Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let This Folly Stop Now!

Assange's lawyers have today come out with another outrageous defence argument. This time, they are arguing that he should not be extradited to Sweden because he might be sentenced to death in USA. I suppose this makes sense if you also believe that Sweden is a feminist state that is really run by the CIA and that sex by surprise is actually a crime in Sweden, and not some awful euphemism for rape used to trivialise the crime.

First of all, even if one would buy the lawyer's claim that Assange might be tried and sentenced to a death penalty (this is indeed one of the crimes punishable by capital punishment in the US, according to deathpenaltyinfo.org), the country he is supposed to be extradited to, Sweden, did away with capital punishment in 1921 and the country itself is a driving force against capital punishment everywhere (Page in Swedish). That Sweden would therefore extradite a man they even consider risks a capital punishment would be very surprising to say the least. Not only because of the current government's commitment against it, but there would be a public outcry in Sweden if this happened. (Strange, since we all know that Sweden is really USA/CIA, right?)

Secondly, as has been said before, but is apparently worth pointing out again experts think that it would be very hard to extradite Assange from Sweden to the US. Not only are there problems with the extradition treaties that would possibly not allow him to be extradited, there might also be a problem with it having to be a tripartite negotiation. Not only does Sweden have to agree to an extradition (which is unlikely if they think that Assange's human rights will be deprived, as argued above), the UK also has to be in on it. As the UK also has abolished capital punishment, albeit a bit later than Sweden, in 1998, it seems unlikely they would condone such a punishment.

This whole situation has been handled exceptionally badly both by Assange's lawyers and by Assange himself. Instead of publicly issuing statements requesting that this be dealt with in court (whether it regards fighting the extradition or facing allegations of sexual assault), a load of utter BS has been uttered to reduce the credibility of the Swedish legal system, Assange's accusers and the Swedish government. There has been encouragement by Assange and his lawyers to dismiss these rape charges as lies, and fair enough, denying such an accusation is his right and if he believes himself to be innocent he should rightly do so, but to claim it is part of a 'honeytrap' is only to undermine the credibility of the women, and serves nothing but to damage them in the public eye which is hugely unfair. It is fully possible to claim innocence and not attempt to set up a public trial and encourage harassment at the same time. (Yes, it is encouragement, because Assange and his lawyers are hardly blind to what is going on and that the women are targeted and harassed, that their names, addresses and phone numbers have been made available on the internet for the purpose of harassing them. To not realise this would be to be intentionally ignorant and naïve.)

I have consistently called for this to be a trial within the Swedish system of justice, if it even goes so far, Assange might, after all, not be extradited to Sweden in the end. Also, he is only wanted for questioning at the moment, there has been no trial set. I am not in favour of Naomi Wolf's tactics of naming and shaming rape/ sexual assault survivors, and neither am I in favour of doing so with people that have gone no further in the process than being accused of sexual offences. That the Assange case went public to begin with is a very sad thing, indeed, but that does not make right the treatment of the women by Assange and his lawyers, especially when it cannot be proven that they were the ones leaking the rape accusations in the first place. That they are now capitalising on this scandal at the expense of these women who, according to themselves, have been victims of a crime, is appalling and unjustifiable. If it turns out, on the other hand, that these women were the driving force behind the leaking and have secretly been orchestrating a hate campaign against Assange, of course they should be held responsible for that, but until this is proven, one has to assume their innocence, precisely what that Assange's supporters are calling for with regards to the rape accusations against him.

If these women are expected to take responsibility for accusing one of the world's most loved and hated person, then he should rightly take responsibility to act like an adult when he is accused of a crime.


  1. I think if you read more closely the legal "skeleton" argument, posted on Assange's lawyer's website, you will see that they have given their reasons for believing Sweden would comply with US rendition including that Sweden has done it before and been condemned by the UN human Rights division for it. Also, wikileaks cables for Sweden have revealed that the current government cooperates behind the scenes with the US and DOES NOT inform their own parliament of this fact. And so on.
    You are either naive or have not been paying attention tot he situation in Sweden.

  2. @anonymous. Did Sweden extradite this other person to face the death penalty?

