"In general the furnishings are nice; relatively plush and comfortable but the embassy itself is really very small and even the ambassador's office, although pleasant, is not all that roomy."
June 20, 2012 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Julian Assange has breached his bail conditions in London and is currently petitioning for asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy. It is uncertain whether asylum will be granted, though Assange has a personal friendship with Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador. If his asylum bid is successful however, it is unclear how he would get from the safe haven of the six room embassy office to Ecuador without being arrested by British authorities. Such stalemates have happened before. Cardinal József Mindszenty was unable to leave the US Embassy building in Budapest for fifteen years after being granted asylum. The Siberian Seven were a group of seven political refugees who lived in a twelve foot by twenty foot room in the basement of the US embassy in Moscow for five years after being granted asylum in 1978. And in 1989, Chinese scientist and political activist Fang Lizhi was granted asylum at the US embassy in Beijing following the Tiananmen Square Massacre. He lived in the office for thirteen months before being allowed safe passage to Britain.

Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks and is facing extradition from the UK to Sweden in relation to sexual assault charges. His stated reason for seeking asylum is fear that, if extradited to Sweden he will subsequently be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges in related to massive military and diplomatic document leaks that WikiLeaks made public in 2010.
posted by 256 (402 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's important to note that Mr. Assange has not been charged with a crime. He is being extradited for simple questioning, when he has offered to cooperate fully with questions over a telephone or video link.

This is way, way past unreasonable behavior by both the Swedish and British authorities.
posted by Malor at 11:07 AM on June 20, 2012 [30 favorites]


"Six-room embassy" sounds like an awfully inconvenient place to spend what could very well be a period of years at least, but hey, so's prison. Can't blame him for this.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:08 AM on June 20, 2012


Movies have given me the impression that diplomatic cars and pouches are part of the embassy/foreign nation too. I guess that must be wrong or he and that Cardinal could be transferred out in one of those.
posted by DU at 11:13 AM on June 20, 2012


Yeah, I know authorial intent carries little weight on MeFi, and also that Assange is plenty polarizing, but I really do think that the trapped-in-the-embassy stalemate is the most interesting part of this whole thing.
posted by 256 at 11:14 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Saw this blow up on reddit yesterday.

I think it is reasonable to question someone suspected of a crime in person. What if you want to arrest them. If you questioned everyone by phone they would think "Oh snap, i dun goofed. I'm out" and flee the country. Not to mention they can't put any pressure on him if he is chilling at home rocking his silk PJs.

It is also interesting that people have sat in embassies for years and years. He must really suspect he will be tortured or killed in order to take this risk.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:14 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why the Ecuadorian Embassy? I mean, I like ceviche and cuyo as much as anyone, but couldn't Assange have run to a nation with more political clout? Seems so random.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:15 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh, I had no idea that political asylum in an embassy could lead to living at that embassy. That is pretty fascinating. I would have guessed there would be some way for that embassy's country to pick you up and transport you somewhere.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:15 AM on June 20, 2012


DU: The British authorities have stated that, for as long as Assange is a welcome guest within the Embassy, he is outside the reach of the police but that they will stop any vehicle he attempts to leave in, regardless of its diplomatic plates, and arrest him.
posted by 256 at 11:15 AM on June 20, 2012


I'd love to know how the relationship develops between the actual embassy staff and the asylum-ees. Do the Ecuadorean (or whoever) rank-and-file resent having to provide for these people who never, ever leave? Do they develop actual friendships? Are even the small embassies equipped with just-in-case living quarters, or do these guys end up sleeping on couches and/or displacing someone? The banalities are fascinating.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2012 [42 favorites]


Well, here's hoping anyone who put up money for him knew that was a foregone conclusion.
posted by Artw at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


256, what about a helicopter?
posted by craven_morhead at 11:17 AM on June 20, 2012


József Mindszenty lived in the U.S. embassy in Budapest for 15 years.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:17 AM on June 20, 2012


they will stop any vehicle he attempts to leave in, regardless of its diplomatic plates

That sounds just like the way they would treat any ordinary person wanted for questioning.
posted by DU at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Movies have given me the impression that diplomatic cars and pouches are part of the embassy/foreign nation too. I guess that must be wrong or he and that Cardinal could be transferred out in one of those.

The Guardian coverage has been looking at some of these angles - apparently, as soon as he is outside the embassy, he is fair game.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why the Ecuadorian Embassy?

I'm guessing Ecuador is the only country that seems somewhat interested and has a reasonable living standard.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2012


Someone is writing this. This is a script. Chapter 37: The Tunnel. Can't wait!
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:19 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I don't understand is his argument. He argued he should not be deported to Sweden because they might turn him over to the US if the US indicts him. Wouldn't the US no. 1 ally, the UK be far more likely to do that if he remained there? It kinda doesn't make sense.

Also, the only reason not to show up and give testimony directly is that you think you will be seized.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:20 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ad hominem: It is also interesting that people have sat in embassies for years and years. He must really suspect he will be tortured or killed in order to take this risk.

I suspect that if captured, he'll get the same treatment as Bradley Manning; solitary confinement until insanity.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:20 AM on June 20, 2012 [25 favorites]


I certainly don't know if or how the authorities would try to stop a helicopter, but I also don't imagine that the Ecuadorean embassy owns one, nor can I see where it would land, consdering the embassy is a flat in an old spire-roofed building.
posted by 256 at 11:20 AM on June 20, 2012


they will stop any vehicle he attempts to leave in, regardless of its diplomatic plates, and arrest him.

...said Constables Murtaugh and Riggs
posted by Hoopo at 11:20 AM on June 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


József Mindszenty lived in the U.S. embassy in Budapest for 15 years.

Sorry, didn't see that was linked.

At any rate. Equador should appoint him to a position that grants him diplomatic immunity. Does anyone know if that is retroactive?
posted by Ad hominem at 11:21 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's important to note that Mr. Assange has not been charged with a crime.

Well, technically, yes, but my sense is that this is less a distinction than it would be in the American or British legal systems. From the Guardian:
Time and again the question of Assange "not being charged" is raised. Well, that all depends on how you translate the term. If you mean that being charged is the same as being prosecuted, then the answer is that Mr Assange is NOT charged.

If, on the other hand, the term is meant as a mandatory prelude to being prosecuted, then yes, Mr Assange is charged. This does not mean that he WILL be prosecuted.
As I understand it, in the US or UK, at this stage of the process, we would say that someone has been charged or is under arrest, but the Swedish process doesn't quite work this way, and so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison to say he's just wanted for 'questioning.' Frankly, given the significant negative impact even the announcement of an arrest has on one's life in America (lost jobs, education suspended and the like), even if charges are eventually dropped, I'm hard pressed to say they're in the wrong here.
posted by dsfan at 11:21 AM on June 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


old spire-roofed building

it has flat spots
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 11:21 AM on June 20, 2012


I like that all reports on Assange are so 100% sure that this is a CIA fit up that the word rape is never mentioned.
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on June 20, 2012 [19 favorites]


I believe this would all be covered by the Vienna Convention. The embassy is inviolable, as are courier bags, and the private residence of any diplomats, but cars or any other transport are fair game. Assange isn't a diplomat, even if he's in the embassy, so he can't claim personal immunity.
posted by echo target at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


At any rate. Equador should appoint him to a position that grants him diplomatic immunity. Does anyone know if that is retroactive?

Gaming the system like that could have serious consequences for Ecuador's relations with other countries, and might not even work - diplomats who have sufficiently pissed off their host countries can be labeled persona non grata, and while that typically means expulsion, not arrest, this would be a special case.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:24 AM on June 20, 2012


craven_morhead: "256, what about a helicopter?"

I don't know if they were flown directly from the building or brought to an airport, but South Korea airlifted a bunch of North Korean asylum seekers to Seoul in the middle of the night a few years back, (2004? 2005?) who had been living in their embassy in Hanoi. The North Koreans were reportedly furious over it.

I wonder how the UK would react.
posted by zarq at 11:24 AM on June 20, 2012


What I don't understand is his argument. He argued he should not be deported to Sweden because they might turn him over to the US if the US indicts him. Wouldn't the US no. 1 ally, the UK be far more likely to do that if he remained there?

His supporters argue that extradition is more likely under the US-Sweden treaties.
posted by enn at 11:24 AM on June 20, 2012


Prediction: The embassy kicks him out, because, what the fuck, how does this benefit Ecuador, what the fuck
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:25 AM on June 20, 2012


I believe this would all be covered by the Vienna Convention. The embassy is inviolable, as are courier bags, and the private residence of any diplomats, but cars or any other transport are fair game. Assange isn't a diplomat, even if he's in the embassy, so he can't claim personal immunity.

So they just need to put him in a courier bag. Problem solved.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:25 AM on June 20, 2012 [25 favorites]


The banalities are fascinating.

Indeed. This means that some embassy employee is having to make grocery runs for their asylumee (well, unless he's using Peapod or an equivalent). Also I would personally try to pick an embassy with a courtyard or someplace where I could get outside a few times during my fifteen years.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2012


1) Man, Julian Assange seems like a douchebag in terms of personal relationships. No idea if he's guilty.

2) You had better believe Sweden would never chase a random Nigel Yobbosbloke this doggedly for an equivalent crime, nor would the UK.

3) Wondering why doesn't trivialize any bad acts he may have committed.
posted by mobunited at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Julian, I laid out your escape plan over a year ago.
posted by griphus at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Equador should appoint him to a position that grants him diplomatic immunity.

The UK would have to recognize/respond to Ecuador's request for him to be registered as a diplomat for that to work. I think that's unlikely.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course, he might have an encrypted cache of documents about the Ecuadorean government...
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:27 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like that all reports on Assange are so 100% sure that this is a CIA fit up that the word rape is never mentioned.

I like that all reports on Assange are so 100% sure he's guilty of rape that nobody ever asks why this particular suspected rapist is being pursued so hard.
posted by DU at 11:28 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Julian, I laid out your escape plan over a year ago.

Ruined it, you mean. The WikiLeaks war-zeppelin was impounded three days after you posted that comment, and eventually sold as surplus to a militant wing of GoodYear. Coincidence? I think not.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:28 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, this pretty well guarantees that he's not ever getting out on bail again, wherever he goes.

Sweden's well-known for falsifying charges of rape in order to extradite political prisoners, by the way.
posted by Dasein at 11:29 AM on June 20, 2012


There's actually some history of people being smuggled in diplomatic bags (crates, actually), but it seems to mostly be repressive governments kidnapping escaped dissidents to bring them back for trial/punishment. Doesn't sound like anyone's tried to make the crate comfortable.
posted by echo target at 11:29 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sweden's well-known for falsifying charges of rape in order to extradite political prisoners, by the way.

For instance?
posted by griphus at 11:29 AM on June 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


I would imagine it could be problematic for an ambassador that he shares an internet connection with Julian Assange.
posted by Hoopo at 11:32 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Apparently Ecuador offered him asylum two years ago.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2012


I like that all reports on Assange are so 100% sure that this is a CIA fit up that the word rape is never mentioned.

I don't think that's it, precisely. I think it's that several things are true in the US public mind:

1. We don't really want to prosecute rape when it's someone we know and like and we can slut-shame the girl; BUT
2. We can't just come out and say that; PLUS
3. It's really fun to go into killer-revenge-rage mode a la Richard Slotkin's Gunfighter Nation and therefore we like to use "he's a rapist" as a justification for violence against rapists if they aren't, like, football heroes or otherwise popular; AND
4. Therefore we can't say that Assange could be both a rapist and a victim of political skulduggery and therefore he would never get a fair trial or a fair sentence were he convicted; BECAUSE
5. Once we start taking the rape allegation seriously, #3 kicks in and lots of red-blooded Americans will enjoy talking about how hanging is too good for rapists; BECAUSE
6. Very few people are capable of thinking "it is immoral to subvert the justice process by "trying" Assange for rape in order to imprison him for running Wikileaks even if he is a rapist.

Basically, no one is taking the actual rape charges seriously (except, I assume, the radical activist women who stood up and made them). Assange's defenders generally don't want to taint Assange's image and Assange's detractors would happily prosecute him for sneezing in public if it meant they could spirit him away to solitary confinement pour encourager les autres. It's a lose-lose situation for radicals, honestly, because if Assange gets prosecuted for rape then he's lost to Wikileaks; and if the rape charges are dismissed and the women shut down as being liars or delusional or CIA then, well, once again radical activists have basically condoned some pretty plausible rape charges.
posted by Frowner at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


On the interesting legal questions about getting him out, should he be given asylum (from the Guardian link above):
even if asylum is granted, Assange may struggle to get to Ecuador. My colleague Owen Bowcott, the Guardian's legal affairs correspondent has sent this useful Q&A.

Q: Is there any way the Ecuadoreans can spirit Assange out of Britain and ensure he reaches the safety of Quito, their capital?

A: If Assange steps out of the embassy, he is liable to be arrested. Were he to be given a diplomatic passport, that would not alter the situation: immunity from arrest is only conferred on diplomats accredited to the Court of St James's by the Foreign Office.

Any attempt by the Ecuadoreans to have him accredited would be rebuffed by UK authorities. Were Assange to accept an Ecuadorean diplomatic pasport, some suggest, he would become an Ecuadorean national - and therefore be unable to seek asylum in what would now be his own country's embassy. It's a cunning profession diplomacy - dangerously double-edged.

Owen tells me that he has confirmed with the Foreign Office that if Assange exited the building directly into a car with diplomatic number plates, it would not give him diplomatic immunity. If he leaves the building he can be arrested.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2012


I would imagine it could be problematic for an ambassador that he shares an internet connection with Julian Assange.

Heh. Now you mention it you can see why a country like Russia that has actual secrets people care about might not want him, no matter how chummy they are right now.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on June 20, 2012


> Why the Ecuadorian Embassy?

>> I'm guessing Ecuador is the only country that seems somewhat interested


Still seems so random for the President of Ecuador to muse out loud about offering asylum. Does he just really feel strongly about WikiLeaks work, or does Assange have a record of embarrassing emails?
posted by Panjandrum at 11:35 AM on June 20, 2012


Ecuador: one angle here is that Correa has been said to be angling for the position of New Chavez, and this would be a fantastic way of upping the ante on that.

why this particular suspected rapist is being pursued so hard

Asking for extradition and then waiting for the process to play out doesn't really seem all that "hard". I could have become jaded by drone strikes, however.
posted by aramaic at 11:36 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


The authorities would have a much harder time catching him if he exits the building via zipline.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:37 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sweden's well-known for falsifying charges of rape in order to extradite political prisoners, by the way.

You may wanna provide a link for that.
posted by notyou at 11:37 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is not an unsolved problem. Should Ecuador genuinely wish toassist him, Julian Assange can presumably be put in a diplomatic pouch:
A diplomatic bag, also known as a diplomatic pouch, is a container with certain legal protections used for carrying official correspondence or other items between a diplomatic mission and its home government or other official organizations.[1] The physical concept of a "diplomatic bag" is flexible and therefore can take many forms e.g., an envelope, parcel, large suitcase or shipping container, etc
The "pouch" can be as large as a shipping container, and occasionally is. See this list of similar, unusual shipments. Ecuador is not unfamiliar with this stunt, having recently imported 40 kilograms of cocaine exactly this way.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Asking for extradition and then waiting for the process to play out doesn't really seem all that "hard".

This is an interesting question. I'm shamelessly speculating here, but I suspect that, given that rape is notoriously difficult to prosecute, that the suspect is in another country would often be seen as a convenient excuse to not try very hard to pursue the investigation. On the other hand, I suspect such extraditions happen to 'normal' people all the time and don't make the news.
posted by hoyland at 11:40 AM on June 20, 2012


I suppose the Ecudarans could stuff something inside Julian Assange -- cocaine, say -- and call him the "diplomatic pouch".
posted by notyou at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I commend Mr. Assange for always choosing the more fascinating of the options available to him.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2012 [40 favorites]


Really he just wants to be in a Dos Equis commercial.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:43 AM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


@DarlingBri -- but the point of that article is that all of those "unusual shipments" were intercepted. The UK is about as likely to respect the "pouches" as they would a diplomatic vehicle.
posted by modernserf at 11:44 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe if they staffed the embassy with nothing but Julian Assange impersonators?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Very few people are capable of thinking "it is immoral to subvert the justice process by "trying" Assange for rape in order to imprison him for running Wikileaks even if he is a rapist.

Wait, are you saying that even if Assange is a rapist, it is immoral to prosecute him because someone might want that prosecution for a different reason? Because I would pretty uncomfortable with a morality that gave political dissidents license to rape.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I commend Mr. Assange for always choosing the more fascinating of the options available to him.

Somebody posting for the Guardian said that he was always choosing the most dramatic option. Kinda makes sense. he's a dramatic guy.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somehow I don't think the ISS bog pump needed interception.
posted by edd at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is Assange going to pay his way for the next few decades stuck in the embassy? Three words: Celebrity Big Brother.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The authorities would have a much harder time catching him if he exits the building via zipline.


Ah, but he would then enter British airspace. The RAF could take care of that.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very few people are capable of thinking "it is immoral to subvert the justice process by "trying" Assange for rape in order to imprison him for running Wikileaks even if he is a rapist.

Wait, are you saying that even if Assange is a rapist, it is immoral to prosecute him because someone might want that prosecution for a different reason? Because I would pretty uncomfortable with a morality that gave political dissidents license to rape.


It is putting the perpetrator's interests high above those he is alleged to have raped.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not a license to rape, it's a burden on governments to only arrest people for crimes you intend to prosecute. If Sweden is pursuing Assange just so they can extradite him to the US as a political prisoner, that's immoral regardless of the truth of the underlying charge, because they've made the underlying charge irrelevant.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


I kind of like the irony of smuggling Assange founder out in a diplomatic bag.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:49 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Over the last decade or so, cars have gradually been excluded from the scope of diplomatic immunity. In most civilized countries, the police now have the right to (a) ask a diplomatic vehicle to stop; and (b) ask the driver and other occupants to step out and be tested for DUI etc. These measures are essentially to ensure road safety. AFAIK, police still can't search the car without explicit permission of the diplomat. So, if Mr. Assange gets out in a car, he can easily be arrested.

Helicopters? Well, you can't just fly those around without airspace clearances etc. Even if the embassy had a helipad and other logistics sorted out (including all clearances), it would be a trivial matter for British authorities to force a landing in the name of some safety concerns and get their hands on Mr. Assange. And of course, helicopters don't have a very long range in general. They've got to land somewhere.

Sovereign aircraft. This one is a bit more interesting. If an Ecuadorean Head of State/Government is visiting UK in near future and using a private aircraft, Mr. Assange could escape that way. One member of the entourage would stay back and be replaced by Mr. Assange with a fake name and a real Ecuadorean passport issued by the Embassy. The way the logistics of such visits work (sorry for papering over the details), this is doable. The crucial thing is having a private aircraft, as that takes out a lot of security checks etc. However, given the high profile nature of this case, it will probably be difficult to pull off for Mr. Assange.

In short, this was a very bad move by Mr. Assange. He should have just gone through the legal process.
posted by vidur at 11:50 AM on June 20, 2012


but the point of that article is that all of those "unusual shipments" were intercepted. The UK is about as likely to respect the "pouches" as they would a diplomatic vehicle.

Fake mustache, then? I'm just spitballing. Is it possible to expand the embassy? Looking at the map, they only need about a 40 mile right-of-way until they hit ocean, where he can board an Ecuador-flagged ship and hey presto! Should only be hundreds of millions of pounds worth of real estate, but maybe they can use tax increment financing.
posted by LiteOpera at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


In short, this was a very bad move by Mr. Assange. He should have just gone through the legal process.

Unless the alternative to "very bad" is worse. Like Bradley Manning.
posted by inigo2 at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


> Basically, no one is taking the actual rape charges seriously (except, I assume, the radical activist women who stood up and made them).

You really don't need to be a radical activist woman to take rape charges seriously.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2012 [19 favorites]


It's important to note that Mr. Assange has not been charged with a crime. He is being extradited for simple questioning, when he has offered to cooperate fully with questions over a telephone or video link.

This is way, way past unreasonable behavior by both the Swedish and British authorities.
posted by Malor at 11:07 AM on June 20 [5 favorites +] [!]


My understanding that being officially required to come in for questioning before being charged with anything) is, however odd it might seem to outsiders, the ordinary norm under Swedish law (I'm sure they have well-reasoned legal theory re: why this is better than the other way around), and in this aspect, Assange's case does not differ from the majority of other Swedish extradition requests.
posted by Bwithh at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


my gut says this won't work. Ecuador is not likely to want to piss everyone off.

Plus, Ecuador's president is apparently not friendly to a free press, so it may taint Assange.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2012


The "pouch" can be as large as a shipping container, and occasionally is.

Ah, I forgot that option. The only kind of diplomatic bag that can be exempt from security screenings is the one being carried by hand (cabin luggage). And this too, in most countries, requires certain special procedures to be completed before such clearance is granted. Sure, this is done as a matter of routine usually, but then, the usual size of such cabin luggage is about that of a briefcase.

Every other kind of diplomatic pouch will go through security screening procedures regardless of size and mode of transportation.

To be smuggled out in a diplomatic container could work for some unknown person when nobody is actively looking for him, but it won't work at all for Mr. Assange.
posted by vidur at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2012


Any minute now Assange will walk out the back of the embassy dressed as a janitor and speaking in a vague and hilarious accent.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


In short, this was a very bad move by Mr. Assange. He should have just gone through the legal process.

Unless the alternative to "very bad" is worse. Like Bradley Manning.


It appears that he has increased the chances of being arrested with this embassy move. So, whatever the alternatives are, they seem to be more likely to happen now than before.
posted by vidur at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2012


Wait, are you saying that even if Assange is a rapist, it is immoral to prosecute him because someone might want that prosecution for a different reason? Because I would pretty uncomfortable with a morality that gave political dissidents license to rape.

No, the claim is that the Swedish authorities are under huge political pressure to get their hands on Assange so they can give him to American authorities, not because they want to prosecute him for anything. That's not a license to commit sexual assaults for dissidents, it's carte blanche for governments to use unrelated crimes to gain political favors by turning into bounty hunters for the United States.

Sweden has already been accused of providing for such transfers for the torture of terrorism suspects for the CIA, so it's very plausible. I think Assange's mistake was thinking that a high profile would protect him once the leaks started, but the USG will probably stop at nothing to have him murdered or put in prison forever, even if he didn't break any laws. The law is irrelevant to us these days.

(Not saying he's guilty or innocent of the charges, because no one knows that but himself and the two victims, but I haven't seen evidence that Sweden has ever pursued other similar suspects with so many resources)
posted by deanklear at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


No no je suis Julian Croissant
posted by griphus at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


So how long before the botched SAS raid?
posted by PenDevil at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Basically, no one is taking the actual rape charges seriously (except, I assume, the radical activist women who stood up and made them).

What is it that you think you're diminishing or dismissing with that characterisation? Has it dawned on you that Julian Assange is himself a radical activist?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:02 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do you imagine that Frowner is diminishing or dismissing the women with that categorization? I think you're misreading her comment.
posted by enn at 12:03 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I commend Mr. Assange for always choosing the more fascinating of the options available to him.

