


Exactly. The US want to extradite Richard O'Dwyer and Gary McKinnon so why not Assange?


It's taken 10 years since McKinnon was arrested, and he's still not been handed over. When the current coalition gained power, his case was dragged out as justification for a review of the current extradition system, and a current pending review of McKinnon's case was effectively frozen and pushed under the rug quietly.

In other words: The US is very successful at getting "ordinary criminals" extradited from the UK, but not so much when it comes to thornier cases like or example McKinnon's. Maybe he eventually gets extradited, but it might still drag on for ages.

Meanwhile, Sweden has a history of having had its police drive people who were in their country seeking political asylum to the airport, handing them over to masked CIA agents and waiting while said CIA agents stripped the asylum seekers naked, drugged, handcuffed and chained them, and threw them on a plane to send them back to the Mubarak regime where they were tortured - Sweden has admitted as much, and paid restitution to at least one victim for torture as a direct result of Swedish actions in blatant contradiction of Swedish law.

There was a massive outrage. Shortly afterwards, Swedish military intelligence determined that US intelligence agencies where still carrying out illegal rendition flights via Swedish airports with full knowing compliance from Swedish airport staff who apparently didn't get the memo... Or who got the wrong memo. Or something.

I know which of the two places I would take my chances if I'd pissed off the US government.


Do you have sources for this collusion by the Swedish police? I'm surprised I haven't heard about this by now.


You have the luxury of being sure no harm will fall to him if he enters Sweden.

If you are wrong, you go about your daily life just as you do now. If he thought as you do and he was wrong, he would face torture and possibly execution.

If the stakes were equal, would you still feel as confident?


My guess is to get America (and other highly corrupt imperialist nations) to show its true colors for everyone to see.

If this WAS a conspiracy, consider this: the folks at Langley aren't stupid, they know that killing Julian or tossing him in Gitmo would only throw a keg of gasoline on the fire. The best way to erase Wikileaks from existence is to make everyone look at Julian as an evil, nasty, vile person unfit to spit upon. What are the most reviled crimes available for this? Setting him up for murder is very tricky and could easily unravel. Child molestation would be great, but this would be even harder than murder. Rape on the other hand is REALLY easy, because people have been convicted of rape with ZERO evidence, in a he-said-she-said dispute. Additionally, even if someone beats rape charges, the aura of it will linger around them basically forever; Julian will ALWAYS be an accused rapist, until the end of time. The analysts at the CIA would have looked this over from a lot of different angles, and known that this would play out as a win pretty much no matter what. What they didn't expect is that powerful conservative civilians in the united states would run their mouths so much about extradition, tribunals and treason that it would give another sovereign nation grounds to protect him.


> I'd love to know what Assange's endgame plan for all of this fuss is.

The same endgame he has had for a while: more attention, more publicity, more people donating to his bank account (which is basically what wikileaks functions as) to make up for those that got burned when he jumped bail, more book deals, who knows, perhaps a film. Whatever feeds his ego.


You're underestimating the drive hat comes from conviction in an idea. The guy has been living like a nomad. He gave away his book rights earlier to pay for his and the organization's defense. That's when all donations were blocked by credit card companies and Paypal. He could be making much more money working as a programmer in San Francisco or as a talk sho host on CNN. His fame came from the effects of his actions. It's like saying Larry Page started Google because he enjoys the limelight. He built a world-changing organization, and fame happened as a side effect. He might get rich in the future though another book or a movie. But at this point he's personally in the red.


> his bank account (which is basically what wikileaks functions as)

Proof? Evidence?


First of all, most of wikileak's budget goes to pay his salary (other than that, wikileak's accounts are notoriously murky and not very transparent), second, for a while (until he was called out for it) donations to wikileaks went to his personal defense fund, which is still listed in the wikileaks donations page.

Even after that, to this day, Wikileaks lists his personal P.O. BOX in Australia as a way to donate, as far as I know no auditing of what has happened to any money sent there so far over the years. This is a curious detail that I have not seen anyone report, and that can be checked if you look at his pre-wikileaks website in archive.org, which lists the same P.O. BOX.

For all practical purposes, Assange is Wikileaks and Wikileaks is Assange, anyone that disagreed or questioned the wisdom of his actions has been kicked out or left in frustration at his dictatorial and self-serving management style.

Edit: Oh, and almost forgot how Wikileaks kept most of the money that they had supposedly raised for Bradley Manning's defense, who in the end, is the real hero of this saga, and who is languishing in jail while Assange goes on with his egotistical show.


>The States aren't going to extradite him from Sweden nor, evidently, from the UK.

Adrian Lamo similarly declared that Bradley Manning would do less than 6 months (Manning has been in jail for more than a year and hasn't even been sentenced yet). If the US will extradict low-level software pirates, they'll likely extradict Assange.


Manning has been in jail for more than a year and hasn't even been sentenced yet

That's because he's awaiting trial, which has been delayed by both sides for various reasons. This is normal judicial process.


His treatment hasn't been normal.

>For most of his time at the brig, Manning was held in highly restrictive pretrial confinement. Designated a maximum-custody detainee under prevention-of-injury watch, or POI, he was confined to his cell for all but an hour a day, and has a number of other restrictions placed on him. At one point his clothes were taken away, and he was forced to sleep naked.

>The ACLU called his treatment “gratuitously harsh” in a letter sent to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. And former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was forced to resign after publicly calling Manning’s treatment at Quantico “counterproductive and stupid.”

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/08/general-manning-jai...

>The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/12/bradley-manning-...


As I said, he's awaiting trial, which has been delayed by both sides for various reasons. One of those reasons has been to gather evidence of the very things you're describing. Personally, I think this is a better way for a justice system to function than treating press reports about what third parties say as primary sources.

http://www.armycourtmartialdefense.info/2012/08/unlawful-pre...


Drone attack.

Just to clarify, I'm not wearing a tinfoil hat, I just have seen the circumstances of some drone attacks: against US citizens in places where no war was declared and with collateral damage shrugged off. From the US perspective, it is an easy means of getting rid of people they don't like with neither the need for judicial proceedings nor formal declaration of war. The only thing that is really stopping them right now is that Assange is currently in a highly populated part of the UK, and not in the middle of nowhere in Yemen.


How many drone attacks has the US launched against white Australian journalists?


The US would certainly not do a drone attack against a first-world nation, as the political fallout would be immense. They do have a great many other levers to use that the public would never see...


From what I have read about him, my guess is he's somehow trying to subvert the system... what better way to get international publicity to your cause than to be effectively placed under house arrest in a stable nation while being protected by a third party state. At the very least, it's going to make people think about the situation.


The US managed to extradite an Australian citizen from his native country, who had never set foot on US soil, over mere copyright infringement. I don't really share your certainty that they couldn't be bothered to extradite someone.


How often do you get see governments threatening to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy for the sake of apprehending a rape suspect? Wow.


How often do you get see governments threatening to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy for the sake of apprehending a rape suspect?

You could argue the opposite side: how many embassies offer protection to famous rape suspects?

This is not an ordinary occurrence.


The key word here is "suspect". We live in 2012: if you want to question a suspect you don't have to have him in your jurisdiction to do so. If you don't want to interview him in the embassy or by phone, you obviously don't care. If he doesn't want to talk, that's within his rights, and a refusal to come to your country should be interpreted as such.

