by Naomi Wolf
News From Underground
Feb. 11, 2011
Exclusive to News from Underground
Now that Andrew Kreig, of the Justice Integrity Project, has confirmed Karl Rove’s role as an advisor to the Swedish government in its prosecution of Julian Assange on sexual misconduct charges, it is important that we note the many glaring aberrations in the handling of Assange’s case by the authorities in Sweden.
Dr. Brian Palmer, a social anthropologist at Uppsala University, explained on Kreig’s radio show last month that Karl Rove has been working directly as an advisor to the governing Moderate Party. Kreig also reported, in Connecticut Watchdog, that the Assange accusers’ lawyer is a partner in the law firm Borgström and Bodström, whose other name partner, Thomas Bodström, is a former Swedish Minister of Justice. In that office, Bodström helped approve a 2001 CIA rendition request to Sweden, to allow the CIA to fly two asylum-seekers from Sweden to Egypt, where they were tortured. This background compels us to review the case against Assange with extreme care.
Based on my 23 years of reporting on global rape law, and my five years of supporting women at rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters, I can say with certainty that this case is not being treated as a normal rape or sexual assault case. New details from the Swedish police make this quite clear. Their transcript of the complaints against Assange is strikingly unlike the dozens of such transcripts that I have read throughout the years as an advocate for victims of sex crimes.
Specifically, there are eight ways in which this transcript is unusual:
1) Police never pursue complaints in which there is no indication of lack of consent.
Ask Sweden to produce ANY other police report in which any action was taken in a situation in which there is no stated lack of consent or threat of force. Police simply won’t act on a complaint if there is no indication of a lack of consent, or of consent in the face of violence. The Assange transcripts, in contrast to any typical sex crime report, are a set of transcripts in which neither of the women has indicated a lack of consent. (There is one point at which Miss W asserts she was asleep – in which case it would indeed have been illegal to have sex with her – but her deleted tweets show that she was not asleep, and subsequent discussion indicates consent.)
The Assange transcript is therefore anomalous, as it does not suggest in any way that either woman was unconsenting, or felt threatened. On this basis alone, therefore, the Assange transcript is completely aberrant.
2) Police do not let two women report an accusation about one man together.
The transcripts seem to indicate that the police processed the two accusers’ complaints together.
This is completely unheard-of in sex crime procedures; and the burden should be on Clare Mongomery, QC, or Marianne Ny, to produce a single other example of this being permitted.
Never will two victims be allowed by police to come in and tell their stories together–even, or especially, if the stories are about one man.
Indeed, this is a great frustration to those who advocate for rape victims. You can have seven alleged victims all accusing the same guy — and none will be permitted to tell their stories together.
It doesn’t matter if they coordinated in advance as the Assange accusers did, or if they are close friends and came in together: the police simply will not take their complaints together or even in the same room. No matter how much they may wish to file a report together, their wishes won’t matter: the women will be separated, given separate interview times and even locations, and their cases will be processed completely separately.
The prosecutor, rather than being able to draw on both women’s testimony, will actually have to struggle to get the judge to allow a second or additional accusation or evidence from another case.
Usually other such evidence will NOT be allowed. Miss A would have her case processed and then Miss W — with absolutely no ability for the prosecutor to draw form one set of testimony to the next.
The reason for this is sound: it is to keep testimony from contaminating separate trials–a source of great frustration to prosecutors and rape victim advocates.
Thus the dual testimonies taken in this case are utterly atypical and against all Western and especially Swedish rape law practice and policy.
3) Police never take testimony from former boyfriends.
There’s another remarkable aberration in this transcript: the report of a former boyfriend of “Miss A,” testifying that she’d always used a condom in their relationship.
Now, as one who has supported many rape victims through the reporting process, I have to say that the inclusion of this utterly atypical–and, in fact, illegal–note will make anyone who has counselled rape victims through the legal process’ feel as though her head might explode.
There’s a rape shield law in Sweden (as there is throughout Europe) that prevents anyone not involved in the case to say anything to the police, whether it be positive or negative, about the prior sexual habits of the complainant. No matter how much a former or current boyfriend may want to testify about his girlfriends’ sex practices — even if that woman wants him to — the courts will, rightly, refused to hear it, or record it, or otherwise allow it in the record.
4) Prosecutors never let two alleged victims have the same lawyer.
Both women are being advised by the same high-powered, politically connected lawyer. That would never happen under normal circumstances because the prosecutor would not permit the risk of losing the case because of contamination of evidence and the risk of the judge objecting to possible coaching or shared testimony in the context of a shared attorney.
So why would the Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, allow such a thing in this case? Perhaps — bearing in mind the threat that Assange will be extradited to the US once he is in Sweden — because she does not expect to have a trial, let alone have to try to win one.
