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Something Rotten in the State of Sweden: 8 Big Problems with the ‘Case’ Against Assange


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.