The only reasons you would want a suspect extradited to your country are: to press charges and make an arrest, to torture, to make a media scene, or to 'punish' someone by detaining them even though you can't make the case stick.

The only acceptable reason is the first one, in which case you should press charges before extradition.


1812, 1912, or 2012, subjects of police investigation don't generally get to pick the interview venue.


If you're only a suspect, and haven't been charged, you don't have to talk to the police at all. Picking a venue seems minor in comparison.


In the US. Not sure on Sweden's laws on that.

At this point in the US he'd probably be charged with obstruction of justice, at which point venue is again no longer up to him.


In Sweden you do not have to be in the country for questioning, and JA has offered to be interviewed over phone or video link.

In the US there's the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.

Even if you know nothing of the law, surely you've at least seen a television show or movie where someone says "Am I being charged with a crime? ... Then am I free to go?"

That's all you need to say.


A suspect is not a convict, and the privilege of selecting a site for interview is just as likely to be abused by the state as it is the suspect.

Assange has a perfectly justified fear that the request for interview functions as a strategy for entrapping & extraditing him. The notion that this is nothing more than a disinterested preference in procedure is implausible.


If he doesn't want to talk, that's within his rights

This is true in the US. It's not quite true here in Australia - a refusal to talk to police can be used against you in a court of law. It's not going to make or break a case, but you can't just 'plead the 5th' here and have no consequences. I imagine it's similar in the UK as our law is quite similar to theirs.


It is indeed similar in the UK:

"You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence."


Actually arguing the opposite as you say "how many embassies offer protection to famous rape suspects" is silly, because he is not being offered asylum because he is a rape suspect so effectively its as meaningful a question as "How many embassies offer protection to people born in Townsville, Queensland".



Something quite similar happened before with Roman Polanski.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Polanski#Sexual_abuse_cas...


Something quite similar happened before with Roman Polanski.

Which is why I wrote: This is not an ordinary occurrence meaning that it happens rarely, not that such things never happen.


I wasn't suggesting otherwise, merely citing another similar case that I hadn't seen posted yet.


It's also a different thing. He's also wanted in the UK for breaching his bail conditions. So he not only has the extradition hanging over him but he's broken the law in the UK now.


I'm pretty sure nearly anybody who seeks asylum is breaking some law in their home country.

The whole point of asylum is to protect against persecution, which is usually justified in the home country under some law.


The problem with this argument is nobody has produced any evidence to show Assange is 'persecuted'. Sweden issued a legitimate European Arrest Warrant, and the UK allowed Assange to appeal that to the highest court.

There is no evidence that he is being persecuted by the US in this matter: if Ecuador has some they should publish it.


> The problem with this argument is nobody has produced any evidence to show Assange is 'persecuted'.

Actually they have. Enough was presented to the Ecuadorian Government that they agreed he faced potential political prosecution. That's why he's been granted asylum.

> Sweden issued a legitimate European Arrest Warrant, and the UK allowed Assange to appeal that to the highest court.

Sweden issued an extremely unusual arrest warrant, and in the highest UK legal circles there is an opinion that the final Supreme court decision was simply wrong:

"The Supreme Court wrongly, and without any analysis, assumed that VCLT Article 31(3)(b) is applicable in the interpretation of secondary European acts such as the Framework Decision. It also neglected to look into the interpretative rules of the EU. The result was a fundamental mistake in the legal reasoning of the Court." [1]

Assange is a Western dissident. You don't have to like him or agree with WikiLeaks mission, but the actions against WikiLeaks have been highly political, and manouverings by Sweden, the UK, and the US in line with the actions of any states acting against dissidents through various channels.

[1] http://www.cjicl.org.uk/index.php?option=com_easyblog&vi...


It was of course fundamental to Assange's appeal that the validity of the extradition warrant be examined by the court, with respect to the precedents mentioned. The opinion referenced in the citation examines the claim made by Assange's own lawyers that some or all of these precedents had not been argued in court.

For the suspicious mind, it could be seen that a disinclination to examine in full the very matter presented for examination, is indicative of at worst, bias, and at worst, as argued in the citation, error. Any further avenue of appeal in the UK has been refused.

I also find it ironic that British courts are willing to refuse extradition requests for terrorism suspects, say to Jordan, when an ambiguity regarding their immunity from torture or death arises, but will apparently allow it in other cases.


The Wikileaks Grand Jury?


He's not a UK citizen so that's not it. The Australians aren't calling for his extradition or arrest so that's not it either.

It could just be that he had bail terms set and broke them and the Swedes want a chat about those pesky rape allegations. Don't invent something where it doesn't exist.


Or, how often do rape suspects having gone through the entire legal system in the UK decide that asking for asylum is the way to go?


He has not been convicted of anything, in the UK nor in Sweden, so he's not "gone through the entire legal system".

The Swedish Police officially wants him for questioning, and for that reason they requested his arrest through Interpol. The UK legal system only argued on whether there's any impediment, under British Law, which would not allow him to be extradited.

Under pressure from the current government, Lord Justices ruled that they cannot find anything of the sort. Hardly a trial or "going through the entire legal system".


"He has not been convicted of anything"

And I did not say he had. Your entire comment is based on a false premise (that I believed that he had been convicted) that you have invented.


Your entire comment is based on the false premise that he's "gone through the entire legal system". My comment proved that he has only skimmed the surface of extradition law, so he cannot have "gone through the entire legal system". If that were the case, a convicted murderer would have gone through the legal system and... something more?

But who cares, he's just a man. The problem here is the sanctity of the asylum principle, which is not worth losing over such a petty dispute.


Has he not gone through the entire legal system in the extradition case though?


Your last sentence is the important part that I think most people aren't really seeing.


To be convicted of something he'd have to go to Sweden, something he's doing his level best to prevent.

As a result the fact he's not been convicted is potentially somewhat misleading as he's made it impossible to do so up to this point.


To be convicted he'd first have to be charged; the swedes are insisting that he is only wanted for questioning and will not be charged with anything (which seems somewhat at odds with the amount of effort they're putting into this).


Why can't he be tried in absentia?


I don't know enough about Swedish law to know but I would say that I think being tried in absentia is both morally wrong and likely open to legal challenge.

And what would be the point? He can't be punished as he's not there so why not just wait until you actually have him?


In the general case I would agree, but there needs to be a point where you can say that every effort was made and opportunity given and that the accused has actively refused to participate in the trial.

> And what would be the point? He can't be punished as he's not there so why not just wait until you actually have him?

I can see your point here, but after some time I would think that it would become difficult to continue with the case. Witnesses get hard to track down, evidence lost, etc..


Isn't the crime Assange is charged with in Sweden is significantly different from what is generally understood as rape in the US? Isn't he actually being charged with having two "one night stands"?


If it's as alleged, I believe it would constitute at least some kind of sexual assault in the US as well. The allegation is that he had engaged in intercourse without a condom despite the protestations of his (otherwise consenting) partner that she didn't consent to unprotected sex.


But — vitally — means the partner did not consent to the sex that was had. It disgusts me how many people are arguing that non-consensual sex isn't rape if they were willing to do it under different circumstances.


I don't think anyone is suggesting what you are insinuating that they are suggesting.