I have a feeling that this is equally a shrewd political move as much as it is an aspect of his personality. Governments want this guy to shut up and go away, and the louder and more visible his actions are, the harder it is for him to just vanish one day.
posted by griphus at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


er, to be vanished, that is.
posted by griphus at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2012


No no je suis Julian Croissant

just admit that croissant was the only french word you could think of offhand okay

posted by elizardbits at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, DarlingBri. The women's radical activism would suggest that the allegations are not primarily (and merely) political. But that's a topic for another, previouslier, FPP.
posted by notyou at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2012


Why do you imagine that Frowner is diminishing or dismissing the women with that categorization?

Actually, I sort of thought the same thing until I realized that Frowner was the one who posted that comment. I don't have a particularly good explanation for my original assumption, though.
posted by asnider at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2012


Julian Merde doesn't have the same ring to it.
posted by griphus at 12:07 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sweden has already been accused of providing for such transfers for the torture of terrorism suspects for the CIA, so it's very plausible. I think Assange's mistake was thinking that a high profile would protect him once the leaks started, but the USG will probably stop at nothing to have him murdered or put in prison forever, even if he didn't break any laws. The law is irrelevant to us these days.

So, the argument is that, based on pure speculation about how the system could be abused, an allegation of rape against someone you like should go unprosecuted. My confidence that Assange is not going to disappear into a CIA black site is virtually 100%; I don't see how anyone could in good faith believe that. A random guy who no one knows or cares about? Sure we could and would make that guy disappear. An international celebrity with legions of adoring fans? Not going to happen.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:07 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sweden has already been accused of providing for such transfers for the torture of terrorism suspects for the CIA, so it's very plausible.

I read through the article and couldn't make any connection between it and Sweden. Do you have anything that makes the relationship more clear?
posted by Copronymus at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2012


I want to put a comment in for all the people—and I'm one—who have no idea what to believe with this story and is increasingly bewildered. It's all exciting stuff, but I'm no closer to knowing what the truth of the whole matter actually is.
posted by Jehan at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


How about a midnight Fulton Skyhooking? No reason things shouldn't be interesting as hell...
posted by fuq at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not a license to rape, it's a burden on governments to only arrest people for crimes you intend to prosecute. If Sweden is pursuing Assange just so they can extradite him to the US as a political prisoner, that's immoral regardless of the truth of the underlying charge, because they've made the underlying charge irrelevant.

But why would the Swedish government be "in" on a plot to extradite Assange? What would be the point? There aren't a lot of points to be won with the US government for doing such a thing.

I also think that he's far more likely to be extradited from the UK. I read that link from supporters and it presupposes that the UK is so filled with pro-assange types that they will put pressure on a Tory government. I don't think that's the case.

More importantly, with a crime of violence, like rape, I think this is a completely dubious statement. The fact that there may be a US prosecution means that any rape prosecution should be thrown out? Why is this guy spewing documents more important than seeing justice for rape?
posted by Ironmouth at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Diplomats' are immune to physical searches. Perhaps he could ride on a diplomat's shoulders, and they could claim they were wearing him as a kind of shawl?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


I wonder how the UK would react.

Probably by having a non-lousy air-traffic control system that would know in about three seconds if there was an unscheduled chopper mucking about London.
posted by valkyryn at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2012


an allegation of rape against someone you like should go unprosecuted

That's pretty much the way these things have historically worked, yes.
posted by aramaic at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Julian Merde doesn't have the same ring to it.

What's brown and sounds like a bell?

posted by Celsius1414 at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2012


So how long before the botched SAS raid?

Well, this isn't a Tom Clancy novel, so...
posted by modernnomad at 12:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't need to be a CIA black site, Bulgaroktonos. The military is having plenty of fun tormenting Bradley Manning in a regular old military prison.

If Sweden really intends to prosecute Assange and jail him (if convicted) on the sexual molestation charges, rather than to extradite him to the US on espionage charges, why not publicly commit to that? It would be easy to do and would eliminate Assange's only argument against turning himself in to the Swedish authorities. Yet they have not done that.
posted by enn at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]



Wait, are you saying that even if Assange is a rapist, it is immoral to prosecute him because someone might want that prosecution for a different reason? Because I would pretty uncomfortable with a morality that gave political dissidents license to rape.


I'm saying that it is worse for the polity to prosecute crimes in bad faith than to not prosecute, yes. It makes rape prosecutions into a tool of the state instead of a redress for a wrong. It creates suspicion of rape prosecutions that is grounded in fact, when we already have a suspicion of rape prosecutions grounded in misogyny. And it makes rape victims in the movement reluctant to come forward because they know that the rapist will be prosecuted with incredible aggression in order to silence him politically. (Just as deportation of undocumented workers makes women unwilling to report domestic abuse by undocumented people because they don't want to lose their husbands/brothers/fathers/friends.) Political rape prosecutions put a huge pressure on women to be silent about sexual assault - to be silent enough so that it's not even a rumor, lest an informant find out. (And I've been in activist environments where there were informants. My activist life is so boring and trivial that you wouldn't believe it, so I assume that someone exciting, important and glamorous like Assange is surrounded by them.)

It says that rape only matters when it can be used as a tool to "trap" a man for another purpose. That's what a lot of people already believe about rape cases.

Back when I was a mere slip of a girl growing up during the Cold War, there was a great deal of rhetoric in the Twelve Angry Men line about how if we could not trust the courts to be absolutely honest and above reproach, we might as well pack it in and sign up with Stalin. Since the Cold War ended, that line of reasoning has pretty much fallen out of favor, and it disappoints me how cynical it was, given how strongly I believed it at the time.
posted by Frowner at 12:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [28 favorites]


Guys why are we arguing about politics when we could be Photoshopping Julian Assange into any number of Fletch costumes
posted by shakespeherian at 12:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


No, the claim is that the Swedish authorities are under huge political pressure to get their hands on Assange so they can give him to American authorities, not because they want to prosecute him for anything. That's not a license to commit sexual assaults for dissidents, it's carte blanche for governments to use unrelated crimes to gain political favors by turning into bounty hunters for the United States.

Where is there any evidence what so ever of "huge political pressure" being put on Sweden? There is no evidence for it at all, as far as I can see.

And somehow, the UK wouldn't be under such pressure? the UK is our ally. We make weapons systems for them--nuclear weapons systems (missiles for subs, specifically). We have a "special relationship" with them. They are a NATO ally, and our closest ally. We barely give any aid to Sweden. This alleged political pressure, surrounding a grand jury indictment that doesn't even exist yet, seems a stretch. Its definitely the right play for Assange and his lawyers, but as for our evaluation of the question, the fact is the UK is way more likely to pass Assange over to the US. Its in their interest in ways that it is not in Sweden's interest.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Guys why are we arguing about politics when we could be Photoshopping Julian Assange into any number of Fletch costumes

Actually, low politics in this thread. It seems narrowly focused on Assange's legal situation and the assertions of his lawyers.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:18 PM on June 20, 2012


Well, this isn't a Tom Clancy novel, so...

It's a reference, I think, to the Iranian Embassy Seige.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 12:19 PM on June 20, 2012


Whether the claims are true or fabricated Ironmouth, you don't think this is really about the US and Wikileaks? Just another case of Sweden trying their darndest to find justice in good faith?
posted by floam at 12:22 PM on June 20, 2012


He's been publicly accused of being like a "high tech terrorist" by the Vice President of the US. I think we can count on some pressure on any country he ends up in.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:22 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I don't think the point of extraditing Assange is to put him in a black site or display his head on a pike; it's just to take him out of circulation as a point of national pride, to inconvenience Wikileaks by putting the charismatic front man away until public attention is turned elsewhere and to keep people from getting the impression that you can reveal imperial secrets and not pay a high price. Petty vengeance would probably happen at the individual level - local people fucking with a prisoner because they are spiteful and stupid and have the power. The point is to keep other people from getting funny ideas.
posted by Frowner at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2012


It creates suspicion of rape prosecutions that is grounded in fact, when we already have a suspicion of rape prosecutions grounded in misogyny.

Well, it's pretty much only the people who don't want Assange prosecuted (people like you) that have any suspicion of this prosecution. The argument that "we have to be suspicious of this prosecution or other people will be suspicious of other prosecutions" doesn't really fly because we have real potential rape victims that we can and should be dealing with in the here and now. Imagine that there are women in Sweden who were raped by Julian Assange (there might be). You're arguing that their rape matters less than other future rapes; that's just kind of mean.

And it makes rape victims in the movement reluctant to come forward because they know that the rapist will be prosecuted with incredible aggression in order to silence him politically.

If rape victims are worried that, if they come forward, their rapist will be prosecuted, they're not coming forward anyway, unless you stop prosecuting rapes.

And, as a general rule, if you find yourself arguing against prosecution for violent crimes for any reason other than a belief that the accused is innocent, you probably need to reorient yourself.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


People OK with murdering Assange
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I want to put a comment in for all the people—and I'm one—who have no idea what to believe with this story and is increasingly bewildered. It's all exciting stuff, but I'm no closer to knowing what the truth of the whole matter actually is.

Best situation to be in, to be honest, and congratulations for failing to come to any conclusions. The only certainty here is that the Swedish government are trying to extradite Assange to answer questions about possible sexual harassment and rape charges. That doesn't mean that he's going to be charged with those offences, just that they want him to answer questions.

The problem is that almost everyone else has made judgements about his guilt or innocence, or the women's culpability, or Sweden's motives, or shadowy CIA black ops, largely based on pre-conceived ideas about Assange as a radical freedom fighter or pointless self-seeking gadfly, etc. Right now, there just isn't enough information to make those judgements, so don't bother. Just enjoy the show.
posted by daveje at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hmm...

Asked if he saw Assange as closer to a hi-tech terrorist than the whistleblower who released the Pentagon papers in the 1970s, which disclosed the lie on which US involvement in Vietnam was based, Biden replied: "I would argue it is closer to being a hi-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers. But, look, this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world.
posted by Artw at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


if Assange gets prosecuted for rape then he's lost to Wikileaks

...you say that like it's a bad thing.

Hi! My name is rdc and I'll be your unicorn today. I believe Julian is a rapist - not least because in his defense lawyer's version of events, he raped one woman and at least attempted to rape the other.

I also and at the same time support Wikileaks and its goals and think Brad Manning is a hero.

It's as if the truth were complicated.
posted by rdc at 12:33 PM on June 20, 2012 [27 favorites]


People OK with murdering Assange

Unless Jonah Goldberg was recently elected Prime Minister of Sweden, I fail to see the relevance.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2012


Bradley Manning is a US Citizen and sworn member of the US Military. Although I disagree strenuously with the terms of his imprisonment (and I believe he is being illegally punished and probably tortured), to say that the US government can easily treat Assange the same way (gosh, if only they could get their hands on him!) is misguided.

to inconvenience Wikileaks by putting the charismatic front man away until public attention is turned elsewhere

Yeah, a bit too late to turn that tide.
posted by muddgirl at 12:36 PM on June 20, 2012


The only certainty here is that the Swedish government are trying to extradite Assange to answer questions about possible sexual harassment and rape charges. That doesn't mean that he's going to be charged with those offences, just that they want him to answer questions.

Why couldn't they do that within the UK? It wasn't like Assange was going anywhere until the last few days. Sweden has passed on so many opportunities to just pursue the investigation—when do people ask the question why? What is their interest in bringing Assange onto Swedish soil for the purposes of asking questions they could just as easily ask in the UK.

In any case, what is preventing Sweden from stating publicly that they won't extradite Assange to the US for unrelated charges, thus guaranteeing the safety of the suspect from a vindictive and hostile country, whose official and unofficial spokespersons have stated publicly would like to see him dead or buried in a SuperMax before mention of any trial?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:38 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bradley Manning was kind of an idiot if he expected anything else, TBH.
posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


If rape victims are worried that, if they come forward, their rapist will be prosecuted, they're not coming forward anyway, unless you stop prosecuting rapes.

I think we're all sort of talking past each other on this point? I mean, I don't think that there's any contradiction at all between a rape victim wanting their rapist to be prosecuted for the rape and not wanting the prosecution to turn into a massive excuse for a political banhammering the likes of which might see the perpetrator's sentence being handed down not for the rape but for pissing off a lot of very important people through doing things unassociated with the rape itself. It kind of makes the whole thing a parody of justice, because I feel like there's kind of a strong implication of, "We wouldn't care about your rape if this person hadn't done x, y and z other unwise or horrible things," and that's not exactly the message that we should be sending rape victims about the crimes committed against them. At the same time, how do you prosecute rape in a high-profile case without it turning into exactly that sort of scenario? In this case, Sweden would make it clear that extradition was not going to happen, because they would jail Assange for sexual assault. Since they've instead made it very clear that extradition will happen, I think that's a big red flag that they're sending EXACTLY the message that, "We wouldn't care half so much if this dude hadn't done other things that had pissed a lot of people off." Not the type of justice I'd like to see, not at all. I'd be interested in hearing from the alleged victims if they were happy with this potential outcome.

It makes rape prosecutions into a tool of the state instead of a redress for a wrong. It creates suspicion of rape prosecutions that is grounded in fact, when we already have a suspicion of rape prosecutions grounded in misogyny.

I think this is a huge and really extraordinarily valid point. Any time you let political maneuverings creep into prosecutions of rape and sexual assault and other such crimes, it becomes all too easy (indeed, it already is, so maybe all too easier?) for the powerful to cry, "Scapegoating! This is merely an excuse to persecute because I did _____ and ______ didn't like it!" whenever they are accused of sexual misconduct or abuse. For the love of Christ, we sure don't need to be giving powerful rich dudes further reasons to be able to divert attention away from what are completely legitimate prosecutions for serious crimes against women.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:38 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: The banalities are fascinating
posted by Outlawyr at 12:39 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Why couldn't they do that within the UK?

Because it's not standard procedure? Why does Assange deserve special treatment under the laws of Sweden or the UK?
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2012


Sorry, that should read, "Sweden would make it clear that extradition to the US was not going to happen." Obviously he would have to be extradited to Sweden to be tried there.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2012


Whether the claims are true or fabricated Ironmouth, you don't think this is really about the US and Wikileaks? Just another case of Sweden trying their darndest to find justice in good faith?

I don't really understand. Why would Sweden have any interest in going after Assange for Wikileaks? What's in it for them? We're not allied with them. They are not a major recipient for US aid. I just have no reason to think that they are dying to turn Assange over.

There are a lot, a lot of what ifs in his argument, for which there is no evidence. No evidence of a grand jury indictment unless you count a third-party E-mail claiming to know that. And there's no evidence that Sweden is under the slightest bit of pressure from the US to turn Assange over for an indictment that doesn't even exist yet.

The most-parsimonious argument is dude thinks he's dead to rights and doesn't want to get arrested for rape.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artw: Bradley Manning was kind of an idiot if he expected anything else, TBH.

If any American, regardless of what he has done, is "an idiot" to expect not to be tortured, then we've come to very dark days indeed.

And yes, long-term solitary is torture.
posted by gilrain at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2012 [17 favorites]


It makes rape prosecutions into a tool of the state instead of a redress for a wrong. It creates suspicion of rape prosecutions that is grounded in fact, when we already have a suspicion of rape prosecutions grounded in misogyny.

I think this is a huge and really extraordinarily valid point. Any time you let political maneuverings creep into prosecutions of rape and sexual assault and other such crimes, it becomes all too easy (indeed, it already is, so maybe all too easier?) for the powerful to cry, "Scapegoating! This is merely an excuse to persecute because I did _____ and ______ didn't like it!" whenever they are accused of sexual misconduct or abuse. For the love of Christ, we sure don't need to be giving powerful rich dudes further reasons to be able to divert attention away from what are completely legitimate prosecutions for serious crimes against women.


I'm confused. Assange is getting "rich and powerful" treatment now. He's got a great legal team and plenty of funds for defense. I guess I'm saying this is the very scenario we're talking about.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:44 PM on June 20, 2012


Why couldn't they do that within the UK? It wasn't like Assange was going anywhere until the last few days. Sweden has passed on so many opportunities to just pursue the investigation—when do people ask the question why?

I would assume because Assange left Sweden after he was initially questioned, and after investigations had been resumed. That is, you can interpret Assange's actions as fleeing from a possible charge. In that circumstance, it's reasonable for the Swedes to want to question Assange on their own soil in case they decided they needed to press charges.

In any case, what is preventing Sweden from stating publicly that they won't extradite Assange to the US for unrelated charges, thus guaranteeing the safety of the suspect from a vindictive and hostile country, whose official and unofficial spokespersons have stated publicly would like to see him dead or buried in a SuperMax before mention of any trial?

Do you have any evidence that extradition to the US is likely?
posted by daveje at 12:48 PM on June 20, 2012



I think we're all sort of talking past each other on this point? I mean, I don't think that there's any contradiction at all between a rape victim wanting their rapist to be prosecuted for the rape and not wanting the prosecution to turn into a massive excuse for a political banhammering the likes of which might see the perpetrator's sentence being handed down not for the rape but for pissing off a lot of very important people through doing things unassociated with the rape itself.


I'd like to point out that we actually have a pretty good empirical comparison here, in that women with undocumented partners or relatives tend not to report domestic abuse because, while they sure would like some help with the domestic abuse, they don't want their partners deported. There are all kinds of reasons for that - maybe you'd like your partner to, you know, stop hitting you while also paying child support; maybe you know that what your partner faces if deported is death or crippling violence; maybe you'd like your kids to be able to see him even if he's not that great a person; maybe you don't want to be ostracized by your community for turning the guy in. (I add that I know someone whose partner is undocumented and abusive and who has faced just this dilemma. It's pretty grim.)

Again, we know that this happens. We know that when the consequences for the crime are unpredictable, excessive and remove the man totally from home, community and family, women tend not to report.

The solutions are either to accept that we as a society are too fucked up to have honest courts and thus stop prosecuting; or to fix the goddamn courts before anything else happens.
posted by Frowner at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Could Ecuador make Assange a diplomatic courier? I don't think they need to be accredited, and they could give him a random pouch of documents to take to Quito.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2012


Assange's Wikileaks is obviously a serious threat to the political stability of the US and UK. Nothing like Al Qaeda or some silly bombing stuff. He is not rich and powerful. He hasn't been charged with a crime.

It's a relief to come to mefi and find people who understand this, but now we are about to get into the 'he's a rapist' arguments.
posted by colie at 12:51 PM on June 20, 2012


I'm confused. Assange is getting "rich and powerful" treatment now. He's got a great legal team and plenty of funds for defense. I guess I'm saying this is the very scenario we're talking about.

It totally is! And that's why I think trying him with the threat of extradition to the US hanging over his head makes a mockery of the whole affair. In Frowner's words, the only way to "fix the goddamn courts" in this scenario would be if Sweden publicly pledged that they would not extradite him the US, due to the intention of pursuing justice exclusively on their own soil. Doing that would make his trial actually about the rape. But to leave it uncertain, or to say that they will extradite, makes a mockery of the whole affair, because suddenly the trial is no longer about the rape. It's an excuse.

(Love the comparison to domestic violence and deportation, since I think perhaps that's something people are much more familiar with? I am, at any rate.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


because I feel like there's kind of a strong implication of, "We wouldn't care about your rape if this person hadn't done x, y and z other unwise or horrible things," and that's not exactly the message that we should be sending rape victims about the crimes committed against them.

And in this thread there is a strong, not particularly implicit, message, of "we don't care about your rape because this guy does political good," a message sent to real, as opposed to hypothetical, victims.

In this case, Sweden would make it clear that extradition was not going to happen, because they would jail Assange for sexual assault.

Why do people expect Sweden to give a firm answer to what it would do in the event of receiving an entirely hypothetical extradition request. That would be irresponsible since they have no way of knowing what such a request would be based on.

We know that when the consequences for the crime are unpredictable, excessive and remove the man totally from home, community and family, women tend not to report.

I'd point that you have just argued that being forced to answer police questions is an excessive consequence for being accused of rape.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


That 'people who want Assange dead" link is dumb. The quotes are largely taken out of context. Even the Jonah Goldberg (a world-class douche) one is lifted improperly -- if you read the actual article in which he says that, he's posing it as a question, the answer to which is basically that "the CIA isn't, contrary to popular belief, some sort of all powerful organization that goes around killing everyone they can get their hands on". Now whether or not you believe that to be true, it's a pretty fucking far cry from Goldberg actually advocating the murder of Assange by the state without trial.
posted by modernnomad at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, the argument is that, based on pure speculation about how the system could be abused, an allegation of rape against someone you like should go unprosecuted. My confidence that Assange is not going to disappear into a CIA black site is virtually 100%; I don't see how anyone could in good faith believe that. A random guy who no one knows or cares about? Sure we could and would make that guy disappear. An international celebrity with legions of adoring fans? Not going to happen.

Who else has been pursued with so many resources? That's the question. I'm sure Julian Assange isn't the only person accused of such a crime, and I'm sure there are plenty more cases where the considerable resources the Swedish government has spent trying to extradite him could have resulted in more sex offenders behind bars. So why is Sweden spending capital, monetary and political, on Julian Assange?

But why would the Swedish government be "in" on a plot to extradite Assange? What would be the point? There aren't a lot of points to be won with the US government for doing such a thing.

What? The guy the Vice President called a "high tech terrorist" has no political value to the United States, and Sweden has nothing to gain for delivering him? Come on.
posted by deanklear at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a lose-lose situation for radicals, honestly, because if Assange gets prosecuted for rape then he's lost to Wikileaks; and if the rape charges are dismissed and the women shut down as being liars or delusional or CIA then, well, once again radical activists have basically condoned some pretty plausible rape charges.

Actually, it's not a lose-lose situation for radical activists. Because you know what? If Assange is guilty of rape, then we don't want him in our fucking movement anyway.

This is the kind of stuff that pressures women in the movement not to come forward about the extremely real sexual harassment and rape that goes on, because people make out like somehow, it's a tragedy if the poor rapist gets arrested or prosecuted, because he's too valuable to actually do time for that shit.

If there's anything more devaluing to radical women than that idea that they can get victimized, but the activists with a penis are the important ones that shouldn't have to suffer consequences for their actions, I don't know what it is.
posted by corb at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


Sweden's well-known for falsifying charges of rape in order to extradite political prisoners, by the way.

For instance?


Holy Christ, what does it take for people to recognize sarcasm?
posted by Dasein at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because it's not standard procedure? Why does Assange deserve special treatment under the laws of Sweden or the UK?

Because the US government wants to throw him into a box, and Sweden has already worked with CIA on helping do this very thing?

I mean, whatever you think about Assange personally, it's hard to argue that the legal proceedings lead against him have been anything but exceptional, already. It seems fair for him to pursue extraordinary means of protecting himself, given the extraordinary pursuit of incarceration, even before charges have been made.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


In Frowner's words, the only way to "fix the goddamn courts" in this scenario would be if Sweden publicly pledged that they would not extradite him the US, due to the intention of pursuing justice exclusively on their own soil.

This would be a violation of the extradition treaty. Sweden wouldn't do that.

Listen, there is no prosecution in the US right now. No grand jury indictment. And there's no evidence of any pressure on Sweden in this case. Its all conjecture.

What is know is that two women have accused him of sexual assault. Its equally likely that he's using the so-far-non-existent US prosecution as a way of getting out of being tried for raping two women. And that would be as great an injustice as actual rapes being used to provide a springboard as is alleged.

Really, because Assange did some other things that people like, two women don't get to have their rape claims heard? This seems so wrong.

Frankly, I doubt the US will be able to prosecute him for anything anyway. It sounds like Manning just up and sent it all to him.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who else has been pursued with so many resources? That's the question. I'm sure Julian Assange isn't the only person accused of such a crime, and I'm sure there are plenty more cases where the considerable resources the Swedish government has spent trying to extradite him could have resulted in more sex offenders behind bars. So why is Sweden spending capital, monetary and political, on Julian Assange?

