John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange


11:00 am - December 17th 2010

by Unity    


      Share on Tumblr

In many respects I’m rather loathed to call too much attention to John Pilger’s truly dreadful commentary on Sweden’s efforts to extradite Julian Assange from the UK.

Pilger is easily one of the greatest investigative journalists and documentary film-makers of the modern era. One cannot, therefore, be anything other than saddened by the all-too-obvious decline in his powers of observation and objectivity evident is his article this week for the New Statesman.

It amounts to little more than a stream of mendacious ad hominem attacks on anyone who dares to suggest that Assange should be required to answer the allegations laid against him in a court of law.

He says:

It seems the lesson must be learned all over again as a group of media feminists joins the assault on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, or the “Wikiblokesphere”, as Libby Brooks abuses it in the Guardian. From the Times to the New Statesman, apparent feminist credence is given to the chaotic, incompetent and contradictory accusations against Assange in Sweden.

Bollocks.

All things considered, the general ‘feminist’ response to the allegations against Assange has been considered, moderate in tone and mindful of the need to allow due process to run its proper course.

Calls for Assange to be immediately and publicly castrated with the broken coke bottle on prime-time television have been in rather short supply, leaving those of us who can bothered to listen to what feminist commentators are actually saying to enjoy the kind of delightfully constructed and thoughtful arguments put forward by Laurie Penny.

What many feminists have, quite correctly, found objectionable is the indecent haste with which Assange’s supporters have sought to have him declared innocent of any wrongdoing on the strength to nothing more substantial than their own ignorance of Sweden’s laws and legal system.

He goes on:

On 9 December, the Guardian published a long, supine interview by Amelia Gentleman with Claes Borgström, the “highly respected Swedish lawyer”. In fact, Borgström is foremost a politician, a powerful member of the Social Democratic Party. He intervened in the Assange case only when the senior prosecutor in Stockholm dismissed the “rape” allegation as based on “no evidence”.

In Gentleman’s Guardian article, an anonymous source whispers to us that Assange’s “behaviour towards women . . . was going to get him into trouble”. This smear was taken up by Brooks in the paper that same day. Ken Loach and I and others on “the left” are “shoulder to shoulder” with the misogynists and “conspiracy theorists”. To hell with journalistic inquiry. Ignorance and prejudice rule.

Look around you, John. Look at the manner in which the two complainants are being attacked, vilified and, in the eyes of many of Assange’s supporters, discredited on the basis that – horror above all horrors – both a self-professed feminists.

Look at the speed with which the news that these allegations had been levelled against Assange mutated, without the slightest shred of supporting evidence, into the widely broadcast allegation that Assange is the victim of a CIA-led ‘honey-trap’ operation and, particularly, at the kind of unconvincing bullshit ‘reasoning’ put forward to support that particular conspiracy theory.

He also says:

For three months, Assange and his lawyers have pleaded with the Swedish authorities to let them see the prosecution case. This was denied until 18 November, when the first official document arrived – in the Swedish language, contrary to European law.

Having taken the time to investigate the confusion cloud surrounding the allegations against Assange, which appears to be rather more than Pilger – a professional journalist – can be bothered with, I’d agree that overall the investigation does appear to have been conducted in a slipshod manner.

What is evident here, confirmed by Pilger’s use of inverted commas around the word ‘crime’ is that he has already prejudged the outcome of these allegations on the basis of the information already in the public domain, much of which is rather confused and incomplete.

Make no mistake: Pilger’s documentaries on Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge (“Year Zero”), East Timor (“Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy”) and. most recently, on the shameful treatement meted out to the Chagos Islanders by successive British governments since the late 1960′s (“Stealing Nation”) fully deserve to be counting amongst the most iconic and powerful piece of film journalism in the entire history of the medium.

But in this case, Pilger is guilty of rushing to a hasty judgement and can have no legitimate complaint when others accuse him of standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with misogynists and conspiracy theorists.