The traditional definition of rape is "by force and without consent". Not to say this isn't immoral or indeed criminal, but it isn't rape and to call it such is unfair both to him and to rape victims.


That's the traditional definition, but it's neither a good nor a modern one.


The allegation for one of the cases is approximately this: they were going to have consensual sex, but the girl required that he wear a condom. One was not available, and so she refused to allow sex. They stayed in bed together, and fell asleep.

In the morning, she woke up to Assange on top of her having sex with her. She asked if he had obtained a condom and he said no. She told him to get off, and, well, he got off, but not in the way she meant--he kept going, came, and then withdrew.

That would arguably be rape in the US.


He hasn't been charged with anything in any country. Not publicly, anyway.


He's charged with rape and two counts of sexual assault.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assange_v_Swedish_Prosecution_A...


You're misinformed. He has not been charged for anything by any country. Do your reading.


Excuse me, that's not the case except in the most narrow and pedantic sense. Here's the English High Court denying his appeal:

"In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced. If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed in this way, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of eyes. On this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange"

Link in the cousin comment.


Do you know if those charges carry the same connotation in Sweden as in the United States? IIRC, there was some confusion about what he actually is being charged with when the case was originally brought, then dismissed as unsubstantiated, then reopened.


Here's the transcript of the High Court decision that declined his appeal.

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgment...

"Rape - On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enköping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state. It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, still consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her. The sexual act was designed to violate the injured party’s sexual integrity."

I would consider that to be rape, but I have no idea whether the US in general or legally would agree.


http://www.google.com/search?q=assange%20half%20asleep Take your pick of articles. Was she asleep? Anyone who had read all of the posts in this thread knows there is something suspect about this whole case. Simply interview the man where he can't be extradited to the US and be done with it.


No he is not. He is accused.


How often do rape suspects claim asylum?


He is not going to make it to Ecuador. Only thing Assange can do now is sit inside the embassy for indefinite period of time, until Ecuador gets bored with assange and figures he is not worth the damage of ties with Uk. another possible outcome is rather extreme -- UK goes on offences and arrests assange from the embassy.

Either way, it would be interesting how the whole story will play-out.


Violating the Vienna Convention is the diplomatic equivalent of nuking Teheran. The world would be horrified at the UK, and their embassies worldwide would be physically threatened almost instantaneously. I hope even this amateurish government can understand that.

Whatever happens, and regardless of the man, today has been a sad day for international relations, and hence for peace. I thought this government couldn't get any worse; I was wrong.


> The world would be horrified at the UK, and their embassies worldwide would be physically threatened almost instantaneously

Funny you should mention Tehran, given that the Iranians recently stormed the British embassy there, and ... the world didn't end!


Iran is _already_ considered a pariah state that nobody wants any dealings with.


Except to many Latin American countries. And Syria and Lebanon and Palestine. And Turkey...

Actually, no, Iran is NOT a pariah state that 'nobody' wants any dealings with


Palestine is a pseudo-state, Syria and its de-facto protectorate Lebanon are in disarray.

Iran does not have the breadth of interests and worldwide presence Britain has, nor a problematic (recent) colonial past. Despite this, their actions make it very difficult for them to build solid, trusted alliances with reliable partners.

Britain has a worldwide web of influence because it has proved through recent history to be a trusted and reliable partner for many allied countries. If they start pissing all over the Vienna Convention and be branded as unreliable by their peers, less people will be keen to hear their reasons on all sort of matters, and the already-waning British influence will see a dramatic decline.

It's already hard enough to lecture China as it is; if Hague "renditions" Assange, the Chinese will rightly feel entitled to simply laugh to his face whenever he brings up "human rights".


What evidence do you have for your claim that "UK has already blocked Ecuador embassy's supplies"?


The source is a "tweet" saying that a truck carrying the next day's supplies for the embassy (whatever those comprise) was turned away. This message was from ... Wikileaks. But the BBC reported police surrounding the embassy so it is not unbelievable that a supply truck was turned away.

https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/235953183032217600


It would be highly unusual for any Ecuadoreans to be living in the embassy, given that the UK is a stable, safe, and nominally friendly country. Perhaps it's one of the few non-US ones where that's true, but I doubt it.

"Blocking supplies" is a weird concept for a building where and of the non-Assange residents can simply exit the building, walk 20m to the nearest Tesco, and return with 4 bags of vegetables and microwave dinners...


I suspect you've misunderstood the tweet; the embassy is near Harrods, they are turning away ''Harrods'' suppliers.

At least that is what I heard.


It's unlikely as the same building houses private flats and the Columbian embassy


Was it a truck carrying supplies to nearby Harrod's department store? That's what I remember reading.


i read that in news but can't find the link. so removed it


Everything seems so extreme about this saga: a "leaker" is accused of not using contraception (i.e., leaking) in a (possibly) covert plot by the US to subject him to the very same treatment his leaks so shockingly revealed. Then he turns himself into a public target for the US and its allies, thus rendering their actual disregard for human rights and tendency for over-the-top aggressiveness explicit and embarrassing, in a manner which is actually much more effective and public than his site's leaks.

A bona fide political circus, in which the main performer, Assange, turns out to be an extremely talented clown.


I don't like this as precedent. If there's one thing we've learned from Wikileaks, it's that evidence of wrongdoing should be out in the open. This is a back-room deal between Assange and Ecuador to give him asylum as protection from a claimed US government conspiracy, but where's the proof? If it's good enough to convince the government of Ecuador, it's good enough to post publicly.


The Wikileaks Grand Jury.


Reading down through all of the comments, I can see that people have a totally mixed opinion of how this can happen. Some people think that the US have no intention of wanting to extradite and charge Assange, but Assange and his counsel have repeatedly (in the last month) requested that the US make a statement confirming this. The matter of the fact is, many high profile American's have said that he should be killed, and put to death.

Onto the other topic of the rape charges, I think some people don't fully understand the facts surrounding the charge. I didn't either until I spent thirty minutes and read this article: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/07/19/3549280.ht...

But from this transcript... these are the key points:

-------------

The "sexual assault/rape/molestation" charges were filed after two women Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen went to the police to seek advice if they could compel Assange to take a STD test since they did not use a condom during sex.

Both of the women went to the Klara police station in central Stockholm, however, it is mentioned that Ardin had gone along primarily to support Wilen.

Ardin had been frequently in the company of Assange. She had previously described him as such a "cool man" (Twitter). They also arrived and left together at a Crayfish party (equivalent of a cocktail party). Ardin was sharing accomodation with Assange and had refused an offer from someone else for temporary accomodation.

The day after the accusation of rape and molesation Ardin sent a SMS saying : "I've just spent some time with the coolest people in the world".

SMS text messages were also exchanged between Sofia and Ardin, which showed that the two of them knew of the relationship between each other and Assange.

Ardin responded to a friend who was looking for Assange : "He's not here. He's planned to have sex with the cashmere girl every evening, but not made it. Maybe he finally found time yesterday?"

The Swedish police, totally railroaded the investigation. Interviews have been leaked with Assange, and Wilen commented initially "that she became so distraught she refused to give any more testimony and refused to sign what had been taken down.". Assange went freely for interview to the police station and was released without immediate charge, and was free to travel. Almost immediately there after, another warrant was issued for his arrest.

