Wikileaks’ Julian Assange isn’t is now accused of rape – updated


3:41 pm - December 2nd 2010

by John B    


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[Update 9th December 2010 - The charges are now clarified and written about here.]

It’s become a prevalent meme across the western media – who, completely coincidentally, hate Wikileaks – that Julian Assange is currently being sought by the Swedish police on rape charges.

He isn’t. He’s sought on made-up-weird-charges that aren’t a crime in the UK, or anywhere else sensible.

Killer line:

The consent of both women to sex with Assange has been confirmed by prosecutors.


Assange is being prosecuted for having sex without a condom, with someone who didn’t mind the lack of condom at the time, but who subsequently was cross about the fact that he didn’t use a condom.

[Editor's update: it seems it is more complicated than that. See this blog post too. Either way, it is not an allegation of sex without consent at the time of the act.

It's also worth re-stating that the opinion that this is not 'rape' refers to the English legal definition rather than the Swedish legal definition.

update 2: It now turns out, he is accused of rape by authorities, within Sweden's definition of the case. According to this report, it is being alleged that Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when (the condom) was no longer in use.]

Swedish law on this sort of thing is, actually so deranged that nobody in Angloland could comprehend it (except for people who’ve read Steig Larssen’s books, at which point various plotlines start making more sense: yes, that whole thing about Salander being held as a ward of the state for no discernible reason, which would have be overturned in a second in any Anglophone jurisdiction, was based on reality. Larssen’s early death? Well, I wouldn’t put money on natural causes…).

So why do the non-Swedish press keep lying he’s accused of rape, rather than something which isn’t a crime (and so which isn’t extraditable) outside of Sweden?

Well, that’d be the “Wikileaks being an massive embarrassment to polite political society” thing. Mr Assange is a threat to the comfy order of international lying, various mad Americans want him dead, and so complying with international pressure to lie that poor bedroom etiquette is the same thing as rape fits in.

Which is pretty revolting and sick, when you come to think of it.

The tabloid press creates an impression, by sensationalising the trials of those few women who make proveably-false fake rape claims, that lying about rape is a common thing. It isn’t, and the impression that lying about rape is common hurts rape victims and poisons the discourse about the whole subject.

But, in terms of ‘ways to trivialise the experience of rape victims’, the tabloid’s crass misreporting pales into insignificance when compared with a country taking laws that were (one would assume) drafted to ensure that more rapists came to justice, and using them to conveniently brand a whistleblower who’s inconvenient to the global establishment as a sex criminal.

It’s not just an affront to free speech, which you’d expect from pretty much all governments on the Wikileaks case, but it utterly demeans the ordeal of women who are actually the victims of sex crime. And it’s a cold and cynical way of exploiting the horror that sex crime understandably provokes in the eyes of bystanders to silence someone who is very clearly not a rapist, and very clearly not guilty of anything that’s illegal in the UK.

The fact that he isn’t actually guilty of anything that’s a crime here is also why, one might surmise, despite the UK police knowing his whereabouts, Mr Assange hasn’t been arrested…

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About the author
John Band is a journalist, editor and market analyst, depending on who's asking and how much they're paying. He's also been a content director at a publishing company and a strategy consultant. He is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy and also blogs at Banditry.
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Story Filed Under: Civil liberties ,Crime

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Reader comments


So basically it is easier to say something the government doesn’t like in a country like Britain or the US, with very clear rules of law, than it is in Sweeden where the state has strange authority to make things up?

Now that’s unexpected…

Thus, people like Max “Such A Git That I Just Can’t Be Fucked To Think Up An Amusing Pun” Boot can cheerfully tar him as “accused rapist” that people “collaborate” with.

3. Chaise Guevara

@2

Quick, accuse Boot of something so everyone will know not to collaborate with him!

Although the rest of his article (judging from a quick, I-really-should-be-getting-some-work-done scan) seemed ok.

4. Luis Enrique

blimey. I had no idea.

Assange was accused by two women of not using a condom despite their consent being predicated on him using a condom. Is that rape?

The Guardian had a timeline in relation to this up to 24 August 2010, when all charges were dropped! Now Assange is wanted for questioning again, and despite the absence of any formal charges an Interpol Red Notice has been issued (to which we tend to pay heed) and a European Arrest Warrant (if I recall correctly).

It’s all very odd and you have to wonder if it would have happened to anyone else. I suspect not, unless they had been of equal embarrassment to Sweden and/or its allies.

ukliberty: did you read the linked piece? It’s clear that immediately after their encounters with Assange, both women sent texts that showed they had no regrets about their encounters with Assange. Which means, given that neither was on drugs or under 18, that there is no case here and anyone who suggests that there is one is bloody weird.

7. Chaise Guevara

@ 5

“It’s all very odd and you have to wonder if it would have happened to anyone else. I suspect not, unless they had been of equal embarrassment to Sweden and/or its allies.”

I assume the plan is to bring him in on these charges so that they’ve got him and can try to do him for the WIkileaks thing too (although I’m unsure on what basis). What are US/Swedish relations like, anyone know? Would they hand him over?

Either than or they’re distracting him while Palin sneaks up with her shotgun, of course.

8. the a&e charge nurse

“Assange is being prosecuted for having sex without a condom” – are any other prominent Swedes wanted for condom related crimes?

Surely the Pope must have to say about this anti-catholic legislation?

These are trumped up charges designed to have him arrested then spirited away to some camp in Central America by the fascist US government. Sweden is often used for this sort of thing. They’re a bit like the Swiss in that regard.

I am sorry to rain on the parade – because John B is copying directly from a defence written by Assange’s lawyer.

However, lets come back to reality – news flash:

Today the Supreme Court of Sweden upheld the order of the lower courts which states that Assange is suspected of rape, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of sexual coercion

Now this is becoming truly a place for the loonies in the left – and everyone falls hook line and sinker based on what the defence attorny for the accused says.

Its like agreeing with Glenn Beck that the tea party do not have any nutters in them.

What;s wrong with you folks?

And as for me, I would believe what the Supreme Court of Sweden has to say on this than his defence lawyer – fffs

12. Flowerpower

John B

Setting this particular case and its rather special context aside, you do see it is possible that a woman might consent to sex on condition a condom was used and have grounds for legal complaint if her sex partner failed to keep his word?

I mean – it’s not such a weird, Swedish thing…. could happen anywhere.

3 – He’s a warmongering sod who puts extraordinary energy into defending the U.S. crimes of past and present…In the circles that he moves, however, this would seen as a veritable boon.

Shamit,

Today the Supreme Court of Sweden upheld the order of the lower courts which states that Assange is suspected of rape, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of sexual coercion

Learn how to read.
The Supreme Court upheld a detention order for questioning. There are still no formal charges.

Just being doing some interesting reading on Swedish law and if my interpretation is correct, it is somewhat strange by our standards.

For a start, there is normally no jury. The judges (a mixture of professionals and lay judges – a bit like our magistrates I presume) make the verdict, and in some criminal cases (presumably the more serious ones) there is a majority of professional judges in the court. So it would be conceivable that Sweden could convict people quite easily for crimes they had not committed, although I suspect that courts have to be public (not stated, but they come from a very public court tradition).

There is an interesting exemption to all this – freedom of expression cases are pre-screened by a nine-person jury. So if a case concerns freedom of expression, it is (initially) much more similiar to an Anglophone legal system.

Conspiracy theorists can play with this information quite easily, but I’d recommend confirming it first – at least what the composition of the court to try Mr Assange’s case would be. Just thought this was quite interesting.

14 – is there more than a semantic difference between being ‘accused’ of rape as per the op, and being ‘suspected’ of rape as per the Swedish Supreme Court? I’d certainly agree that both are substantially lower than ‘charged’ with rape.

Tim/uklibery/Shamit,

Can I suggest you stop having a semantic debate about this in English, since the Swedish proclamation in question would presumably be in Swedish.

Any Swedish (or Danish) speakers who can help with this?

I did not say he has been charged – an arrest warrant has been issued in suspicion of rape and sexual molestation.

So I did not say charged – I said the Court has uphled an order from the lower courts to issue an arrest warrant. So what did I say wrong

Tim J, I agree with your point. My response to Shamit is part-based on an earlier comment he made in another thread as well as his comment above (my emphasis in bold):

And, I guess being accused of rape and not facing the charges is okay now – or does the law and our sensibilities change because this wanker Assange is a hero.