A longer version is here

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Crime ,Media ,Realpolitik

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I generally agree with this (apart from unnecessary swearing), but one can’t help but imagine a group of grey-suited Americans sitting round a table pondering “Right. What can we accuse Assange of which will best get his natural supporters fighting each other like rats in a sack.”

You may end up being “loathed” but what you actually are is “loath”.

Agree with your post.

i can’t believe it. why are so many lefties leaping to the defence of someone who has yet to be proven innocent or guilty, because they don’t understand swedish law, and can’t believe that someone who can do good things may also be capable of doing bad things.

pilger is one of my heroes, i feel really betrayed by this blustering.

On reflection what we may have here is another example of a peculiar tendency for many of the left to invest heavily in figureheads for what they believe in, so Mr Assange has taken on importance to those who believe in freedom of information (the libertarian blogs (which also support freedom of information) have mainly treated this as “Wikileaks is still functioning so this is a matter for the man” remember). These figureheads are sometimes not given proper critical evaluation, but rather because they represent the cause to their ‘supporters’ (and there are those calling themselves Mr Assange’s supporters) it is assumed attacks on them are attacks on the cause. Note elsewhere on the site many seem to be attacking Aaron Porter for not providing a figurehead in this way, for not being an ‘Arthur Scargill’, as if his leadership had been exemplary – it is possible Mr Porter’s ‘crime’ to his critics is not to have been the figurehead they wanted.

Some groups normally identified as on the left buck this trend, and interestingly feminism is one of these – feminists seem to rarely if ever have leaders and can even by surprisingly short of leading lights (at least to someone outside the political movement), which might be explained by a distrust of imposed authority and a continually vigorous debate about where the movement is going. So one way to examine this is as a clash between many of the left who seek some sort of figurehead and those, such as the feminist movement or those with a strong liberal streak such as Unity, who are less keen on leaders for leaders’ sake.

I suspect I am going to get some angry responses now…

Good post Unity.

Seems par for the course now. Michael Moore is another one to add to the list. Watching him laughing at rape on the BBC turned my stomach.

Interesting comment Watchman.

2 – or ‘loth’. Either way, I agree with the piece. Pilger accidentally appears to sum up his approach here:

Ken Loach and I and others on “the left” are “shoulder to shoulder” with the misogynists and “conspiracy theorists”. To hell with journalistic inquiry.

This seems a fair summary.

Before we get too far into discussion, I do want to get over the whole conspiracism hump.

If you look objectively at the issue of governmental ‘conspiracies’ – and I heartily recommend Tim Slessor’s book ‘Lying is State’ [ http://tinyurl.com/2e8glwu ] if you’re interested – then you’ll find that deliberate, before the fact, conspiracies are extremely rare.

Most ‘conspiracies’ tend to arise after the fact in the form of cover-ups of incompetence and/or major cock-up or because a bit of opportunistic exploitation of a ‘fortuitous’ turn of events.

Apply that to Assange and it would be fair comment to express concerns that the US might try to exploit his current situation in an effort to procure his extradition to the US – providing that they could find a legal basis for such and attempt, which its not clear that they can – but not to leap from that concern to the suggestion that the US has engineered this situation from start to finish.

Not without evidence to support your contention.

“What many feminists have, quite correctly, found objectionable is the indecent haste with which Assange’s supporters have sought to have him declared innocent of any wrongdoing”

I think you’ll find that the firt person to declare him innocent of any wrongdoing was the senior prosecutor in Stockholm.

You know, the one who dismissed the rape allegation because it wasn’t based on any evidence.

@3

“why are so many lefties leaping to the defence of someone who has yet to be proven innocent”

Because there are two types of lefties.

Those who believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Those who believe in various ‘isms’ instead.

So one way to examine this is as a clash between many of the left who seek some sort of figurehead and those, such as the feminist movement or those with a strong liberal streak such as Unity, who are less keen on leaders for leaders’ sake.