You're right. Nefarious intent is the only reason that a government has pursued a well known person with more vigor that it pursued a random citizen. I'm just glad that the jury acquitted Roger Clemens before he could be abducted and tortured.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy Christ, what does it take for people to recognize sarcasm?

This: {|}
posted by telstar at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


ACTIVATEFREE THE RESTON 5
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2012


Who else has been pursued with so many resources? That's the question. I'm sure Julian Assange isn't the only person accused of such a crime, and I'm sure there are plenty more cases where the considerable resources the Swedish government has spent trying to extradite him could have resulted in more sex offenders behind bars. So why is Sweden spending capital, monetary and political, on Julian Assange?

May I gently suggest that Assange is the cause of this? He's the one spending all of the time and money to avoid extradition. Its a function of his legal activity, not theirs.

If you are a prosecution service, you sure as hell don't want to pass when some guy wields a chunk of money and top legal minds to get out of being questioned and possibly prosecuted. You take those guys to the mat, because the last thing you want known is that you're gonna wilt if they fight you.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


@DarlingBri -- but the point of that article is that all of those "unusual shipments" were intercepted. The UK is about as likely to respect the "pouches" as they would a diplomatic vehicle.

First of all, only about one half of the shipments listed were intercepted. Second, those are only the ones we know about. Sort of by definition, can we not assume most covert pouch shipments that are successful are never revealed to the public?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:01 PM on June 20, 2012


Certainly wealthy people who aren't in newspapers have left Sweden before getting nailed for something or another before.
posted by floam at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2012


I'd point that you have just argued that being forced to answer police questions is an excessive consequence for being accused of rape.

Nope, it's just that I've seen two activist projects I cared about go pear-shaped because some alpha asshole committed rape and there was no way to handle the sexual assault except a really corrupt court system and the victims didn't want to get involved in that. It's not a Wikileaks-level situation, but I've seen this go down a couple of times. Without an honest, trustworthy court system - which we do not have - anyone who has community reasons to distrust the courts will usually not get involved in the court system, leaving the rapists free to roam around being assholes.
posted by Frowner at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


This would be a violation of the extradition treaty. Sweden wouldn't do that. .... What is know is that two women have accused him of sexual assault. Its equally likely that he's using the so-far-non-existent US prosecution as a way of getting out of being tried for raping two women.

Yup, and that is some horseshit. I'm no fan of Assange on a personal level, and the rape charges and the way he's behaved afterward about them are a big reason why. And sure, maybe America won't ask for extradition and if they do, hell, maybe he won't end up in solitary confinement or tortured or whatever.... but for those of us who've felt extremely betrayed by the behavior of the judicial branch of government these past ten years, that's very hard to believe.

I guess what I am saying is that, in the current situation, it's totally a giant damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't. There is absolutely no good way out of the situation that will mean the alleged victims get real, obscured, unclouded, serious justice on the basis of their accusations and evidence alone. And that more than any of it bothers the shit out of me.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can anyone post that old link comparing Assange with the publisher who first published the proceedings parliament?

There is perhaps simply a component of simply "push him till he cracks" that's going on here, which he finally fell for, too bad.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2012


Listen, there is no prosecution in the US right now. No grand jury indictment. And there's no evidence of any pressure on Sweden in this case. Its all conjecture.

It might help get Assange to Sweden to face the rape charges if the US government would publicly announce they don't intend to prosecute him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


@DarlingBri what I'm saying is that link indicates that governments clearly have no problem opening diplomatic pouches regardless of international laws. They're not magic and its extremely unlikely that they wouldn't open up every single man-sized Ecuadorian diplomatic pouch, regardless of Ecuador's rights.
posted by modernserf at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2012


Nope, it's just that I've seen two activist projects I cared about go pear-shaped because some alpha asshole committed rape and there was no way to handle the sexual assault except a really corrupt court system and the victims didn't want to get involved in that. It's not a Wikileaks-level situation, but I've seen this go down a couple of times. Without an honest, trustworthy court system - which we do not have - anyone who has community reasons to distrust the courts will usually not get involved in the court system, leaving the rapists free to roam around being assholes.

As someone who's seen the same thing - do you honestly think it's the women being worried about turning their rapists over to a shitty court system, or do you think maybe it's the fact that some of the victims were being socially pressured not to turn people over to said corrupt court systems? Because all I've ever seen was the latter. I haven't seen a situation where someone gets raped, and everyone they know is like, "This is an injustice, you should file charges," and they're the lone holdout saying, "No, that's not right."
posted by corb at 1:10 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


It might help get Assange to Sweden to face the rape charges if the US government would publicly announce they don't intend to prosecute him.

But we don't trust the courts and we don't trust the US government, right? Isn't this exactly what they would say to lure Assange into their trap?

Does anyone honestly think that any assurance from any government would get Assange to return to Sweden to face questioning in connection to the charges that he raped two women?
posted by muddgirl at 1:10 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other words, Ecuador's rights will not protect Assange. Its fairly likely that if the UK really wanted him they would absolutely breach the embassy. It would be a total shit-show, but Assange's safety is only as valuable as Ecuador's relationship with the UK.
posted by modernserf at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2012


I'm no expert here, but by breaching the Ecuadorian embassy the UK wouldn't just be slapping Ecuador in the face and hurting that relationship but they'd basically be undermining things with any other country with which they have diplomatic relations/agreements.

So it's not just Ecuador's relationship with the UK that's protecting him, it's the whole diplomatic immunity idea altogether. I'd be 100% surprised if the UK breached the embassy. Stuff happening off the embassy's grounds, that's not as cut and dry so who knows...
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:14 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


But we don't trust the courts and we don't trust the US government, right? Isn't this exactly what they would say to lure Assange into their trap?

I don't think Ecuador would take very kindly to a lie on that. It's out of Assange's hands at this point.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:16 PM on June 20, 2012


JA: Are you gonna eat that?
Rafael Correa: Don't touch my ceviche, you twit!
JA: Couldn't we send out for some Gravlax again? I'm hungry!
RC: When are you leaving, anyway?
posted by newdaddy at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


WTF breach the embassy? No, that is not going to happen. That is essentially a declaration of war. Assange is (theoretically) a criminal and has been afforded all the benefits of the judicial system. He doesn't like the outcome which points to either him really being afraid of Sweden extraditing him to the US or that he really is guilty and will do anything to stand trial.


Christ... if the UK was that hot on him and there was this desperation on the part of the US to get him the UK would have just handed him over already.

I don't know if he is guilty of rape or not, but frankly I don't see Sweden as the perpetrators of anything overly extraordinary in their extradition requests, JA has a pretty stellar track record of flamboyancy and seems to milk it for whichever purpose, to avoid facing his accusers or to avoid possible US extradition.
posted by edgeways at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2012


Really? WTF is Ecuador going to do if Assange surrenders to the extradition treaty and then, a few years down the road, Sweden is all "J/K! Here, US, you can have him!" Besides looking put out?

Of course, I don't think there's any evidence that Sweden wants to do anything other than protect their right to question and try someone for crimes committed agains their citizens.
posted by muddgirl at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2012


Has the Swedish government ever said anything to the effect that they *wouldn't* extradite Assange to the US? Is there any condition in the US-Sweden extradition treaty that would allow Sweden to decline?
posted by chimaera at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2012


If his asylum bid is successful however, it is unclear how he would get from the safe haven of the six room embassy office to Ecuador without being arrested by British authorities.

Maybe he'll just slowly leak out.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


...will do anything to *withstand* stand trial....
posted by edgeways at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2012


OK, in all seriousness, why wouldn't the US just indict & seek to extradite him from the UK? Everyone arguing for a Swedish plot: please explain in detail why it is necessary for him to be extradited from Sweden, rather than the UK?

This is not a rhetorical question, I genuinely don't understand why so many people are convinced Sweden will send him directly to the US, when the UK has had every opportunity to do so already and has previously been more than happy to extradite people based on US indictments.

Consequently, I believe that there's something I'm missing in all of this.
posted by aramaic at 1:26 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also think that he's far more likely to be extradited from the UK.

Considering Gary Mckinnon is still facing extradition to the US, despite the fact that pretty much no one in the entire country wants to see him go (including the Conservatives & Lib Dem parties!), it seems likely the UK would send Assange off if the US asked (which they haven't, AFAIK) in a heartbeat.

At this point it seems far more likely that Assange is trying to avoid going to Sweden because, as rdc points out above, his own defence lawyer is on record as saying he raped one woman and attempted to rape another woman, and he doesn't want to face a trial there.
posted by jack_mo at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Glen Greenwald:
In December, 2001, Sweden handed over two asylum-seekers to the CIA, which then rendered them to be tortured in Egypt. A ruling from the U.N. Human Rights Committee found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for its role in that rendition (the two individuals later received a substantial settlement from the Swedish government). ...


...Seeking asylum based on claims of human rights violations (such as unjust extradition) is a widely recognized and long-standing right, as Foreign Policy documented during the recent Chen Guangcheng drama. It’s a right that Assange, like everyone else, is entitled to invoke. If Ecuador refuses his asylum request, then he’ll be right back in the hands of British authorities and presumably extradited to Sweden without delay.
posted by snaparapans at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nope, it's just that I've seen two activist projects I cared about go pear-shaped because some alpha asshole committed rape and there was no way to handle the sexual assault except a really corrupt court system and the victims didn't want to get involved in that. It's not a Wikileaks-level situation, but I've seen this go down a couple of times. Without an honest, trustworthy court system - which we do not have - anyone who has community reasons to distrust the courts will usually not get involved in the court system, leaving the rapists free to roam around being assholes.

OK, that's insane.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bradley Manning was kind of an idiot if he expected anything else, TBH.

If any American, regardless of what he has done, is "an idiot" to expect not to be tortured, then we've come to very dark days indeed.


Exactly. I imagine Manning might have thought to himself, "Even if it means 30 years in the brig, I'm gonna do the right thing and let people know about this stuff." I doubt he expected the kind of treatment he's getting.
posted by straight at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is the true story... of six attaches, one ambassador, and an international fugitive with a bleach problem ... forced to subsist together in an embassy... and have their lives taped... find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World (Ecuadorian Embassy).
posted by newdaddy at 1:30 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone honestly think that any assurance from any government would get Assange to return to Sweden to face questioning in connection to the charges that he raped two women?

Let's look at this from the other direction, perhaps. Assange is innocent until proven guilty, but let's say that he really is innocent of the rape he hasn't been charged with, and the reason Sweden wants him is to send him to the US, in front of a kangaroo court?

1. How does that help make it any easier for future rape victims to get justice, when it is easier to claim the state is pursuing charges for political crimes, and not rape?

2. How would you feel if an innocent person was labeled a rapist or other violent criminal for purposes antithetical to freedom and democracy? Do you feel safer when a government can invent allegations without charges, in order to dispose with societies' undesirables?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seeking asylum based on claims of human rights violations (such as unjust extradition) is a widely recognized and long-standing right, as Foreign Policy documented during the recent Chen Guangcheng drama

Chen Guangcheng was not accused of raping anyone. There is zero injustice in being extradited for violent, personal crimes you have been accused of by multiple citizens.

Without an honest, trustworthy court system - which we do not have - anyone who has community reasons to distrust the courts will usually not get involved in the court system, leaving the rapists free to roam around being assholes.

these two women apparently trust the Swedish court system. They have made the authorities aware of what happened and apparently testified. I find it weak sauce that somehow women who have been raped won't go to the court system because legitimate rape prosecutions later resulted in a person being extradited for other crimes.

Finally, its not like the US would be targeting Assange for anything more than distributing secrets. He's not running for office here. This is far different than Indonesia. Assange has even admitted to the conduct (Wikileaks) in question. The only question is whether it is a chargeable offense in terms of the Espionage Act. If a prosecution occurs, it will not be upon made up evidence, it will be on evidence openly provided by Assange. So the idea that he has some sort of asylum claim based on that seems weak indeed.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:38 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


either him really being afraid of Sweden extraditing him to the US or that he really is guilty and will do anything to [with]stand trial.

It can't be both?
posted by straight at 1:38 PM on June 20, 2012


People OK with murdering Assange

Unless Jonah Goldberg was recently elected Prime Minister of Sweden, I fail to see the relevance.


Hold the phone. Jonah Goldberg would make a lot more sense as an ESL-handicapped deep-cover mole sent to the US to discredit the right-wing intellectual establishment. And what would make for a more stealthy, crazy Pirate Party prank than to slide Goldberg into the party leadership position just ahead of a run-off election, in which a fractured Swedish left leaves their candidate as the last man standing. At which point he'd be revealed as the Tea Party double agent that he is, retract Sweden's abolition of the death penalty, institute show trials and summary executions, and have Assange eliminated as his first executive act thereafter.

We're through the looking glass here, people. Also around the bend. Second door on the left. Nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse. Bob's your uncle.
posted by gompa at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let's look at this from the other direction, perhaps. Assange is innocent until proven guilty, but let's say that he really is innocent of the rape he hasn't been charged with, and the reason Sweden wants him is to send him to the US, in front of a kangaroo court?

Sweden is a Roman law country. Generally, the accused is presumed guilty, actually.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear: I hope Assange didn't rape anyone because, you know, I hope people don't rape people. I hope that if he did rape people, he gets a fair trial and is appropriately sentenced. I don't really have any reason to hold any belief on the likelihood that he's innocent or guilty. I didn't give it more face time in the OP because I was really hoping we could talk about the absurdity of his present situation of being trapped, perhaps indefinitely, in the Ecuadorean embassy, rather than rehashing the very difficult intersection of skepticism and rape allegations.

Carry on.
posted by 256 at 1:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]




Statement Her Excellency Anna Alban, Ecuadorian Ambassador:

“This morning I had a meeting with representatives of the British Government at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss the application of Mr Julian Assange for Diplomatic Sanctuary and Political Asylum. The discussions were cordial and constructive. I welcome the statement from the UK Government last night in which they stated that they (the UK Government) would work with the Ecuadorian government to find a resolution.

I also took the opportunity to explain to that the decision on Mr Assange’s application would be assessed by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Quito and would take into account Ecuador’s long and well established tradition in supporting human rights.

I also emphasised to the UK government that it was not the intention of the Ecuadorian government to interfere with the processes of either the UK or Swedish governments.

I have made clear that I will make myself available to meet with the UK government’s representatives at any time so that we can find a just and fair solution to this situation.”

JA: "Are you gonna eat that? I love chorizo- "
AA: "Get him out of here! Give him a bag of chips and put him back in the bathtub. Geez! Is he always like this?"
JA: "Not that bathtub again! Can I at least get couple pillows or something? And when can I use the Wii again?"
posted by newdaddy at 1:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The embassy should hire a really fat guy to work there in some position. He should go in and out every day, so that the U.K. authorities get used to seeing him. Meanwhile, Assange should go on an extreme weight-gain diet.

While he's getting fat, a fake Assange (a thin guy made up to look like him) should walk by the Embassy windows occasionally, so that no one suspects the real Assange is gaining weight. Also, before he starts his weight gain, he should pre-record some videos in which he's ranting about whatever. These should be released while he's gaining weight, as if they were new videos. People will focus on what he's saying but, at the same time, subconsciously continue to think of him as a thin guy.

Meanwhile, the Embassy should hire five more guys, all about the same height and weight as Assange. On a specific day, they should go to the Embassy, get dressed up as Assange (complete with wig and makeup), and all leave the Embassy at once, each going in a different direction, each getting into an Embassy car to make his getaway. Each car should have a driver and several passengers, besides the fake Assange.

When the police stop the cars, everyone in them should run, scattering in multiple directions. The police will be really busy, chasing after all the fake Assanges, and they probably won't waste a lot of energy chasing after the other passengers -- the ones who obviously aren't Assange. Like the fat guy running towards the tube station. They won't bother with him, because he's obviously just that fat guy who has been going in and out of the Embassy every day.
posted by grumblebee at 1:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [23 favorites]


I will admit I haven't been following this as closely as I should, but the idea that the U.S./U.K. government wants to lock him away like Bradley Manning as "revenge" or "to make an example" seems very puzzling to me, in that given Manning's reputation I would think that he would be far less destroyed and his mission rendered less irrelevant in the eyes of the world if he was cast as a political martyr than if he was convicted of multiple rapes.

I feel weird saying that, because my intention isn't to minimize or dismiss the horror of either rape or unjustified imprisonment, but if Assange's angle is to cast himself a martyr wouldn't it be a better move for the government to just let him be tried and convicted as a rapist than, you know, making him a martyr?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2012


Comment: Assange has betrayed Wikileaks and its principles
posted by homunculus at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you feel safer when a government can invent allegations without charges, in order to dispose with societies' undesirables?

This seems like a gross misrepresentation of what has been occurring, legally, in Sweden since Assange was accused of a crime. Assange has not been 'charged' with a crime because Sweden has a different system of justice than the US. Assange is undoubtedly a suspect in the crime and Swedish law allows even witnesses to be interrogated. Allegations were not 'invented'. Once the women reported the alleged crime, the Swedish prosecutor was legally obligated to investigate.
posted by muddgirl at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has the Swedish government ever said anything to the effect that they *wouldn't* extradite Assange to the US?

No, but it is, as some above have pointed out, if anything, easier to extradite to the US from the UK than after he has been delivered to Sweden under the European Arrest Warrant. British and European law are clear that Sweden cannot simply turn around and extradite him without the consent of the British Home Secretary. ("...a person who has been surrendered pursuant to a European arrest warrant shall not be extradited to a third State without the consent of the competent authority of the Member State which surrendered the person"). That restriction would end after any Swedish criminal proceedings end. At that time, Assange, having answered the very serious allegations against him, would have a stronger case fighting extradition to the US (from either Sweden or the UK) under Article 3 of ECHR. ("No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment").
posted by IanMorr at 1:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sweden is a Roman law country. Generally, the accused is presumed guilty, actually.
I've heard this before, but only by some pretty rabid defenders of the common law system. It didn't ring true then, and I don't understand how it's true now. Is this a general principle they have, or due to some arcane working of the system? It doesn't sound like a principle any country would willingly have (at least in the modern age).
posted by Jehan at 1:53 PM on June 20, 2012


Statement on Julian Assange:

June 19, 2012

This afternoon Mr Julian Assange arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking political asylum from the Ecuadorian government, an introduction to Her Excellency Ms. Alban's two sisters, and a plate of chorizo and llapingachos.

As a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights, with an obligation to review all applications for asylum, we have immediately passed his application on to the relevant department in Quito. By Ecuadorean law, he is entitled to exactly six (6) chorizo. However, the embassy is out of llapingachos.

While the department assesses Mr Assange’s application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorian Government. Under no circumstances will he be allowed anywhere near Her Excellency Ms. Alban's sisters.

The decision to consider Mr Assange’s application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the Government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden.
posted by newdaddy at 1:53 PM on June 20, 2012


It doesn't sound like a principle any country would willingly have (at least in the modern age).

I don't know about Sweden, but it is very much true in Mexico. And it doesn't appear to be "some arcane working of the system."
posted by asnider at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2012


Really? WTF is Ecuador going to do if Assange surrenders to the extradition treaty and then, a few years down the road, Sweden is all "J/K! Here, US, you can have him!" Besides looking put out?

Well, if someone started to lie to me about extradition matters, I might be inclined to stop extraditing people to that country. That could be an inconvenience at some point considering the growing number of international organized crime figures who end up in Ecuador.

Regardless, it's just not worth lying about. If the US wants to charge Assange...charge him or announce the rumors are false. I personally don't think they are going to because...well...as far as I am aware he did not commit any crime against the US, but it's perfectly reasonable of him to be suspicious of a country that tortures, refuses to prosecute torture, and holds people indefinitely in a bizarre off shore prison.

Comment: Assange has betrayed Wikileaks and its principles
His behaviour has wrecked a vital alliance between old and new media. Those who worked with Wikileaks at the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel will now have nothing to do with him. But it was these outlets which combined the technological innovation of the digital whistleblower with old-fashioned legal and ethical caution.

What a joke. The Times did not partner with Wikileaks, the Guardian violated their agreement with Wikileaks to give the data to the Times. And then, the old fashioned caution of a Guardian reporter published the password to the encrypted cablegate files for the world to see in a book.

Nobody else has been able to do what Assange was able to get Wikileaks to do, but a lot of people like to talk shit. Rapist, looks likely, but his work has yet to be surpassed.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:59 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sweden is a Roman law country. Generally, the accused is presumed guilty, actually.
I've heard this before, but only by some pretty rabid defenders of the common law system. It didn't ring true then, and I don't understand how it's true now. Is this a general principle they have, or due to some arcane working of the system? It doesn't sound like a principle any country would willingly have (at least in the modern age).


This is the way it is in most of the world. Remember that most of the world's justice system is based upon the Code Napoleon. Innocent until proven guilty is unfortunately the majority rule.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those wondering how a country might be influenced by another, here's one suggestion. Were Sweden, a nation with less clout and a more favorable US extradition treaty than the UK, to hold Assange, it would be a reasonable strategy for the US, officially or unofficially, to cause economic trouble for them as a low-risk approach to getting Bradley Manning's alleged co-conspirator onto US soil.

The US, according to the US State Department, is Sweden's fourth largest trading partner. Imagine the economic harm if a ticked off Senator encouraged a boycott, or new tariffs, or Customs began to take a completely legal extra-special interest in shipments from Sweden.

Major trading partners, exports (2010)--Germany 10.1%, Norway 9.9%, U.K. 7.6%, U.S. 7.3%, Denmark 6.5%, Finland 6.2%, France 5.1%, Netherlands 4.7%, Belgium 3.9%, China 3.1%
posted by zippy at 2:02 PM on June 20, 2012


Assange has absolutely been charged with a crime, or Sweden could not have made an extradition request. I went to the extra effort of checking what the Swedish government says about when they will request extradition:

Extradition from a non-Nordic state

A request for extradition from a non-Nordic state, for purposes of prosecution, of a person who is suspected of an offence in Sweden or is a defendant in a criminal case in this country, is made by a prosecutor. The request is sent to the Office of the Prosecutor-General, who decides whether it should be passed on to the Central Authority for forwarding to the other state. The request should be accompanied by minutes of the detention hearing, a specially drawn up detention order or other document that shows clearly that a court has found that the person sought for extradition is suspected on probable cuase of having committed the crime in question, indicating where and when the act occurred, relevant sections of the law etc. The Central Authority is responsible for translation.

posted by jacalata at 2:03 PM on June 20, 2012


but it's perfectly reasonable of him to be suspicious of a country that tortures, refuses to prosecute torture, and holds people indefinitely in a bizarre off shore prison.

Sweden? Remember, there is no credible evidence that the US has anything to do with Sweden's investigations against Assange. It is easier for the US to extradite Assange from the UK, now, than it is to extradite him after he's already been extradited once. Sweden can't take posession of Assange and then do whatever they like with him - he's still subject to his British extradition laws.
posted by muddgirl at 2:03 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


1. Multiple news sources have reported that there is a sealed indictment against Julian Assange for espionage.

Assange could face espionage trial in US
Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources.

Mr Assange is in a British jail awaiting extradition proceedings to Sweden after being refused bail at Westminster Magistrates’ Court despite a number of prominent public figures offering to stand as surety.