Other commenters have so far been careful to distinguish between “being accused” and “facing charges”.

Shamit,

I did not say he has been charged – an arrest warrant has been issued in suspicion of rape and sexual molestation.

So I did not say charged – I said the Court has uphled an order from the lower courts to issue an arrest warrant. So what did I say wrong

See my response to Tim J.

Funny how contributors to this blog routinely complain about rape charges being dealt with too leniently by prosecutors… except, it seems, when a certain cyber-criminal is the accused. Usually the moaning is that prosecutors dismiss womens’ allegations all too easily, but in the Assange case the women accusers are to be dismissed with nary a wave of the hand. Curious.

21. the a&e charge nurse

[17] this should give a translation if anybody has an electronic version of the relevant ruling?
http://translate.google.co.uk/?hl=en&tab=wT#

Uk Liberty:

When I said facing the charges – I meant him going to Sweden and dealing with the accusations. never ever did I say he was charged with rape. So, if I was unclear I apologise but what I meant was he should go to Sweden and deal with this accusations and not hide here.

UK Liberty – Do you accept that this post is erroneous at least?

That yes Assange is accused of rape and he should go and subject himself to questioning or are you joining the grouthink that no there is no case to answer for – so as far as the law in Sweden goes if he does not return – he is absconding and usually innocent people don’t run away from courts.

And as for this post – this is proper Faux News style article – so women who go to police and accuse him of rape are now lying according to this post or have been coerced by the Swedish police to give false testimony.

Anything else – bollocks.

…I would believe what the Supreme Court of Sweden has to say on this than his defence lawyer…

Shorter: Don’t trust that false authority; truth this false authority!

A&E, you can get the general gist from Google Translate but can’t rely on it for precision.

@24: Even shorter. Trust who you want to believe

Ben Six – Hang on.

So, the Supreme Court of a country is not trustworthy in defining its own laws but a defence attorney of a suspected criminal is. I am sorry but that just does not make sense.

A defence lawyer’s goal is to get his client off at any cost as long as he does not commit a criminal act while doing so – while the Supreme Court of any country is the custodian of its laws and Constitution and you find them to be equal authorities.

Wow – no wonder I call you lot the loony left -

Imagine if the thing was turned – a defence attorney for Glenn beck says something and the UK supreme Court says something completely different on that case – who would you believe?

So why the different treatment – oops I forgot you don’t give a shit about the law – its all ideological and then you wonder why the country votes in Centrist PMs. And actually so did the Labour MPs and Constituency party members -

“Larssen’s early death? Well, I wouldn’t put money on natural causes…”

Larssen was a 60 a day smoker who was regularly warned that he was mistreating his body, and who eventually died of a heart attack, after climbing 7 flights of stairs when an elevator broke. Your conspiracy theory here does set rather a poor tone for the rest of the piece, I must say.

“Mr Assange is a threat to the comfy order of international lying, various mad Americans want him dead, and so complying with international pressure to lie that poor bedroom etiquette is the same thing as rape fits in.”

Here, as per the New York Times, is what Assange has been accused of, and it hardly amounts to merely poor bedroom etiquette:

According to accounts the women gave to the police and friends, they each had consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange that became nonconsensual. One woman said that Mr. Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke. The other woman said that she and Mr. Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use. Mr. Assange has questioned the veracity of those accounts.

You can argue, if you like, that the allegations lack veracity. I make no judgement about whether Assange is guilty. But it is utterly irresponsible to ridicule the nature of the allegations themselves. Sweden is far from deranged to take seriously complaints by women that their partners refused to stop having sex with them when they withdrew their consent. Indeed, I don’t see that it is inappropriate to use the word ‘rape’ to describe such behaviour.

Shamit,

That yes Assange is accused of rape and he should go and subject himself to questioning or are you joining the grouthink that no there is no case to answer for – so as far as the law in Sweden goes if he does not return – he is absconding and usually innocent people don’t run away from courts.

He is absconding? Running away? You seem to be spinning things yourself.

I agree that Assange has been accused of rape – because, um, he has been. But in today’s case the Supreme Court apparently downgraded the rape accusation to the equivalent of a minor felony (maximum four years prison IIUC). Regardless, he ought to submit to questioning. But anyone in his position would be concerned about where they will eventually end up, surely?

It is my understanding that in August, when the original accusations were made, a warrant was issued and then retracted; charges were made and dropped. What has happened between now and then? As I say, all very odd.

Indeed, I don’t see that it is inappropriate to use the word ‘rape’ to describe such behaviour.

Agreed: stop means stop.

32. the a&e charge nurse

[29] the timing of allegations seem rather convenient from the point of view of the anti-WikiLeak lobby?

I just don’t buy the serial condom problem (I might if it was an inexperienced youngster, say) – especially given that even if the rape accusation do not stand up it still leaves the potential for additional charges related to condom crimes if the case is heard in Sweden?

So, the Supreme Court of a country is not trustworthy in defining its own laws…

Er, no – not absolutely. Someone’s job description doesn’t necessarily describe their job.

…a defence attorney of a suspected criminal is…

Er, no.

I forgot you don’t give a shit about the law…

“I forgot” is presumably serving the purpose of “I just made up that…”?

UK Liberty – that i accept that there is something fishy here – but I am not going to second guess the Supreme Court of a country as Ben Six does and equate them to a defence attorney.

The source for this is an Australian site called Crikey, that uses writes ‘r-pe’ and ‘s-x’ rather than speak in big boy language?

“I just don’t buy the serial condom problem (I might if it was an inexperienced youngster, say) – especially given that even if the rape accusation do not stand up it still leaves the potential for additional charges related to condom crimes if the case is heard in Sweden?”

I don’t follow your point, sorry – probably my fault. But the allegation is that the condom burst, Assange was asked to stop, and he refused. I do not see how this is a ‘problem’ that could only happen to an ‘inexperienced youngster’. Refusing to stop makes one guilty of non-consensual sex, which is never merely ‘bad bedroom etiquette’, as the OP astonishingly claims.

37. the a&e charge nurse

The story presented by the NYT implies that Assange raped his first victim after a condom broke (presumably the last condom available in Sweden or wherever the act took place).
“The other woman said that she and Mr. Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use”.

How extraordinary, a man rapes his first victim (instead of buying a packet of johnnies) – then presumably having got the taste for it goes through a near identical routine of raping another partner, despite the fact she was initially consenting but then changed her mind because of what for Assange must have become a rather predictable condom issue?

As I say the story doesn’t seem to stack up especially when the accused is feared because of association with WikiLeaks?

Someone above says this: One woman said that Mr. Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke.

The OP says this: [the alleged victim] didn’t mind the lack of condom at the time, but who subsequently was cross about the fact that he didn’t use a condom

Which is correct?

39. Flowerpower

a& e charge nurse @ 37

I think you’ve got the order wrong. The broken condom was in Chapter 2, as it were.

But could Tim J or any other legal eagle here tell us what the legal position would be here if the following scenario took place:

Woman invites man back to her flat for sex. She supplies him with a condom and makes clear her consent is conditional upon him using it.

The two have consensual sex and then fall asleep.

The woman awakes next morning in a state of partial arousal to find the man stroking her. Before she knows what’s happening they are having (apparently consensual) sex again.

Only when it’s over and the man has rolled off does it dawn on the woman that this time he had not used a condom. The packet with two left in it is on the bedside table.

She is furious he didn’t bother.

Has she been raped? Assaulted? What, then?

I’m disappointed to see this piece up at LibCon to be honest. I mean, I get that we all want Assange to be beyond reproach so we can hail him as this big heroic figure and all that, but the fact is that he just might not be Mr bloody Perfect..

Soho Politico is absolutely right. If the women withdrew consent and Assange carried on regardless, then that’s rape. It would be rape in this country, rape in the USA, and so there’s nothing weird about the fact that it’s also rape in Sweden.

If consent for sex was given only on certain conditions being met, and those conditions were not met, then consent wasn’t given, and it’s rape. Pretty straight forward.

The man desrves a fair trial though to prove he was guilty of doing what is said he did. The trouble is that Sweden has an unfortunate reputation at the moment for prosectuting people because of pressure from the US.

[39] my comments followed on from the NYT item highlighted at 29.

This article claims, “one woman said that Mr. Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke. The other woman said that she and Mr. Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use”.