I’d go with that but then I subscribe wholeheartedly to the motto of the Royal Society, “Nullius in Verba” so I’m not exactly a fan of leaders for any reason beyond the occasional need for expediency.

Chervil,

I think you’ll find that the firt person to declare him innocent of any wrongdoing was the senior prosecutor in Stockholm.

You know, the one who dismissed the rape allegation because it wasn’t based on any evidence.

But someone has reassessed the case, possibly in light of further evidence (we don’t know – ironically, the details of the discussions on the case are not on Wikileaks), and decided it was worth reopening. This happens quite a lot you know, and is a normal part of justice systems – it can even just be a different person sees the evidence as strong enough for a case after all.

Oh, and I know enough about Swedish law to know that prosecutors cannot declare anyone innocent of their own back. As in Britain, they can decide there is not enough evidence to mount a case, but the accusation is not dismissed. I suspect that if there had been no evidence, we would have a case for false accusation or wasting police time or something (I assume one of these is a crime in Sweden) instead.

@4 Spot on. Almost every hero of every cause has been flawed and done nasty things. Look at Churchill, look at Lenin. Look at Castro, look at Wellington. All of them have done things both noble and vile and the danger lies in making them more than human as that only crush our spirits when they turn out to be flawed, like the rest of us, after all.

13. the a&e charge nurse

[3] “i can’t believe it. why are so many lefties leaping to the defence of someone who has yet to be proven innocent or guilty” – you don’t have to be proven innocent, in fact the last I heard Assange had not even been charged (not that this stopped the British authorities from depriving him of his liberties) – or have you forgotten about his time in solitary?

“because they don’t understand swedish law” – judging by their incompetent performance so far it seems not even the Swedes understand Swedish law.

“and can’t believe that someone who can do good things may also be capable of doing bad things” – there are reports suggesting the POSSIBILITY that the two women who had sex with JA quicker than an average 16 year old may not have suffered any sexual violence at all, at least that was the conclusion of the first Swedish prosecutor.

This is possibly the most risible article Unity has produced – Pilger is merely articulating his concerns about the way in which Assange is being found guilty by association because IF the Swedes finally get their act together and put this case before before a court there are many who suspect that the only thing Assange will be found guilty of is using his fame for a bit of sexual opportunism?

Of course nobody really knows what happened , etc, etc …………….

I think you’re being a little bit unfair to Pilger in saying he’s shamed himself. In a long, detailed article his point is that by leaping to assume Assange’s guilt, feminist commentators have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the forces wishing to silence him and wikileaks.That’s a serious point about the way media operates in our society and shouldn’t be dismissed so readily.

AS a feminist I was deeply saddened at the way certain female commentators responded to this issue, including at least one woman who said that Assange looks like a rapist. What the?? That is completely indefensible.

It is entirely possible to suspend judgement of both parties, and that’s what our legal system asks of us. Female journalists and commentators do the feminist cause no favours AT ALL when they are prepared to deny another human their rights in a knee-jerk defense of women just because the spectre of rape is raised. The articles I’ve read by women that attack Assange don’t have any special insight into the case, they don’t have access to the women who made the complaints, they don’t have access to extra information about Assange. So where is their journalistic rigour? What is their position based on?

The extent to which the complainants’ voices are absent from this entire scenario is of interest in itself. There’s some rumour and speculation at the fringes of the blogosphere but nothing you’d want to give too much credence to without some verifiable sources.

Pilger’s point is important: if you have a media role, you have a responsibility to try to get to the truth. Why have the female commentators Pilger criticises not been the ones to reflect on the handling of rape in Swedish courts, as Michael Moore has?

As a feminist, I expect the women in the media who call themselves feminists to do better than to publish ill-considered personal attacks on people accused of crimes against women, and I feel no shame for saying so.