5) A lawyer never typically takes on two alleged rape victims as clients.
No attorney–and certainly no high-powered attorney– would want to represent two women claiming to have been victimized by the same man, for the reasons above: the second woman’s testimony could be weaker than the other one’s, thus lessening the lawyer’s chances of success.
There also is a danger that the judge may well object to the potential cross-contamination of the women’s stories.
Again, the only reason why a lawyer would thus weaken his own clients’ cases us that s/he does not expect the case to come to trial.
6) A rape victim never uses a corporate attorney.
Typically, if a woman needs a lawyer in addition to the prosecutor who is pursuing her case (as in the Swedish system) she will be advised by rape victim advocates, the prosecutor and the police to use a criminal attorney — someone who handles rape cases or other kinds of assault, who is familiar with the judges and the courts in these cases. She will never hire a high-powered corporate attorney who does not specialize in these cases or work with the local court that would be hearing her sex crime case if it ever got to trial. Given that a law firm such as this one charges about four hundred euros an hour, and a typical rape case takes eight months to a year to get through the courts – given that legal advice will cost tens of thousands of euros, which young women victims usually do not have access to – it is reasonable to ask: who is paying the legal bills?
7) A rape victim is never encouraged to make any kind of contact with her assailant and she may never use police to compel her alleged assailant to take medical tests.
The two women went to police to ask if they could get Assange to take an HIV test.
Sources close to the investigation confirm that indeed Assange was asked by police to take an HIV test, which came back negative. This is utterly unheard of and against standard sex crime policy. The Police do not act as medical mediators for STD testing, since rapists are dangerous and vindictive. A victim is NEVER advised to manage, even with police guidance, any further communication with her assailant that is not through formal judicial channels. Under ordinary procedures, the women’s wishes for the alleged assailant to take medical tests would be discouraged by rape victim advocates and deterred and disregarded by police.
First, the State normally has no power to compel a man who has not been convicted, let alone formally charged, to take any medical tests whatsoever. Secondly, rape victims usually fear STD’s or AIDS infection, naturally enough, and the normal police and prosecutorial guidance is for them to take their own battery of tests – you don’t need the man’s test results to know if you have contracted a disease. Normal rape kit processing–in Sweden as elsewhere–includes such tests for the alleged victim as a matter of course, partly to help prevent any contact between the victim and the assailant outside legal channels.
8) Police and prosecutors never leak police transcripts during an active investigation because they face punishment for doing so.
The full transcripts of the women’s complaints have been leaked to the US media. The only people who have access to those documents are police, prosecutors and the attorneys. Often, frustratingly, rape victims themselves cannot get their own full set of records related to their cases. In normal circumstances, the leaking of those transcripts would be grounds for an immediate investigation of the police and prosecutors who had access to them. Any official who leaks such confidential papers faces serious penalties; lawyers who do so can be disbarred. And yet no one in this case is being investigated or facing any consequences. It seems quite likely that the Assange documents were leaked by the police or prosecutors because they got a signal from higher-ups that they could do so with impunity.
Indeed, these are all major aberrations–suggesting that somebody at the top has interfered.
And who is at the very top in Sweden? Players working with Karl Rove, who was a party to the Swedish government’s collusion in the Bush regime’s rendition/torture program. As Britain holds its hearings into Julian Assange’s fate, we must take careful note of that connection.
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
[DS added the videos.]
Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman: Feminists Debate on the Sexual Allegations Against Julian Assange
mediagrrl9 on Dec 20, 2010
As more details emerge about the sex crimes allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, we host a debate between two feminists: Jaclyn Friedman argues the sexual assault allegations shouldn’t be dismissed just because they’re politically motivated, while Naomi Wolf says by going after Assange, the state is not embracing feminism, it’s “pimping” it.
mediagrrl9 on Dec 21, 2010
We play Part II of the debate between feminists Jaclyn Friedman and Naomi Wolf over the sex crime allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Freed on bail in London, Assange hasn’t been charged, but is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sexual crimes allegations. Assange and his supporters have said the case is part of a wider conspiracy to discredit him because of his work with WikiLeaks, but some in the feminist community have accused WikiLeaks supporters of minimizing violence against women.
Transcript: Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman: Feminists Debate the Sexual Allegations Against Julian Assange
From the archives:
Avoiding Assange by Jim Kavanagh
Naomi Wolf: U.S. instigating violent crackdown on whistleblowers, dissent
Kucinich: Does Treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning Constitute ‘Cruel and Unusual’ Treatment?
60 Minutes: Julian Assange Interview
Daniel Ellsberg: We Need Whistle Blowers to Stop Murder
WikiLeaks: Why It Matters. Why It Doesn’t?