Two rapes – two condom malfunctions ……….. allegedly?

43. Shatterface

A law against unprotected sex would be tyrannical as well as absurd – but that’s not he’s being accused of.

If wearing a condom is a condition on which consent is given then that consent ends the moment he stops wearing one.

If he’d been asked to stop for ANY other reason – or for no reason at all – we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

The moment a woman says stop you fucking stop.

Yes, if Soho Political’s right – and she’d clearly expressed a desire to stop – that would be rape. The charge that she “didn’t mind [it] at the time” stems from this…

In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the “crime” and tweeted to her followers that she is with the “the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!”. Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern.

45. Chaise Guevara

@ 40 Cath Elliott

“I’m disappointed to see this piece up at LibCon to be honest. I mean, I get that we all want Assange to be beyond reproach so we can hail him as this big heroic figure and all that, but the fact is that he just might not be Mr bloody Perfect..”

Very true. Although I think this is less about defending his reputation and more about trying to work out whether he’s being smeared (i.e. the big issue re Wikileaks is whether the US and Swedish governments are using this as an issue of repression).

“The tabloid press creates an impression, by sensationalising the trials of those few women who make proveably-false fake rape claims, that lying about rape is a common thing. It isn’t”

This isn’t really true.

Estimations of false claims range from one or two percent (various feminists etc) to as high as 10% (Baroness Stern’s report mentioned this number).

And as we keep being told, the conviction rate for rape is 6% or so.

So the estimation of false claims is of roughly the same number as the number of rapes that we actually manage to prove someone did.

This really isn#t “uncommon” then, is it?

47. Shatterface

‘In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the “crime” and tweeted to her followers that she is with the “the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!”. Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern.’

So are you saying that both women made these stories up? That they are, in fact, in the pay of the CIA or someone?

Funny how the MSM is so hostile to this man and his site. I thought the media liked getting information to publish.

Oh silly Sally, you forgot, the MSM is just a PR organisation for the global elites and their rich friends. It is frankly priceless to watch the overpaid news anchors tut , tutting and complaining about the ethics of the way this information was obtained. Murdoch’s joke organisation was bugging peoples phones and their editor was so stupid he did not even Know. (or so he claims)

Remember, Dick Cheney outed a CIA agent Valerie Plame because she dared to suggest that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Not a squeak did we hear about that. Her cover was blown but the MSM cheered Cheney on because they are nothing more than his Pravda.

@Tim

Here you go, Rape Stats.

Learn a little from our own great Unity. It appears your 10% is a little suspect, to say the least.

@ sally

“Oh silly Sally, you forgot, the MSM is just a PR organisation for the global elites and their rich friends. It is frankly priceless to watch the overpaid news anchors tut , tutting and complaining about the ethics of the way this information was obtained. ”

It’s not just that, Wikileaks is direct competition to their business model. If people have unfettered access to the original sources, then what use the commentariat? It’s why blogs are routinely attacked. People doing their own research? releasing for free? allowing people to make up thier own minds? madness! the death of informed journalism!

If the MSM had been doing their job properly and holding the rich and powerful’s feet up to the fire, Wikileaks wouldn’t be needed.

y quien se cree esto?????Animo fundador de wikileaks eres el mejor

“If the MSM had been doing their job properly and holding the rich and powerful’s feet up to the fire, Wikileaks wouldn’t be needed.”

Indeed.

@1 Watchman “So basically it is easier to say something the government doesn’t like in a country like Britain or the US, with very clear rules of law, than it is in Sweeden where the state has strange authority to make things up?”

No. In fact, Sweden is joint #1 (i.e. joint best) in the World Press Freedom rankings. (Australia is 18th, the UK 19th, the US 20th. NZ is 8th, Ireland 9th. http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html )

@35 Foomandoonian: “The source for this is an Australian site called Crikey, that uses writes ‘r-pe’ and ‘s-x’ rather than speak in big boy language?”

It sort of makes sense if you read to the bottom of the article where the author identifies himself as a (former?) lawyer for Assange. I’m assuming that the author is trying to avoid turning up in web searches for Assange and the allegations. A bit silly in my opinion but it is the sort of thing people do when they don’t understand how the web and links work.

This shows why we need to get rid of the European arrest warrant

If Sweden was such a poor country for free expression, why does Wikileaks still have servers based there (which, unlike their US servers, haven’t been shut down yet, although they have been subject to severe DDoS attacks – which, however, there is no good reason to blame the Swedish government for)?

Now there’s a bunch of conspiracy-theorising rape-apologist rubbish if I’ve ever seen one; add me to the list of those disappointed to see it on LibCon. Newsflash: it’s entirely possible to do many heroic acts for lefty (or indeed righty) causes and be a rapist or other sex offender. It doesn’t imply that the justice system of that country is suddenly corrupt if they then decide to investigate.

BenSix/44: certainly the idea that a woman who is raped should:
– instantly recognise what happened as rape
– immediately report it
– have no contact with her rapist after that
means that women who don’t do those have reduced chance of getting a conviction.

On the other hand, they’re also all extremely commonplace, so it’s hardly the “and therefore he obviously couldn’t have raped her” evidence that his defence lawyer suggests. Though, of course, it’s his defence lawyer’s job to pretend that it is.

There certainly seems from the prosecution’s statements to be a case to answer, worth bringing to trial, for something that would be a crime in, as Cath Elliott says, pretty much any country with a half-decent rape law.

@46 Tim Worstall: Estimations of false claims range from one or two percent (various feminists etc) to as high as 10% (Baroness Stern’s report mentioned this number).

These are all estimates, or, if we’re being honest, guesses. I don’t know what proportion of rape allegations are false, and I do not believe anyone else in the UK knows either. Short of fitting up every bedroom with CCTV cameras, I’m not even sure it’s possible to know.

@48 sally: It is frankly priceless to watch the overpaid news anchors tut , tutting and complaining about the ethics of the way this information was obtained. Murdoch’s joke organisation was bugging peoples phones and their editor was so stupid he did not even Know. (or so he claims)

Good point. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

As to whether Assange is a rapist, these allegations are very conveniently timed for the authorities.

So, yet another vicious and ugly post on Liberal Conspiracy. We’ve had homophobia and celebrations of violence in the streets. Now we get denigrations of women who claim they were sexually abused, including this troofer-style line:

Well, that’d be the “Wikileaks being an massive embarrassment to polite political society” thing. Mr Assange is a threat to the comfy order of international lying, various mad Americans want him dead, and so complying with international pressure to lie that poor bedroom etiquette is the same thing as rape fits in.

The Tories should fund this blog. It does an excellent job of discrediting the left.

Imagine if the thing was turned – a defence attorney for Glenn beck says something and the UK supreme Court says something completely different on that case – who would you believe?

So if, say, the Home Office of the United Kingdom said that Glenn Beck was engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts, and he denied it, you’d believe the Home Office? What if, instead of Glenn Beck, it was Michael Savage?

its all ideological and then you wonder why the country votes in Centrist PMs.

Eh? Has Ed Miliband been elected PM already?

FWIW, and going back through the quotes from one of the women in the Guardian back in August, I think the complaint of rape stems from both women comparing notes afterwards and finding that they both had a sexual encounter with Assange during which the condom broke and he then persuaded them to continue without it. The inference being that this was a trick on his part to have unprotected sex, rather than a coincidence. Personally, while it might make him a bastard, I don’t believe it constitutes rape.

Tron,

FWIW, and going back through the quotes from one of the women in the Guardian back in August, I think the complaint of rape stems from both women comparing notes afterwards and finding that they both had a sexual encounter with Assange during which the condom broke and he then persuaded them to continue without it. The inference being that this was a trick on his part to have unprotected sex, rather than a coincidence. Personally, while it might make him a bastard, I don’t believe it constitutes rape.

But apparently the women claim consent was predicated on use of condoms. If that is true, and if he had tricked them, are you saying it would nevertheless not amount to rape?

Incidentally, if John B is wrong in that “No, Wikileaks’s Julian Assange isn’t accused of rape”, will John B, LibCon and nearly 200 retweeters make a retraction?

64. Dennis Spence

Wanted for rape? No! Here are MORE the facts.