Eventually, it was also upgraded to an Interpol "Red Notice".

It's alleged (from the transcripts), that Sweden has frankly always been the United States' lap dog and it's not a matter we are particularly proud of. The Swedish Government has... essentially, whenever a US official says, "Jump", the Sweden Government asks, "How high?"

Assange's legal team are clearly trying to point out that US is coercing all of this behind the scenes so that he can then be extradited from Sweden and face trial for conspiracy to commit espionage.

> The burden should be on the United States Government to say, "We are not planning to prosecute Julian Assange". If they just gave that assurance, I can guarantee you that Julian Assange would go to Sweden tomorrow.

----------------

This is hugely and unequivocally politically motivated. I'm British, and I am largely ashamed that pressure is not being placed on Sweden by the foreign minister to have them reinvestigate the extradition request. Also, Sweden will, and has previously done all it can to scratch America's back.

Assange should stay put, until US says "we will not pursue extradition from Sweden". (Which they will not do.)


Here's the testimony from Assange's own lawyers:

He described Assange as penetrating one woman while she slept without a condom, in defiance of her previously expressed wishes, before arguing that because she subsequently “consented to … continuation” of the act of intercourse, the incident as a whole must be taken as consensual.

In the other incident, in which Assange is alleged to have held a woman down against her will during a sexual encounter, Emmerson offered this summary: “[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”

That's rape.


You are grossly misrepresenting this.

The purpose was for Assanges lawyers to explain why even if the facts are as stated by the prosecution there would be no case for Assange to answer. The purpose was not to present a defence for Assange, nor to present Assange's version of events.

Emmerson went on to make it clear that whether or not Assange agreed with this version of events was immaterial for the extradition hearing, as in the extradition hearing, the evidence will be interpreted as favorably as reasonable for the prosecution.

In other words, this is Assange's lawyer saying "even if all you say is true this is why we believe there is no case". And you conveniently ignored the part where he provided that explanation for your last paragraph.

Whether or not you agree with his justification is also immaterial - this was not Assanges defence against the accusations.


The important point here is that this was an extraditional appeal hearing, not a trial. You're right to point out that the burden on Assange's lawyers was not to totally refute the charges or even to mount the best possible defense of Assange.

But you're also mischaracterizing the testimony a little bit, since I don't believe it's the case that everything Assange's lawyers stipulated was directly drawn from the extradition request. "She may have been upset, but she clearly consented" (I've slightly paraphrased) is an argument defending Assange from a valid charge, not an argument that the charge is invalid.

The testimony in this hearing probably does presage the testimony that'll be given in Sweden.


I covered this when I wrote:

'In other words, this is Assange's lawyer saying "even if all you say is true this is why we believe there is no case". And you conveniently ignored the part where he provided that explanation for your last paragraph.'

It is not only the prosecutions claims, but it is also not in any way Assange's side of the story. It is the prosecutions claims plus an attempt by the lawyers at creating a plausible narrative within the constraints already laid down by the prosecutions claims without altering any of the prosecutions alleged facts.

That's a highly significant constraint.


This misses the point so ridiculously badly. As I said on twitter yesterday.

Is there a chance in hell that he is being extradited for these crimes if the US didn't want him for leaking documents? Once you realize the answer is a firm no, this whole side story becomes irrelevant. There is no way Sweden is extraditing a rapist from the UK UNLESS someone like the US puts on pressure because of something else.


A chance in hell for being extradited for rape? Yes. There is.


For the record, do you believe this fiasco isn't politically motivated?


I don't even think that question matters. The question is, can Sweden objectively and fairly litigate a rape charge involving Julian Assange? If they can, the UK must honor its extradition treaty. If they can't, the UK shouldn't. The suggestion that Sweden is so corrupt that it can't handle basic criminal law is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. No evidence has been presented to support it, at all.

The rest of the argument is to my ears just fever talk. Some US muckity muck said Assange should be killed? Ok. I won't vote for that moron. There are also US politicians who believe we should have nuked Iraq. There was never any real risk that we we going to fire nuclear weapons at a 3rd world country. Random politicians say all sorts of idiotic things. Thankfully, they cannot suspend criminal law as a result.


Of course it matters. If the answer to the question you were asked - and evaded - is yes, then the answer to your question is pretty much automatically no.

The suggestion that Sweden can't handle basic criminal law when they have political motivations for their actions has been well demonstrated by the fact that Swedish police have in the past violated Swedish law and international treaties by handing political asylum seekers over to the CIA without due process. In fact, without any process at all. In order for them to be shipped off to be tortured.

How many of these people faced charges?


I don't begrudge you your right to care about this stuff, but I don't. At all. If there's a legitimate rape charge leveled in Sweden against Assange, or the Dalai Lama, or bassist Roman Glyck of 80s hair metal sensation Jackyl, I think extradition is a reasonable course of action.


So all China needs is for a Chinese woman to claim the Dalai Lama raped her in China, and China can demand the Dalai Lama be extradited to China! Brilliant!


You are just circling around now. If the rape charge is politically motivated, then it is not legitimate. So the question of whether or not this case is politically motivated remain.

Of course this is ignoring the fact there is no rape charge as of yet.


Whether or not the rape investigation is politically motivated or not is irrelevant, it must still be investigated. And part of that investigation is interviewing Julian Assange to let him give his side.

In reality, the investigation will most likely be dropped since they don't seem to have any evidence and it's their words against his.


> part of that investigation is interviewing Julian Assange to let him give his side.

If this is politically motivated, Sweden wants Assange in their jurisdiction to extradite him -- which seems plausible given that Sweden refuses to interview Assange over phone or in the UK. Does that seem normal to you? To have a suspect extradited for "interviewing"?


There can be a legitimate rape charge that has been grabbed for use by political forces, which is what I see has happened.


Precisely.

Politically convenient rather than politically motivated I suspect.


> The question is, can Sweden objectively and fairly litigate a rape charge involving Julian Assange?

No that's not the question, because 1) Assange has not been charged with anything and 2) Sweden has been offered the chance to question him in the UK (as they did in a murder case involving a trip to Serbia for questioning), or alternatively question him in Sweden, but guarantee that he will not be extradited to a third country. That they've refused all offers is a clear indication that their primary motive is not quick resolution of this particular case.

> If they can, the UK must honor its extradition treaty. If they can't, the UK shouldn't.

The UK denied an extradition request for the Chilean dictator Pinochet, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of public record. "'If they can' the UK 'must' honor its extradition treaty" is a statement that doesn't seem to say much at all.

Also, considering this situation involves the West's most famous dissident, it is important to consider all actions and irregularities in a more considered light. The issuing of the Interpol notice was highly irregular, Sweden's actions were highly political, and the Supreme Court's final consideration of the legality of the request was found to be wrong by the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law:

The Supreme Court wrongly, and without any analysis, assumed that VCLT Article 31(3)(b) is applicable in the interpretation of secondary European acts such as the Framework Decision. It also neglected to look into the interpretative rules of the EU. The result was a fundamental mistake in the legal reasoning of the Court. [1]

Does a law journal's opinion take legal precedence over the final decision of a Supreme court? Of course not. Does Assange's status as a Western dissident absolve him from any transgressions? Of course not. But the totality of these highly irregular and unusual actions demonstrate a clear pattern of political persecution. The naive political / legal reduction of this case that some undertake just seems like wilful ignorance.

