Posted on February 24, 2011
As you’ve all no doubt heard by now, this morning at Belmarsh magistrates court Howard Riddle, the chief magistrate, ruled that Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Click here to read the full ruling.
I’ve read through it, and I just want to pick out some key points Riddle made:
“Mr Hurtig (Assange’s Swedish defence counsel) said in his statement that it was astonishing that Ms Ny made no effort to interview his client. In fact this is untrue. He says he realised the mistake the night before giving evidence. He did correct the statement in his evidence in chief (transcript p.83 and p.97). However, this was very low key and not done in a way that I, at least, immediately grasped as significant. It was only in cross-examination that the extent of the mistake became clear. Mr Hurtig must have realised the significance of paragraph 13 of his proof when he submitted it. I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake. It cannot have slipped his mind. For over a week he was attempting (he says without success) to contact a very important client about a very important matter. The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court. It did in fact mislead Ms Brita Sundberg-Weitman and Mr Alhem . Had they been given the true facts then that would have changed their opinion on a key fact in a material way.”
“The defence have had the opportunity to attack the credibility of the witness (Ny, the Swedish prosecutor), and have taken that opportunity. In fact the attack on credibility amounts to very little. The main criticism comes from the Swedish judge, Brita Sundberg-Weitman. She does not know Ms Ny. She bases her opinion on what she has been told by this defendant’s lawyers and articles she had read in the press. In fact she produced comparatively little evidence to support her strong criticism of Ms Ny. I refer briefly to that part of her evidence at page 3 above. Moreover she confirmed that she had no direct personal knowledge of what had happened in the investigation. Her evidence is based upon facts supplied to her by the defence lawyers. Mr Hurtig denied telling her that Ms Ny had made no effort to interview his client. He has never met her. There is therefore no clear evidence as to the source of the information on which Brita Sundberg-Weitman formed her opinion. One probable explanation is that Mr Assange’s London lawyers provided her with material they had in turn received from Mr Hurtig. However there are other explanations and the evidence is simply unclear on this point. Mr Alhem expressly made no judgement on Ms Ny. Mr Hurtig clearly does know the prosecutor personally. He has not directly accused her of lying, or of malicious intent, but has strongly criticised her judgement. However, insofar as there were significant differences between his evidence and her evidence on facts known to them both, he conceded in cross-examination that her evidence is substantially correct.“
“Here is it necessary to focus clearly on the facts of the case. Clear and specific serious allegations have been made against Mr Assange in Sweden. Attempts have been made by the Swedish prosecutor as long ago as September to interview him. He has not been interviewed. The Swedish system anticipates detention and early questioning in allegations of this type, but this has not taken place. Mr Assange is not known to have returned to Sweden since September.”
“As a matter of fact, looking at all the circumstances in the round, this person passes the threshold of being an “accused” person and is wanted for prosecution.”
There are four allegations as set out in box (e) of the warrant:
1. On 13th – 14th August 2010, in the home of the injured party [name given] in Stockholm, Assange, by using violence, forced the injured party to endure his restricting her freedom of movement. The violence consisted in a firm hold of the injured party’s arms and a forceful spreading of her legs whilst lying on top of her and with his body weight preventing her from moving or shifting.
2. On 13th – 14th August 2010, in the home of the injured party [name given] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity. 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, consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge.
3. On 18th August 2010 or on any of the days before or after that date, in the home of the injured party [name given] in Stockholm, Assange 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.
4. On 17th August 2010, in the home of the injured party [name given] in Enkoping, 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.”
Offence 1, set out in full above, specifically alleges that Mr Assange “by using violence, forced the injured party to endure his restricting her freedom of movement. The violence consisted in a firm hold of the injured party’s arms and a forceful spreading of her legs whilst lying on top of her and with his body weight prevented her from moving or shifting”. This brings into play section 75(2)(a) above. These are circumstances in which the complainant is taken not to have consented and the accused is taken not to have reasonably believed that the complainant consented. This is an extradition offence pursuant to section 64(3) in that:
(a)the conduct occurred in Sweden
(b)If the conduct had occurred in England and Wales it would amount to sexual assault
(c)The maximum penalty that may be imposed in Sweden for the offence is 2 years imprisonment
Offence 2, set out in full above, says that M a “deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity. Mr Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a pre-requisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge”. The obvious and straightforward way of reading that allegation is that the complainant had made it clear that she would not consent to unprotected sex, and yet it occurred without her knowledge and therefore without her consent. Mr Assange was aware of this. Unprotected sex is wholly different from protected sex in that its potential repercussions are not confined to disease and include pregnancy. Again this meets the criteria for section 64(3) set out above. In addition the terms “molested” and “violated” are inconsistent with consent (see below).
Offence 3, also set out in full above, alleges that Mr Assange “deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity, by lying next to her and pressing his naked, erect penis to her body”. Deliberately molesting someone so as to violate their sexual integrity is not language that is consistent with consent or belief in consent. Molest means to cause trouble to; to vex, annoy, to inconvenience. A secondary meaning is to meddle with (a person) injuriously or with hostile intent. (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: Third Edition.) Among the various meanings attributed to “violate” in the OED is to ravish or outrage a woman; to do violence to; to treat irreverently; to desecrate, dishonour, profane or defile. A secondary meaning is to destroy a person’s chastity by force. There are other definitions, many of which have at their core the use of violence. If this conduct is attributed its ordinary meaning, then if proved it would amount to sexual assault in this country. Again section 64(3) applies.
The position with offence 4 is different. This is an allegation of rape. The framework list is ticked for rape. The defence accepts that normally the ticking of a framework list offence box on an EAW would require very little analysis by the court. However they then developed a sophisticated argument that the conduct alleged here would not amount to rape in most European countries. However, what is alleged here is that Mr Assange “deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state”. In this country that would amount to rape.”
“In fact as I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s Convention rights, I must order that Mr Assange be extradited to Sweden.”
Once again I reiterate that I don’t know, and have made no assumption about, whether Assange is innocent or guilty of the accusations that have been made against him. All I and others have been arguing from the very beginning of this debacle is that those accusations would indeed amount to rape and sexual assault in this country, and that as they are such serious allegations Assange should go to Sweden and answer to them.
For saying that, and for daring to stand by my principles and by women, I have been met with a shit-ton of abuse, some of it unfortunately from self-proclaimed “feminist men” on the left. I’ve been accused of being a “useful idiot” for example, a running dog for the CIA and the American government who want to see Assange locked up/executed for treason and Wikileaks destroyed. Ridiculous accusations from people, mainly men, who have become so caught up in the cult of personality surrounding Assange that they appear to believe that some people are indeed above the law, and who are prepared to sell out women at the drop of a hat in order to protect one of their own.
I just hope that some of those who have rushed to defend Assange will now stop and reflect on one of the key points Riddle made today – that in this country the accusations against Assange would amount to rape and sexual assault. And I also hope they’ll stop and reflect on how some of their obnoxious and nauseating rape apologist arguments have led to so many of us feeling completely let down by our so-called comrades.
For my previous posts on Assange see: