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No, you're implying very strongly that the allegations have substance and that they couldn't possibly, in any shape or form, be anything other than what they seem to be.

I don't think that implication stands up given the available evidence, which is so flimsy that it had to be withdrawn almost immediately.

As for honey traps - I'll just assume you know more about those than I do, and that you're presenting your lack of evidence about them in good faith.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 04:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The available evidence hasn't been withdrawn, the charge of rape has been withdrawn. The Swedish prosecutor is investigating the 'sexual harassment/unwanted sexual contact' allegations, and will tell us more this week.

There is nothing 'flimsy' about two witnesses alleging that crime. Eyewitness testimony is generally accorded a great deal of weight in any legal system I've ever heard of. Being taken seriously has long been a very sensitive issue for women alleging sexual assault and misconduct, and I'm hoping you'll keep that in mind in future comments.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 04:27:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that the prosecutor downgraded the charge is extremely significant. It means that the police was over-selling the charge to such an extent that the prosecutor had no choice whatsoever but to downgrade the case. Scandinavian prosecutors are not independent by any means - they don't do anything to antagonise the police unless they know that they'll be laughed out of court (by the judge, not the public) unless they do so. Particularly when the case involves people who are unpopular with the Serious People. And the lowest courts are very accommodating of the police's version of events.

But that doesn't detract from the point that Assange enjoys the presumption of innocence, and that witnesses enjoy the presumption of good faith. These principles should not be mutually exclusive. Particularly not for people relying on second-hand information.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 04:52:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that the prosecutor downgraded the charge may or may not be significant. It may mean that the prosecutor let the police tell her what the law was, or that they sold and she bought an exaggerated version of the evidence, which is in line with the general sense that the 'substitute prosecutor' was relatively inexperienced. But I don't see how the remaining allegations, which are the potentially significant thing going forward, are affected in any particular way at all by the overboard rape charge story.

Generally, prosecutors everywhere are at one with the police, but also don't like to be embarassed by judges and well-paid defense attorneys. It sounds like Sweden is nothing special in this regard.

But that doesn't detract from the point that Assange enjoys the presumption of innocence, and that witnesses enjoy the presumption of good faith.
. . . Particularly not for people relying on second-hand information.

We all should take note of the italicized passage and make sure we look into a mirror while doing so.

We also should try to find a way to try to keep as much focus as possible on the political priority, raising consciousness about the Afghanistan tragecy. Justice for Assange and his alleged victims is important, but still trivial relative to what is going on to Afghanistan.


fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:48:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may mean that the prosecutor let the police tell her what the law was,

It doesn't normally work that way. Certainly not with high-profile cases like this.

But I don't see how the remaining allegations, which are the potentially significant thing going forward, are affected in any particular way at all by the overboard rape charge story.

The credibility of the allegations is affected in that they represent a political compromise between what the police wanted and what the prosecutor was prepared to give them. Which means that there is a non-negligible probability that they are still exaggerated.

It's a pattern we've seen before in Scandinavia: Pretty much every time the police pick up some lefties or more or less random brown people, they go straight to the press and present their catch with great fanfare. After a few hours, it is quietly announced that the prosecutor told them to let most of the suspects go because they had no good reason to detain them in the first place. As they move up through the tiers of the judicial system (higher courts are generally more independent of the police and political pressure than lower courts) it becomes increasingly clear that the case is garbage.

What we've seen so far is consistent with this picture, although of course we've hardly seen enough to start extrapolating yet.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:46:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't question the 'usual case' you outline, but this case violates it right from the opening description: the police did not 'pick up some lefties'. Instead, two women on their own went to a police station with allegations of improper conduct (neither thought they rose to the level of rape) that the police exaggerated, apparently, and then brought to the 'weekend substitute prosecutor'.

By the way, it's not confirmed, but most news sources indicate that at least one and maybe both of the women are widely known individuals, not Mata Haris, who have worked for several years or more in Sweden at sort of leftist/alternative jobs, or for those sorts of organizations.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:19:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The police certainly didn't pick up and interview Assange, which might have been a reasonable first step if the case had any credibility. Apparently the prosecutor's office didn't even try to contact him, which is surely bizarre in the circumstances.

Was he detained/charged at all?

As for 'widely known sort of leftists' - sources?

Interestingly:

CORRECT: Swedish Prosecutor To Look Into Assange Case This Week - WSJ.com

Under Swedish law, molestation is defined broadly and can refer to anything from groping someone to inappropriate, non-sexual behavior, for example, disrupting public order.

As I understand it Swedish law has an extremely broad definition of rape which includes almost any non-consensual or inappropriate activity. So if the rape case has been dropped, I'd suggest that makes a conviction for molestation somewhat unlikely.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 12:22:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That the prosecutor didn't contact Assange for a statement is neither bizarre nor unusual under Scandinavian jurisprudence. Taking statements isn't the prosecutor's job, it's the police's job. What is bizarre (but unfortunately not unusual) is that the prosecutor didn't tell the police to do their job properly and in full before they bothered him.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 02:14:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No - it is bizarre not to tell the accused about an arrest warrant when the rationale for the warrant is to prevent the accused from fleeing the country.

In this case the press found out about the warrant immediately but Assange didn't - which certainly seems bizarre to me.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 06:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the person who seems to be most aware of how they operate, Jake S, it is pretty much standard procedure for the apparently right-wing police to release 'damaging to leftists' info to the press immediately, presumably before they've notified the leftist. This notion that something 'bizarre' is going on is without evidence at this point. Just standard right-wing-assholes-worldwide police and prosecutors.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 11:44:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:
We also should try to find a way to try to keep as much focus as possible on the political priority, raising consciousness about the Afghanistan tragecy. Justice for Assange and his alleged victims is important, but still trivial relative to what is going on to Afghanistan.

On this we agree... But then why did you write a whole diary solely dedicated to these accusations against Assange and why do you focus all your comments on supporting them?

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 07:12:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How to dismiss instead of getting sucked into irrelevancy is a key skill for leftists, one we obviously are pretty clueless at. Evidence here in the comments section. I'd like to talk about that skill learning, but instead have been responding to comments that say in one way or another that I'm biased toward the alleged victims or otherwise treating Assange unfairly.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 11:48:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Details Emerge in the Case Against WikiLeaks Founder - Newsweek
The Guardian reports that neither of the women involved in the case had originally wanted the case to be prosecuted. The paper says that Ms. W wanted to report the alleged rape to police but didn't want them to bring charges against Assange. The paper says Ms. A went with Ms. W to the police to offer moral support, but then became entangled in police questioning. The Guardian notes that neither police nor prosecutors have spoken to Assange to get his version of events.

Now - as someone who has indirect experience of rape/molestation claims from when an ex of mine decided to visit a so-called spiritual guru who abused her, the interesting thing about claims like these is that legal authorities rarely prosecute, precisely because of lack of solid evidence.

In my girlfriend's case it took months for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide that a prosecution wasn't going to happen.

And in this case we have evidence which was only presented when someone 'became entangled in police questioning' - but which led to an almost instant arrest warrant.

Perhaps they're simply far more efficient in Sweden. But it would be interesting, wouldn't it, to compare this story with the progress of comparable cases.

New Details Emerge in the Case Against WikiLeaks Founder - Newsweek

The Guardian says Ms. A also told the Swedish paper: "The charges against Assange are, of course, not orchestrated by the Pentagon. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem with taking 'no' for an answer."

Of course. And someone who was reporting rape or molestation would doubtless have that fact foremost in their minds to the point where they'd be sure to mention it in an interview with a newspaper. Because after you've been raped and/or molested, talking to newspapers who just happen to find out who you are, even though rape claims are supposed to be anonymous, is certainly something you're going to want to do immediately.

I can confirm that international politics and newspaper interviews were absolutely foremost in my girlfriend's mind when she was sobbing and describing her story to the policewoman who interviewed her in my living room.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here we have two eyewitnesses alleging certain actions: that is not a "lack of solid evidence." Yes, Assange will likely offer a different version of events, but, frankly this is not a 'he said she said' case. It's a "he said she said she said' case, which I think the courts will look at as favoring the two women. But a lot depends on how independent the testimony of the two alleged victims is. Were they interviewed separately and privately by the police, did they discuss what they would say to the police before they arrived at the police station, and so on.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:51:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly they weren't interviewed independently because one of the victims became 'tangled up in police questioning.'

But anyway.

  1. Is it usual for an arrest warrant to be issued immediately in cases like these? Or is it more usual to bring suspects in for questioning, check forensic evidence, and build up a case that is based on more than hearsay?

  2. How long does it usually take the Swedish prosecutor's office to decide that a case is viable?

  3. Is it usual for anonymous victims to give press interviews immediately after a warrant is issued?

  4. Is it usual for anonymous victims to give press interviews that reassure everyone that the Pentagon isn't involved?

  5. How did the Swedish press find the identity of the anonymous alleged victims?

And as it happens, even the Swedish prosecutor's office PR team don't seem entirely convinced by the story.


by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:09:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A long CNN story I've blockquoted from below answers some of your questions. Frankly, it sounds like it's pretty standard in Sweden (and almost everywhere?), this abusive to alleged perpetrators way of doing things. On the other hand, the alleged victims' attorney, Claes Borgstrom, says Assange got special treatment:

Borgstrom also criticized the prosecutor for not questioning Assange immediately in the case.

