3:41 pm - December 2nd 2010
[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.
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…
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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