His arrest in north London yesterday was described by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates as “good news”, and may pave the way for extradition to America and a possible lengthy jail sentence.
2. Sweden has a very cozy relationship with the United States, and hasn't refused an extradition in a decade. They also provide for channels of extradition that avoid legal oversight, such as temporary surrender. Sweden was also specifically called out by the UN for participating in rendition to CIA black sites.

3. In one of the hacked Stratfor emails, Fred Burton wrote "We have a sealed indictment against Assange." According to WikiPedia, Fred Burton is the "former deputy chief of the counterterrorism division of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service."

Now, it's possible that everyone is right: maybe Assange is guilty, and Sweden wants to make an example of him, but that doesn't mean Sweden won't hand him over. I think it's undeniable that Assange has a great deal of political value to the United States, and they will haul him to US soil by any means necessary for embarrassing them so badly over the past three years.

But what's so amazing to me is everyone claiming that Sweden and the US are going to abide by the law. Are you fucking kidding me? They've already been caught red handed working together to send terrorism suspects wanted by the US to Egypt to be tortured by Mubarak's regime. The United States has illegally detained and killed thousands of people since 9/11. Assange's body, or eternal incarceration, would just be one more check mark.

Eric Holder doesn't give a damn about the law, and Obama has already used his executive privilege to shield him from going down for the Fast and Furious scandal. If there's one assertion in this entire thread that is completely without merit, it's the belief that the United States gives a shit about anything to do with the law, much less international law. The laws of the world don't matter to us. We're America, and we do whatever we want. Stuxnet. Drone strikes. Extraordinary renditions. Guantanamo. I could go on, for hours, as anyone could who has a cursory grasp of the last decade of our history.

So, sure, make the argument that this is all a conspiracy, and Assange doesn't matter. But don't argue that once he gets to Sweden that he has nothing to fear. Since he's not an Arab and not a Muslim, maybe he'll get the same treatment as the American Taliban kid, or the solitary torture sentence handed to Bradley Manning. He probably won't be executed or tortured to death, but he will be punished.
posted by deanklear at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2012 [17 favorites]


Who else has been pursued with so many resources? That's the question.

It's a pretty silly question. The only reason that there have been so many resources expended on Assange is because Assange keeps escalating the situation, and because he has the resources to escalate so far.

If he had just been Joe Random Swede, chances are he would have been brought in for questioning, questioned, and the normal Swedish legal process would have played itself out. Were it not for the resources at his disposal, in particular the donations received from WikiLeaks supporters, he would have ended up back in Sweden pretty quickly. It's my understanding (at least in the US) that the majority of extradition decisions to other developed countries are basically uncontested; I don't know much (and couldn't find any information on) UK-to-Sweden extraditions in general, but it wouldn't surprise me if most people would have gone along with it and saved their resources for fighting the actual charge in Sweden.

Now with this bail-jumping and embassy business, he's just escalated it further. So we would expect both Sweden and the UK to be expending an unusual amount of resources on him, because most people don't act like him.

Throughout the whole process, I've seen no evidence to suggest that the Swedes were particularly interested in treating him like anything other than a run-of-the-mill molestation suspect; he made himself into a extraordinary case, which explains why the resources deployed by Sweden and the UK have been extraordinary as well.

I will give Assange credit for this: his ability to create a narrative around himself is quite impressive. He managed to escalate what would have been a minor techno-celebrity sex scandal into a series of events that have made him an international fugitive and now political asylum-seeker. But in doing so he basically threw down the gauntlet to not one but two developed countries' legal systems, and guaranteed that they will probably never just let him walk away.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:05 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, they can do whatever they like with them, but as zippy shows, the UK is a top-5 trading partner with Sweden, and surely that is an important factor to consider in extradition cases.
posted by muddgirl at 2:05 PM on June 20, 2012


This is the way it is in most of the world.
So, let me get this straight: if Assange is accuse of rape (or any crime) in Sweden (or Mexico), he has to prove he didn't do that crime, and the accusers don't have to prove anything? Nothing whatsoever, not even a basic case? That doesn't even sound like a system which could even work, nevermind one which could produce justice. I don't believe you.
posted by Jehan at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jehan: Is this a general principle they have, or due to some arcane working of the system?

Here is a Q & A on Swedish Law as it applies to Assange (PDF)
posted by snaparapans at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2012


Kandin2048 - hasn't the UK also participated in illegal detentions and other injustices? Why this complicated farce? Why not charge him in US court and then extradite him from the UK, like we do with literally every other hacker (and then 'disappear' him, if we like). I must be missing something.
posted by muddgirl at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2012


deanklear: if the US wanted Assange, why wouldn't they get him via the UK? Why is it necessary to involve any of the Swedish stuff in the first place?
posted by aramaic at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Swedan is an EU signatory, no? If so, then no, they do require a presumption of innocence, as that's a general EU requirement.

The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe says (art. 6.2): "Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law". This convention has been adopted by treaty and is binding on all Council of Europe members. Currently (and in any foreseeable expansion of the EU) every country member of the European Union is also member to the Council of Europe, so this stands for EU members as a matter of course. Nevertheless, this assertion is iterated verbatim in Article 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the way it is in most of the world.
So, let me get this straight: if Assange is accuse of rape (or any crime) in Sweden (or Mexico), he has to prove he didn't do that crime, and the accusers don't have to prove anything? Nothing whatsoever, not even a basic case? That doesn't even sound like a system which could even work, nevermind one which could produce justice. I don't believe you.


There is some question in Sweden, depending on its level of adherence to EU treaties. But historically it has been true. China changed over to presuming innocence in 1996. Most of the states who have switched over have done so in the last 40 years. It was very, very common.

In Mexico, states have until 2016 to implement the newly-passed presumption of innocence standard.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:11 PM on June 20, 2012


Or heck, why not just poke him with an arsenic-tipped umbrella or cause a gas leak in his old flat? Since we are so ruthless and he's just one more tick-mark?
posted by muddgirl at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sweden takes the idea of separation of powers pretty seriously. The prosecutor doesn't have the authority to promise that Assange won't be extradited, while the executive branch cannot order the prosecutor to drop the case against Assange.

Now, there may be all sorts of back channel pressure on Sweden from the US. Can't tell by the lack of assurances regarding hypothetical extradition requests from the US, however. The cabinet isn't supposed to comment on individual cases, because that would suggest improper interference with the judicial system.
posted by delegeferenda at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2012


jacalata: Assange has absolutely been charged with a crime, or Sweden could not have made an extradition request.

That is not correct, imo. Swedish Law only allows people to be charged with a crime when they are on Swedish soil.

As soon as the investigation is over, a decision will be taken about whether to formally charge him. Swedish law requires a person to be physically present before charges can be laid, so this can only happen once Mr Assange is on Swedish territory. [PDF] Alternatively, prosecutors may decide not to charge Mr Assange and to release him.
posted by snaparapans at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


but it's perfectly reasonable of him to be suspicious of a country that tortures, refuses to prosecute torture, and holds people indefinitely in a bizarre off shore prison.

Sweden? Remember, there is no credible evidence that the US has anything to do with Sweden's investigations against Assange.


Sure, but I think it's reasonable for Assange to be suspicious anyway. A country that tortures, refuses to prosecute torture, and holds people indefinitely might be willing to do something in back channels we would not see public evidence for. Those behaviors do not inspire trust.

Again, I don't believe the US actually is going to charge him, but if it was my ass on the line I would not be taking any chances.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:17 PM on June 20, 2012


Let us assume for the sake of argument, that JA did rape those women. The exact rapes he is accused of committing - i.e. they did not involve great bodily harm etc., but rather they fall within a certain spectrum of rape according to Swedish law - would not bring a great deal of prison time even in the worst case. I suspect, at the most severe he'd face one to two years in a medium security prison. The prisons in Sweden are not exactly extremely harsh.

So I then wonder. JA must consider the possibility that he might spend years and years in the embassy. If he's guilty, wouldn't he reason that it's better to serve a year or so in a Swedish prison, than sit around in an embassy indefinitely, and basically not be able to move freely, sort of like Roman Polansky, hounded for the rest of his life. Is it worth being hounded like that for life, or is it better to serve the couple of years in a Swedish prison?

I suppose there is the appearances matter. If convicted, he's now officially a rapist - not a very nice thing to be known for. Of course, no doubt he'd still have the option of saying it was all a setup and he's innocent, and there would be not inconsiderable number of people who would believe him and jump on various conspiracy theories.

I have no idea if he's guilty or not. I'm just wondering about the calculus of it all - the embassy bid by JA puzzles me a great deal. But perhaps that just points to the fact that he may really be afraid that he'll be handed over to the U.S., otherwise why not face the possibility - not even certainty - that he'll be simply found guilty in Sweden and do a bit of time. I have no idea, it's just puzzling to me.
posted by VikingSword at 2:17 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or heck, why not just poke him with an arsenic-tipped umbrella or cause a gas leak in his old flat? Since we are so ruthless and he's just one more tick-mark?

Like I said, I don't think he'll be executed. They want to put him in prison for espionage to make an example out of him. Another reason could be because he's on UK soil, and we don't want to embarrass the UK since they do a lot of our dirty work already.
posted by deanklear at 2:17 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I must be missing something

Not sure, but you're overlooking how incredibly high-profile the man is. The victims of the shady cloak-and-dagger stuff you're talking about usually get famous *after* they get stuck with a poison umbrella tip or whatever.
posted by Hoopo at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yes, long-term solitary is torture.

Solitary confinement 'is driving men insane,' exonerated convict testifies
posted by homunculus at 2:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


They want to put him in prison for espionage to make an example out of him.

So... if they can show that he's committed espionage, in a US court (remember, he's got to be tried in a regular court, with a regular jury. Unlike Manning who's being tried via general court martial which has very different rules), then great, right? He committed espionage, and he served time for his crimes?

But I really don't think the US can successfully prove that. They can't even get actual terrorists convicted in public courts. I don't think being tried in front of a jury is his greatest fear.

Not sure, but you're overlooking how incredibly high-profile the man is.

No, I'm not overlooking that. It's the central part of my confusion over the complicated situation that Assange supporters seem to be implying. Assange won't be thrown into a military prison. Assange won't be serving years and years of solitary confinement in a US jail (he seems more likely to do that in a Swedish prison, from what I've read). If he is charged in the US, he has the right to a speedy and fair trial. Anything else is going to get media coverage so ridiculous it makes Wikileaks look like Syria.
posted by muddgirl at 2:24 PM on June 20, 2012


They want to put him in prison for espionage to make an example out of him.

Then why not do that via extradition from the UK? Why supposedly gin up this huge Swedish operation rather than just doing it the old fashioned & effective way, which has been proven to work with the UK -- indict & extradite?

If the remarks above re: Sweden are correct (that he can only be charged if present), then it's starting to look to me like he really is guilty of rape, and this entire charade is merely an attempt to avoid being punished for being a rapist.
posted by aramaic at 2:25 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, let me get this straight: if Assange is accuse of rape (or any crime) in Sweden (or Mexico), he has to prove he didn't do that crime, and the accusers don't have to prove anything? Nothing whatsoever, not even a basic case?
There is some question in Sweden, depending on its level of adherence to EU treaties. But historically it has been true. China changed over to presuming innocence in 1996. Most of the states who have switched over have done so in the last 40 years. It was very, very common.
I'm sorry, but I think you're either arguing a different point than I'm grasping, or this is just bull. To say that the majority of states in the world until recently allowed anybody to accuse anybody else of a crime with no evidence, and punish the defendant if they couldn't prove they were innocent, is nonsense. I don't get why you're riding this line against Sweden, but it's pretty weird.
posted by Jehan at 2:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


My apologies, I should have said we can't convicted actual suspected terrorists.

where he would not receive bail during investigations into the alleged sex crimes

How is this factoid relevant to the claim that it is easier to extradite from Sweden, in the middle of or after a criminal prosecution, than from the UK, right now?
posted by muddgirl at 2:33 PM on June 20, 2012


I'm sorry, but I think you're either arguing a different point than I'm grasping, or this is just bull. To say that the majority of states in the world until recently allowed anybody to accuse anybody else of a crime with no evidence, and punish the defendant if they couldn't prove they were innocent, is nonsense. I don't get why you're riding this line against Sweden, but it's pretty weird.

Not "anybody". The state.
posted by junco at 2:33 PM on June 20, 2012


Then why not do that via extradition from the UK? Why supposedly gin up this huge Swedish operation rather than just doing it the old fashioned & effective way, which has been proven to work with the UK -- indict & extradite?

Because the UK will be under political pressure not to allow it because the US is one of the few states in the world left that still has the death penalty, which Assange could face under the espionage charge. That's why the indictment remains sealed: if the US announces the charge and it could possibly mean the death penalty, Assange simply won't be extradited. They could also argue on the ground that he would be tortured in the US.
The home secretary gave the pledge on Saturday after signing a new extradition treaty with US Attorney General John Ashcroft last week.

British objections to the death penalty, which was abolished for murder in 1965, are seen as a possible bar to UK troops in Iraq handing over senior Baath Party officials to the US.

The UK has long refused to extradite criminal suspects to states which use torture and execution.
UK rules out death penalty extradition

The UK also has to have a legal extradition process, whereas Sweden has an agreement with the United States for "temporary surrender" that would basically bypass all legal means of blocking his extradition from Sweden.

The Obama Administration also seems to be keen on destroying 1st amendment protections for people who leak information.
What’s most notable here is that this is now the sixth prosecution by the Obama administration of an accused leaker, and all six have been charged under the draconian, World-War-I era Espionage Act. As EFF’s Trevor Timm put it yesterday: this is the “6th time under Obama someone is charged with Espionage for leaking to a journalist. Before Obama: only 3 cases in history.” This is all accomplished by characterizing disclosures in American newspapers about America’s wrongdoing as “aiding the enemy” (the alleged enemy being informed is Al Qaeda, but the actual concern is that the American people learn what their government is doing). As The New York Times‘ Charlie Savage wrote this morning, Obama has brought “more such cases than all previous presidents combined,” and by doing so, has won the admiration of the CIA and other intelligence agencies which, above all else, loathe transparency (which happens to be the value that Obama vowed to provide more of than any President in history).
Rules of American Justice: A Tale of 3 Cases
posted by deanklear at 2:39 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think Obama should grant him some sort of provisional immunity until after he is acquitted of rape or until after he is convicted and serves his sentence. You know, in the interest of justice. Yeah I know nobody here believes Obama, but it is kinda hard to snatch up a world famous guy after you said you wouldn't.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:39 PM on June 20, 2012


But I really don't think the US can successfully prove that. They can't even get actual terrorists convicted in public courts.

Huh? The US has successfully prosecuted, in regular old criminal court, plenty of terrorists for their crimes. Timothy McVeigh. Ramzi Yousef. Recently, Adis Medunjanin.

When the Obama Administration announced its intentions to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, Congress threw a shitfit. It's a political problem, not an insurmountable prosecutorial challenge.
posted by ambrosia at 2:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is this factoid relevant to the claim that it is easier to extradite from Sweden, in the middle of or after a criminal prosecution, than from the UK, right now?

Well, if they are focusing their argument on how public pressure will be involved in the outcome, it is better if he is outside a jail cell so he can communicate with his supporters. Seems pretty thin to me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:40 PM on June 20, 2012


Why this complicated farce? Why not charge him in US court and then extradite him from the UK, like we do with literally every other hacker (and then 'disappear' him, if we like).

I agree, which is why I don't think that the US-driven-conspiracy angle holds much water. There's no particular reason why a hypothetical UK-to-US extradition would be much more difficult than a Sweden-to-US one. But if Assange really believes that he's going down for the rape charge in Sweden, it's obviously to his benefit to come up with any excuse to avoid getting hauled back there. Thus the "farce": it's being created by Assange, through his increasingly erratic, escalatory actions. That, at least, seems like the simplest explanation that fits the facts currently not in dispute.


Just as a general observation: I see a lot of similarities between every thread that happens regarding Assange, and a lot of old discussions on Slashdot and the like years ago about Hans Reiser. Reiser didn't have the political angle going for him, but for a variety of reasons he made an appealing Mary Sue for some (though admittedly, probably with very little overlap with Assange fans), and as a result there were quite a few people who were very quick to believe his initial "I'm being framed" defense. Of course, we now know that it was all a fabrication, but one that matched well with the sympathies and prejudices of his fans. I think the lesson there is that we should always consider well our gut sympathies: people we may sympathize with can still be very, very shitty.

While I don't pretend to have a strong feeling one way or the other on Assange's actual guilt, there is a suspicious similarity in how he seems to be playing so precisely into what appears to be both his personal narrative, and the sympathies of his public.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is not correct, imo. Swedish Law only allows people to be charged with a crime when they are on Swedish soil.

My bad, the words I should have used were 'he is under an arrest warrant'. My point was that they are not just planning to 'question' him, they are clearly planning to charge him. (Given the requirements to issue an extradition request, I'd be very interested to hear of a case anywhere in Europe where a person was successfully extradited and not then charged - I suspect that it's very close to automatic).
posted by jacalata at 2:42 PM on June 20, 2012


There's no particular reason why a hypothetical UK-to-US extradition would be much more difficult than a Sweden-to-US one

deanklear just pointed one out.
posted by Hoopo at 2:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect, at the most severe he'd face one to two years in a medium security prison.

There are 4 allegations against Assange, the EAW lists the allegations and the maximum length of the custodial sentences for each - 1. Unlawful coercion, at most 2 years of imprisonment, 2. Sexual molestation, at most 2 years of imprisonment, 2. Sexual molestation, at most 2 years of imprisonment, 4. Rape, at most 2 years of imprisonment. It is not clear if those would run consecutively.

You can read the arrest warrant for yourself here (PDF). I should warn that the arrest warrant describes in some detail the circumstances in which the alleged offences were committed.
posted by IanMorr at 2:45 PM on June 20, 2012


In short, this was a very bad move by Mr. Assange. He should have just gone through the legal process.

I think Assange sought out the wrong international power here. He should have sought asylum at the Olympic Park under the the express, august authority of the International Olympic Committee, and become an IOC delegate. He could have then travelled across London with impunity and even gotten London's Metropolitan police to do his bidding. In return, he could have promised sponsorship of the synchronized swimming event or something, or at least, distribution rights to his TV programme to the IOC's head's cousin's second son's close friend's media distribution empire.
posted by the cydonian at 2:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, while we're looking up extradition law, it appears that after Assange is extradited to Sweden, Sweden would need Britain's permission to hand him over to a third party. Why does that not appear to be mentioned anywhere?

Can a person who is surrendered to Sweden be extradited to a third country?

If the person has been surrendered from another EU country to Sweden under a European arrest warrant, Sweden must obtain the consent of that country to be able to extradite the person to a country outside the EU.


(see also the 1957 Convention on Extradition, although I don't think that's current)
posted by jacalata at 2:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


That is not correct, imo. Swedish Law only allows people to be charged with a crime when they are on Swedish soil.

My bad, the words I should have used were 'he is under an arrest warrant'. My point was that they are not just planning to 'question' him, they are clearly planning to charge him. (Given the requirements to issue an extradition request, I'd be very interested to hear of a case anywhere in Europe where a person was successfully extradited and not then charged - I suspect that it's very close to automatic).


I think an arrest is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Assange's legal team has been playing fast and loose with this one, claiming they just want to question him etc., so why not do it by video link etc. Except Swedish law requires questioning on Swedish soil. But the Swedes basically had to show they would arrest him, otherwise no extradition would lie.

If I were his lawyers I'd be arguing every argument they are making. Don't know if I'd go along with the whole embassy route, though.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:51 PM on June 20, 2012


deanklear just pointed one out.

And the US could easily stipulate as part of the extradition that he wouldn't face the death penalty. That's not uncommon; quite a few states have similar stances against extraditing people to face execution that the UK does.

Of course, that assumes that the US actually (1) has a strong interest in prosecuting Assange, (2) would do so under the Espionage Act, (3) has anything resembling a case against him, given that we already have and are presumably going to throw the book at Manning, (4) would seek the death penalty against someone that high-profile, and (5) are so convinced of the strength of their hypothetical death-penalty case that they're willing to turn down a straightforward extradition from the UK for a roundabout path through Sweden.

It's quite thin, to put it mildly, but again like virtually every other aspect of the conspiracy argument, it fits well with Assange's narrative of persecution; for those seeking a justification for his actions (aside from dodging rape charges) I'm sure they'll take it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:51 PM on June 20, 2012


So, in order to avoid having to convince the UK to extradite Assange to the US, the US is trying to get him extradited to Sweden, whereupon the US will have to convince the UK to let him be extradited from Sweden to the US?

What?

Is there a legal forum somewhere these things are discussed with greater clarity?
posted by aramaic at 2:56 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nothing clearer than making stuff up.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on June 20, 2012


Yeah I honestly think it is simply an ultra-hardball negotiating tactic. Threatining to spend the rest of your life in an embassy is kinda akin to "give me a raise or I burn this fucking place to the ground". They will grant him some sort of concessions and he will come out.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2012


Because the UK will be under political pressure not to allow it because the US is one of the few states in the world left that still has the death penalty, which Assange could face under the espionage charge.

That's equally true of Sweden. The death penalty was abolished in Sweden almost 50 years before it was abolished in the UK. Sweden is famous for being one of the most liberal countries in the world as regards criminal justice issues, neutrality and so forth. The "temporary surrender" provision that you refer to is in a US-EU treaty, not a US-Sweden one. It also applies in the UK.

OK, so the US is Sweden's #4 trading partner and could put pressure on the Swedish economy if it wished to do so. But the US is Britain's #1 trading, and the US and UK are each others' biggest foriegn investors.

Likewise, the idea that the US wants to spare the UK of embarrassment because the UK does the US's dirty work makes little sense, when people are arguing that Assange would be handed over by Sweden because Sweden has an alleged record of allowing that. Why would the US be reluctant to embarrass the UK but not Sweden? Frankly, it seems like it would be a lot more embarrassing for Sweden than it would for the UK.

There seems to be zero actual evidence for Assange being at greater risk from the US authorities in Sweden than he is in the UK. All the suggestions about why the Swedes would be likely to hand him over apply equally well, or better, to the UK. According to the Australian foreign minister makes the same argument and says that although he has raised the issue with officials of the US government there has been 'no hint of an American interest in doing this.' Remarks by individual politicians or pundits do not really qualify.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:11 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course, while we're looking up extradition law, it appears that after Assange is extradited to Sweden, Sweden would need Britain's permission to hand him over to a third party. Why does that not appear to be mentioned anywhere?

No, Sweden does not need the permission of Britain to send Assange to the US if the US requests extradition after the case in Sweden is settled.

It will probably go down like this: the Swedish case falls apart for some technical reason, or he is indeed put in jail for a year or two. After that case is over, Assange will to be in Sweden, and the US will coincidentally decide to unseal the indictment and send an extradition request when Swedish authorities know where he is. Due to Sweden's lack of laws protecting extraditions to states that torture and murder, he's ferried to the US and prosecuted. There's no legal reason to involve Britain.

We did the same thing with Noriega. After our former puppet dictator was let out of jail in 2007, we sent him to France for charges he was convicted of in absentia.
posted by deanklear at 3:19 PM on June 20, 2012


I'd love to know how the relationship develops between the actual embassy staff and the asylum-ees. Do the Ecuadorean (or whoever) rank-and-file resent having to provide for these people who never, ever leave? Do they develop actual friendships? Are even the small embassies equipped with just-in-case living quarters, or do these guys end up sleeping on couches and/or displacing someone? The banalities are fascinating.