The complaint was lodged by a radical feminist Anna Ardin, 30, a one-time intern in the Swedish Foreign Service. She’s spokeswoman for Broderskapsrörelsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden’s Social Democratic Party. She had invited Julian Assange to a crayfish party, and they had enjoyed some quality time together. When Ardin discovered that Julian shared a similar experience with a 20-year-old woman a day or two later, she obtained the younger woman’s cooperation in declaring before the police that changing partners in so rapid a manner constituted a sort of deceit. And deceit is a sort of rape. The prosecutor immediately issued an arrest warrant, and the press was duly notified. Once the facts were examined in the cold light of day, the charge of rape seemed ludicrous and was immediately dropped. In the meantime the younger woman, perhaps realizing how she had been used, withdrew her report, leaving the vengeful Anna Ardin standing alone.

One of the documents dumped showed how the US stopped the Spanish from investigating American torture,

“Attention has focused on three separate matters, each pending in the Spanish national security court, the Audiencia Nacional: the investigation into the 2003 death of a Spanish cameraman, José Cuoso, as a result of the mistaken shelling of Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel by a U.S. tank; an investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; and a probe into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for extraordinary renditions flights, including the one which took Khaled El-Masri to Baghdad and then on to Afghanistan in 2003.
These cables reveal a large-scale, closely coordinated effort by the State Department to obstruct these criminal investigations [...]
Diplomats routinely monitor and report on legal cases that affect national interests. These cables show that the U.S. embassy in Madrid had far exceeded this mandate, however, and was actually successfully steering the course of criminal investigations, the selection of judges, and the conduct of prosecutors. Their disclosure has created deep concern about the independence of judges in Spain and the manipulation of the entire criminal justice system by a foreign power.”

America likes fucking over other countries criminal justice systems so who is surprised.

66. Shatterface

All this could have been avoided if defendants in rape cases were granted anonymity until after a succesful prosecution.

“But apparently the women claim consent was predicated on use of condoms. If that is true, and if he had tricked them, are you saying it would nevertheless not amount to rape?”

Yes, because to me rape is characterised by a man forcing a woman (or another man) to have sex against their will, and neither woman has said that that happened. Their claim is that their consent to continue having sex after the condom broke was only reluctantly given. They have said that he wasn’t violent, he wasn’t intimidating, he didn’t force them to continue – he persuaded them to. So, I don’t see how it can be rape.

68. Luis Enrique

I’m a bit confused by all this. is the accusation that:

1. the condom broke, at the time wanted to carry on anyway. Later the women objected to this.
2. the condom broke, and at that time the women withdrew consent, but he forced them to carry on anyway. At first they made no complaint, did so later.

I don’t think 1. is rape. Unless consent was withdrawn at the time, he was not having sex without consent. 2. clearly is.

I suppose there is a grey area is they were “persuaded” to consent to carry on. But that strikes me as very grey indeed – somebody is persuaded to give consent, they have given consent – unless persuasion amounted to coercion.

69. Luis Enrique

oh crap – missing bit “at the time the women wanted to carry on anyway”

@67 Tron: “Their claim is that their consent to continue having sex after the condom broke was only reluctantly given. They have said that he wasn’t violent, he wasn’t intimidating, he didn’t force them to continue – he persuaded them to. So, I don’t see how it can be rape.”

This is not a convincing argument in favour of Assagne. If a condom splits, you think “woops” and get another one out of the packet.

@70 This is not a convincing argument in favour of Assagne. If a condom splits, you think “woops” and get another one out of the packet.

You and I might. But I’m not making an argument “in favour” of Assange. I can readily believe that he did do it on purpose and that he is a chauvinist who wanted to have sex without a condom. Still, that doesn’t make him a rapist – he did not force them to have or to continue to have sex. I know men who have used bogus declarations of love and fidelity to persuade women to have unprotected sex with them. It’s not nice, but it’s not rape either.

@68 Luis Enrique: “1. the condom broke, at the time (the women) wanted to carry on anyway.”

The prosecution will argue that the women’s judgement was impaired and that Assagne should have acted more rationally.

On a positive note, not too many quickies for Assagne in the immediate future.

I am not surprised of this…

74. the a&e charge nurse

[68] yes – very confusing.

According to this report, ‘both women met to discuss their experiences before going to the police – later they (? jointly) retained prominent attorney Claes Borgstrom, who met with them Monday. He was Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman from 2000 to 2007. In 2008 he was appointed as the Social Democrats’ spokesperson on gender issues’.
http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/20773/

The first sexual encounter took place 14th August – the second three days later.
The Fail claim the Yard are poised to nick Assange,
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1334899/WIKILEAKS-Julian-Assange-arrested-Swedish-rape-Interpol-issues-warrant.html?ITO=1490

Why has it taken nearly 4 months to press charges when two violent crimes are alleged to have taken place?

75. the a&e charge nurse

[72] “the prosecution will argue that the women’s judgement was impaired” – by what, pressure to take down somebody responsible for WikiLeaks?

58/Phil Hunt: “these allegations are very conveniently timed for the authorities.

Given that he’s not spent that much time in Sweden, when else would they have been made? He’s been inconveniencing governments for so long that any time would be convenient for them.

61/Tron: I don’t believe it constitutes rape.

Fortunately the law disagrees. I’m not familiar with Swedish law, but under English law, Sexual Offences Act 2003 Section 76.2.a there is clearly a case to answer in those circumstances.

66/Shatterface: All this could have been avoided if defendants in rape cases were granted anonymity until after a succesful prosecution.

The idea that Assange is being harmed by too much press freedom amuses me.

“Assange, who has been missing from public life for undisclosed reasons for the last twelve months, recently resurfaced. We know perfectly well where he was, but have been legally instructed not to report on it. Perhaps you should check Wikileaks for the secret government documents detailing his location instead.”

Public justice is generally for the defendant’s benefit.

@76: Fortunately the law disagrees. I’m not familiar with Swedish law, but under English law, Sexual Offences Act 2003 Section 76.2.a there is clearly a case to answer in those circumstances.

Neither woman has accused him of decieving them as to the nature or purpose of the act or of impersonating someone they know. So, no case to answer there.

Tron/71: “decieving them as to the nature [...] of the act” seems a fairly good description of obtaining consent on the condition that a condom was used and then later not using a condom.

But they knew that a condom was not in use but were persuaded to continue with the act. The nature of the act changed, but they were not decieved about that and were talked into consenting to continue.

80. the a&e charge nurse

[78] how is it possible to deceive somebody about wearing a condom?

The packet has to be opened – the condom has to be put in placed – and it is usually polite to check that the recipient does not suffer with a latex allergy since anaphylaxis can often ruin the moment.

Are you suggesting that Assange inflicted consecutive acts of rape in a pitch black room?

@75 the a&e charge nurse: ““the prosecution will argue that the women’s judgement was impaired” – by what, pressure to take down somebody responsible for WikiLeaks?”

Thanks, a&e, but I was trying to avoid stating that horny women are prone to irrationality. This is not a made-up fact but one that is supported by the number of children conceived outside of stable relationships. Horny women do not always act in their own interests or those of a future, unperceived child.

You could have had a go at me that in the scenario of a good heterosexual shag, the male and female participants might have acted equally irrationally when condom problems arose. We do not know whether that occurred.

But you chose conspiracy theory to address my point. I believe that security agencies meddle with civil behaviour; I have experienced it personally. However if you believe that Assange is the victim of a plot, your sympathy is misplaced.

It does seem to me to be a genius-level move to accuse Assange not of mere rape simple, but of a complex one in a country with an unfamiliar legal system (Sweden being one of the relatively few countries worldwide never to have been occupied by the UK, France or a subcontractor thereof).

That way, you are sure to get people talking rape-apologist bollocks in what they think is his ‘defence’.

Occam’s razor says it is quite likely not a smear, but a just a logical consequence of applied transparency. Of the 20 top or so people involved in wikileaks, some proportion of them will, statistically speaking, also have been involved in one thing or other immoral and/or illegal. Picking the most useful is just an exercise in ego-tweaking and PR.

@81

Thanks, a&e, but I was trying to avoid stating that horny women are prone to irrationality. This is not a made-up fact but one that is supported by the number of children conceived outside of stable relationships. Horny women do not always act in their own interests or those of a future, unperceived child.

Er, wouldn’t the same also apply to horny men? Is that really something that should be dragged into a courtroom, given that it would make “Mr. How Do I Not Rape Someone It Is So Difficult” a valid position?