    I'm confused as to why Sweden would extradite Assange to the U.S. on a charge unrelated to the one he's facing in Sweden, or whether that would be permissible. What the U.S. is accusing him of and what Sweden is accusing him of are different and separate things. Muddy waters.

  3. Yes, there is quite clearly evidence that Sweden has acted wrongly in those two cases that Assange's lawyers cited in the skeleton argument, but Sweden is not exactly a country known for it's widespread abuses of human rights. Also, did you notice that those two cases dealt with two people who were both extradited to Egypt in 2005. Perhaps the Swedish court misjudged the safety in that country at that time? Human error is obviously very possible. Also, the first case was decided by the government it states in the report that Assange's lawyers submitted. The same government is no longer in power. And perhaps, just perhaps, the people involved, including the judicial system, might have taken criticism to heart and started being a bit more careful in their extradition rulings? After all, Assange's lawyers use no examples more recent than 2005, and I would think they would if they could.

    You may call me naïve, and you might be right, but I have been paying attention to the situation in Sweden. After all, it is my native country, and it is by far the country from where I have my main news sources. I, in fact, blogged about Sweden/Wikileaks/Assange/US secret cooperation at the beginning of December on my Swedish language blog. A translated version can be found here (my translation).

    Did you also notice that Sweden has stopped all US prison transports going through Sweden after planes had had their stop overs in Swedish airports? Allegedly this was because they did not want to repeat the mistakes that happened with the extradited Egyptians Link can be found here, but it is in Swedish, unfortunately international media hasn't picked this up.

  4. anne, no, it was risk of being subjected to torture, according to the skeleton report submitted by Assange's lawyers (pages 31-33).

  5. I can only agree with the first poster. Here is Assange's skeleton argument...


    Read it BEFORE you write your next article !!!

  6. @Anonymous #2, I have read the parts concerning the human rights issues, which are really what I am criticising here. I haven't criticised the objections around Ny, or the technicalities that they got into with the Swedish sex crime laws here, nor do I intend to.

    The interesting bit is that the evidence that Assange's lawyers are using to prove that some forces in the US (Palin, Huckabee etc.) are calling for the death penalty on Assange is really great evidence for the Swedish courts why to not extradite him. Adding to it the very recent shooting and attempted assassination on Rep. Giffords, this is a perfect reason why Assange shouldn't be extradited to USA, but that has nothing to do with why he can't be extradited to Sweden for questioning.

    Did you read my reply to Anonymous #1? There is says things about the "Sweden’s naïveté in relying on
    diplomatic assurances that expelled persons will not be ill-treated" and how, apparently, according to Wikileaks itself, Sweden has taken measures to not commit the same mistakes. Perhaps you should read it?

  7. Linnéa said... "this is a perfect reason why Assange shouldn't be extradited to USA, but that has nothing to do with why he can't be extradited to Sweden for questioning."

    This is what I'm saying. The U.S. wingnut calls for the death penalty for treason or whatever is a read herring in relation to the Swedish sexual assault case.

  8. hi linnea, anonymous #1 here again.

    the skeleton argument of the lawyers answers every single point you make. it would appear you have looked at it, so how you can then make the points that you do defies logic and reasoning. i dont mean to be rude but i am at a loss to see how you arrive at such an ignorant end point. Can I suggest you sit down somewhere quiet and read it properly?

    i'm a feminist, appalled at the global discussion about these sex charges and the mysogyny they reveal. but your arguments do not help clarify anything. Again, can I suggest you read through the lawyers argument. It is detailed and thorough, even for a skeleton!

  9. Glenn Greenwald analysis is also worth taking a look at:


    Far more problematic than Assange's defence team, which is not really any worse than any set of defence lawyers, regardless of the nature of the case (even when the public misrepresentation of the allegations is considered), is the continuing foot-dragging by the Swedish authorities. The focus of feminist pressure should be on the prosecutors to actually file charges, and not complaints about Assange's fight against extradition. It's very difficult to imagine that the prosecutors think taking a second formal statement from Assange in Sweden, where he would just deny the allegations again, could possibily make a difference as to whether they should proceed. And if the charges are filed, his extradition becomes much more likely.