"Reality" show proposal?
posted by juiceCake at 3:23 PM on June 20, 2012


Kadin, I don't particularly go for the conspiracy angle myself but I think you're making a bit of a leap with (5). I have no issue with the idea that the US would like to make an example of Assange if they get the opportunity. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden regardless of any charges that might come up in the US, so it's not really that roundabout of a route. The UK has no charges against him or any requests for extradition from the US, only from Sweden.

It's also fairly clear it's not just the death penalty he's worried about, but also life imprisonment. Besides, is it really that far-fetched that if they'd wait for an opportunity of a scenario where they have the full range of penalties under the Espionage Act?
posted by Hoopo at 3:23 PM on June 20, 2012


I figured it out. He doesn't want to stay out of prison just to stay out of prison. He wants to stay in the public eye to make it harder to assasinate him. If he gets convicted and goes to jail people will forget about him. If he is simply questioned and released people forget about him. This also explains the show on Russian TV.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:26 PM on June 20, 2012


This seems like a gross misrepresentation of what has been occurring, legally, in Sweden since Assange was accused of a crime. Assange has not been 'charged' with a crime because Sweden has a different system of justice than the US.

I think we need to get back to basics on this one:

- Do you believe people are innocent until proven guilty?

- Do you believe people are entitled for due process?

- If so, when an innocent/uncharged person (such as Assange, but it could be any other political prisoner) faces rape allegations/uncharges for the obvious purpose of extraditing them to a country unfriendly to civil rights or otherwise face punishment for political dissent, is that a good use for laws against rape? Is that a sign of a healthy democracy?

- Does using rape laws in this way help or hurt other rape victims, where a potential defendant is high-profile enough to more easily claim the state is misusing rape laws, in order to fulfill a political agenda against dissenters and those who expose corruption by the ruling elite?

- If Assange is guilty of rape, he should be incarcerated. But if he isn't and this is all a ruse to get him put in an American black site for the rest of his life, as it appears to be at this point, what will that make us for willingly participating in that ruse?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


s/for/to
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wiki: List of people who took refuge in a diplomatic mission
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:32 PM on June 20, 2012


deanklear, is this case what you meant to link to, about Sweden, the UN , and human rights violations?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:37 PM on June 20, 2012


There seems to be zero actual evidence for Assange being at greater risk from the US authorities in Sweden than he is in the UK. All the suggestions about why the Swedes would be likely to hand him over apply equally well, or better, to the UK.

If he raped somebody in Sweden but not the UK it seems to me he is at greater risk of the US making things not go well for him in Swedish jail than out on bail in the UK.
posted by floam at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2012


It will probably go down like this: the Swedish case falls apart for some technical reason, or he is indeed put in jail for a year or two. After that case is over, Assange will to be in Sweden, and the US will coincidentally decide to unseal the indictment and send an extradition request when Swedish authorities know where he is. Due to Sweden's lack of laws protecting extraditions to states that torture and murder, he's ferried to the US and prosecuted. There's no legal reason to involve Britain.

Ahem...Sweden's extradition treaty with the US means that the Swedes can decline to send Assange to the US if they think he's going to be subject to the death penalty or inhumane treatment (see articles VIII and V, respectively). There is no expeditious process particular to Sweden.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand that Sweden can apparently not extradite people to a third country, but is this a permanent obstacle? For example, if Assange were extradited to Sweden and subsequently convicted, could he be extradited to the USA either during or after his term of punishment?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2012


Yeah I know nobody here believes Obama, but it is kinda hard to snatch up a world famous guy after you said you wouldn't.

He seems to have a habit of doing the exact opposite of what he says. If I was Assange and I heard that kind of "promise", I'd be looking for political asylum anywhere I could find it. And preferably in a densely populated area, safer from drone attacks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If he raped somebody in Sweden but not the UK it seems to me he is at greater risk of the US making things not go well for him in Swedish jail than out on bail in the UK.

Swden is renowned for having one of the most humane prison regimes in the world. The last report of a death in police custody from Sweden that I can find dates from 1997. The last death in a Swedish prison was that of a guard. Meanwhile, a USAF deserter who has been living under an assumed name in Sweden for the last 28 years described the country as 'a fantastic place for people like myself.'
But after assurances from lawyers that his Swedish residence permit wouldn't be revoked and that extradition to the United States was "out of the question", Hemler contacted the [Air Force Office of Special Investigations] a month ago to alert US authorities as to his whereabouts.
He can't easily go home, but there is no way to extradite him. Given that the US beef with Assange is primarily rooted in his handling of material passed to him by Bradley Manning, a US military officer, and that the extradition treaty I've linked to above bans extradition for 'an offense committed in connection with a political offense,' it's rather difficult to see how the US would be able to compel the Swedes to lay hands on Assange in the first place.

The complaints about the dangers facing Assange in Sweden seem just a tad overblown to me.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Democracy Now! interviews Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, on pending extradition and asylum.
posted by snaparapans at 4:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl, personally I don't have a problem with the idea that what Assange did is a political offense, it is not a term with a precise definition and I've read that including "espionage" in this category for the purpose of refusing extradition has been falling out of fashion.
posted by Hoopo at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2012


Why this complicated farce? Why not charge him in US court and then extradite him from the UK

I think the US is probably waiting to see how the rape charge goes. For PR purposes, grabbing Assange and doing whatever they want with him would be much more popular if he's a convicted rapist. Or even if there's some ugly testimony about him at the trial.

Given what's been said publicly by the accusers, I don't believe the rape charge is a fabrication of the CIA. But I'm sure they're very happy to take full advantage of it as a way of painting Assange and WikiLeaks as bad guys.
posted by straight at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2012


Someone just emailed me this. I have no real idea on what to make of it.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2012


Would what Assange is accused of even be classified as rape in the U.S.? The charges always seemed weirdly murky to me, and also very well suited to being a frame -- they seem to involve the women having fully consensual sex with Assange the very same night they claim he assaulted them.
posted by zipadee at 4:59 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone just emailed me this. I have no real idea on what to make of it.

Reminded me of this. Coincidence theories abound.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:05 PM on June 20, 2012


Assange is accused of having sex with a woman who was unable to consent, by virtue of being asleep, which is absolutely rape.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:07 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, the only reason not to show up and give testimony directly is that you think you will be seized.

True, but I think you can say that one of two things is almost certainly true in this case...

1. He has done the thing they're questioning him about, and so he believes he will be seized for that; or
2. He has really pissed off the US government, and so he believes that he will be seized for that on the pretense of the thing they're questioning him about (whether or not he's actually done it.)

So from that perspective, it seems like he's taking a really rational approach to this, and one that is very public (which, if we're talking about option two above, is a very good idea.)
posted by davejay at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the end of the day, he needs to be tried for rape. Guilty or innocent, we can't know. Someone accused him of rape, and he can't just be let alone to escape those charges if he is in fact guilty.
posted by Malice at 5:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


zipadee, consent to one sex act at a particular time is not blanket consent to all sex acts in the future. I had very tender romantic sex with one of my rapists, fell asleep afterward, and woke up two hours later choking on his cock, and it is pretty awful to suggest that events like that one are somehow in a grey area.

At the extradition hearing Assange's lawyer described another rape he's accused of having committed if you're curious about those circumstances.
posted by bewilderbeast at 5:17 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I don't have to read this entire thread, could someone point me to the best joke about the Ecuadoreans not realizing that Assange is a terrible houseguest?
posted by found missing at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the end of the day, he needs to be tried for rape. Most likely he will, but not for a few hundred years.

From what I understand if he were convicted of the charges he would spend about 1 year in jail, and that would likely include the time served in Sweden.

In the US, Assange would be detained indefinitely (it is legal now) If he were ever tried, he would be more than likely sentenced to several consecutive life sentences.. 250-300 years, and may be put to death.

If he does go to Sweden, most likely scenario is that he will be put in prison awaiting trial, as they rarely grant bail, but that would only last two weeks at most, before he is whisked to the US for the rest of his life... Oh, maybe after the 275 year sentence his body will be shipped back to Sweden so that he can be tried on the rape charges.
posted by snaparapans at 5:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would what Assange is accused of even be classified as rape in the U.S.?

Honestly, it's worth looking back at old threads on the subject where this question has been done to death. Short answer: some of what he did would, and some might or might not. But it's completely irrelevant because Assange is not and has never been a US citizen, and the only standard that actually matters here is what Swedish law says about the acts he is supposed to have committed in Sweden. What US law says on this topic is utterly irrelevant.

anigbrowl, personally I don't have a problem with the idea that what Assange did is a political offense, it is not a term with a precise definition and I've read that including "espionage" in this category for the purpose of refusing extradition has been falling out of fashion.

True, but Sweden can't extradite him if he would face the death penalty, which would have to be revealed upon application for an extradition warrant. Likewise he couldn't be extradited to face indefinite detention without trial. And it's Sweden's judicial standards that apply in deciding whether or not to extradite the fellow. As far as the 'temporary surrender' argument goes, it applied identically to the UK and Sweden because it's an EU rather than a national treaty.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could Ecuador make Assange a diplomatic courier? I don't think they need to be accredited, and they could give him a random pouch of documents to take to Quito.

Nopes. Diplomatic couriers need to be, well, recognized as diplomats first. And UK is under no obligation to recognize anyone and everyone as diplomat just because they hold a diplomatic passport from a country (assuming Ecuador would ever consider going that far). The diplomatic immunity is a facility extended to accepted and accredited diplomats to enable them to discharge their official duties without fear of persecution by the receiving state. So, the police can't plant drugs at an accredited diplomat's house/car and prosecute him because he failed to accept the intelligence agency's "request" to become a mole for them. That sort of thing is what the diplomatic immunity protects against. That's all. It is not a license to carry out activities that are illegal under the laws of the receiving state.
posted by vidur at 5:51 PM on June 20, 2012


True, but Sweden can't extradite him if he would face the death penalty

I thought it was the case that they could choose not to? Anyways, international law has not been heeded much since 9/11.
posted by Hoopo at 6:07 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


here is the editorial from yesterday's Crikey:
Julian Assange's decision to seek asylum in Ecuador is, in the Australian vernacular, the percentage play. The only certainties that Assange knows are that the US government wants him, and that the Australian government has consistently shown -- and continues to show -- it is unwilling to do anything beyond the consular niceties to protect him.

To seek asylum, rather than to seek to address the allegations against him in Sweden (although Assange has repeatedly offered to be interviewed by Swedish authorities in the UK over the past 18 months), will undoubtedly further damage Assange's reputation. The stain of "alleged r-pist" will always follow him, until the claims are resolved.

But Assange knows that the Vice-President of the United States has called him a terrorist. He knows that the Obama administration readily kills those it labels terrorists, even if they are US citizens, and even if they aren't terrorists, without due process. He knows that a grand jury has been empanelled and has, according to those with connections inside the US security establishment, produced a sealed indictment against him. Being extradited to Sweden increases the risk that he will be surrendered to the United States where an uncertain fate awaits.

But who exactly is Assange claiming asylum from? Australia. Our government, he says, has effectively abandoned him, and produced as part of his justification the recent correspondence from Attorney-General Nicola Roxon to lawyer Jennifer Robinson declaring the government was unwilling to intervene on his behalf.

Whatever the merits of Assange's claim of "effective abandonment", it is clear that the Foreign Minister's claim that no Australian has had more consular support than Assange simply doesn't stand up -- and demonstrably not while Bob Carr is in Libya attempting to free an Australian lawyer. Further, it has made plain it has no concerns about a US campaign against one of its own citizens that is based entirely on his activities as a journalist and publisher.

In that regard, even if it hasn't legally "abandoned" Assange, it has been derelict in its defence of the basic right of free speech.
posted by wilful at 6:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


True, but Sweden can't extradite him if he would face the death penalty

I thought it was the case that they could choose not to? Anyways, international law has not been heeded much since 9/11.


After rereading article VIII of the treaty I realized it was more narrowly tailored. I don't see how you wave aside international law here. Again, if that were true then Assange is just as vulnerable in the UK as he is in Sweden - arguably more so, given that Sweden's anti death penalty stance goes back much farther than that of the UK.

Not one person has explained to me why Assange is at greater legal risk if he goes to Sweden. As demonstrated, the claims that Sweden has no prohibitions on extradition for a defendant who could face death, torture, etc. are simply false. All we have is an unsubstantiated claim that the US has a sealed indictment (which would have to be unsealed for the Swedish or British authorities to consider it, if it exists at all) vs. the reality that if Assange is found guilty of crime in Sweden he's going to spend a few years in jail and have his reputation ruined.

I mean, he does have something of a vested interest here. Even if the US published some sort of official 'ah fuck it, who cares' waiver of liability, I get the impression that Assange would rather not go to Sweden for trial and a possible prison term anyway.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you can say that one of two things is almost certainly true in this case...

1. He has done the thing they're questioning him about, and so he believes he will be seized for that; or
2. He has really pissed off the US government, and so he believes that he will be seized for that on the pretense of the thing they're questioning him about (whether or not he's actually done it.)


I think you can also add option 3: both are true - he has committed sexual assault and the US will use this as a means to seize him.
posted by never used baby shoes at 6:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I genuinely don't have a dog in this fight, I have no idea about the appropriateness of Sweden's sexual assault laws or whether Assange is or should be guilty of anything, but I'll put this out (explicitly not endorsed by me), written by Guy Rundle, who has followed this closely (and appears to be a big supporter of Assange):
1) Sweden's legal process for sex crimes is archaic, and has not been overhauled properly. The slightest accusation -- in this case of non-violent sexual line-crossing -- not only earns the accused months in remand, but eventually results in a trial in a closed court, before judges appointed by the ruling political parties.

2) The process by which Assange was accused, cleared, and then re-accused of these incidents beggars belief. Two women went to a Stockholm police station one Friday afternoon in August 2010, to either (and here accounts vary) report Assange for sexual misconduct, or inquire as to how he could be forced to take an STI test. Only one woman, Sofia Wilen, gave a statement, saying that the morning after a sexual encounter with Assange, he had initiated sex while she was asleep, and without a condom; by her own testimony, she said that she then gave consent to continue the act.

3) While her statement was being given, police had already contacted a prosecutor to issue an investigation warrant for arrest. When Wilen was informed of this, she refused to sign her own evidence statement, saying that she had been pushed into making a complaint by people around her. The next day, the senior prosecutor for Stockholm rescinded the warrant, saying that there was nothing in the statement suggesting a crime had occurred.

4) By Monday, that decision had been appealed, with the two women now represented by Claes Borgstrom, a big wig in the Social Democratic party, and drafter of the 2005 sex crimes laws under which Assange was being accused -- laws that many had said were unworkable. The second complainant in the affair, Anna Ardin, now changed her story. She had been interviewed the day after Wilen had told of a rough but consensual sexual encounter with Assange, but suggested he had torn a condom off during sex.

5) In the weeks between the Stockholm prosecutor rejecting Wilen's statement as evidence of a potential crime, and the appeal, Ardin's story changed, and her account of rough consensual foreplay became an accusation that Assange had pinned her down with his body during sex to prevent her applying a condom. This became the basis for a new accusation -- sexual coercion -- which would have been sufficient as a felony, should the appeal prosecutor not reinstate Wilen's rape accusation. In that week, tweets were deleted and blog posts changed to remove any suggestion that Ardin had thought Assange's behaviour to her consensual.

6) The prosecutor to whom the appeal was made -- Marianne Ny -- was a former head of the "Crime Development Unit", whose specific brief was to develop new applications of sex crimes laws, in areas where they had not previously been applied. She had previously spoken of remand as a form of de facto justice for men accused of sex crimes, whom the courts would otherwise let free.

7) The European arrest warrant, and the Interpol red notice under which Assange is being extradited, was issued with a speed and seriousness usually reserved for major violent criminals, rather than someone simply wanted for further questioning, without a charge being present.
posted by wilful at 6:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


And more broadly (again from Rundle):
1) Assange’s visit to Sweden during which these incidents occurred had raised alarm in both the centre-right Swedish establishment and the US. Had he been granted the residency he applied for that month, Assange could have become a registered Swedish journalist and based WikiLeaks there, gaining the substantial protections the Swedish state extends to journalists. It has been suggested the US had told Sweden it would curtail intelligence sharing if that occurred. After the accusations were made, Assange was denied residency.

2) Sweden’s defence and intelligence needs are overwhelmingly oriented to its relations to Russia. Sweden runs a huge northern fleet, and maintains a national service-based conscript army, all based on the premise that a military emergency between Russia and Europe would see the former try to enter through the top. Sweden’s right, concentrated in the ruling Moderate party, have for years been trying to abolish Swedish neutrality, and have it join NATO. In fact, Sweden and NATO have been working together closely for years. Sweden becoming a centre for WikiLeaks would have been a disaster for that process.

3) Claes Borgstrom, the politician-lawyer who suddenly popped up to assist the two women accusers, is the law partner of Thomas Bodstrom, the former justice minister in the Social Democratic government that lost power in 2006. In 2001 Bodstrom had been an enthusiastic advocate of secret renditions at US request, with several Swedish citizens of Egyptian origin (Egyptian political refugees granted asylum and citizenship by Sweden, by another part of the state process) rendered back to Egypt and tortured. The entire interconnected Swedish establishment was oriented to a “war on terror” superstate strategy, and an Assange trial on criminal matters would fit that perfectly.

4) In 2011, a grand jury was secretly empanelled in Maryland in the US to bring down indictments in the matter of “cablegate”, the vast release of files that — it is usually assumed — were leaked to WikiLeaks by Bradley Manning, a junior information officer who had become connected to the world of hacking through a personal relationship with a Boston-based hacker. Manning is now on trial on a brace of charges that will most likely see him in prison for the rest of his life; the intent of the prosecutors convening the grand jury appears to be to dynamically link Assange with Manning’s leaking of the files, so that Assange can be indicted and extradited for espionage.
posted by wilful at 6:59 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think that arguing here would serve any purpose. But I just want to say that this discussion makes me really sad. It makes me sad to find people trying to justify why what Assange did wasn't /really/ assault. It makes me sad when people suggest that even if it's true, he should be let off the hook, because the prosecution might be used for political purposes by the US.

It makes me sad, because it's yet another case where women's issues loses, again, to other issues, and in this case, most of the people beating the drums are supposed to be allies.
posted by corb at 7:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


It makes me sad, because it's yet another case where women's issues loses, again, to other issues, and in this case, most of the people beating the drums are supposed to be allies.

But I think that you are by default taking a position there that suggests Assange has a case to answer, that he did commit rape. I think the discussion is at a different level.
posted by wilful at 7:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whether or not what Assange did was rape is a thing for Swedish courts to iron out. But seeing so many people lined up on the side of someone avoiding arrest for sex crimes charges...is incomprehensible.

My personal belief is that Assange did some shitty, uncool things that violate consent. It is not okay to have sex with someone sleeping unless you get explicit consent first. It is not okay to have sex with someone without a condom unless you have explicit consent first. Not consent during. Consent before.

Again, I don't know where this falls in Sweden's rape laws. But I do hope we get the chance to find out.
posted by corb at 7:56 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I ever leak thousands of diplomatic cables or expose a nation like Israel as having nukes, I'm going to follow one rule: Don't have sex or fall in love with ANYBODY.

Personally, I think this 'rape' thing is a CIA smear campaign. It's too damn obvious.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:02 PM on June 20, 2012


It is not okay to have sex with someone sleeping unless you get explicit consent first. It is not okay to have sex with someone without a condom unless you have explicit consent first. Not consent during. Consent before.

Again, I don't know where this falls in Sweden's rape laws. But I do hope we get the chance to find out.


Well, looks like the guy's reputation is in the toilet... without a trial...

Great setup, because if he gets extradited to Sweden, he will never get a trial, except from his coffin.

Anyone who is accused of rape, is suspect for the rest of his life, even if he goes through a trial and is cleared. It is one of the worst crimes imaginable, and as a result the stigma of being accused leaves a stench on the accused forever.

If the US were doing dirty deeds against Assange, setting him up as a rapist would be clever. I am sure that the CIA has a complete dossier on his sex life, down to intimate details.

Put yourselves in his shoes, think of what it would be like if you were accused of rape.
posted by snaparapans at 8:34 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it really is the perfect smear, right next to being a secret Nazi.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, looks like the guy's reputation is in the toilet... without a trial...

Great setup, because if he gets extradited to Sweden, he will never get a trial, except from his coffin.

Anyone who is accused of rape, is suspect for the rest of his life, even if he goes through a trial and is cleared. It is one of the worst crimes imaginable, and as a result the stigma of being accused leaves a stench on the accused forever.


It's worth pointing out that
A. He has not had a trial because he refuses to return to Sweden to face charges (whether or not you think this is justified is separate to this fact, surely)
B. Using the logic above no one anywhere should be tried for rape ever, because it might smirch their reputation.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:45 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not one person has explained to me why Assange is at greater legal risk if he goes to Sweden. As demonstrated, the claims that Sweden has no prohibitions on extradition for a defendant who could face death, torture, etc. are simply false.

People putting forward the ideas aren't generally saying it's a greater "legal" risk I don't think. I think it's because the narrative his supporters have put forward is that there have been questionable details surrounding the accusers and how Swedish and US officials have handled the situation. Essentially the implication is that something shady is going on, involving countries that are on record as really, really not liking this guy. I also recall seeing information suggesting one of the accusers is a former CIA collaborator and wrote about how to get revenge on people you've been in relationships with. Without question this is all speculative and in some cases dubious (the smears against the accuser in particular are kinda weak), but the thing is for his supporters, of course, is that if anyone has access to information we don't that would confirm some nefarious collusion between the US and Sweden it's the guy with all the leaked info that's pissing both countries off.


Anyone who is accused of rape, is suspect for the rest of his life, even if he goes through a trial and is cleared.


The nature of the crime, at least based on the publicly known details, are such that any trial is going to come down to he said/she said and that never really produces satisfactory results. It is a major problem in a lot of cases of rape, and not being found guilty in court doesn't mean you're not. If he didn't do it, yeah it sucks that his reputation was smeared. If he did do it, it sucks that 2 women were raped and/or sexually assaulted and had their own reputations ruined. This is not an ideal situation for anyone involved, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be a trial.
posted by Hoopo at 8:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


>He has not had a trial because he refuses to return to Sweden to face charges (whether or not you think this is justified is separate to this fact, surely)

Hardly. While he has refused to return to Sweden for questioning, he has offered himself to Swedish prosecutors in the UK, either they can fly to the UK or via video-link. His stated fear of going to Sweden is due to the chance of being yanked off to the US.

Why does Sweden insist on seeing him in person, in Sweden, just to question him?

If you don't understand the difference in his defence compared to your version, I think you've prejudged his guilt.
posted by wilful at 8:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


B. Using the logic above no one anywhere should be tried for rape ever, because it might smirch their reputation.

Well that is silly. I am sure that anyone who is charged with rape wants more than anything to clear his name. Most people charged with that crime, are not also facing life imprisonment or death, for unrelated reasons, if they show up to defend themselves against rape charges in court.
posted by snaparapans at 8:53 PM on June 20, 2012


Why does Sweden insist on seeing him in person, in Sweden, just to question him?

Possibly because, as people have pointed out above, that's their law and they're not going to rewrite it for Assange?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Innocent until proven guilty is unfortunately the majority rule.