Ffs. What is it with this site? First you play the nasty old trick of a gay “smear” against a councillor because you don’t like his opinions on economics, then you pull this rather unpleasant trick against a couple of women whose case hasn’t yet been heard, and all because in your stupid little world, if someone does something good (which Assange undoubtedly has done in his capacity as a publisher of guilty secrets) they have to be regarded as a saint, incapable of doing any wrong. No bloody wonder we never make any real progress.

If one adds the two posts together, it might even suggest that there are some really weird hang-ups about sex (as well as to lots of other things) on the left.

As you don’t tolerate misogynistic comments on this site, how about you stop tolerating misogynistic posts too?

@81 – so you are saying that they went along with the sex because they were horny, but both regretted it later but weren’t influenced in that decision?

cim – Well, yes, I wasn’t endorsing the suggestion. On the other hand, a guilty charge would be convenient for all manner of bastards that anomalies should be noted, even if it would unjust to draw conclusions from them.

I’ll admit to either misunderstanding or being hoodwinked by the Crikey piece. I didn’t realise that the accusation was that she’d asked for him to stop mid-way through the, er — process, but thought she’d agreed to barebacking, gone through with it and then thought, “In retrospect…” Can’t tell if that was John’s thinking as well.

Seems to me any discussion about this case – such as it is – should be left well alone until actual verifiable facts are known, or at least what Assange is actually accused of. Right now it’s gossipy weblinks here and Swedish translations of prosecuters or lawyers there – not really enough to think about in terms of who what where and why.

I’d agree that it is convenient for the establishment for these charges (if they are such) to be brought against Assange, however I’d also agree with whoever mentioned Occam’s blade upthread – statistically there are going to be some morally dubious or downright evil scumbags working in any organisation.

None of this changes the debate surrounding Wikileaks – I do not use George W Bush as an example of why I hate democracy, or the BNP’s Nick Eriksen [who claimed that being raped was on par with being force-fed chocolate] as an example of why I hate free speech, or the personal peccadilloes of former Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten as an example of why the Lib Dems are not a good party to support – and I remain in favour of Wikileaks as an organisation and its function at the present time.

tl;dr – Assange =/= Wikileaks.

Is the accusation that:
1. the condom broke, at the time [they] wanted to carry on anyway. Later the women objected to this.
2. the condom broke, and at that time the women withdrew consent, but he forced them to carry on anyway. At first they made no complaint, did so later.

The accusation is 1.

If the accusation was 2, it’d be unequivocally rape, and I wouldn’t have written the bloody article.

“The tabloid press creates an impression that … lying about rape is a common thing… It isn’t.”

Actually lying about rape is extremely common. Eugene Kanin’s study “False Rape Allegations”, published in the peer reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior (Vol. 23, No. 1, Feb 1994) showed that 41% of rape allegations are false.

A few more housekeeping things:

1) Crikey started as (and still is) an email newsletter, hence the euphemisms – they’re filter-beaters, not coyness. It’s Australia’s biggest alternative political publication, equivalent to something like Private Eye in the UK.

2) Yes, the piece is by Assange’s lawyer, but it’s making falsifiable statements of fact based on the evidence the Swedish prosecution has disclosed to him. Lawyers in Anglosphere jurisdictions don’t get to stay lawyers by proveably lying about statements of fact, so it’s reasonable to accept his factual claims about what the prosecution are alleging (it would not be reasonable to accept his claims about Assange’s character, or about *what actually happened* on the occasions in question, but that isn’t what the piece is doing).

3) The Larssen reference wasn’t entirely serious.

91. the a&e charge nurse

[87] “Seems to me any discussion about this case – such as it is – should be left well alone until actual verifiable facts are known, or at least what Assange is actually accused of” – agreed (even though I’m more guilty than most) – what seems to be emerging is a very convoluted set of circumstances that seem to be speculative rather than fact based?

Tron/79: The allegation, though, is that this is something he does repeatedly. There’s a definite element of deception to obtain consent there if so, which there wouldn’t be if it was genuinely accidental and just a coincidence that it happened twice in quick succession. I’m not saying he’s guilty, I’m saying there appears to be a case to answer.

Incidentally, when it comes to – say – con artists scamming people out of thousands of pounds of money – we have no trouble at all recognising that consent that was apparently freely given on the assumption that the facts were as claimed, was in fact obtained by deception if the con artist was concealing relevant facts [1], and allow people to legally retroactively state that they wouldn’t have given consent (to the transfer of money) had they been in possession of those facts, and arrest the con artist on relevant fraud charges. Applying your argument from this case to those cases, the law should be “if you don’t spot the con at the time it’s your own fault”.

[1] e.g.: “I am not actually from your bank and you don’t need to give me £30 in cash to settle an overdraft charge out of court”

Ben Nutley/89: Kanin? You’re quoting Kanin as a serious reference? Come on, if you’re wanting to pick a methodologically terrible study that analyses certain law enforcement officers’ personal opinions (from the wrong country) on the prevalence of false allegations and claim that it measures false allegations, to prove that most women who report rape are lying liars who lie, why not use Stewart?

Have to agree with Mr S Pill @ 87. Was reflecting on this last night and felt uncomfortable about the whole thing – no-one in this thread is competent to comment (of course I concede I am part of it) and it seems a bit wrong too.

I think the kicker was the sheer number of blind retweets without comment.

Incidentally I think the record of those tweets has slowed down this page.

Geekgirl.

It could only be a leak if he was wearing a condom in the first place .

“Actually lying about rape is extremely common. Eugene Kanin’s study “False Rape Allegations”, published in the peer reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior (Vol. 23, No. 1, Feb 1994) showed that 41% of rape allegations are false.”

…and 512% of statistics are made up on the spot, try Unity’s post on Rape Stats for something which doesn’t cut its own throat with Occam’s Razor.

96. Chaise Guevara

@ 92 CIM

There’s got to be a limit to how far you can define sex obtained via deception as rape, though. Is it rape if a guy tells a girl that he loves her when he doesn’t, or if a wife lies when her husband asks whether she’s been unfaithful, assuming that if either of those statements had been replaced with the truth the people involved would not have gone on to have sex? Doubtless maniacs exist who would call the first of those rape at least, but I doubt you’re one of them.

A contract is one thing, human behaviour another. You could argue that we’re all deceiving one another all the time, even if that means telling someone they look nice when they don’t, or putting a brave face on things when you feel down. And we probably do a lot of that deceiving within relationships or when out on the pull.

Pretending you’re using a condom when you’re not is wrong, irresponsible and should be illegal if it isn’t already, just like it’s illegal to knowingly have unprotected sex when you have an STD without telling the partner. Describing either of those as rape distorts reality and is suggestive of an instinctive desire to find a reason to describe any sexual act as rape (you know, the sort of thing you hear from the “she had a glass of wine so it’s rape” school).

[95] Data on populations does not tell us about the particulars of a single case.
Neither should an individual be penalised (if innocent) because of crimes committed by others.

This has to be the starting point for any legal process.

Could the legal eagles clarify once more?

If a woman makes it a condition of her consent that a man wears a condom on a Monday night…. and they have consensual sex…. is the man still bound by that condition on waking up on Tuesday morning? Or does the woman have to repeat her condition on the Tuesday morning?

‘There’s got to be a limit to how far you can define sex obtained via deception as rape, though. Is it rape if a guy tells a girl that he loves her when he doesn’t, or if a wife lies when her husband asks whether she’s been unfaithful, assuming that if either of those statements had been replaced with the truth the people involved would not have gone on to have sex? Doubtless maniacs exist who would call the first of those rape at least, but I doubt you’re one of them.’

Love’s a subjective feeling impossible to define let alone prove but you’re either wearing a condom or you’re not. There’s no gray area here.

100. Shatterface

Chinatown’s a great movie.

Roman Polanski was a rapist.

You don’t neef to be iin the pay of the CIA to hold both propositions true.

101. Chaise Guevara

99

“Love’s a subjective feeling impossible to define let alone prove but you’re either wearing a condom or you’re not. There’s no gray area here.”

True, although hypothetically you could go a long way to proving he was lying by recording a conversation he had with someone else about it.

Faithfulness, in the sense of “not having sex with someone else”, is objective though, and I wouldn’t call the aforementioned woman lying about cheating on her husband a rapist.