[1] http://www.cjicl.org.uk/index.php?option=com_easyblog&vi...


Is absolutely matters. If Sweden picks and chooses which rapists to prosecute based on how wanted they are in the US then they have 0 credibility. Beyond that, I imagine if Ecuador allowed him to be extradited to Sweden he would immediately be extradited to the US, which is why the logic that he is being extradited for rape charges is ridiculous. This is the most blatantly politically motivated thing I've ever seen. How people are naive enough to consider every possibility except for that kind of amazes me.


It shouldn't matter Consider the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape allegetaion(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_v._Strauss-Kahn). It was widely claimed that Sarkozy was behind this, it was public lynching for the presidential candidate, etc. Although this may or may not be true, the question remains: Did he or did he not engage in nonconsensual sexual acts with the hotel maid. The political motivation is irrelevant in this regard, and should be investigated and discussed separately.

I don't know the particulars of the rape allegations against Assange (nor do I care); however, automatically dismissing them because of hos other involvements seems to me wrong.


sources?


Right here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/12/julian-assange-e...

This is from testimony given by Assange's lawyer.

It does lose the context of the lawyer continuing on that Assange eventually did find and use a condom.


This is from testimony given by Assange's lawyer where he is stipulating to the statements provided by the prosecution for the purposes of an extradition hearing where the court will view the evidence as favorable as reasonable to the prosecution.

In other words, this is Assange's lawyers presentation of the prosecutions claims followed by his attempt at making the claim there is no case even if the facts are entirely as alleged by the opposing party.

Presenting this as Assange's lawyers somehow agreeing that these are the facts is misleading at best. His lawyer goes on to specifically state that for the purposes of the hearing it is irrelevant whether or not Assange agrees with this version of events.


I don't think that's entirely true, but it's perhaps more true than not. I addressed it upthread.

The only issue being litigated in this thread and in UK court is "is this rape charge so ridiculous that the UK should refuse to honor its extradition treaty with Sweden over it". I don't see any reasonable argument for that assertion here.

Sweden is not an Orwellian dystopia. It's an especially enlightened and socially conscious state, even (perhaps especially) compared to the US.


It's a country that have admitted to having handed political asylum seekers over to the CIA so they could ship them back to the regime they were fleeing in order for them to be tortured.

While it did cause an uproar, it took a couple of months before Swedish military intelligence uncovered that illegal CIA rendition were still ongoing, with the involvement of Swedish airport staff.

Sweden has an extensive history of various services violating Swedish law in order to bend over for the US behind the scenes.


No, we are not an Orwellian dystopia. But we have still helped CIA to deport and torture by proxy totally innocent innocent asylum seekers. If I were Assange I would not wish to gamble on that not happening again.

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


I beg to differ. Sweden is thought by many especially enlightened people to be case study in radical feminist insanity.

http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/government-tyranny/the-...


"Radical feminist insanity". Here's where I get off this train. Have fun, all.


The Gender War is a two hour documentary by journalist Evin Rubar, about radical feminism and its influence on Swedish politics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yta55u2zP2U&list=PL849AE3...

Now, before you downvote me, as I see some 'enlightened' readers already have, consider whether a male would get a fair trial in Sweden on any sexual accusation.

Is this not 'radical feminism'? Is it not also kind of insane? Don't shoot the messenger.


She goes to a shelter for battered women and complains that they don't like the men who battered them, and maybe don't want to risk being battered again-- she calls this extremism. I call it once burned.

Burning Ken Dolls in front of a camera is not journalism.


See this page on Swedish rape laws. In Sweden you are guilty until proven innocent in cases of alleged rape.

http://justice4assange.com/Sexual-Offences.html


Still being downvoted, no reasons given. How about a link from the feminist section of Slate?

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/04/hen_s...

Insane? Radical? You decide!



The whole section in the middle where you describe the relationship between Assange and the two women – I’m honestly not really sure what you want to say with that. Do you think those facts make it less likely that rape occurred?

None of the facts you presented would lead me to adjust the probability that a rape actually occurred down.

Most commonly rape happens between people who know each other, not in some dark alley between total strangers. The fact that the women knew Assange and even expressed that they liked him doesn’t make rape less plausible. I can’t see how that can be evidence for some sort of conspiracy.

Similarly, victims of rape becoming distraught with the process and essentially giving up on it – especially with one that is so very public – isn’t something that would surprise me, so I’m also not sure why that is evidence in favor of a government conspiracy.

I don’t really care whether Assange really raped someone (I think the very capable Swedish justice system is perfectly able to sort that out), I’m only interested in whether there is any evidence that points to a government conspiracy – and I honestly do not see anything.


In Swedish law, rape can mean something quite different than it does in the states. They both consented to sex, there was a contraception miscommunication, and afterward they decided it would be a good idea to have Assange tested for an STD to be safe. In Swedish law, rape can mean a disagreement over contraception.

If these women approached a lawyer in the US with their side of what happened, the lawyer would advise not to bring the matter to criminal court, with civil court also being a waste of time.


Swedish law is totally fucked up.

That's like fucking a prostitute (somewhere where it's legal) and then refusing to pay her. You didn't rape her, you simply tricked (defrauded) her! Rape can't be decided upon after sex! (Unless you were legally unable to give consent in the first place.)

Saying that it's rape is really inconsiderate and insulting to the actual rape victims...


It's always really entertaining to me to see a bunch of dudes moralizing over what does and doesn't constitute rape.

EDIT: Preemptively: yes, I know; men can be raped, and not just in prison. Believe me, I know this better than you even want to guess at or speculate about. That doesn't change one whit the fact that people tend to talk shit and judge the world from their own categories and preconceptions, and not others'. This (generally, not specifically; your comment was simply the one that pushed my "Okay, I need to say something about this nonsense" button hard enough to actually respond) is just one of the more egregious examples of that.


It's kinda important for us as well. Just as women are generally the victims of rape, men are usually the victims of false rape allegations (I'm not saying that they are either more or less frequent (in the Western world), probably rape is more frequent, but I guess we'll never really know. In any case, I'd guess that false rape allegation can be just as devastating, if not more, as a rape).

As a man, I'd just like to know when it's ok to have sex with a woman without risking being accused of rape. Therefore, my opinion is that rape can not be declared after the fact.


You won't be accused of raping a woman if you avoid lying to her about using a condom, avoid coercing her to do things she actually doesn't want to.. stuff like that.

If you feel that you won't get laid because women "always say no when they mean yes" you can remind them that nowadays, if they mean yes they'd better say yes, or THEY won't get laid.

eventually it will all shake out.


We're not saying rape. We're saying våldtäkt (which is a broad term). The closest equivalent your language has is rape. Something apparently gets lost in the translation, as is so often the case.

Let me give another example of a broad term: Violence. It can mean one kid pushing another on the play ground. It can also mean dropping a nuclear bomb on a city. Do you also think it's disrespectful to the victims of Hiroshima to ask the boy on the playground to stop being violent?


> We're not saying rape. We're saying våldtäkt (which is a broad term).

Better. Somethings really are lost in translation, I guess.