“Feminists” have utterly shamed themselves over this. While the rest of the world can see a pack of obvious lies for what it is – we have “feminist” pundits all over the internet and press defending the trumped up charges against Assange. “Feminism” (the quotes are deliberate – these people aren’t about defending womens’ rights) has shown its stupid, nasty and pathetic attention seeking side.

16. the a&e charge nurse

[14] that is a very interesting comment.

I usually have huge respect for Unity but I think his assessment of Pilger is way of the mark.

While the protagonists are in a sort of legal limbo we have all had the chance to trot out our favourite political hobby horses.

If this case goes to court I think it would be really interesting to hear what people have to say in the aftermath?

a&e,

[3] “i can’t believe it. why are so many lefties leaping to the defence of someone who has yet to be proven innocent or guilty” – you don’t have to be proven innocent, in fact the last I heard Assange had not even been charged (not that this stopped the British authorities from depriving him of his liberties) – or have you forgotten about his time in solitary?

Last time I checked, you had to be charged in the jurisdiction of the crime, so Mr Assange has to be extradited first. The Swedes clearly intend to charge him, since they sent out a European Arrest Warrant.

“because they don’t understand swedish law” – judging by their incompetent performance so far it seems not even the Swedes understand Swedish law.

Or possibly we assume that (unlike our surprisingly similiar system) Swedish law works smoothly without bumps and hiccups? This is actually just good old-fashioned xenophobia as far as I can see, believing that the Swedes cannot run a normal justice system.

“and can’t believe that someone who can do good things may also be capable of doing bad things” – there are reports suggesting the POSSIBILITY that the two women who had sex with JA quicker than an average 16 year old may not have suffered any sexual violence at all, at least that was the conclusion of the first Swedish prosecutor.

But there are accusations (not reports) that Mr Assange engaged in sexual violence with these women. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but surely a court is the appropriate place to decide this if there is enough evidence to bring a case, and someone clearly has decided this.

This is possibly the most risible article Unity has produced – Pilger is merely articulating his concerns about the way in which Assange is being found guilty by association because IF the Swedes finally get their act together and put this case before before a court there are many who suspect that the only thing Assange will be found guilty of is using his fame for a bit of sexual opportunism?

Of course nobody really knows what happened , etc, etc …………….

You are simply assuming the facts here – remember that the prosecution have not released their information publically for a start, so we do not know how good the evidence is. You are also showing the same sort of xenophobic attitude about foreign justice as I mentioned above (you have also forgotten Unity’s uncharaceristic article about the homosexual councillor I presume…).

So to sum up your argument: I do not believe from what I have read that Mr Assange is guilty, and I think the changes of mind in the Swedish justice system can only result from confusion and ineptitude (and not use of evidence and debate or anything), and I will jump on ‘convenient’ facts such as the fact Mr Assange has not yet been charged.

Or more simply, I have decided I can prejudge a court in another country and will look for evidence to support that.

If the man being extradited was say an unknown Swedish lumberjack accused of rape, would anyone be concerned about this or doubt the validity of the process (which might well be the same)?

“One cannot, therefore, be anything other than saddened by the all-too-obvious decline in his powers of observation and objectivity evident is his article this week for the New Statesman.”

Was he ever objective?

“All of them have done things both noble and vile”

What did Lenin do that was noble?

We still don’t seem to have any evidence whatsoever. So I guess it just comes doen to picking a side:

a) Conspiracy theorists and misogynists

b) People who think Assange looks like a rapist, and Sarah Palin

20. the a&e charge nurse

[17] “So to sum up your argument: I do not believe from what I have read that Mr Assange is guilty, and I think the changes of mind in the Swedish justice system can only result from confusion and ineptitude (and not use of evidence and debate or anything), and I will jump on ‘convenient’ facts such as the fact Mr Assange has not yet been charged” – I very much doubt that there will be sufficient evidence to convict a Swedish lumberjack if the ‘facts’ (as reported) were to be put before a Swedish court.