Also: how close to the act of sex does the deception have to be? I used to know a guy who always lied about his job when on the pull, making up something that made him sound ridiculously cool or successful. If this helped him to get a woman into bed, is that rape?

I’m not saying that any of these things are equivalent to pretending to put on a condom. I’m saying that “sex + deception = rape” is a rule that leads you to some unpleasant places.

Flowerpower/98: Certainly on Tuesday morning he is still bound by the condition that sex carried out the previous night must be with a condom to have consent, and is therefore legally forbidden from using a time machine to return to the previous night to retrospectively not use one.

If you mean “under what terms does he have consent to sex on Tuesday morning” the answer is clearly “none, until he asks”. His partner can certainly choose to consent to sex without a condom on Tuesday morning, but he can’t assume that just as he can’t assume consent to sex at all.

(Also applies the other way round, of course: if consent was given to sex without a condom on Monday night, it doesn’t follow that the same consent will be given on Tuesday morning)

Shamit seems to feel it’s not ordinary peoples’ place to “second guess”‘ anything stated by a reputable “Supreme Court”. However, since I don’t believe the right to an opinion should be determined by someone’s place in society, I’m going to.

Frankly, the timing of this is just far too much of a coincidence – and I suspect getting bogged down in the detail of exactly what does and does not constitute rape is a waste of time. Yes, there’s a chance the allegations might be true. But the fact that no-one seems to be able to come up with a consistent summary of what the allegations actually ARE is slightly odd for starters.

Assange has not only made enemies of the Americans but also of the Russians (including the Russian mafia), the Chinese, numerous Arab governments, Italian right-wingers… the list goes on. While the US itself *might* find framing a high-profile political dissident somewhat risky – he now has plenty of other enemies who wouldn’t.

There are numerous ways in which these allegations could have been engineered, ranging from upfront entrapment to issuing threats after the event. So yes, there’s a chance he did it. But it’s a pretty small chance, by my reckoning.

The idea that he should submit himself to the courts and that he would be found innocent and freed if he hadn’t done anything wrong is just staggeringly naive.

Chaise/101: The English legal position is that the deception has to be about the “nature or purpose of the relevant act”. So lying about what sexual acts you’re going to do is rape (or another relevant sexual offence, depending on what you do), but lying about who you are – provided you’re not specifically impersonating another person, of course – remains legal.

(Purpose would cover a doctor claiming that a genital examination was medically necessary when in fact there were no medical grounds for it, for instance)

Can I merely express the hope that Wikileaks is more than just Mr Assange.

106. Chaise Guevara

@ 104 CIM

That’s fair. I still feel “rape” is rather strong for what he is accused of doing (if indeed that is what he is accused of doing), but from a legal perspective I think the important thing is to find a sensible place to draw a line in the sand. So while I disagree that lying about putting on a condom should count as rape, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable position to take. Likewise, if a woman told me she was on the pill when she wasn’t because she wanted to get pregnant, I would be as pissed as hell but would not consider myself to have been raped.

What does “purpose” mean in “nature and purpose”?

107. Chaise Guevara

@ 106

“What does “purpose” mean in “nature and purpose”?”

Sorry, you’ve already answered that!

108. Chaise Guevara

OK, from what I can work out, this is a possible (i.e. I’m not claiming its true) series of events:

1) Assange has consensual sex with two different women on two different occasions. In both case, the condom breaks, leading to them having unprotected sex. Both women are initially happy about the encounter.

2) The women meet, compare notes and conclude (rightly or wrongly) that Assange deliberately broke the condoms because he doesn’t like using them. They understandably feel deceived and used.

3) The women go to the police, who issue a warrant.

4) The case is dropped for some reason (lack of evidence, the belief that the nature of the alleged offence won’t hold up as illegal in court, whatever).

5) Wikileaks scandal.

6) Under international pressure, the government reopens Assange’s file and decides to reopen the case, providing a legal method of bringing him in, at which point he could be extradicted to the US or elsewhere to face trial over the Wikileaks affair.

If true, it’s not so much a conspiracy as a spur-of-the-moment tactic (the two women are not conspirators, for example). And it means that the alleged crimes of Assange are only relevant to Wikileaks because they may be being used as a weapon against him.

“Can I merely express the hope that Wikileaks is more than just Mr Assange”

I think there are a few others involved, the danger is more that others will be deterred from doing things like it because of the personal risks.

110. Flowerpower

Chaise

Assange has consensual sex with two different women on two different occasions. In both case, the condom breaks

This isn’t what is alleged to have happened.

What is alleged, apparently, in the case of Miss W, is something close to the hypothetical cases I have outlined above: i.e. that consensual sex with a condom took place on the Monday night. But no condom was used, allegedly, when sex took place again on the Tuesday morning.

I can imagine one group of lawyers might argue that a man would remain on constructive notice that the woman’s consent was (and would continue to be) conditional upon use of a condom; while another group might argue that the condition has to be restated every time.

111. Chaise Guevara

@ 110

Ah, right. There’s a debate to be had there (personally I can’t imagine how you could innocently assume that someone who so far had insisted on using a condom could be suddenly assumed to be happy not to use one). However, the conclusions reached are the same as far as this relates to Wikileaks.

The flimsiness of the charges has been picked up by this quite influential US site (my favourite finance site).

http://www.businessinsider.com/julian-assange-sex-crimes-2010-12

Assange has consensual sex with two different women on two different occasions. In both case, the condom breaks

No doubt where he got the name from………………

114. Anne Clarke

It does seem to me that it is irresponsible and perhaps criminally so to have unprotected sex with a person without their explicit agreement. I gather that is what happened ( or what the presumed victims are claiming happened) and I think it would be a form of “molestation” as I believe the Swedish authorities were calling it at one time or maybe assault. Basically not using a condom is equivalent to subjecting the partner to the risk of pregnancy (possibly; unless she was using contraception) or of several diseases some of which very serious.
So I would support any woman or authority who would pursue charges on this issue.
The motivation behind this particular case is highly suspect of course and the prosecutor’s office has engaged in an inconsistent course of action that is very prejudicial to the presumed offender; I would call it unfair and venal. The self proclaimed victims seem to have their own agenda but that is not really relevant to the legal responsibility for his actions that Mr Assange bears.
Whether the crimes he is accused of are extraditable is another issue entirely.

Jesus, how long does it take to scroll down to the comment box, bloody retweeters!

Anyway, now my finger’s recovered, a quick point about timing. Many people seem to be saying that the timing of the accusation is too convenient for the authorities. And it may well be so.

But one thing to remember here is that Mr (what is the Sweedish honorific, as Mr is technically incorrect?) Assange has not been a household name for that long. Wikileaks was originally a fairly anonymous organisation, and Mr Assange’s notoriety has only grown slowly. This has two important corrolaries:

1. There is a noticeable tendency for people who are relatively famous to be able to attract more sexual partners, and for there also to be a seemingly increased chance of accusations of sexual misconduct (I am basing this on news stories about footballers primarily, but I think it applies to other fields of celebrity also). I am not sure if this increased chance of accusations reflects simply more encounters or is a further development of fame, but regardless Mr Assange, who has been a well-known name (and to a lesser extent, face) in certain circles at least for most of this year, would seem to me to have a far greater chance than me of being accused of sexual misconduct because of his fame (not to mention the fact that my wife won’t let me go round picking up strangers – something about marriage vows ;) ).

2. If someone has felt uneasy or upset about a sexual encouonter with a famous person, there is much more potential reward in reporting this – the very report is more damaging should some form of anger be motivating the decision; there is also more possibility of financial gain in a high-profile case if we are (overly and unpleasantly) cyncial.

It is therefore less surprising than it might appear that as Mr Assange becomes better known he is accussed of something like this. The good news (for Mr Assange, and perhaps for natural justice, if not for some of our feminists) is that I cannot think of any fame-based accusation that has actually succeeded. For what it is worth, I am uncharacteristically inclined to believe this accusation is politicised, but that has to be a belief with the above considerations taken into account.

“Jesus, how long does it take to scroll down to the comment box, bloody retweeters!”

Press “end” on your key board, wonderful.

@114 – I hope you would also support a man who had been lied to about contraception in similar circumstances

As a Swede who has been following the case in the Swedish media…

Sweden has among the most progressive legislation in the world when it comes to sexual harassment and rape. I’m surprised that anyone other than a far-right Tory would call it ‘deranged’.