However, extraditing someone for questioniong for an alleged våldtäkt (not rape) case? I'm guessing there's more than meets the eyes.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_by_deception

> Saying that it's rape is really inconsiderate and insulting to the actual rape victims...

I'm glad you've apparently surveyed every rape victim and asked them if this law is insulting to them. I'm sure you're not just talking out of your ass about an extremely delicate and traumatic subject.


In the wiki article, it says that it's only recognized in a few jurisdictions.

Thank god, I say (as a man, the sex usually accused of rape). Otherwise it would be too easy to accuse everybody of rape. I believe that a necessary ingredient of rape is intent, as well. So, if she seems willing to have sex with me (and she's not too drunk with me being sober), I will have sex with her, and it would be really bad form for her to come after me the next morning and say that she didn't really want to have sex. I can only hope that the law doesn't allow that.

Also, see above my example of a prostitute. Is that also rape by deception?

I can hardly fantom that regret for having had sex with someone can be as traumatic as being forced/drugged into having sex.


You, like a staggering number of men on the Internet, have developed some notion that women go around randomly accusing people of rape all the time— like it's such a common occurrence that we need to devote time and laws to prevent it. The exact opposite is true: Women are most often times afraid to come forward about a rape due to fear of being ostracized. In fact, even when reporting a rape accusation, officers will often times mark an accusation as "unfounded" just because the victim didn't fight off the suspect![0]

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_accusation_of_rape#FBI_st...

Women aren't going around changing their mind post coitus about whether they wanted to have sex with you just like you aren't about them. It's incredibly rare and a notion perpetuated by people who really don't want to face the fact that rape and sexual assault are problems in our society.


I admit that I probably am biased, mostly because of (1) "the fight for justice" (I feel the need to present the arguments for the "other" side, so that both sides have arguments), and (2) because I often reflect upon these situations from the first person (I would never rape someone), so I'm wondering, "could this happen to me with me being innocent?"

Also, I never said that rape isn't a problem. It is. But so are false accusations of rape. Maybe a smaller problem, but a problem nonetheless.


"In Swedish law, rape can mean something quite different than it does in the states. They both consented to sex, there was a contraception miscommunication, and afterward they decided it would be a good idea to have Assange tested for an STD to be safe. In Swedish law, rape can mean a disagreement over contraception."

Actually no, that's not what he's been 'charged' with. Read the appeal to the extradition ( http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html ). He's been 'charged' with:

• "Unlawful coercion" - Holding down a woman with his body and forcing her to have sex. • "Sexual molestation" - Having sex with someone without a condom when they said they would only have with a condom (this would be illegal in the UK aswell BTW). • "Sexual molestation" - "deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity i.e. lying next to her and pressing his naked, erect penis to her body." • "Rape" - Having sex with someone who was asleep.

I'm pretty sure having sex with someone who's asleep is illegal in the USA as well. Various countries (incl. UK) have the "I'll have sex with you only if you use a condom", and then taking off a condom later, would count as sex without consent.


"Miscommunication"? You must be joking. They consented to have sex if he used a condom. He tricked one of them and forced the other one to penetrate without a condom. That is sex without consent. And AFAIK it is not the first time he did this. This seems to be his MO.

I am not saying he should be extradited to Sweden without a guaranty he will not be sent to the US. But the allegations are serious.


Again, I don’t really care. I do not see how that’s relevant to the question of whether there is a government conspiracy or not.


If you don't really care, why was the vast majority of your comment concerning it?


I don’t care about the details of Swedish law with regards to rape (or more specifically: I only care when someone really loudly exclaims that something that is obviously rape isn’t), I do care about evidence presented in favor of a conspiracy. I commented only on why I think the presented evidence is not convincing me of a conspiracy, not (e.g.) whether it convinces me of whether Assange actually raped or not.


As a Swede I do not think this is true. Do you have any source?

Many myths about Swedish law floating around in these comments.


The UK extradition judge said the same act would be an offence in the UK as well.


> The day after the accusation of rape and molesation Ardin sent a SMS saying : "I've just spent some time with the coolest people in the world".

Really? that doesn't say ANYTHING to you?

the day AFTER. Very few people go out of their way to advertise how cool their rapists are.


Have you done research on this? Because I have, and short-lived outward displays that "Everything's GREAT!" are a very common response to psychological trauma. You see this in victims of many types of psychological trauma, including torture, violence, and yes, sexual assault.

So no, that doesn't say anything to me.


Sorry - that doesn't cut it I'm afraid. When someone is accusing someone else of something as serious as "rape" - and it is simply "word against word" (no physical evidence, no witnesses, no violence, etc), one ONLY has the actions and credibility of the parties involved both before and after the events in question. In this case, it appears plain that the sex was consensual, in both cases. The behaviour afterwards (Willen refusing to sign a rail-roaded statement and Ardin continuing to cuddle up and have more sex) would seem to indicate all was well. In cases such as this, the CONTEXT of the behaviours before, during and after the events are ALL-IMPORTANT. And in THIS case, when you factor in the political gain to be had from smearing and legally debilitating Assange, combined with the absolutely clusterfucked process via which they (eventually) launched arrest warrants and red notices, combined with their leaks to the press and unwillingness to question Assange by phone, videolink or in person in the UK ... really leads one to believe there is more going on behind the scenes than can be seen. At the end of the day, a simple question suffices. Would any of this be happening if the guy involved was JOE BLOGGS, rather than Julian Assange? The simple answer to that is "of course not." So ... what are we talking about again?


Sorry, your rationalization doesn't cut it, I'm afraid.

When someone has BEEN raped, and I know you don't want to hear this, there is very often a reluctance to admit that's what happened. And of course, a HUGE reluctance to be treated like a filthy liar by people who really want their hero to not have raped someone.

It is, in fact, perfectly possible for someone to fuck up and create a situation that will be a huge political debility. It's perfectly possible that your idol- and mine-- isn't so great when his 'nads get involved.


Very few people go out of their way to advertise how cool their rapists are

Sure they do. "Oh he's a good man really, he doesn't mean to beat me, it's just that he gets angry sometime"


It's been a while since I read through various reporting and accounts, but as I recall from memory, here are a few pertinent points:

- The two women involved asked whether Assange could be compelled to take a test for sexually transmitted diseases (STD). They did not allege rape.

- The initial prosecutor dropped their investigation as not meeting criteria that would merit its continuance.

- Later, a second prosecutor -- in a different district and with no prior involvement -- picked the case up and pursued it further. Why?

- Assange stayed in Sweden upwards of a month and did participate in questioning. He left after the case was supposedly dropped and he was told, in response to his question, that he was free to travel abroad.

- Subsequent to his travel to England, Swedish authorities reopened the case and sought him for further questioning.

- Assange was willing to participate in further questioning, but upon advice of his attorneys declined to return to Sweden. Swedish law permits questioning to procede under such circumstances.

- Up to this point, Assange was not charged with any crime. He was simply "wanted for further questioning". If anything, the Swedish prosecutors seemed to be going out of their way to avoid charging him with any crime -- perhaps seeking to avoid causing any "warning", either informally or in some legal sense.

- When Assange refused to return, Sweden finally issued an Interpol Red Notice. Red Notices are the highest level of Interpol "flag". They are very rarely used. This was issued for someone wanted for questioning regarding alleged rape -- an allegation apparently made by a prosecutor but not by the actual alleged victims.