Of course, Assange, unlike the promiscuous lumberjack, does not have to worry about right wing American political figures whispering in the ear of their right wing Swedish counterparts, does he?

@11

“But someone has reassessed the case, possibly in light of further evidence”

If there is further evidence the authorities would have released it by now.

Add that to the fact that they’ve already been dismissed, and the timing.

I think it’s pretty obvious that these dicredited charges are being revived for purely political reasons.

As far as I am aware the request for extradition is not to face charges or appear before a court. He is wanted for questioning. So it is you Watchman that is assuming that he will appear in a Swedish court. How can you possibly know the outcome of the questioning before it takes place? Is there any reason why they cannot come to the UK and question him?

” This is actually just good old-fashioned xenophobia as far as I can see, believing that the Swedes cannot run a normal justice system. ”

Well if they could run a normal justice system they would not have allowed him to leave Sweden, would they?

Look at the manner in which the two complainants are being attacked, vilified and, in the eyes of many of Assange’s supporters, discredited on the basis that – horror above all horrors – both a self-professed feminists.

If, as seems clear in this case, both the complainants had consensual sex with the accused within a few hours of meeting him, that is a reasonable factor to take account of in assessing the likely veracity of the subsequent complaint. If the complaint is not (as, once again, it seems) one of rape but of some lesser sexual offence, the behaviour of the complainants is even more relevant.

Furthermore, if one of the complainants then goes to considerable trouble to erase the record of her twitter account in order to strengthen the complaint, that too becomes relevant.

If Assange is a rapist, I hope he is found guilty and locked up for a long time.

However I can’t agree that, because a woman has cried “rape”, her behaviour and actions both before and after the alleged crime become automatically immune from scrutiny or comment.

Earwicga I think it’s an unhelpful exaggeration to say Michael Moore was “laughing at rape”. I think everyone is quickly jumping to assuming other ppl’s intentions and putting words in their mouths on this issue (though clearly not with John Pilger). Have you seen his latest letter to govt of Sweden? I thought it was spot on. Though he should have clarified / apologised for how his earlier remarks came across as. See Naomi Klein’s recent remarks on twitter too. Let’s not assume everyone is on the same page as Pilger.

Chervil,

If there is further evidence the authorities would have released it by now.

Really? They presumably need to show it to the defence team at some point, if there is a trial, but why would they release it unless they wanted to discredit Mr Assange. Strange as it may seem, in most justice systems the case against the accused is normally only fully disclosed in court.

a&e,

If you believe in conspiracy theories here, fair enough. I don’t see enough evidence for one – all the facts fit equally well (better in terms of the initial accusations) into a narrative of a normal criminal investigation. And you do realise it is beholden on the conspiracy theorists to explain how Mr Assange (who may be innocent of the crime but not a victim of a conspiracy, which you all generally forget) is being targetted by the United States through having him extradited to Sweden. Mr Assange has been to the USA, so surely a false rape case against him there would have been better for them?

Richard W,

Good point – but there is a presumption that a charge is likely (if you keep extraditing people from a country then not charging them, it starts to be reluctant to bother arresting them for you). It would be better to say that rather than actually charging him, the Swedish justice system (of which I have heard nothing previously bad) has determined that there is a case to answer on his part, which implies that a charge is likely. Would that be a better way of putting it?

Well if they could run a normal justice system they would not have allowed him to leave Sweden, would they?

So where is the normal justice system that stops anyone who might be charged leaving the country then? I am interested to see this value of normal in action, because it looks like North Korea to me.

I would think it would be standard practice in most jurisdictions for a foreign passport holder who was under investigation for serious allegations. Especially when you have no overseas address for them. Unless of course they are a bit famous and you think you will always be able to track down where they are in the world. Kinda suggests Assange then was not treated just as a normal accused.

28. the a&e charge nurse

[25] “If you believe in conspiracy theories here, fair enough” – I think it unlikely the two women were plants, although now the allegations have been made I think the American right will do their utmost to bring whatever influence they can on the way Assange is now treated.