Swedish sexual harassment law works in the way that if a woman reports a man for rape, the man is automatically taken in for questioning, even if there is limited evidence. The expectation is that women are unlikely to report someone for rape unless it has happened and that (as we all know) rape is extremely difficult to prove. The law is designed to make it easier for women to report rape.

I have no idea about what evidence is in this case (and I’ve no idea where the condom story comes from – do you have any references?), but what I do know is that Assange HAS NOT come in for questioning in the case. As he hasn’t, the court has issued a warrant for him. It doesn’t mean anything other than that.

The Swedish court has said that it’s seeking Assange to talk about ‘en våldtäkt av mindre allvarlig art’ – ‘a not very serious rape’ (yes that sounds funny in English) and his Swedish lawyer expresses surprise that Interpol has gone out with a red alert. He also says it’s surprising that the prosecutor won’t let Assange testify at a Swedish embassy or via video link.

119. Planeshift

“Press “end” on your key board, wonderful.”

Then you have to scroll up a bit ;-)

Greetings All

I must say that I am very uneasy with broken promises and/or manipulative lies being defined as rape. The word rape is a decidedly loaded and emotive term of law, and I think it best for all if it were reserved exclusively for the kind of violent, brutal and forceful sex act that most of us (I’m sure) associate the word rape with.

Placing conditions on ones consent is fine, but if upon breach of those conditions (i.e. the removal or breakage of a condom) you fail to explicitly withdraw your consent, that does not constitute rape; assault perhaps, but not rape. If on the other hand you do explicitly withdraw consent, your sexual partner has a choice; he/she can force his/her self upon you (that’s rape) or he/she can acquiesce to your demands and stop (no does mean no, after-all).

The accusation as I interpret it is that on two separate occasions Julian Assange
had sex with women who may or may not have made explicit from the outset that their consent was conditional upon him wearing a condom. Accordingly Assange wore a condom from the outset, but at some point mid-coitus he either removed it or it ruptured. At this point his partners protested, and Assange persuaded each to continue having sex. Surely this meant that consent was given, albeit reluctantly, or are we to assume that the earlier conditions of consent take presidents, and in that assumption make tacit an assumption that women cannot change their minds mid-coitus (a dangerous assertion!)?

If the above interpretation of events is accurate, and in the absence of reliable commentary it may very well not be, this doesn’t even constitute assault. The women in question were persuaded to continue having sex, and to the best of my knowledge persuasion does not constitute coercion by any legal definition.

Also the notion that lying or misrepresentation (in the absence of any violence or forceful coercion) can be grounds for a rape charge; that is absolutely ridiculous! At best such despicable behaviour could be grounds for fraud (e.g. sexual fraud in cases where a partner lies about being on the contraceptive pill), assault (e.g. the wilful transmission of a non-terminal STD by a knowing carrier of said STD) or manslaughter/murder (e.g. the wilful transmission of a terminal STD by a knowing carrier of said STD). Now I’m sure nobody here would use the word rape to describe any of the above examples, or would you!?

Regards,

Lee.

Thanks Pontus. So Assange has been accused of våldtäkt (rape).

I see there is now an update to the OP:

Assange is being prosecuted for having sex without a condom, with someone who didn’t mind the lack of condom at the time, but who subsequently was cross about the fact that he didn’t use a condom.

[Editor's update: it seems it is more complicated than that. See this blog post too. Either way, it is not an allegation of sex without consent at the time of the act.]

But that blog post is entitled,

Arrest Warrant for “Sex Crimes” Against Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Is for “Sex Without a Condom”, NOT Non-Consensual Rape Using Force

And here is a real gem:

And Assange’s current London attorney – Mark Stephens – told AOL news that he doesn’t even know what the charges against Assange are, but that they are not rape

Doesn’t know what the charges are but he knows what they aren’t?

As I say, I’m a bit uncomfortable with this (yes, Sunny, I know I could read another blog…) particularly the 500+ uncritical retweets of “No, Wikileaks’s Julian Assange isn’t accused of rape”.

Aside from Pontus, aren’t we all even less competent than normal to talk about this?

ukliberty,

We are only less competent than normal to talk about this if we are discussing it as a trial (and in fact, we are then only as competent as normal when discussing similiar issues). OK, far too many commentators were discussing things in terms of English language and law, which is not ideal, but then threads are often full of the same sort of oversimplistic analysis (I know I tend to be guilty of it).

But if this is, as the original post insinuated, some effort to smear Mr Assange for political purposes then we are competent to discuss it. And commentators like yourself have been probing at the veracity of the charges in this light – is this politically motivated?

The nature of the charges and even their veracity become less important in such a situation, when the actual question is are these charges, or at least their reporting (which John was focussed on in the original post – shows the benefit of rereading something), a political manipulation of the justice system.

“Jesus, how long does it take to scroll down to the comment box, bloody retweeters!”

Press “end” on your key board, wonderful.

The page is 1,801Kb. Without the tweets, it’s 491Kb.

Watchman, I readily admit I’m no stranger to wading out of my depth, but it seems a little unreasonable for people (I include myself in this, I’m not saying I’m holier than thou) who can’t understand Swedish to comment on a Swedish case in terms of criticising the Swedish authorities, Swedish law, etc.

I don’t have any problem whatsoever with the thread developing into discussion of English law and whether consent can be conditional (e.g. predicated on condom use) and therefore is it rape if the condition is broken, and so on. That seems to me separate from the topic of the OP. But then to plaster conclusions from that on to the current case that we don’t understand or can have any competence at all to comment… that seems unreasonable.

At the heart of my uncomfortable feeling (and I may be making too much of it) really is that we don’t actually know what the formal allegations are, yet here is an article making a claim about them and its main point (in the title, which seems contrary to every media report in Sweden and worldwide) has been retweeted without enquiry (except from one or two people including Soho Politico), the Swedish authorities are corrupt, Swedish law is “deranged”, and there appears to be only one source for this: a lawyer who used to work for Assange. And the lawyer is an Australian who used to work in London, so I have to wonder about his competence in terms of the Swedish criminal justice system.

Mr S Pill @87 expresses my point more eloquently than I can (I agree with his whole comment).

ukliberty – there’s no doubt this is a legal grey area, and no doubt that I’m still finding it difficult to find out what both version of events are.

But I think JohnB was right to publish his opinion on the issue. I didn’t read the piece before it was published and added the note today after doing some catch-up on this.

There are two issues here. Feminists categorise a lot of acts as ‘rape’, which might not be legally defined as rape. They have a right to, and some feminists will undoubtedly also classify this as rape.

Others might not agree with them, and clearly johnb doesn’t. On top of that – the OP is referring to this not being rape in the English legal definition of the word rather than the Swedish definition. I should make that clear in the OP too.

ukliberty,

So we’ve both agreed that we both tend to comment first and think later?

Way back when I first commented on this thread (and therefore became the first comment that hundreds of retweeters will read…) I did point out that there was something of a surprise that liberal Sweden would turn out to be so tyrannical. It says a lot about the tweeters and those who see consiparicies everywhere (and I don’t know why, but I can’t help seeing one here dammit…) that they ignored the fact it was such a liberal country, and some people even portrayed it as subservient to the US…

Watchman,

So we’ve both agreed that we both tend to comment first and think later?

I plead the Fifth.

(thanks for the “end” tip whoever mentioned it!)

I think one thing that makes me slightly uncomfortable about this piece is that the title implies that the women involved are liars. Now, I know that the article itself doesn’t say that and goes on to make valid points about Swedish law et cetera, but if you were merely glancing through the re-tweets on twitter for example then you could come to that opinion. Which is a problem in my opinion because whenever a tabloid has a story about a false allegation of rape I always point out that in that case it should have the rest of the paper filled with true accounts (for balance and accurate reporting). It is the reporting of false allegations disproportiontely that leads to attitudes that have been mentioned here and elsewhere – that women routinely make up allegations of rape. Which as anyone who looks at the stats knows is a complete misrepresentation of the truth, but sadly it’s a myth that is out there.
It is up to us to break that myth – as feminists, as socialists, as liberals, as rational evidence-based thinkers, whatever – and (to get back to my point) the title of this piece alone sits uncomfortably with me because it (accidentally, subconsciously) paints the women as liars. Even if it turns out that they made the whole thing up and are in the pay of the CIA it doesn’t change the fact that millions of rapes go unreported all the time and focussing on this one chap who may or may not be being unfairly smeared – and the 400+ RTs – adds to that disproportionism that I deplore in the tabloid press.
I hope that’s clear… and I stand by my earlier comment that this shouldn’t really be discussed until we’re properly clear on what the allegations are (maybe we need an English speaking Swedish lawyer in this thread).