Julian Assange on Murdoch, Manning and the threat from China By John Pilger
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Our world is ruled by corporations and their associations. Swedish transnational corporations collaborated with both sides during WWll and came out very strong in close collaboration with the US after the war. The former CEO of Volvo was member of the board of Kissinger Associates. So was Paul Bremer the first governer of Irak. Paul Bremer who had an office in World Trade Center exactly where one plane hit was one of the first to point to Alcaida. Please forgive me AlCIAda i the correct term. Pentagon depend on Big Oil. After the Oildisaster in the gulf we lerned that the top CEO of BP was a Swede. The former head of ABB was a Swede who had US Warminister Rumsfeldt at his board. Sweden is selling weapons to most of the wartheaters in the world. Now they are selling antitank missils to the Saudi dictators to be used against syrian tanks. The Sweden is ruled by a US puppet put in place by Carl Rove et al.
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thanks very much for this, naomi. really can’t believe that this is happening and that so-called ‘advanced/developed’ nations are going along with it. good for you for pointing out the claes borgstrom connection–yes, who indeed is paying his legal fees. the other big question is why did he request to be the lawyer for these women? why did he appeal the former decision by prosecutor eva finne to dismiss the case against assange. how can there be a trial on this when it is clearly a he-said, she-said situation with no evidence even possible other than he-said, she-said? i read that borgstrom was the lawyer for thomas quick, a mentally deranged man who confessed to murders he did not commit (as was proven in retrials). however, merely on the basis of his confessions, he was convicted and put in jail–until even the family members of the victims questioned that he was the murderer and quick himself started to retract his confessions. there were no witnesses to even place him at the scenes of the crimes. at one point a piece of evidence–supposedly a bone fragment–was in a later retrial found to be burned wood. this is total bs. i also read that in sweden a man was convicted of rape 8 years after the event. what is going on? thanks for pointing out all the political connections re karl rove–ye gods! i thought we got rid of him. please keep defending julian, noami. this whole thing is a farce. i am so sad, especially when there is a doctor in usa presently out on 75,000 dollar bail facing a maximum of four years for killing his patient. in contrast, julian has been already jailed, looks likely to be extradited to a kangaroo court, had to post $300,00 bail, has been under house arrest for months on these ridiculous charges, and faces four years in prison.
You are right, Naomi got most of the story. A lot of interesting characters are appearing all of a sudden. I think Thomas Quick might have committed one of the murders he confessed to and faked the rest of the confessions, just to get off. The DA was not too bright, so he might have bought this trick. So far, nobody mentioned Goran Lindberg, a sexual sadist who became chief of police, promoted by feminist fanatics from the Social Democrat Party. Now he’s in jail though. Now look what the same group of politicians is doing to Julian Assange. I see a connection there.
You are assuming that the Swedish government controls the judiciary process. I don’t think so. Somebody is trying to pass the bucket.Take one more look at this.
Even a Wikileaks coordinator in Sweden, who knows both Assange and the two women involved, denies a connection with US authorities and some kind of set-up.
But most importanly. When people around the world tries to prevent an extradition of Assange to Sweden, they are unintentionally collaborating with the US authorities, because USA naturally wants to keep Assange in Britain.
The reason is simple: The Extradition Treaty between UK and the US are much more US-friendly than the Swedish-US Treaty. Also, if Assange would be extradited to Sweden, they can’t send him over to a third country without asking UK for permission according to EU Extradition law. 2 countries have to approve an extradition to USA if he is in Sweden.
‘Whereas Sweden requires “reasonable grounds,” the UK/US extradition treaty has been strongly criticized for creating “a lop-sided relationship under which the United States no longer has to provide … evidence … that an offence has been committed.”‘
“Under the new treaty, the allegations of the US government will be enough to secure the extradition of people from the UK. However, if the UK wants to extradite someone from the US, evidence to the standard of a “reasonable” demonstration of guilt will still be required.
“No other EU countries would accept this US demand, either politically or constitutionally. Yet the UK government not only acquiesced, but did so taking advantage of arcane legislative powers to see the treaty signed and implemented without any parliamentary debate or scrutiny.”
After the secret Egyptian extradition scandal, the Swedish law was changed to prevent an iteration. It would be political suicide for the Swedish government to even discuss an extradition of Assange to the US, against Swedish opinion and free press laws, against the European Extradition law and against the constitutional law. Such decision can only be made by the Swedish Supreme Court (and later be approved by UK authorities).
There are rumours about secret meetings between US and Swedish authorities about an extradition. With the facts above in mind, these rumours most likely are established by the US to miscredit Sweden as some kind of banana-republic. And they have succeded.
So when you critisize Sweden, you swallow a US-bait. The Americans want the same as most of Assange’s supporters, they want him to stay in Britain.
Read and learn:
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Seeing how Sweden is falling more and more under the “spell” of the US, I have totally lost respect for this country.