    I'm afraid they've already decided to throw the case, and are actually counting on their extradition request being denied.

  10. linnea, as a swede living in scotland can you point us English speakers to websites/newspapers and blogs in Sweden where we can read what the discussion is in Sweden about all wikileaks and assange issues?

    that would be mightily helpful. :)


  11. This comment appears to have been stuck. (I thought Blogger had fixed thus problem by now, but apparently not, so if your comments disappear, don't worry, I'll post them as soon as I see them):

    Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Let This Folly Stop Now!":

    hi linnea, anonymous #1 here again.

    the skeleton argument of the lawyers answers every single point you make. it would appear you have looked at it, so how you can then make the points that you do defies logic and reasoning. i dont mean to be rude but i am at a loss to see how you arrive at such an ignorant end point. Can I suggest you sit down somewhere quiet and read it properly?

    i'm a feminist, appalled at the global discussion about these sex charges and the mysogyny they reveal. but your arguments do not help clarify anything. Again, can I suggest you read through the lawyers argument. It is detailed and thorough, even for a skeleton!

  12. @Anonymous #1,

    This is where we differ, I don't think it does. You may want to choose to only take the information given to you by Assange's lawyers. I choose to look at it, look at other information (including Swedish news sources) as well and draw conclusions. I am not saying I have reached the right conclusion, that is impossible to know until (if) Assange is extradited to the US and then punished by death sentence, which I don't believe will happen. That does not make me ignorant, illiterate or less capable to draw a conclusion. Our opinions differ. Where you say well-written, I say far-fetched.

    If I really thought Assange was in danger of being extradited and executed, I would not be arguing the way I do. I have been interested in politics for many years, including Swedish politics, but particularly human rights and women's rights, and I find the idea another one of those far-fetched arguments that Assange's lawyers are making to scandalise things and put a fire under the public. I'm wondering now, though, if they are not undermining themselves through taking things to the extreme.


    Yes, I agree. I suspect the political nature of the case has made it go this far. I'm not entirely sure it would have come to a serious consideration of extradition otherwise, as it is only for question he is wanted as the moment (as far as I have concluded, if anyone else has other information, please share it!). I suppose, though, that now when the case has been made for that, there is no changing it as that would probably be a different case altogether. That is not to say that the Swedish prosecutors are not working to make a case once Assange is in Sweden (if he ever gets there, which, as you point out is a bit uncertain). For obvious reasons, it would not be very wise for the prosecutor to make her case public before trial.

    @ardmoth, do you mean Swedish language sites or English language sites?
    Swedish language sites include:
    Svenska Dagbladet (that link is a link to the most recent article, but underneath is a comprehensive list of all the articles written on Assange and the sexual assault accusations, if you want simply on Wikileaks, there is plenty of information on that too, just do a site search.)
    Dagens Nyheter (who are not as organised as SvD.)
    Also, Swedish public service, Sveriges Television and Sveriges Radioare of use here. They also have TV shows and radio shows with news where Wikileaks would be addressed. SVT Play also had a documentary about Wikileaks a month or so ago, I am not sure if it is still available, but it might be worth a try.
    Also your local newspaper(s) probably have some information on Wikileaks. Sometimes I find my local newspaper to write better (and clearer) news than the major papers.
    For blogs and other things, there is a neat search function in Google that you can use and only search on blogs, if you want only Swedish results, you should be able to make those settings in your browser.

    Good luck!

  13. thanks linnea, i should have been more specific. i can only read english and i get an english-speaking perspective easily. i would like to know what is being said and written about wikileaks and assange in sweden.
    i can;t read the stockholm newspapers or websites because they are only in Swedish.
    i was hoping you would know of blogs or newspapers or websites that reported swedish news in english.

  14. @ardmoth,
    This is what I could find. It is Sveriges Radio's website in English. Sveriges Radio is literally translated Swedish Radio and is part of the extensive public service offering in Sweden. It is supposed to be unbiased, but as usual, there are people who think they are and who think they aren't. The quality of the news is generally really good.

    Also, incidentally, the most recently published article is about Wikileaks and Assange's extradition.

  15. fantastic. thankyou so much.