Appendum to my last post:
I think a better title would be “Just what is Julian Assange accused of?”
IMO.

@ Sunny

Feminists categorise a lot of acts as ‘rape’, which might not be legally defined as rape. They have a right to

Well I suppose they have.

They could accuse me of rape if I ate an apple and my teeth penetrated the skin, for that matter, but as that is not how rape is defined in law, I would not expect to be prosecuted.

Assange, apparently, is accused of “sex by surprise”.

Presumably the surprise element is that your partner appears to consent but then has you charged with rape?

@Mr. S Pill (128 & 129)

I have to contest your assertion that the title implies that the alleged victims are lying, in fact it does nothing of the sort. If anything the title “No, Wikileaks’s Julian Assange isn’t accused of rape” suggests that the mainstream media is at fault in misreporting the allegation as rape, which if true does a great disservice to all involved. Essentially, the title confirms that the accusation was never one of rape in the first place!

Also, isn’t the possessive of Wikileaks, Wikileaks’ and not Wikileaks’s?

As I stated above, use of the term rape, at least in the UK, is highly emotive and the media should be far more careful when using the term. It is inevitable that the average UK newspaper reader will interpret the word rape to mean, well rape (in the context of UK law). The average (wo)man on the street will not be inclined to investigate much further, much less investigate the finer points of Swedish law.

Incidentally, and pre-emptively, my use of the term “alleged victim” is not an attempt to paint these women as liars. It is a common courtesy that I extend to any alleged attacker in recognition of the presumption of innocence. There does appear to be a strange, but entirely understandable, tendency towards protecting all “alleged rape victims” by shouting down any suggestion that they may be lying or that the case may not be so straight forward. Whilst it may be true that the mainstream media, in particular, is disproportionate in its hounding of rape victims, it is incredibly damaging to the credibility of all rape victims to forgo due scrutiny of their allegations as well as the presumption of innocence. That’s why I’ve always thought that the best solution would be to protect the anonymity of both “alleged victim” and “alleged rapist” until the later is convicted; the current system simply advertises the poor conviction rate and leads to media shit-storms which surely hinder the reporting of such events! Anyway, that was extremely off topic, and I do apologise!

Kind Regards,

Lee

132. MartynInEurope

This is quite a problematic piece, that lashes out in some rather extraordinarily awkward ways and directions, and in doing so makes some very bizarre claims, which have been rightfully challenged. IMHO It’s an intemperate and inaccurate piece, which seems to have been penned by someone who was very angry when they did so. Although, I could be wrong.

133. Chaise Guevara

I agree with Lee RE the title (and most of the rest of his post). The title is not “Assange rape allegation are false”; to paint the women as lying you’d have to admit he was accused of rape in the first place.

I also agree with him about the possessive form of Wikileaks, because he’s right :p

@Sunny

Feminists categorise a lot of acts as ‘rape’, which might not be legally defined as rape. They have a right to

Woah. SOME feminists categorise a lot of acts as rape BUT most feminists are sane and can tell the difference between coercion, rape, assault, molestation and consensual sex. Let’s not be tarring all feminists with the same crazy brush please.

Hey!

Gizmodo has an article with a near identical title to this one, except of course they use correct grammar.

Gizmodo – WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Is Not Accused of Rape

The article includes some more information about the charge(s) in question, namely the charge of “sex by surprise” which has a maximum penalty of 5,000 Swedish kronor (approximately £464 at todays exchange rates) and no jail time. Ill things being considered, and judging by the maximum penalty, the issuance of international arrest warrants and the resulting furore does seem a little overkill. So is this the media inflating the issue by focusing intently on Mr. Assange post cablegate, or are there more sinister, politically motivated, forces at work?

@Lee

We’ll have to agree to disagree, mostly because it’s about personal inference of the title. All I’m saying is without reading the article it could seem very different to how you make it out.

Also re:grammar – either is acceptable and is a matter of personal taste. Most style guides prefer Wikileaks’ but Wikileaks’s is not “wrong”.

137. Chaise Guevara

“Also re:grammar – either is acceptable and is a matter of personal taste. Most style guides prefer Wikileaks’ but Wikileaks’s is not “wrong”.”

Nggg…

You can argue personal taste for almost all grammar conventions, but insofar as any rules are set in stone, I think this is one of them. The confusion exists because some people assume the rules for all -s endings are the same, not realising that plurals take an apostophe without an ‘s’ while singular nouns do take an ‘s’. So people assume that if those are the birds’ feathers, this must be James’ hat. So it’s a mistake, like saying “one foul swoop”, rather than a point of preference, like ending sentences with prepositions.

Of course, this only applies to Wikileaks if the ‘leaks’ bit is a plural noun. In the unlikely event that it’s a verb (“the Wiki: it leaks!”) then I guess it takes the ‘s’.

I knew I’d have to disagree with you on something eventually, so it may as well be apolitical!

Although the above Gizmodo article does seem to be a little ambiguous over whether Assange is alleged to have continued on regardless of his partners’ protestations (which would be rape) or whether he persuaded his partner(s) to continue on (which is probably not rape).

Does anyone know of an official press release form the prosecuting authorities, preferably in English?

@Chaise

;) I will consult Lynne Truss. This is a matter of grave importance.

@Mr S. Pill (136)

No I’m afraid I can’t agree with you there. The implications of the title are clear, to infer what you have inferred would require a very clumsy understanding of the English language.

For example one could infer from the statement “Alan did NOT tell me that all swans are black” that Alan is lying when he says “all swans are black”. But since the original statement explicitly states that Alan did NOT say that all swans are black, that would be an incorrect inference and entirely the fault of the reader. Similarly, one could infer from the statement “No, Wikileaks’s Julian Assange isn’t accused of rape” that those who have accused him of sex by surprise (and NOT rape) are lying when they accuse him of rape, but again, since this statement explicitly states that Julian Assange was NOT accused of rape, such an inference would be a logical absurdity!

In essence, the author of this and any article cannot be held accountable for the linguistic ignorance of his readers. There is a basic level of literacy required to read any article, and any misapprehension arising from low levels of literacy are the responsibility of the reader and not the author.

@Chaise Guevara (137)

Ah, very good Chaise! You’re correct of course, it all hinges on whether the word fragment ‘leaks’ makes Wikileaks plural (a wiki of many leaks) or singular (a wiki that leaks). Given the context either could be acceptable, although ‘Wikileaks’s’ just looks wrong! I guess that’s why apostrophes are so controversial.

Let this be a lesson, grammar fascism just doesn’t pay! ;-)

141. Charlieman

The apostrophe S discussion is about punctuation rather than “serious” grammar. Note how I used quotes around the word serious for clarification/emphasis; the quotes are not necessary for you to be able to understand the sentence but they serve a purpose. Full stop, new paragraph.

The existence of multiple) possessive forms of punctuation for nouns ending with the letter S implies to this writer that the apostrophe S rules do not add clarity to the written word. They only add clarity when all readers understand the rule. Its (sic) a set of rules that were pertinent to the translators of medieval English but its no longer relevant.

@Chaise Guevara (137)

(cont.)…Of course since there is but one Wikileaks, you could also argue that the word Wikileaks IS singular. In which case I am entirely wrong, as is Gizmodo and apologise wholeheartedly to the author. :(

Now, I must purchase myself a copy of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” which amusingly has no apostrophes in the title!

@140 Lee

Hmm

“There is a basic level of literacy required to read any article, and any misapprehension arising from low levels of literacy are the responsibility of the reader and not the author.”

All well and noble, of course, and one would hope that our populace (and indeed anyone intelligent enough to operate a computer) is intelligent enough to pick up on any nuances, etc. But saying that, the author (or sub-editor – and I’m speaking in general terms here) does have a responsibility to make themselves clear in their meaning – why else do we all hate jargon-filled newspeak-esque documents from various subsections of society? Your analogy with Alan doesn’t quite work because there are more than two variables involved in the title (or were before the edit) – the two women involved in the case. If we are to assume that people reading the media believed that Assange was accused of rape – and we are to assume that