- Some fairly convincing, if circumstantial, evidence has been identified and reported that the U.S. has indeed convened a grand jury. This includes someone having identified the specific grand jury identification number. Decomposition of said number (it's constructed using various aspects of the grand jury timing and topic) shows that the grand jury is investigating a topic pertaining the Espionage Act.

- Apparently (I've seen less on this), one of the women involved has refused to sign her initial statements or to participate further in the Swedish investigation. The other woman has left Sweden. Now, granted, publicity and "blowback" from Assange supporters might well be a cause for this. But we don't have any reports of this being the case nor of specific events that might show such activity. On the other hand, it does not present a picture of two victims of rape seeking justice (in Sweden, where women's rights are much more supported than in many countries).

--

I don't mean to minimize the very real crime and trauma of rape. But upon digging into the specific details and timeline of this situation, it really starts to stink.

P.S. I'm reading some of the more specific, step by step descriptions of the sexual activity allegedly involved. If Assange did indeed force intercourse without the use of a condom, then I'm all for him being charged. Although this still seems at odds with the publicly observed personal interactions that continued for days after the alleged events.

Even if this were to be the case, it does not mean that the U.S. is not leaving no stone unturned in its effort to get its hands on Assange. And, if nothing else, the treatment of Manning -- now formally classified as torture by the U.N. -- seems to provide clear indication that extradition to the U.S. might well result in the violation of Assange's rights.

This is what happens when a government stoops to criminal activity. It no longer has any credence, even were its case to be legitimate.

And finally, once again, I'll ask: Where are the reprimands and punishments for those responsible who mis-designed and mis-managed such a fucked up intelligence information system? And for those whose criminal activities were identified by the leaked information.

U.S.A. -- land of hypocrisy.


Hey nice post but ... what country isn't the land of hypocrisy?


Most countries don't make such a big deal of talking about freedom and liberty and democracy etc. Most countries don't call themselves 'the land of the free'.


Is it common practice to raid foreign embassies because of rape allegations? I was undecided about the allegations, but I think the current situation makes it pretty clear that this is not about the rape allegations at all.


Is it common practice to grant asylum to people wanted for rape?


Your parallel is not analogous. The reason is that Ecuador, like Assange, can and presumably does claim to legitimately believe that this is not really about rape but some political motivation.

Whereas the UK has to act commensurately with their official belief that it's "just" a rape charge.


The comment you are responding to is a response to the argument that since the UK is doing something unusual in rape charges (discussing their options to get Assange out of the embassy), this is not really about the rape charges.

But that doesn't follow. It is ABSOLUTELY relevant that UK's unusual actions occur in an unusual context they didn't set up: indeed, most rape charges do not coincide with diplomatic shielding by an embassy, so diplomatic issues do not arise.

Nefarious, deceptive motivations on the part of the UK are not a necessary condition for its response, because shielding someone from the host country's criminal justice system is highly diplomatically sensitive even where it is justified.

Yes, for the UK it CAN be about something other than the rape charge, WITHOUT it being about some nefarious plot to assassinate Assange for Uncle Sam: it can be about what the UK sees as abuse of the privileges it gives to the embassy.


Allow me to paraphrase your point (not to ridicule it, just to (i) make sure I understand and (ii) maybe help someone else follow it):

"Yes, it absolutely would be common practice to raid an embassy over (what started as) a rape charge, in the unlikely event that the accused and the embassy had both been silly enough to escalate it into a faux diplomatic immunity situation by unreasonably seeking and unreasonably granting asylum."


OK, now I've thought about it and I'm going to ridicule your point :).

The situation is that Assange says he's politically persecuted in the UK and therefore his asylum request is legitimate, the UK says he's not and it isn't.

But what else was the UK going to say? It doesn't seem reasonable to me to have the UK be the final arbiter on this point.

Since there's no other authority we can reasonably appeal to, we must accept Ecuador's judgement as final, and consequently, the UK should not override this judgement by force.


You can't very well ridicule my point when you haven't understood it; when you do, I will welcome any genuine and honest criticism you have.

- Ecuador decides to harbor a fugitive from British law. This itself is not 'standard practice' and it may or may not be justified.

- This alone can create a sensitive, high-profile diplomatic situation. There is really no 'standard practice' for when an embassy harbors someone over a rape charge. It is already an international incident.

- That situation easily explains the sharpness of the exchange, including e.g. legal discussion of the UK's rights with respect to embassy closure - and, in reply, public statements to pressure the UK. In both directions, such sharpness is not at all unexpected for a dispute like this. There is no international law principle of 'well, it's only rape so there is nothing we can do about it.'

- So it is not necessary to assume other motives for the UK to explain the UK's actions (whether they are sensible actions or not is a separate issue from whether there are other motives - they can be idiots who are very concerned with some matter of the international relationship or principle far out of proportion with the practical importance of Assange)

- So it cannot serve as the basis to an 'argument to the best explanation' concluding with an ulterior UK motive

That's all I argued in the post you were replying to.

APART from that, you seem to want to talk about other things . I don't want to encourage you to conflate those with the argument I gave above, but it seems rude to ignore your distinct topic, so I'll write a paragraph about it as well.

I can't say that your reasoning makes sense to me: 'it is unreasonable for the UK to be the final arbiter, therefore Ecuador must be the final arbiter.' If this argument has a basis, you haven't stated it; by what principle do you reject 'it is unreasonable for Ecuador to be the final arbiter, therefore the UK must be'? Insofar as they are both sovereign states and one does not start out with partisan assumptions, any legal basis for settlement would lie in the mutually agreed terms for the hosting of the embassy. And the upshot of this is not 100% obvious because sovereign countries do have the right under international treaties to close embassies - although that does not necessarily mean it is a prudent thing to do in any case, or in this case.


That isn't at all what I said, it is exactly ridicule.

The UK didn't raid the embassy.

If the embassy says 'we are harboring this criminal' that is inherently diplomatically difficult. There is absolutely historical precedent for sharply worded letters back and forth.


IIRC he hasn't even been charged with anything yet. They are still at the "we would like him to help with our inquiries" stage officially.

There are provisions in place between us and Sweden for relevant interviews to be done by video phone, by their police visiting, or by proxy (with our police handling the interview). Apparently all such options have been offered and refused.

If this were just about the rape case, there would be no such effort to retrieve him physically until charges were officially recorded.

Even if the general conspiracy theory is complete hogswash, there is definitely something extra to be considered here. The rape allegations and the way he has been pursued have become two separate matters because the way he has been pursued is significantly disproportionate to how such a case would normally progress. Whether he did it or not (and if he did significant punishment should be served) the authorities still have questions to answer as to why they are pushing in an unusual manner.


How about you stick to the facts and you reword your statement to:

"Is it common practice to grant asylum to a man wanted for questioning over accusations that he sexually assaulted two women?"

Not as much punch?

What's with all the miss-leading statements? Is it safe to assume they're intentional? After all, this is Hacker News, and people wouldn't just pipe in on a topic without having at least a tiny bit of information on the subject right?


While beating your breast about intentionally skewed wording and heavily implying that the other guy is lying by omission, you do the same thing yourself!