"It is obvious that he is a suspect of sex crimes, and if he leaves the country, then we may never be able to hear his explanation," the attorney explained.

The fear that Assange might leave Sweden was apparently what provoked the warrant last week, according to a statement posted Monday on the Sweden Prosecution Authority's website.

The prosecutor "decided that Julian Assange was to be arrested," based on information that police gave her over the phone about the allegations -- a typical procedure, authorities said.

"The prosecutor was also made aware that the individual concerned was a foreign national and that he was about to leave the country," the chronology said. One reason for issuing the warrant was "that there was a risk that he would have time to leave the country before authorities had time to interrogate him. There was also a risk that he could have interfered with the investigation."

A group that claims to work to protect individuals' legal rights in the Swedish justice system said Monday that it has reported the on-call prosecutor to the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman of Justice. It was unclear what action, if any, the ombudsman could take against the prosecutor.

"We can see that, time after time, prosecutors don't follow the Swedish objectivity laws," said Johann Binninge, founder of the Organisation for Safe Legal Proceedings.

"When accusations come in, prosecutors don't even check facts before they take coercive measures, and this is contrary to Swedish laws. In this case, the prosecutor only listened to one individual's story but didn't bother checking the other side of the story before accusing Mr. Assange of a very serious crime. This is why we have reported her."

News of the warrant reached a Swedish media outlet, the prosecution authority said, but "the authority does not know how this happened, and the authority is not allowed to investigate this." Under Swedish law, news outlets are protected from police investigations into their sources.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/08/24/sweden.wikileaks.assange/

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:16:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it usual for an arrest warrant to be issued immediately in cases like these? Or is it more usual to bring suspects in for questioning, check forensic evidence, and build up a case that is based on more than hearsay?

I don't know, but I'd advise that in this case "similar cases" means "cases where the accused is a foreign national." Police is usually more trigger-happy when dealing with foreigners, because they suspect (or, in some cases, pretend to suspect) that said foreigner will abscond to a foreign country if he gets the chance.

Is it usual for anonymous victims to give press interviews that reassure everyone that the Pentagon isn't involved?

That could have been in response to a leading question. Newsies usually Bowdlerize their interviews, so it's the next best thing to impossible to tell what she was responding to unless you have a taped conversation where you can see both interviewer and interviewee.

How did the Swedish press find the identity of the anonymous alleged victims?

That's easy: The Swedish police leaks worse than a sieve.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:55:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Is it usual for an arrest warrant to be issued immediately in cases like these? Or is it more usual to bring suspects in for questioning, check forensic evidence, and build up a case that is based on more than hearsay?

It appears that yes it is common for the prosecutor to issue an arrest warrant as soon as there appears to be a case. In Sweden, the police can only arrest independently if a crime is being committed or the suspect is escaping the scene of the crime. Otherwise the prosecutor must issue an arrest warrant first. So an arrest warrant is often issued before the police picks the suspect up for questioning.

Swedish press of course knows this and used to not print something based solely on an arrest warrant.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 09:51:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian says Ms. A also told the Swedish paper: "The charges against Assange are, of course, not orchestrated by the Pentagon. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem with taking 'no' for an answer."

Of course. And someone who was reporting rape or molestation would doubtless have that fact foremost in their minds to the point where they'd be sure to mention it in an interview with a newspaper.

Well, though the article ATinNM unearthed does indeed indicate the possibility of a rather biased media manipulator, I note that the Pentagon remark from "Ms. A" was foremost in her mind because she was reacting to earlier talk from Assange's side.

He said he had been warned that the US Pentagon was planning to use dirty tricks to spoil things for WikiLeaks.

To be precise, the above is translated from an Aftonbladet interview of Assange appearing a day after that of "Ms. A", however, there were similar utterings earlier. I wasted time following back the sources:

  1. "Ms. A" tells in the Aftonbladet interview that she came forward to react to stiff in that morning's Expressen.
  2. She probably references, among others, this Expressen article on Assange's and Wikileak's reaction to the news of the arrest warrant, which was to say that they were warned to expect "dirty tricks" and now they have the first one. Expressen gives an interview with Norway's Dagbladet and twitterings as source.
  3. The Dagbladet article, and another with a different Wikipeaks figure. WikiLeak twit.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 09:13:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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