I hope you have that backwards.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:02 PM on June 20, 2012


I love how all the news stories I'm picking up on Google News are doing these little underhanded things to paint him as a complete bastard, and a lot of them don't even mention vital facts, such as his concerns that Sweden could hand him over to the US, where they might have him killed.

Hillary Clinton was over there only a few weeks ago, I'm sure she had things to discuss other than the "thrill of being in Sweden".
posted by dunkadunc at 9:06 PM on June 20, 2012


I suspect that if captured, he'll get the same treatment as Bradley Manning; solitary confinement until insanity.
"According to army witnesses, he was found curled into a fetal position in a storage cupboard, with a knife at his feet, and had cut the words "I want" into a vinyl chair. A few hours later, he had an altercation with a female intelligence analyst, Specialist Jihrleah Showman, during which he punched her in the face. The brigade psychiatrist referred to an "occupational problem and adjustment disorder," and recommended a discharge."
Manning wasn't a stable individual in the first place.
posted by deathpanels at 9:11 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hillary Clinton was over there only a few weeks ago, I'm sure she had things to discuss other than the "thrill of being in Sweden".

Yes the reason for her visit was:
to announce plans for the US and Sweden to combat Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP).
SLCP about sums it up as regards what the US thinks of Assange.
posted by snaparapans at 9:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Specifically, they seem to all be hammering home what a complete cad he is for forfeiting the bail put up by his supporters. If this move works, those supporters may just have bought him his life.

Also, I get a sense a lot of people here are commenting without so much as having read any of the guy's writing- it gives you a much better idea of what the guy's like than the smears I'm seeing in the media: this in particular really struck a chord with me:
"Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. In a modern economy it is impossible to seal oneself off from injustice.

If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neocorporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.

If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whos hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes.

The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them. "
Fuck. If I could only be half the person Julian Assange is.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


It makes me sad to find people trying to justify why what Assange did wasn't /really/ assault. It makes me sad when people suggest that even if it's true, he should be let off the hook, because the prosecution might be used for political purposes by the US.

No one has said this. No one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given that Assange is not a U.S. citizen and wasn't acting in the U.S., the U.S. has no valid claims to jurisdiction over him other than "we have a bigger army." And in that case, we're dispensing with the rule of law entirely.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:25 PM on June 20, 2012


we have a bigger army ≘ the rule of law entirely.
posted by wilful at 10:23 PM on June 20, 2012


Would what Assange is accused of even be classified as rape in the U.S.? The charges always seemed weirdly murky to me, and also very well suited to being a frame -- they seem to involve the women having fully consensual sex with Assange the very same night they claim he assaulted them.

That is a very dark road to go down, friend, though well travelled with much history. It's depressing to see these ever-so familiar tropes about rape trotted out here.
posted by smoke at 10:53 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


VikingSword: "The exact rapes he is accused of committing - i.e. they did not involve great bodily harm etc."

Oh, got it - it wasn't rape rape.

Assange apologists are pathetic. I hope his asylum to Equador works out and he ends up in Guayaquil. I've spent some time in Guayaquil and I can tell you one thing for certain - it's way worse than a Swedish prison.
posted by gertzedek at 11:10 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Wikileaks Grand Jury in the United States is real and the possibility of a sealed indictment for Julian is more likely than not. People caught up in that Grand Jury have suffered serious hardship and someday, I hope the truth comes out about it.

Julian is seeking asylum because he, like many others, believe that Sweden is acting in bad faith and that they would likely hand him over to the US if so requested. They have denied interviewing him by phone, in person in the UK, by video chat and so on. They refuse to cite reasons for this denial. They have previously done so in other cases. Rather, they wish to jail him before questioning him. Yes, there is some procedure of onward extradition where Sweden technically has to ask the UK. Such a procedure may or may not be followed. It may or may not be requested or respected. That is largely irrelevant to him, I'm certain of it. I wouldn't gamble my life on that process being reasonable or fair in his favor.

As I understand things - this was his last chance to claim asylum. After a transfer to Sweden, he would have had no opportunity to walk into an embassy as he'd be held in prison, even without charge, until the Swedes decided to let him walk again. They refuse to clear up the matter of onward extradition and they refuse to question him unless he is in a Swedish jail; it's absolute ridiculousness all around.

I wrote this letter in support of his asylum bid to the Embassy of Ecuador, which I hope is granted: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/hu63o4

( I say the above as someone whose records have been subpoenaed, 2703(d)'ed and with accounts likely under a gagged NSL; that's not even counting the physical surveillance, the airport detainment or any of the other bullshit political harassment I've personally received. Julian deserves our support and he'll forever have mine. )
posted by ioerror at 1:11 AM on June 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


I also recall seeing information suggesting one of the accusers is a former CIA collaborator

It's been linked above. It is not, however, anything like credible evidence of collaboration with the CIA. The only accusations of any substance are that she worked with the Ladies in White and wrote a couple of articles on Cuba. The rest is a game of smearing by associations. The linked piece, in turn, is mostly made of of quotes form the original story. It quotes selectively, not perhaps surprisingly when you consider the orginal describes the Assange's accusers as 'castrating feminists'


It also contains the accusation that one of the women is 'involved with a “Christian” Social-Democrat group' and goes on to say the Church has few priests because : 'what was once the struggle for female equality has ended up with men being effectively removed from service.', links this to a decline in Church marriages among hetrosexual couples ( though 'most Swedish gay couples, however, are proud to become “man and wife” in the church') resulting in empty churches being sold off. Thus apparently giving lie to Swedish Social Democracy.

The piece was co-authored by Israel Shamir: a Wikileaks collaborator in Russia, who has been accused of being a holocaust denier.
posted by tallus at 3:20 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ecuador to decide on Assange asylum bid, Al Jazeera, 21 Jun 12
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:12 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]



As someone who's seen the same thing - do you honestly think it's the women being worried about turning their rapists over to a shitty court system, or do you think maybe it's the fact that some of the victims were being socially pressured not to turn people over to said corrupt court systems? Because all I've ever seen was the latter. I haven't seen a situation where someone gets raped, and everyone they know is like, "This is an injustice, you should file charges," and they're the lone holdout saying, "No, that's not right."


To follow up really late - yes, I am in an environment where people do not want to turn folks over to the prison industrial complex. What's more, I would expect that the more radical the milieu and the stronger the embedded critique of the prison industrial complex, the more true this would be. (Or the more socially vulnerable people are - I strongly suspect that there are plenty of instances where poor folks, trans folks or otherwise marginalized people don't want to get the cops involved because they know how out of hand it can get.)

I will never forget my neighbor whose husband pulled a knife on her - he really needed mental health treatment and medical support for a chronic condition; he was not well. The cops came. He was a black guy who had a record and he went back to jail. That wasn't what she'd wanted at all and she was devastated at what had happened. Now, you can say "she should just suck it up because he deserved it because he was a bad person and is no doubt getting precisely what he deserves in our crowded nightmare of a prison system", but what really happens is that women put up with abuse and abusers don't get restrained or treated. There are a lot of people out there who don't think that the answer to crime and violence is "lock these guys away forever, take them out of our community because they can never be treated or fixed and are forever broken".

I think it's very easy to get into a headspace of "it doesn't matter how bad, corrupt or permanently destructive the punishment is if a person commits a crime and therefore we shouldn't flinch in turning people over to the PIC even though we know it's loathsome and violent". I think that's very much the US attitude about prisons - sure, we are occasionally horrified at the injustice and violence of the courts and the jails, but in general we feel that it doesn't matter very much because bad people are in there. I don't think human beings are that simple - even ones like Assange (and I find the rape charges entirely, entirely plausible, and if I had my druthers there would be a non-prison-based accountability process drawing from what the victims feel is needed and from community standards).
posted by Frowner at 7:06 AM on June 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


gertzedek: VikingSword: "The exact rapes he is accused of committing - i.e. they did not involve great bodily harm etc."

Oh, got it - it wasn't rape rape.

Assange apologists are pathetic.


Err, no, that was not the point. I was trying to ascertain how much time he might potentially spend in prison, and to do that, I looked at the exact sexual crimes he might be accused of according to Swedish law. If anything, the language I used was quite the opposite of what you suggest, since I called ALL his crimes rape ("the exact rapes") even if in Swedish law they make distinctions between "sexual molestation" "unlawful coercion" etc. - it's an issue of legal consequences, just as it is when looking to see how the law treats murder in the first degree and manslaughter (at which point you'd jump in and exclaim "oh, so it's not murder murder!). Please read the entire post rather than truncating the quote in mid-sentence(!) to make it appear to say the opposite of what it actually says. Oh, and nothing in that post could lead anyone to suppose that somehow I'm an Assange apologist - I explicitly make it clear that I have no idea about his guilt or innocence. But in a rush to get your outrage on, you don't seem to care about the most basic reading comprehension, and the result is that it makes you look like an idiot.
posted by VikingSword at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Would what Assange is accused of even be classified as rape in the U.S.?

David Allen Green addresses this point on his excellent Jack of Kent blog.

"...there is no doubt that, as a statement of positive law, English courts have held – twice – that the relevant allegation would also be an allegation of the offence of rape in English law"
posted by IanMorr at 9:42 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is this thread so either-or? Isn't it possible that Assange is guilty of sex crimes, that would merit some jail time, and his case is being manipulated by the US, which sees in his case the opportunity to not only punish him for leaks illustrating crimes by the government and the financial sector, but to effectively silence WikiLeaks? Isn't it indeed likely that, if these are true, that Assange would want to avoid prosecution for these crimes and have a legitimate fear of being disappeared by the US?

I don't know about you all, but I'm not monochromatic. I can be a very caring, empathetic, and even, on occasion, wise person, while at the same time having all of the attributes of a self-centered asshole with an outsized sense of entitlement. Seems like this is something recognized by most of the world's wisdom traditions, as well. But for some reason (probably because it lets us off of the hook in some way), we always want to split people into the Absolutely Good and the Absolutely Evil camps... and, surprise surprise, we always end up, more or less, on Team Virtue.

Assange's situation is wa-aaa-ay more complex and morally ambiguous than that.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:29 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why is this thread so either-or? Isn't it possible that Assange is guilty of sex crimes, that would merit some jail time, and his case is being manipulated by the US, which sees in his case the opportunity to not only punish him for leaks illustrating crimes by the government and the financial sector, but to effectively silence WikiLeaks? Isn't it indeed likely that, if these are true, that Assange would want to avoid prosecution for these crimes and have a legitimate fear of being disappeared by the US?

This is exactly what I think. I just don't think we need to go along with it.
posted by corb at 10:44 AM on June 21, 2012


It is not, however, anything like credible evidence of collaboration with the CIA.

I know, I feel like you might have skipped the very next sentence I wrote.
posted by Hoopo at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2012


I would like to point out that other regimes accuse their dissidents of being serious criminals, such as Ai Weiwei.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:12 AM on June 21, 2012


Maybe there'e no one left in the thread but the serious rape-or-not-CIA-rendition-US-Sweden-cahoots folks, but I'm going to go ahead and contribute my plan for his escape (which is not to express one way or the other whether it would be better for him to get to Ecuador or not).


1. Find a JA look-alike (JALA)
2. Create secret safehouse (SS) with a copy of some recognizable interior from the Ecuadorean Embassy (EE)
3. Assemble duplicate sets of clothes for JA & JALA
4. Secure cooperation of Ecuadorean Ambassador (EA)
5. JA & EA go to SS, tape announcement of Request for Asylum
6. JALA & EA go to EE, are seen entering by credible witnesses, disappear inside
7. Taped announcement released
8. While Embassy processes asylum request:
8.1 JA tapes (or releases live in some secure way) occasional statements (or doesn't)
8.2 JALA (occasionally with EA) is seen through EE windows, or other establishing events
8.3 (optional) Coordinate 8.1 & 8.2 wardrobe

9.a If asylum granted
- JA covertly gets to airport then onto Ecuadorean jet & out of country
- (optional) JA reveal in Ecuador

9.b If asylum not granted
- JA pulls some other justice-slipping/delaying stunt

10. JALA subterfuge continues as long as necessary or desired with optional JALA reveal
posted by achrise at 11:25 AM on June 21, 2012


Assange "supporters" are the funniest fuckers on the internetz. Putting up hysterical websites about the horrors of our justice system, passing along internet rumours and chain mail like a freeper mom. Conspiracy here, conspiracy there. It's unintellectual, pathetic, and I am sad to see that shit om MeFi.
But by all means, keep fighting your "good fight" for a suspected rapist. Makes you look really, really cool.
posted by mr.marx at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't it indeed likely that, if these are true, that Assange would want to avoid prosecution for these crimes and have a legitimate fear of being disappeared

Persons charged with rape want to avoid prosecution, period.

This guy cannot be disappeared.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:01 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


America is bad at disappearing people in general. They all have been found.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:02 PM on June 21, 2012


America is bad at disappearing people in general. They all have been found.

Sure, all the ones that were found were found.

/conspiracy theories make me look cool, I hear
posted by jacalata at 12:31 PM on June 21, 2012


There is an ongoing trend of American and British authorities silencing media they find uncomfortable, like repeatedly seizing Indymedia's servers.

There is no argument on either side that's better than what Naomi Wolf put forward : Applaud the broader principle that such cases deserve prosecution, but disparage the selective prosecution that damages rape cases generally.

Assange is obviously not afraid of extradition to Sweden over a rape charge that carries at worst a one year prison term in a cushy Swedish prison, well his house arrest has already exceeded that term.

I've no idea why he fears extradition from Sweden more than the U.K., who famously extradite their own white-collar criminals to far harsher U.S. courts, but.. There is nobody in this thread with any credible argument that U.S. shenanigans isn't 100% of his subjective fear, justified or not.

I personally suspect the U.S. wishes to punish and silence him through psyops rather than actually prosecuting him. In short, the CIA engineers this bizarre corrupt Swedish prosecution, which they convince him to fear. Ideally, he should've called their bluff and faced prosecution in Sweden, but now they've pushed him into violating parol.

Imho, Assange is a fairly paranoid person who deserves pity for being persecuted by the U.S., but frankly his ideas shall continue changing the world with or without him. I'm frankly more broken up about Daniel Domscheit-Berg destroying leaked documents now.

There was a lovely story posted last year comparing Assange's case with how the British government destroyed the first publisher to report the proceedings of parliament, also exploiting his sex life. Anyone recall the link?
posted by jeffburdges at 12:45 PM on June 21, 2012


Assange is obviously not afraid of extradition to Sweden over a rape charge that carries at worst a one year prison term in a cushy Swedish prison, well his house arrest has already exceeded that term.

Huh? Who wants to be convicted of rape? He's scared to death of it. People who think its easier to get extradited from Sweden than the UK don't know law or politics.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:49 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Assange is obviously not afraid of extradition to Sweden over a rape charge that carries at worst a one year prison term in a cushy Swedish prison, well his house arrest has already exceeded that term.

what??

I personally suspect the U.S. wishes to punish and silence him through psyops rather than actually prosecuting him. In short, the CIA engineers this bizarre corrupt Swedish prosecution, which they convince him to fear.

oh, ok. the tinfoil store is out of hats.
posted by mr.marx at 12:51 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll take that as agreement that you've no credible argument.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Credible arguments? "...is obviously..." and "I personally suspect.." are not even arguments.
posted by mr.marx at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll take that as agreement that you've no credible argument.

You're a conspiracy theorist. There is no argument you can have with a conspiracy theorist, because they believe things based purely on suspicion and without evidence. In this case, you believe that the United States government is engineering a fake Swedish rape prosecution. You have no proof of this, but you believe it anyway, so there's not really anyway to argue with you.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


But by all means, keep fighting your "good fight" for a suspected rapist. Makes you look really, really cool.

You know what, that's kind of bullshit. People support Assange for his work with Wikileaks. Even I can appreciate that.

As for the conspiracy, it's not hard to figure out why people think he's more at risk in Sweden than the UK. The first reaction of a lot of people to this story, including mathowie if I'm not mistaken, was "this stinks". It followed shortly after US officials had branded him a terrorist, and all seemed a bit convenient. If the US was behind it somehow, maybe there was a reason they were doing it in Sweden, but it's fairly certain the UK was never involved in any such plans if they even existed.

There is no credible evidence of a conspiracy, that much is true, and I highly doubt he can reasonably make a successful claim for asylum on that basis. I suspect we'll see him turned over in time. But there's no credible evidence of much of anything other than the accusers' and Assange's word. All there is is opinion and speculation. Throwing around shit like "you're a suspected rapist-lover", when you really have no idea what happened either and know better than that why people support him, is not much better than engaging in fanciful conspiracy theories.
posted by Hoopo at 1:38 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


People support Assange for his work with Wikileaks.

Which have nothing to do with the legal matter at hand.

But there's no credible evidence of much of anything other than the accusers' and Assange's word.


Which is why the case is awaiting, and awaiting, to be tried in the justice system of the country where he is a suspected criminal.

Throwing around shit like "you're a suspected rapist-lover", when you really have no idea what happened either and know better than that why people support him, is not much better than engaging in fanciful conspiracy theories.

He IS a suspected rapist. That is a fact. But "people support him" anyway. In a case where he is accused of rape. Where, as you say, you have no idea what happened.

Classy.
posted by mr.marx at 1:48 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Innocent as long as you can evade trial!
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on June 21, 2012


Y'all want to maybe just cool it? Thank you.
posted by cortex at 1:54 PM on June 21, 2012


mr. marx, you seem to be under the impression that once someone is accused of something, supporting that person is supporting what they're accused of. I don't fault anyone for thinking there's some questionable circumstances surrounding this case. There are.
posted by Hoopo at 1:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've clearly labeled my own jumping to conclusions by using phrases like "personally suspect". I've therefore honestly identified where I consider my own views non-credible, meaning you're engaging in a strawman.

Iromouth has literally asserted that Assange values "not being convicted" more than he values his freedom of movement, given that he's now confined indefinitely to the Ecuadorian embassy. Isn't that simply crazy? Ain't like that conviction hurts his career prospects any.

Ahh, you imagine my reply was directed at mr.marx? Nah, he's welcome to call me names. I suppose my reply might fit mr.marx "what??" but he really wasn't the audience.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:57 PM on June 21, 2012


I hear you cortex, and I'd like to say a sincere I'm Sorry to Mefi for being hostile, late in a long thread even.

The thing is, I don't really care that much about the Assange thing. Enough people do. But the ignorance about and paranoia towards my country and our justice system expressed on the internet, and sadly even on Mefi, is tiresome. It is really on par with birthers and 9/11-truthers. It's black helicopter, Alex Jones territory.

And it makes me very, very sad.

Feel free to memail me if you have any questions about Sweden and I'll try to answer with the best of my ability.
posted by mr.marx at 2:03 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I personally suspect the U.S. wishes to punish and silence him through psyops rather than actually prosecuting him. In short, the CIA engineers this bizarre corrupt Swedish prosecution, which they convince him to fear. Ideally, he should've called their bluff and faced prosecution in Sweden, but now they've pushed him into violating parol.

Fascinating how his own lawyers and supporters couldn't convince him to do so, even though Sweden is one of those countries that allows people to serve prison sentences in their home country if they desire. 'Psyops' in this case is a synonym for 'magic.'

If the US was behind it somehow, maybe there was a reason they were doing it in Sweden, but it's fairly certain the UK was never involved in any such plans if they even existed.

Right, because even though the UK also had troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has a worldwide intelligence agency of its own as well as domestic intelligence agency, has closer historical, financial, and military ties with the US than any other nation, has a long history of domestic counter-terrorism activities of dubious legality (ie related to Northern Ireland), and is has a generally hawkish approach to foreign policy and military affairs regardless of which government is in power, not to mention being a major arms exporter, and is currently governed by a largely conservative cabinet with a Prime Minister who gets on famously with Barack Obama, there is no way that the British government could possibly be co-opted into any sort of US-originated scheme to the detriment of Julian Assange.

I mean, seriously - it is possible that Assange is the victim of a US counter-intelligence plot, but in what way is it 'fairly certain' that the UK would not be involved? Britain's favorite fictional hero is James Bond, for heaven's sake. Espionage is their national hobby.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:05 PM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is it really hard to imagine why you'd rather be an embassy than a prison? Or be a confined accused rapist rather than a confined convicted rapist? That's also assuming he remains at the embassy rather than being granted asylum and finding a way to Ecuador.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:13 PM on June 21, 2012


anigbrowl, the idea is that if the US and Sweden were working together to nail Assange, they would have had no way to know he was going to wind up in England.
posted by Hoopo at 2:31 PM on June 21, 2012


Iromouth has literally asserted that Assange values "not being convicted" more than he values his freedom of movement, given that he's now confined indefinitely to the Ecuadorian embassy. Isn't that simply crazy?

The embassy move is a Hail Mary pass; one presumes that Assange would much prefer to be out of UK jurisdiction in some place like Ecaudor to spending years on end living on a sofa in the embassy.

Ain't like that conviction hurts his career prospects any.

He may or may not be a rapist, but a conviction following a fair trial would most certainly damage his standing permanently.

Personally, I don't get how he wound up in that situation to begin with; given his undisputed knowledge of espionage and intelligence concepts, and the age-old use of sexual seduction followed by blackmail or disastrous exposure in the espionage field, you'd think he'd a bit more cautious about his sex life. Even leaving questions of rape and espionage out entirely, frequent casual sex with many different partners is a recipe for drama Calling Sweden 'the Saudi Arabia of feminism' doesn't really enhance his credibility for me.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:34 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll grant that "psyops" sounds too strong, more "fuck with him ops", but certainly the pressure has taken it's tole.

It's fairly common that U.S. local cops pick on people they just don't like, innocent or not, ditto FBI. I'd imagine the CIA would fuck with Assange even if they'd no legal route and no orders to do so.

I'd presume the second Swedish prosecutor reinstated the prosecution upon American request, meaning Sweden is involved only because that's where he could easily be prosecuted, nothing more.

I still disagree that a conviction costs him more though since (a) he isn't hurting for people who believe it's a set up, and (b) asylum hurts his travel options permanently.

Assange's fears might be influence by how Sweden collaborated much more than the U.K. with Bush's extraordinary rendition program, but who knows.

As an aside, the CIA backed a coup in Ecuador only two years ago, not sure if that makes it more safe though.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:02 PM on June 21, 2012


Right, because even though the UK also had troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has a worldwide intelligence agency of its own as well as domestic intelligence agency, has closer historical, financial, and military ties with the US than any other nation, has a long history of domestic counter-terrorism activities of dubious legality (ie related to Northern Ireland), and is has a generally hawkish approach to foreign policy and military affairs regardless of which government is in power, not to mention being a major arms exporter, and is currently governed by a largely conservative cabinet with a Prime Minister who gets on famously with Barack Obama, there is no way that the British government could possibly be co-opted into any sort of US-originated scheme to the detriment of Julian Assange.

It's easier to lean on smaller countries to do our dirty work. It's one of the reasons we used Syria to torture terrorism suspects instead of Turkey. Turkey has our authorization (and military and financial support) to wipe out Kurdish resistance, but they also have to pretend like they have a values system because they are subject to elections. Even though they are good partners in some ways, they would balk at the CIA saying "Hey, kill/apprehend this guy" because of the blowback if they get caught.

England has a long tradition of opposing the death penalty and torture, so the political cost to their elected leaders could be much more damaging.