Is it normal for an embassy's shielding of someone from the host country's criminal justice system to become a diplomatic issue? Yes, of course it is. Even if the accusation is minor, the diplomatic issue is between the UK and Ecuador and its severity is not determined by the accused, but by the legal interactions of the UK and Ecuador.

However, if you are on one side of the issue it is much more persuasive to say that the UK is treating Ecuador like a colony, that the UK wants to send Assange to Sweden so he will be secretly sent someplace and assassinated by the CIA. None of which is actually substantiated.


It is common for it to become a diplomatic issue. It is NOT common for one party to threaten to enter the other partys embassy. That is, in fact, quite unheard of.

In the UK, as far as I know it has happened exactly _once_: To evict squatters from the Cambodian embassy after it had been unused by the Cambodian government for nearly 12 years in order to prevent them from gaining title to the property.

The UK has, despite having had this law on the books for 25 years, not used it a single time against an embassy that is actually in use. Most countries does not have laws authorising this kind of entry at all.

Even dictatorships none of us like to compare us generally treat embassies as entirely inviolate, and more than once have provided free passage for people who have obtained asylum in an embassy. Many of said regimes routinely claim these people are common criminals.

In other words: The UK has done something that is absolutely outrageous by even bringing this up.

On the other hand, what is not unheard of, is CIA agents getting people of interest gift wrapped by Swedish police in violation of Swedish law, and being allowed to strip them, drug them, chain them and ship them off to be tortured by dictatorial regimes.

That is something the Swedish government has admitted to having been complicit in.


I agree, what the UK has done is unheard of.

However, I believe what Ecuador has done is also unheard of. Based off a pedantic reply to my mail, has anyone else ever given asylum to somehow who is wanted for questioning over accusations that he sexually assaulted two women.

The UK government claims all that is happening here is that normal UK, Swedish and European law is being applied to investigate a sexual assault charge.

One important thing, which I'm not sure I'll word right which is unfortunate. One important thing to remember is that by giving asylum Ecuador can be seen as highly insulting the UK, by effectively saying they can not be trusted to deal with this issue in a fair, non-political way. The UK government must respond to this accusation in the highest possible terms.


You're saying it's outrageous for the UK government to mention UK law in the UK, is that correct?


I'm saying it is outrageous for the UK government to use a UK law that was put in place to deal with extreme circumstances involving terrorism and threats to national security as a thinly veiled threat in a case that revolves around someone wanted for questioning about a rape and sexual assault, yes.

Especially when making use of said law might very well be in violation of international treaties, and have severe implications for the diplomatic protections of embassies worldwide.


You're mixing up "mention" and "use", which makes it very hard to understand which you mean. Maybe what you're trying to say is that it would be outrageous if they invoked that statue.


No. I meant what I wrote. It is outrageous that they are using the law in question as a threat.

I'm sure I could have formulated it otherwise, but your suggestion states something different, which implies no condemnation of the action they have already taken: They have already used the law in question as a threat by mentioning it in their letter to the government of Ecuador.

Actually making use of it would not merely be outrageous, it would be a violation of international law.


I actually never weighed in with an opinion on whether he should be have been granted asylum or not. I simply said that I prefer fact over fiction and miss-leading statements whether intentional or out of ignorance. I don't see how that puts me in the same boat.

Saying "wanted for rape" gets people riled up and makes him look like a douche (which he may very well be, but that's irrelevant). It derails intelligent and logical discussion in favour of emotional reaction. Fox News 101.


None of which is actually substantiated.

Neither is the rape that he is accused of...


That is not a reason for early dismissal of the charges, however


Oh no, normally the governments and police just ignore the rape. "She was probabaly asking for it" is a common way to brush it under the carpet.

The one thing that's very fishy about this is how determined they are to prosecute this rape case.


> Some people think that the US have no intention of wanting to extradite and charge Assange, but Assange and his counsel have repeatedly (in the last month) requested that the US make a statement confirming this. The matter of the fact is, many high profile American's have said that he should be killed, and put to death.

Your argument is that the government is evil enough to extradite him on trumped up charges in order to have him killed, but also somehow incapable of telling a lie.


If it would have the support of its people in the one but not the other, that doesn't seem so unreasonable.


Support of the people is not something our politicians worry about before doing things. Look at SOPA/PIPA. "Better to apologize than ask permission." For people working unelected executive branch positions (police, for example) it would be even more unlikely.


The US will never say that and are right to do so.

Even if based on everything they know right now they honestly believed that to be true, what if they found new evidence tomorrow that changed their view?

The best you could ever get from them is "we have no plans based on what we know now" and that simply wouldn't be enough.


Apparently Sweden is making no promises either:

Patiño made it clear that Ecuador had asked Sweden for a guarantee that it would not extradite him to the US, were such a request made. But Sweden had said no, he said.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/aug/16/julian-assange-e...


Again, how can Sweden make a decision about an extradition request which hasn't been made?


Sure, but that makes Sweden pretty much the only party in this game to be able to break the deadlock without endangering Assange's life: just fly your prosecutor to London and question Assange. Decide whether to raise charges or not.

If not, revoke the extradition request. Problem solved.

The current situation is probably costing each country involved more time and money per hour than the travel expenses for the questioning trip would be.


Setting aside the flying around across borders, is that a normal way to treat rape cases? - to have some arbitrary individual privately talk with the accused in order to decide to dismiss the charges unilaterally? Does that meaningfully decide the facts of a case or have you proposed a one-man trial with no purpose other than dismissing the charge?

If so, why even fly anyone in? Just dismiss the charge if that is what you really intend to do.


> If so, why even fly anyone in? Just dismiss the charge if that is what you really intend to do.

By the same argument they could have him charged in absentia. It is just complete nonsense from the Swedish prosecutor to pretend as if that is not possible under Swedish law.

So why this circus? A formal charge much earlier on would have stripped a bunch of issues from the case. E.g. the fact there is no formal charge was a big issue during the extradition hearings.

But of course a formal charge would also mean that the prosecutor would have to make fairly public binding statements in front of a Swedish court, and provide wider discovery to Assange's lawyers. Perhaps she is not prepared to do that.


You have your facts wrong. There is no rape case - it's an alleged rape case. He's only wanted for a secondary questioning. There are no charges, so none can be dismissed. He's being extradited to Sweden for questioning only - at least that's the official story. They could easily do that in London as well.


Bringing charges works different in Sweden from in the US. In Sweden it is the starting point of the actual trial, and it relies on the secondary questioning having already taken place. There are no charges precisely because Assange's behavior is obstructing the phase where charges can be raised.


That certainly isn't the usual way to handle such cases, but this also isn't exactly the usual kind of situation.

You either have this deadlock continuing indefinitely with nobody getting justice, or Sweden takes the more pragmatic approach and questions Assange in London (by flying whatever people would've been questioning him in Sweden there).


> The current situation is probably costing each country involved more time and money per hour than the travel expenses for the questioning trip would be.

By now, I imagine they could be flown in by singing angels for every day of the questioning and it would still be cheaper than maintaining the current mess.

Everything makes sense, always. It just may be that you are looking at it the wrong way, or assuming the wrong motivations.


> he should be killed, and put to death

Would that be two consecutive sentences, or would they be served in parallel?

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