I'm not sure how you think politics works, but do you remember when Obama told Medvedev to back off on the missile crisis because it was an election year? That's how things actually work. One guy who has an asset in Sweden makes the call. "Hey, we're going to put the screws to Assange, and we heard he was getting around while he was in Stockholm. What are our options?" Maybe Assange did commit crimes, and maybe he didn't, but it's pretty obvious that issuing a red alert for what he's accused of is out of the ordinary to say the least.

As Hoopo said, there was no way to know where Assange would end up. I imagine the call went out to all friendly governments, and Australia and Sweden promised to bag and tag him and then send him on the way. Maybe the CIA doesn't have any friends in England after we dragged them into two endless wars. Perhaps England actually gives a shit about international law and told them to ask for a different favor. Who knows.

What is known is that anyone connected with Assange has been endlessly harassed by every federal agency since Cablegate. Appelbaum doesn't even bother to carry a computer with him when he travels, and is "randomly selected" to have everything on him searched every time he flies internationally, from what I've read. Biden has called Assange a "high-tech terrorist." Eric Holder has stated that they were actively pursuing Assange. According to everyone in the USG, and everyone outside of it, the United States wants to put him away.

So, what do they have on Assange? We don't know, because America has passed laws to have secret surveillance programs, and the option to bring people to trial without them being able to hear the evidence against them, for "national security" purposes of course. The Federal Government can wiretap my phone and subpoena every email account I have without my knowledge, and there's no recourse for me to find out who filed for the subpoena, what they received, or what purpose it was for, or if there is an investigation against me. I know this because Appelbaum has been public about his continued persecution. Here's a one minute exchange between him and the FBI Deputy General Counsel.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Are you including national security letters in your comment about believing that there is judicial oversight with the FBI’s actions?

FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: National security letters and administrative subpoenas have the ability to have judicial oversight, yes.

JACOB APPELBAUM: How many of those actually do have judicial oversight, in percentage?

FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: What do you mean by that? How many have -

JACOB APPELBAUM: I mean, every time you get a national security letter, you have to go to a judge? Or -

FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: No, as you well know, national security letters, just like administrative subpoenas, you don’t have to go to a judge. The statute does allow for the person on whom those are served to seek judicial review. And people have done so.

JACOB APPELBAUM: And in the case of the third parties, such as, say, the 2703(d) orders that were served on my - according to the Wall Street Journal - my Gmail account, my Twitter account, and my internet service provider account, the third parties were prohibited from telling me about it, so how am I supposed to go to a judge, if the third party is gagged from telling me that I’m targeted by you?

FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: There are times when we have to have those things in place. So, at some point, obviously, you became aware. So at some point, the person does become aware. But yes, the statute does allow us to do that. The statute allows us.
So, in short, as an American citizen, I will get to find out if the FBI has a secret surveillance program targeting me as long as someone writes about it in the Wall Street Journal. What lengths do you think the USG will go to in order to apprehend someone like Assange?
posted by deanklear at 3:34 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


anigbrowl, the idea is that if the US and Sweden were working together to nail Assange, they would have had no way to know he was going to wind up in England.

Well, given that he was known to travel around frequently and that London was his last port of call before turning up in Sweden, don't you think they would have at least considered the possibility? From April to August 2010, Assange was in Berkeley, California; Oslo, Norway; Australia; Brussels, Belgium; Oxford, UK; London, UK; and Stockholm, Sweden. Not sure about Australia, but all the other locations involved public or TV appearances, with 2 in London before he departed for Sweden.

If I was plotting to nail somebody, and that person had a habit of turning up in a different country every few weeks, I would be keeping a very close eye on the person's movements and keeping in regular contact with friendly intelligence agencies. Considering that the Pentagon was supposedly hunting Assange in June of 2010 (Guardian), and that Assange made 2 public appearances in Britain and took part in a TV interview for British TV before leaving for Sweden, there is no possible way that the British intelligence services could be oblivious to his movements, unless they make a point of not reading their own newspapers and likewise it's hard to see how this would have escaped the attention of the CIA or any other interested parties in the US.

Your idea just doesn't make sense to me. It requires the intelligence services of three countries to be dumber than the villains in a kids' cartoon show.

Assange's fears might be influence by how Sweden collaborated much more than the U.K. with Bush's extraordinary rendition program, but who knows. As an aside, the CIA backed a coup in Ecuador only two years ago, not sure if that makes it more safe though.

You realize those links don't support your claims in the slightest? The first one talks about the swedes shutting off extraordinary rendition completely several years before Assange got into trouble, while simultaneously documenting British participation in extraordinary rendition. The second one doesn't mention the CIA at all, but does mention the US Government's 'full support' for Correa's government. Some one in the comments claims the CIA are involved - shocker.

Sorry, you've gone off the deep end. All the conspiracy theorizing requires the CIA (and the Swedish and British governments) to be both wickedly omnipotent and hopelessly incompetent at the same time.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:40 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


anigbrowl, I am not following your logic here. Are you saying that in order for the US to set up Assange in Sweden they would have to have made arrangements with every country Assange has ever travelled to? He was trying to set up a base of operations in Sweden and had just applied for work and residency permits.

I find your attempts to make the conspiracy theory sound unlikely even more hard to swallow than the attempts to make the rape charges sound like a conspiracy. And I don't know if I buy those to begin with.
posted by Hoopo at 4:02 PM on June 21, 2012


Everyone talks about the U.S. killing Assange. I just don't see that happening. It would cause a greater uproar than keeping him indefinitely in lockup and letting the outrage slowly fade into the years.

Let's be realistic here. The chances of the U.S. actually sentencing Assange to death are close to none.
posted by Malice at 4:18 PM on June 21, 2012


Sorry, you've gone off the deep end. All the conspiracy theorizing requires the CIA (and the Swedish and British governments) to be both wickedly omnipotent and hopelessly incompetent at the same time.

Organizations made of people are exactly like that.

The CIA masterminded the defeat of Russia in Afghanistan using Russian weapons bought from Isreal by Saudi Arabia and smuggled through Pakistan, but completely missed the impending implosion of the USSR only a few years later. At the same time, they were smuggling weapons illegally to Iran to pay for death squads in Central America. And they got caught doing it.

Like I said, the difference between Sweden handing Assange over instead of England could be as simple as the lack or existence of a personal relationship between the various departments. I'm not quite sure why you think the CIA decided to stop dreaming up conspiracies designed to harm USG enemies through plausibly deniable channels. That's what their job is. It's the reason they exist.
posted by deanklear at 4:33 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey deanklear, I'm glad you noticed the fuss I kick up. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is paying attention at all.
posted by ioerror at 4:55 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


England has a long tradition of opposing the death penalty and torture, so the political cost to their elected leaders could be much more damaging.

Britain abolished the death penalty for murder in 1964 and for all offenses (eg war, treason) in 1998. Last execution in Britain: 1964. Sweden abolished the death penalty for murder in 1921 and for all purposes in 1976. Last execution in Sweden: 1910.

Sweden is also the country where the Prime Minister was assassinated at point-blank range, but the eyewitness testimony of his wife, who was next to him at the time, was considered insufficient to uphold a conviction on appeal. Clearly, 'rule of law' is meaningless to the Swedes.

anigbrowl, I am not following your logic here. Are you saying that in order for the US to set up Assange in Sweden they would have to have made arrangements with every country Assange has ever travelled to? He was trying to set up a base of operations in Sweden and had just applied for work and residency permits.

And that's enough to render the possibility of flight unthinkable?

Like I said, the difference between Sweden handing Assange over instead of England could be as simple as the lack or existence of a personal relationship between the various departments. I'm not quite sure why you think the CIA decided to stop dreaming up conspiracies designed to harm USG enemies through plausibly deniable channels. That's what their job is. It's the reason they exist.

I'm not quite sure why you think the CIA suddenly can't get anyone in London to answer their calls, despite several centuries of friendly political relations between the two countries' governments, being on the same side in multiple wars both hot and cold, and so on and so forth. According to you, it's more logical to lean on Sweden, home of the Nobel Peace Prize and generally famous for its pacificist stance in matters of international relations.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:56 PM on June 21, 2012


And that's enough to render the possibility of flight unthinkable?

I am so lost as to what you are trying to suggest.

No, of course it's not unthinkable that he would flee charges, given the opportunity, to any number of places. But, in this imaginary scenario I seem to be defending for reasons unknown, you seem to think it's unthinkable for the US to not have made contingency arrangements in advance with every country Assange has visited or made a public appearance in or might someday want to visit someday, because that would represent a major intelligence failure or something--which it wouldn't, by the way--in the event he decides to flee to any one of those particular countries by chance. With England of course being the most likely candidate for him to move to after he manages to escape the apparently bungled Swedish investigation, because he was on TV there once. This is an absolutely bizarre line of thought.
posted by Hoopo at 5:13 PM on June 21, 2012


Are you claiming my wikipedia link says that Sweden participated less than the U.K. in extraordinary rendition, anigbrowl? Did you even read it?

There are officially only two extraordinary rendition flights that stopped in any U.K. territory, anigbrowl, that being Diego Garcia. All claims about other U.K. airports have remained unsubstantiated thus far.

We know that Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery were abducted by Swedish police from Swedish soil and handed over to the CIA for torture in Egypt. We know two additional extraordinary rendition flights passed through Arlanda airport after Sweden's government attempted to crack down on them, at least one with the aid of Swedish Intelligence.

There might be additional aid the U.K. provide to the U.S.'s extraordinary rendition and torture program, but the wikipedia article I cited lists substantially more Swedish collaboration. Yet, you claim it says the opposite?
posted by jeffburdges at 5:19 PM on June 21, 2012


I'm not claiming to know why the UK has pushed back on handing over Assange. I'm spitballing instead of sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending that things like bagging political enemies doesn't happen in the Western world.

I am also saying is that it's perfectly plausible that the reason has more to do with the relationship between the intelligence agencies of Sweden, England, and the US. Maybe it's an important election year in the UK, and the Swedes will have more time to whitewash their involvement before their own election. Maybe the way the two legal systems work is different enough for the Swedes to say "Oh, how terrible! We are forced by this unforeseen legal circumstance to temporarily surrender Mr. Assange to the US authorities." I don't know.

In fact, I hope you are right and that I'm wrong. I hope Assange gets a day in court in Sweden, and the trial is as fair as is possible to all parties involved. I hope if he is guilty that he gets convicted, and I hope if he didn't commit those crimes that he's found innocent.

Getting back to the point, I don't think the US can do anything it wants at all times in every situation. I'm not that naive, and neither is the political establishment inside the beltway. You can only push so much before people start to push back. And yes, according to me, it is more logical to rely on Sweden because they are the ones who have legal hooks into Assange. I've looked at the "temporary surrender" portion of their treaty, and I'm pretty sure there's enough loopholes in it to get Assange to the US without having to go through as many political hoops.

I think it breaks down into many plausible scenarios:

1) This is all a giant conspiracy and Assange is never tortured or assassinated. (personally, I hope this is true because it would restore some of my faith in my government)

2) The Sweden angle is being pushed because the US checked in with their counterparts in Britain, and said, "Hey, if we have you arrest Assange, will you guys send him over to be tried for espionage?" and they said no. Or perhaps the MI6 phoned some friends and said, "There is no political support for the extradition of Assange to the US. Stick with Sweden."

3) The call to Sweden may have been more promising. Maybe someone wants to make a name for themselves, with the US or just in general, and the loopholes have a better chance of success.

4) Perhaps Sweden is a last ditch effort, and the US is simply pushing because that's the only leverage it has.

What is undeniable is that Assange is important to the United States, because we are spending a shitload of resources trying to persecute him and anyone connected with his organization. When governments spend millions of dollars in a very public way targeting an individual, you can be assured that it isn't on accident. Of course no one really knows what is going on behind the scenes, but it seems less and less likely to me that all of the time and effort the USG has invested will fail to materialize if Assange passes into their grasp. They won't waste any opportunity, even if that country hands out peace prizes and is full of pacifists. They just have to turn the right handful of people, and the rest of the situation becomes completely irrelevant.
posted by deanklear at 5:38 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, of course it's not unthinkable that he would flee charges, given the opportunity, to any number of places. But, in this imaginary scenario I seem to be defending for reasons unknown, you seem to think it's unthinkable for the US to not have made contingency arrangements in advance with every country Assange has visited or made a public appearance in or might someday want to visit someday, because that would represent a major intelligence failure or something--which it wouldn't, by the way--in the event he decides to flee to any one of those particular countries by chance. With England of course being the most likely candidate for him to move to after he manages to escape the apparently bungled Swedish investigation, because he was on TV there once. This is an absolutely bizarre line of thought.

No. England is one place that Assange might be likely to flee to because he had been three recently - not 'because he was on TV there once', but only weeks before, and where he had alos made 2 public appearances, and where had made arrangements with a newspaper (the Guardian) to publish a trove of Wikileaks information, and where he spoke the language, and where he had automatic rights of entry because Australia is a member of the British commonwealth. And since the US and UK are about as tightly allied as any two countries could be, the idea that if you were plotting to get hold of an internationally notorious figure like Assange, you wouldn't bother to mention the fact to your opposite number in the UK intelligence service is just laughable.

I mean, put yourself in the shoes of someone working in the CIA whose job is to nab Julian Assange. Then he turns up in the UK thumbing his nose at the Swedish police and your best explanation for your failure is that his leaving Sweden took you by surprise, despite the fact that he rarely stays put for more than a few weeks at a time? If the CIA really wanted to nab him, mightn't it make sense to, I dunno, follow him around or make a deal with the Swedes to detain him if he went to an airport or border crossing? Assange is one of the most famous people in the world, you have all the resources of the CIA at your disposal, and you can't figure out a way to keep an eye on him - so then he goes to the UK, your closest ally, and you give up because he's totally outwitted you?

If the CIA are behind all this, doesn't that make them about the Worst Spies of All Time?

Are you claiming my wikipedia link says that Sweden participated less than the U.K. in extraordinary rendition, anigbrowl? Did you even read it?

Yes, and yes. You know less about the flights to Diego Garcia (like who was on them) because the UK is less transparent than the Swedish government about these matters.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:52 PM on June 21, 2012


I'm spitballing instead of sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending that things like bagging political enemies doesn't happen in the Western world.

OK, but people running out on criminal charges and making outlandish excuses happens quite frequently in the western world too.

I am also saying is that it's perfectly plausible that the reason has more to do with the relationship between the intelligence agencies of Sweden, England, and the US. Maybe it's an important election year in the UK, and the Swedes will have more time to whitewash their involvement before their own election. Maybe the way the two legal systems work is different enough for the Swedes to say "Oh, how terrible! We are forced by this unforeseen legal circumstance to temporarily surrender Mr. Assange to the US authorities." I don't know.

But this is what I don't get. Assange turned up in the UK right after an election that gave power primarily to the UK's conservative party, and the UK doesn't have to have another election until 2015. If one was simply out to get him, that would be an ideal circumstance! What is the point in such speculative spitballing when you could just look at Wikipedia or any news website and put such questions to rest in a matter of moments? The reason I'm rejecting all these allegations as conspiracy theorizing is precisely because they don't line up with reality and don't even pass the most cursory fact-checking.

And yes, according to me, it is more logical to rely on Sweden because they are the ones who have legal hooks into Assange.

How fortunate for the CIA that Assange decided to get himself in legal trouble. Look deanklear, it's this basic contradiction that I have a problem with. On the one hand the CIA are utterly amoral and capable of anything, on another they're (maybe) conspiring with Sweden because that's the only place capable of legally laying a hand on the guy. If Assange hadn't slept with any women in Swden, would the CIA have gone on trailing him around the globe saying 'if only we could grab this fellow without breaking local laws!'?

I've looked at the "temporary surrender" portion of their treaty, and I'm pretty sure there's enough loopholes in it to get Assange to the US without having to go through as many political hoops.

You realize that being an EU treaty, it applies equally to Britain? I linked to the UK home office somewhere upthread.

What is undeniable is that Assange is important to the United States, because we are spending a shitload of resources trying to persecute him and anyone connected with his organization. When governments spend millions of dollars in a very public way targeting an individual, you can be assured that it isn't on accident.

But as far as I can see, we aren't expending any effort whatsoever on persecuting Assange. He fled to England almost 2 years ago and we don't seem to have made the slightest effort to get hold of him. Considering that we supposedly want to make the fellow disappear for ever, we're being incredibly patient about it.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:25 PM on June 21, 2012


anigbrowl, it is a bizarre idea that the fact he was in England briefly, doing exactly what he does everywhere else he goes before he tried to become a resident of Sweden, means he's most likely to return there to live while fleeing justice. And I'm sure that England, as well a number of other countries, is perfectly aware even without being told that the US would love to get their hands on him. They might not be interested in playing the game, or they might instead just, I dunno, arrest him and send him back to Sweden when he turns up.

If the CIA really wanted to nab him, mightn't it make sense to, I dunno, follow him around or make a deal with the Swedes to detain him if he went to an airport or border crossing?


I don't think Sweden had any legal justification for detaining him at the airport at the time he left for England, and given how high profile Assange is there is absolutely no need for anyone to follow him around. I don't think anyone ever lost track of him, he wasn't hiding. And I'm not sure why you think anyone has "given up" because he left Sweden; England detained him as soon as Sweden asked and is now seeking to extradite him back to Sweden. What kind of pressure do you think the CIA should be applying here if they have some kind of plan to get him?

None of any of what you're suggesting suggests the CIA are crap spies. The conspiracy narrative has Assange being framed up for rape. He is pretty much going to have to face the investigation. His reputation is already damaged, score one for the conspirators! He might be found guilty, go to jail, and be thoroughly discredited, score 2-0! Hey maybe once he's in custody we could ask Sweden to send him here to face charges for the Cablegate thing and shut him up for life! Conspirators win!
posted by Hoopo at 6:40 PM on June 21, 2012


Why wait, then? We could just indict him now and put out our own warrant. As opposed to waiting for Sweden to take him so we can kidnap and possibly kill him.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:04 PM on June 21, 2012


There is no assumption that he's innocent of rape built into the conspiracy narrative, Hoopo, merely that his prosecution is highly selective, resulting entirely from U.S. influence.

I'd agree the U.K. hasn't been transparent about their rendition program, anigbrowl, fine. There is however a documented pattern of Swedish intelligence ignoring Swedish law to aid American interests, that's certainly concerning if your primary fear is the U.S., that's the relevance of the wikipedia link. I could imagine Assange's U.K. friends, lawyer, etc. buying into the idea that the U.K. wouldn't openly aid the kidnapping of such a high profile person, while Sweden might, that was my original point is raising the issue.

There are numerous legal reasons Assange might be harder to extradite to the U.S. under British law, including his Australian citizenship, the technicalities of the appeals process, more well connected friends, etc. I donno.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:40 PM on June 21, 2012


How fortunate for the CIA that Assange decided to get himself in legal trouble. Look deanklear, it's this basic contradiction that I have a problem with. On the one hand the CIA are utterly amoral and capable of anything, on another they're (maybe) conspiring with Sweden because that's the only place capable of legally laying a hand on the guy. If Assange hadn't slept with any women in Swden, would the CIA have gone on trailing him around the globe saying 'if only we could grab this fellow without breaking local laws!'?

The name of the game is plausible deniability. If Assange was murdered in England, it would immediately be suspect, and could harm US-UK relations, because hawks aren't the only people in the UK government, and no one accepts foreign interference on their soil who has the power to do anything about it. It's the same reason the MI6 wouldn't go off and assassinate IRA members hiding in Boston, even in the dark days of the full scale conflict in Northern Ireland. There are political repercussions.

When there are no political repercussions, we have people killed without a second thought. Pick a president in Central or South America, or any civilian caught in the crossfire throughout the 80s in the same region. Or anyone currently in Yemen or Pakistan. We don't assassinate people in Saudi Arabia because we don't want to harm our relationship with the House of Saud, because they are an ally.

Assange is a high profile target, and the USG is finding the least politically damaging way to extradite him to the US for punishment and possible trial for espionage. Right now I think their best option is some sort of loophole in Swedish extradition policy, or an agreement that Sweden will throw the book at him until the USG figures out another way to haul him in. Governments barter with human capital all of the time, so I'm not sure why you think this is some grand conspiracy. It's expected behavior.
posted by deanklear at 11:11 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is no assumption that he's innocent of rape built into the conspiracy narrative, Hoopo, merely that his prosecution is highly selective, resulting entirely from U.S. influence.


I think Assange would disagree with that. From day 1 he has said the charges were baseless and the timing suspect. I'm pretty sure that who he is and the timing of the allegations is what made people suspicious in the first place and why this story has legs beyond "narcissist rapes Swedish women." Because if there's no political intrigue he's just a total dick rapist. The process he's undergoing appears to be totally legit. The fact that he's famous probably makes him easier to make an example of and easier to identify than the average Joe in similar circumstances, so it's hardly a mystery why it gets more coverage or attention than random Joe.


Why wait, then? We could just indict him now and put out our own warrant. As opposed to waiting for Sweden to take him so we can kidnap and possibly kill him.


See, no one is talking about kidnapping and killing. This is the part you're introducing. Right now he's a hero of free speech or whatever and not officially wanted in the US on any particular charges AFAIK. Because of Constitution or something. Taking him down a few pegs is in the US's interest. Discrediting Wikileaks in in the US's interest. This scandal does all of that. Everything so far in this whole fiasco is a win for the US and a loss for Wikileaks because of Assange. That is why there's conspiracy theories. The thing about Sweden extraditing him to the US? That's from Assange and his lawyers. He's probably legitimately scared of that outcome. Because the VP has called him a terrorist, and that hasn't ended well in the past.
posted by Hoopo at 12:01 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the answer to all this is a very large diplomatic bag.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:52 AM on June 22, 2012


Or redefining the boundaries of the embassy. See this cartoon (very NSFW).
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:30 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eric Holder doesn't give a damn about the law, and Obama has already used his executive privilege to shield him from going down for the Fast and Furious scandal.

AKA "What Your Uncle Who Watches Fox News All Day Is All Worked Up About"
posted by homunculus at 1:41 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, seriously - it is possible that Assange is the victim of a US counter-intelligence plot, but in what way is it 'fairly certain' that the UK would not be involved? Britain's favorite fictional hero is James Bond, for heaven's sake. Espionage is their national hobby.
Because they think the UK has a less corrupt judicial system?

It's obviously possible that he's guilty. It's also possible that the sweedish government might have it's own reasons for going after Assange, and it's possible that, if there is cooperation between the two governements is entirely unofficial, with people like Karl Rove talking to their friends on both sides of the Atlantic.

It's probably pretty ridiculous to assume that Obama issued some offical order for spies to seduce assange, and then charge him with rape, and then coordinate an international conspiracy to prosecute him.

Remember, when the women first went to police, they weren't even asking that charges be filed. They wanted to force assange to get an STD test, which seems like a completly reasonable thing to ask for. Because the sweedish government had major secrets revealed by the leaks, they probably jumped on the opportunity to prosecute him. They have more then enough motivation on their own.

The US Government would probably rather see him extrated to sweeden, convicted, and then re-extradited to the US as a convicted sex offender then try to extradite directly from the UK which might be more legally and politically challanging.

It seems like he'd probably be convicted in sweeden, given how their court system is setup. People will probably continue to argue about whether or not it was fair even after the trial.


You don't need to assume an elaborate conspiracy theory to entrap him, and you don't need to assume the incident was part of some conspiracy either. Rather, the simple explanation is smart, powerful, and pissed off people took advantage of a situation that came up.

And even if you think Assange is innocent of rape, he could have avoided all of this by simply agreeing to get tested for STDs when the girls asked, which they did before going to the police.


Heh. Now you mention it you can see why a country like Russia that has actual secrets people care about might not want him, no matter how chummy they are right now.
Assange has a show on RT (Russia Today), which is run by the russian government and has a pretty heavy pro-putin anti-US slant. Presumably they are just doing it to fuck with the US, but obviously they don't have too big of a problem with him.
I don't really understand. Why would Sweden have any interest in going after Assange for Wikileaks? What's in it for them?
Because the leaked documents detailed secret interactions between the sweedish and US government, which embarassed high ranking sweedish officials? I think I remember reading the president of sweeden is friends with Karl Rove.

Where does this assumption come from that sweeden has to be forced to act by the US? They may be pissed off at assange for their own reasons, and want to help the US purely as a favor (and to curry favor) Karl Rove is a friend and political advisor to Sweden's PM
Rove himself says on his Karl Rove and Company website that he has been advising Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. It’s well-known in Sweden how Rove has helped Reinfeldt lead the nation’s Moderate Party to election success over liberal competitors who previously dominated the nation’s leadership.
The US obviously wouldn't need to twist arms here, these people all know eachother, are friends with eachother and would be willing to help eachother out. As far as UK consent, it might be easier to get the UK to "consent" to the 3rd party extradition then for the US to win extradition in the UK courts, which would take just as long as this one with sweeden has.

The other point is that the inter-EU extradition treaties are much more lax your typical treaty (like the UK and US might have). So even if the US didn't think they could win extradition in UK court, they might think they could get the UK to agree to 'consent' to sweeden extraditing him. THe processes is almost certainly different.

And ultimately, Sweeden could just ignore their treaty.
So I then wonder. JA must consider the possibility that he might spend years and years in the embassy. If he's guilty, wouldn't he reason that it's better to serve a year or so in a Swedish prison, than sit around in an embassy indefinitely, and basically not be able to move freely, sort of like Roman Polansky, hounded for the rest of his life. Is it worth being hounded like that for life, or is it better to serve the couple of years in a Swedish prison?
obviously he belives he'll be extradited to the US.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 PM on June 22, 2012


Eric Holder doesn't give a damn about the law, and Obama has already used his executive privilege to shield him from going down for the Fast and Furious scandal.

AKA "What Your Uncle Who Watches Fox News All Day Is All Worked Up About"
It's interesting how the opinion-sphere is so fragmented now that even whether or not a scandal is a "scandal" depends on your partisan persuasion. Everyone agreed that Iran Contra and the Lewinsky thing were "real" scandals.

That said, F&F was actually a pretty serious deal. Who knows if Obama was personally involved, and obviously NRA paranoia about guns ("he wants to sell illegal guns so he can have an excuse to pass more serious gun laws!") - but those guns did ultimately kill people, lots of people in Mexico, and even a US border guard.
posted by delmoi at 4:58 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those who are interested, want to do something and have concerns about Facebook being nothing but a NSA honeypot, Wikileaks' FoWL network is now up: https://wlfriends.org/
posted by dunkadunc at 5:57 PM on June 22, 2012


This seems like a great series of posters that addresses a lot of the issues mentioned here: http://somersetbean.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/assange-not-running-fighting.html
posted by ioerror at 7:34 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


That said, F&F was actually a pretty serious deal.

Oh, absolutely. It was a huge fuckup and a real scandal. But now Issa has turned it into another political game in order to fuel conspiracy theories during an election year.
posted by homunculus at 8:26 PM on June 22, 2012


Julian Assange asylum application may take time, says Ecuador president: Rafael Correa says officials will 'discuss with and seek the opinions of other countries' before decision is made
posted by homunculus at 8:29 PM on June 22, 2012


F&F deserves its own thread, maybe after the oh so meaty cake thread is done.

Here is the conspiracy theory: The Obama Administration intentionally handed over automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels, who they knew would commit violent acts, because they wanted to scare Americans into supporting stricter gun laws.

Why do people believe it? Well...

Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation "Fast and Furious" to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.

Like the political game points out, both sides are playing around with this and neither is willing to engage the real issues. Holder has not been entirely straightforward, and whistleblowers have been pushing the story along. It's absurd to just give the administration the benefit of the doubt anymore, but with the executive privilege...well there isn't much choice.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:37 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


*like the political game link points out.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:38 PM on June 22, 2012


That said, F&F was actually a pretty serious deal.

Oh, absolutely. It was a huge fuckup and a real scandal. But now Issa has turned it into another political game in order to fuel conspiracy theories during an election year.


Bullshit. Not even a policy failure. Definitely not a scandal. A scandal is self-dealing. This is a drummed up which hunt.

But any one who is for conservatism loves it.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:49 PM on June 22, 2012


Jon Stewart Trashes Obama’s Executive Privilege Assertion On Fast And Furious: To figure out whether the Democrats have successfully distinguished this executive privilege from the previous administration, Stewart gave them three tries, with Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Jay Carney failing, and the last try– in which they managed to call the opposition to the use a “witch hunt” rather than a “fishing expedition”– finally a success of sorts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:54 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


homunculus: "Julian Assange asylum application may take time, says Ecuador president: Rafael Correa says officials will 'discuss with and seek the opinions of other countries' before decision is made"

Christ, they must really hate Correa to have used that picture. I'm having a ball reading the news stories and noticing all the little ways they twist and reinterpret sentences to make Assange/Wikileaks look bad. And then there's Fox News, which went all out and called him a sanctimonious narcissist.

I think if Fox News ever calls me a sanctimonious narcissist I'll know I'm doing something right.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:05 PM on June 22, 2012


Oh, absolutely. It was a huge fuckup and a real scandal. But now Issa has turned it into another political game in order to fuel conspiracy theories during an election year.
Well, there is an argument that both parties should investigate each-other, and that way every scandal will be fully investigated. It's hard to see who else, other then congress, could investigate the DOJ itself. I'm sure republicans felt that congressional investigations by democrats (such as into the US attorney firing scandal) were political - they would make the argument that congressional dems were trying to cover up for ACORN and trying to legitimatize investigations into voter fraud, which they believe (incorrectly) is rampant and favors the democrats.

Now, obviously that can't be true because it's based on a false premise ( that there is rampant voter fraud), but fox news viewers would believe it.
Bullshit. Not even a policy failure. Definitely not a scandal. A scandal is self-dealing. This is a drummed up which hunt.
This is the kind of comment that really damages someone's credibility, by making them appear to see everything through a totally partisan lens. It's hard to see how the Lewinsky scandal involved "self dealing" or even the Iran Contra affair.
posted by delmoi at 9:58 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey should really have applied at the Russian Embassy. They liked him enough to give him a job, and I'm sure they have way swankier digs.
posted by delmoi at 10:00 PM on June 22, 2012


RT is a mouthpiece for the Kremlin just as much as the BBC is the mouthpiece of Windsor Castle.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:37 PM on June 22, 2012


Yeah right. Feel free to link to some RT coverage that's been critical of Putin.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're right, that was probably a bad comparison.

I still don't criticize the guy for his show being on RT. "The World Tomorrow" could be syndicated by whoever wanted to, it just happened that RT was the first one to pick it up.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:25 AM on June 23, 2012


Glenn Greenwald writes about the media hostility towards Assange:
"One of the hallmarks of the establishment media is how it reverses its ostensible function: it is servile and reverent when reporting on or questioning the nation’s most powerful actors, yet becomes aggressively adversarial only toward those who challenge establishment factions and who are loathed within them. In sum, these media outlets are orthodoxy enforcers, little high school clique monitors venerating the popular and scorning the outcasts. The vitriolic media discussions this week of the widely-loathed-in-D.C.-and-London Julian Assange provided a perfect example (watch this incredibly hostile CNN interview with an Assange supporter and ask whether any upstanding, respected figure of D.C. power would ever be treated that way in a CNN interview)".
posted by dunkadunc at 12:23 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it very interesting how many media outlets are taking US authorities' silence on the matter to mean that they're "not interested" in prosecuting Assange, while they refuse to acknowlege the secret grand jury and sealed indictment revealed by the Stratfor emails.

This ignoring of the facts while calling Assange "paranoid" isn't in good faith- it's a smear campaign.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:26 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bradley Manning lawyers accuse prosecutors of misleading judge: In a motion ahead of Monday's pre-trial hearing, civilian lawyer says prosecutors are still denying defence access to documents
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other extradition news: Jimmy Wales to UK Home Secretary: don't render Richard O'Dwyer to the USA
posted by homunculus at 10:37 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Julian Assange's first interview from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy. (transcript)
posted by dunkadunc at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ahh, the interview is fairly informative about his fears.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:07 AM on June 25, 2012


The first reaction of a lot of people to this story, including mathowie if I'm not mistaken, was "this stinks".

Well, if mathowie said it, then it must be right.
posted by gertzedek at 9:45 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That said, F&F was actually a pretty serious deal. Who knows if Obama was personally involved, and obviously NRA paranoia about guns ("he wants to sell illegal guns so he can have an excuse to pass more serious gun laws!") - but those guns did ultimately kill people, lots of people in Mexico, and even a US border guard.

And a lot more guns that aren't part of any Federal investigation are ultimately killing lots more people in Mexico, since that's where a huge proportion of domestic gun sales are actually ending up (with lots of well-financed industry political cover from the NRA to ensure it's virtually impossible to detect the guns going south to criminal cartels without now conveniently very publicly discredited Fast and Furious style operations to prove it), but that fact has been usefully lost in the rush to preserve the fog of confusions around those "unprecedented domestic US gun sales" that the media loved to harp on a few years back as one of the many signs of popular discontent with President Obama.

F&F was a good operation that demonstrated what many who are critical of the NRA have been saying for years: That it's radical anti-regulatory agenda is really less about personal firearms rights than about protecting and obscuring public awareness of the massive, illegal arms sale pipeline from the US to its neighbors down South.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:32 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's unfortunate people died. But in this case, if the Feds hadn't known about those particular sales, the outcome would have been the same--the Feds did not cause the gun smuggling or the criminal use of the smuggled weapons in question. Those people would have died anyway if no one had been watching, as no doubt, many more still will.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:36 AM on June 25, 2012


It's interesting to you choose to attack the NRA and then use one of their favorite talking points (Blame the people not the guns) to excuse handing guns over to criminals.

As for it being a good operation, Obama and Holder have said otherwise. Holder said it was "flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution." The Democrats on the House Oversight commitee titled their report "Fatally Flawed".
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:16 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hoopo: "But there's no credible evidence of much of anything other than the accusers' and Assange's word. All there is is opinion and speculation."

This is patently untrue. Have you not heard of the secret grand jury and the sealed indictment?
posted by dunkadunc at 1:15 PM on June 25, 2012


speaking for myself, I believe the NRA has become effectively an industry tool for thwarting any regulations that might interfere with gun sales or that make sales easier to track specifically to provide cover for what's a booming arms business that would not stand up to public scrutiny if its real nature were widely understood. This one investigation (botched or not) certainly didn't disprove my view of the situation. The guns they tracked in this case did flow into Mexico and did end up in criminal hands. I'm sure that was a fluke though, caused by the fact someone was watching, and not at all an accurate reflection of the real state of the gun industry in the US and its profit centers.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:10 PM on June 25, 2012


And yes, I know the NRA ostensibly doesn't take industry group money--but in practice? What, tactics like donation bundling, and other sneaky tricks for getting around the spirit of such rules, wouldn't work for them? I'm pretty sure their biggest donors would tend to be those with the most to spare and those with the most to gain personally from their donation, as one might expect.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:14 PM on June 25, 2012


dunkadunc: " This is patently untrue. Have you not heard of the secret grand jury and the sealed indictment?"

Out of curiosity, is there a source for the information on the secret grand jury and alleged sealed indictment that does not come from Assange himself or the wikileaks organization?

It would definitely not surprise me to find out that the indictment exists, but I'd love to see confirmation on that from a source that doesn't have a vested interest in making it seem like the US government is trying to take him down by any means possible. It would have been child's play for anyone to fake one or more emails within the Stratfor archive.
posted by zarq at 2:16 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jon Stewart Rips Fox News’ Hypocritical Outrage Over Fast And Furious
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on June 27, 2012


The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal: A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust.
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't had time to read all (or even most) of their report, I just can't help pointing out the weirdness of Fortune's intrasite links.
By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers or straw purchasers. Voth and his agents began investigating a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were plunking down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others.

MORE: 10 ways Toyota is topping Ford
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:46 PM on June 27, 2012


F&F deserves its own thread, maybe after the oh so meaty cake thread is done.

And here it is.
posted by homunculus at 3:03 PM on June 27, 2012


zarq: "Out of curiosity, is there a source for the information on the secret grand jury and alleged sealed indictment that does not come from Assange himself or the wikileaks organization? "

There's certainly something big going on: Justice Department ramps up WikiLeaks e-mail probe
posted by dunkadunc at 4:52 PM on June 28, 2012


Assange statement given in front of embassy as of today: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrv1of_n
posted by ioerror at 8:38 PM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sweden 'can't offer Assange guarantees' he won't be extradited to the US

The plot thickens.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:16 PM on June 30, 2012


Did you read the same article I did?
But an official with Sweden's Ministry of Justice said that, according to current legislation, Sweden couldn't provide Assange with the guarantees he's currently seeking.

"Any such guarantee doesn't exist," Cecilia Riddselius, a staff member with the ministry's Division for Criminal Cases and International Judicial Cooperation, told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

"After having worked on these issues for ten years, I can't see how it could become reality."

Riddselius emphasized that the matter remained hypothetical and that her assessment was restricted to that of a government civil servant.
I would say that's thickened; they can't guarantee it because there is no binding way such a guarantee could be made. Governments can't go round making guarantees for their courts or vice versa.
posted by smoke at 3:34 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


THE head of the US Senate's powerful intelligence oversight committee has renewed calls for Julian Assange to be prosecuted for espionage.

The US Justice Department has also confirmed WikiLeaks remains the target of an ongoing criminal investigation, calling into question Australian government claims that the US has no interest in extraditing Mr Assange.

''I believe Mr Assange has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States,'' the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, said in a written statement provided to the Herald. ''He has caused serious harm to US national security, and he should be prosecuted accordingly.''

posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:05 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Like they're [not] prosecuting Manning? You betcha!

I think Assange is probably feeling a bit better about his decision to seek asylum.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:14 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


He read the same memo about the sealed indictment that you and I did, so he's probably not feeling terribly different. He's probably happy the investigation is getting more attention in the press, however- which is one of the goals of his asylum request.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:27 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really sorry to hear that Dianne Feinstein wants to hang Julian. That's a prejudicial statement that makes me wonder about my own future in the United States, my home country, as well.

How depressing that she wants to hang a journalist for uncovering abuses of power.
posted by ioerror at 4:39 AM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's Dianne Feinstein (D - California). She's always been pro police state.

But we're told we have to vote for her because the alternatives are worse.
posted by notyou at 8:32 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dianne Feinstein targets press freedom: The California Democrat, long a prime defender of the Surveillance State, renews her assault on the First Amendment
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Patrick Cockburn: How Julian Assange's private life helped conceal the real triumph of WikiLeaks
posted by dunkadunc at 2:10 PM on July 2, 2012


Feinstein and her ilk clamoring for Julian's head tells me one thing: What Wikileaks did has them terrified, because it's a tactic that could actually bring change.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:17 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Feinstein and her ilk clamoring for Julian's head tells me one thing: What Wikileaks did has them terrified, because it's a tactic that could actually bring change.

Well, it speaks to something else as well, sadly. Feinstein is a politician and her pandering here is a sign that putting Assange out of commission is a popular position for the vast majority of her constituents.
posted by snaparapans at 9:16 PM on July 2, 2012


Birgitta Jónsdóttir- Evidence of a US judicial vendetta against WikiLeaks activists mounts: Iceland's government warns me not to visit the US, which tried to hack my Twitter account. Julian Assange has legitimate fears
posted by dunkadunc at 12:14 PM on July 3, 2012


Just for the record.
Claes Borgström is the Swedish MP who had the case re-opened once it was learnt that it was Julian Assange who was the subject of the dismissed complaint. He is now the the lawyer for Mr Assange's accusers.
Thomas Bodström was the Swedish Justice minister who signed off the CIA's rendition torture flights.
Thomas Bodström and Claes Borgström are business partners in a law firm.
As Sweden's Minister of Justice, Bodström, helped his nation in 2001 secretly turn over to the Central Intelligence Agency two asylum-seekers suspected by the CIA of terror.
posted by adamvasco at 5:57 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


WikiLeaks is holding a press conference on Thursday for a new major release.

This could be interesting.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:12 PM on July 4, 2012


Adamvasco, from your link: "the role of Bodström's firm in helping initiate the sex claims -- which are not criminal charges -- "

Whut?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:40 PM on July 4, 2012


the sex claims -- which are not criminal charges

Criminal charges are only made in person in Sweden. Assange is wanted for questioning, he has not been charged with any crimes.
posted by snaparapans at 8:01 PM on July 4, 2012


If that's the distinction the author is making then it's a bit artificial: they're close enough to criminal charges to be a basis for seeking his deportation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:22 PM on July 4, 2012


then it's a bit artificial Yes, the EAW has a very low threshold for extradition:
The European Arrest Warrant is a fast-track system for surrendering people from one European country to another to face trial or serve a prison sentence. It has removed many of the traditional safeguards in the extradition process. If a court in one country demands a person’s arrest and extradition, courts and police in other countries must act on it. In 2009, this fast track extradition system was used to extradite over 5000 people across the EU (700 people from the UK alone).
posted by snaparapans at 8:43 PM on July 4, 2012


Today, Thursday 5 July 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the Syria Files – more than two million emails from Syrian political figures, ministries and associated companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012.

This extraordinary data set derives from 680 Syria-related entities or domain names, including those of the Ministries of Presidential Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Information, Transport and Culture.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:16 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: "Today, Thursday 5 July 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the Syria Files – more than two million emails from Syrian political figures, ministries and associated companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012."

Large archive. For some perspective, the number of cables wikieaks release from the US was a quarter of a million. The Stratfor email archive was ~5 million.
posted by zarq at 7:27 AM on July 5, 2012


This seems to be a really ripe time to release this. Syria's got their 50-qirsh-brigades copypasting the same pro-regime stuff all over the Internet right now.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:02 AM on July 5, 2012


Who should worry about SyriaLeaks?
posted by homunculus at 10:45 AM on July 5, 2012


The Daily Mail gets it wrong again:

"WikiLeaks to release vast dossier of 2million incriminating emails sent by Syrian officials"

-Not all 2 million of them are incriminating! That would be quite a feat. Only some of them are.

-They are not releasing 2 million emails, they HAVE 2 million emails. They are currently going through them using custom data trawling tools (it's a damn lot to read through!), and have only released very few to the public so far, but the ones they have are interesting- they show, for example, that an Italian firm has been supplying them with communications equipment, even during the crackdown.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:52 PM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are currently going through them using custom data trawling tools (it's a damn lot to read through!), and have only released very few to the public so far, but the ones they have are interesting

This seems rather troubling. So despite WL's pro-"transparency" angle, instead of actually opening things up to the public, what we're actually getting from them is an essentially redacted version of what they've found, with the order and decision of what to release chosen presumably in order to better support the political goals of those running WL -- which are certainly not "transparency" since they are going about things this way in the first place.

If I stumbled across something intensely incriminating that needed to be made public, I'd sure as hell think twice before sending it their way -- better to send it to Crytome or someone else without quite so much of an overriding ulterior motive instead.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:04 AM on July 6, 2012


Well, it's a case of "damned if they do, damned if they don't".

If absolutely everything were to be released unvetted, they'd be accused of exposing innocent people to reprisals, et cetera.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:39 AM on July 6, 2012


Wikileaked: Lobbying firm tried to help Syrian regime polish image as violence raged
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jeez, Assange and/or his leakers so deserves that Nobel Peace Price for the shear volume they've exposed.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:24 AM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


WikiLeaks Wins Icelandic Court Battle Against Visa for Blocking Donations
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


jeffburdges: "Jeez, Assange and/or his leakers so deserves that Nobel Peace Price for the shear volume they've exposed."

Indeed. And what was up with Obama getting the Peace Prize? Total travesty.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:36 PM on July 12, 2012


And what was up with Obama getting the Peace Prize? Total travesty.

In another thread someone suggested that it was given as a form of encouragement rather than for any actual achievement (given that he was nominated before he actually took office). I think that's a plausible explanation. Anyway, he's in good company.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:39 PM on July 12, 2012


Speaking of Nobel laureates: Obama breaks with Aung San Suu Kyi, lifts Burmese investment ban
posted by homunculus at 9:44 PM on July 12, 2012


Internet Defense League will spring into action when dumb laws are proposed, guided by the CAT SIGNAL!
posted by homunculus at 6:57 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia: "In another thread someone suggested that it was given as a form of encouragement rather than for any actual achievement (given that he was nominated before he actually took office)."

That could well be, but damn, that's not encouragement, it's preemptive whitewashing. (peacewashing?) If you give the guy a Nobel Peace Prize before he's done peaceful things, he doesn't really have much to strive for.

However, if anyone would like to give me an International Medal of Awesomeness (naturally with the 10 million kronor award money) it would be really great. You guys can all speculate how awesome I'm about to be due to its encouragement, and if I do something less than awesome, my defenders can point to my Medal of Awesomeness as proof that I'm not a total dick.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:04 PM on July 13, 2012


Stuxnet leak prompts US House to consider prosecution of journalists
posted by homunculus at 12:25 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The US (has been? is becoming?) no better than states like Israel, which lock people up for exposing their dirty secrets in the name of national security.

So much for Obama's promise that he'd protect whistleblowers.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:32 PM on July 14, 2012


Assange and Ecuador: mutually toxic. Why WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Ecuador are so bad for each other.
posted by homunculus at 5:14 PM on July 14, 2012


Par:AnoIA: Anonymous Launches WikiLeaks-esque Site for Data Dumps
posted by homunculus at 5:49 PM on July 14, 2012


There is a good change that Assange is worried partially because what he's learned from people testifying before the grand jury. Example :

WikiLeaks Grand Jury Witness David House Publishes First Account Of Prosecutors' Questioning

"prosecutor Patrick Murphy asks House specifically if he’ll answer questions related to Bradley Manning, Tor developer and WikiLeaks associate Jacob Appelbaum, and Boston-based free software advocate Daniel Clark. House refuses."
posted by jeffburdges at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Study: WikiLeaked Data Can Predict Insurgent Attacks
posted by homunculus at 3:42 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That one is fascinating. One of the key reasons extreme secrecy is a bad idea is that it actively self-blinds most of your organization to the knowledge it needs to see the world and judge it realistically. That is an excellent case study.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:49 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


WikiLeaks calls for donations, dares Visa/MasterCard to shut them down
posted by homunculus at 1:38 PM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Considering Gary Mckinnon is still facing extradition to the US, despite the fact that pretty much no one in the entire country wants to see him go (including the Conservatives & Lib Dem parties!), it seems likely the UK would send Assange off if the US asked (which they haven't, AFAIK) in a heartbeat.

Speaking of McKinnon: Computer hacker Gary McKinnon "has no choice" but to refuse a medical test to see if he is fit to be extradited to the US, his mother has said. Janis Sharp said it was "an impossibility" because the expert chosen by the Home Office had no experience with Asperger's syndrome.
posted by homunculus at 4:44 PM on July 19, 2012


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