This is an awful piece and indicates the disorientation of those from left/liberal backgrounds who have joined in the attacks on Assange. Pilger wrote a perceptive, principled and serious piece, which deserves a much more thoughtful and honest response.

It is absolutely reasonable to criticise those feminists who have got this so wrong. That isn’t an attack on feminism. Left-wingers like Pilger and Michael Moore have quite correctly located this issue in its proper context, i.e. the attacks on Wikileaks and freedom of information by a number of Western states (most significantly the US) with a vested interest in hiding the crimes of the ‘war on terror’.

None of us know what Assange did or didn’t do in Sweden. But not only is someone innocent until proven guilty after they have been charged, it’s worth recalling that Assange hasn’t been charged and there is no evidence in the public domain to support the allegations.

Everyone who regards themselves as remotely liberal, left-wing or progressive should unequivoically defend Wikileaks from attacks on the site’s ability to function freely, and oppose the violation of Assange’s human rights. They should also avoid smearing either Assange himself or those like Pilger who oppose the appalling treatment of him.

It’s got nothing to do with assuming the worst of those who allege rape or with treating rape lightly. It has nothing to do with ‘standing shoulder to shoulder with misogynists and conspiracy theorists’. Such silly and personalised abuse – a poor substitute for reasoned argument and engagement with the facts – is unacceptable.

I’m not aware of anyone on the left or in the anti-war movement vilifying the complainants or reinforcing sexist assumptions. Pilger certainly doesn’t do it in his article. The various signatories to a recent letter to the Guardian opposing the attacks on Wikileaks don’t do it. There may be misogynistic idiots on the internet doing it, but it is dishonest to tarnish the reputations of others by falsely associating them with such nonsense.

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 5

“Michael Moore is another one to add to the list. Watching him laughing at rape on the BBC turned my stomach.”

Why do I get the impression that this didn’t actually happen?

‘None of us know what Assange did or didn’t do in Sweden.’

Not true. Assange, and the two women know.

And Michael Moore doesn’t even know what the allegations are, but feels qualified to laugh at them.

I used to have immense respect for Pilger but after these remarks I am utterly disillusioned. Along with the other chorus of misogyny … Craig Murray and the awful hateful comment about feminists and “ugly souls” is beyond contempt. I have NOT read anything written by feminists who say that Assange is guilty, what has been argued (and a very reasonable argument too) is that all parties deserve due process including the two women and that the allegations shouldn’t be dismissed as some conspiracy, evidence should be tested in court. Not very ground breaking but it these simple and basic demands has created a vile outcry and attacks on feminism.

“To hell with journalistic inquiry. Ignorance and prejudice rule.”

Erm, that is really rich coming from Pilger. He knows damn well about “journalistic inquiry” and it’s precisely what people have been arguing. To dismiss and denigrate these allegations is ignorance and prejudice.

a&e,

I think the American right will do their utmost to bring whatever influence they can on the way Assange is now treated.

In the interests of fairness can I point out that the only underhand tactics so far deployed by the US that we can verify was the US State Department trying to pressure companies into cutting off funding to Wikileaks. Looked like a petty act of spite to me, although no doubt they would claim they were trying to protect state secrets or something.

Problem is, the State Department is not currently right-wing (whatever you think of Ms Clinton). I would suggest rather it is simply big government that is opposed to Wikileaks (understandably). But that is not a reason to assume Mr Assange innocent of a crime, just to watch to ensure the trial (if it happens – he could be released without charge remember) is fair.

@17. “Now correct me if I’m wrong, but surely a court is the appropriate place to decide this if there is enough evidence to bring a case”

You are wrong. The case should only get to court when it has been agreed there is enough evidence for a conviction – just like in the UK. Or are you suggesting that all complaints – malicious or otherwise – should end in a court case?

Innocent until proven guilty …thats still the law ….

Can I take us back over the conspiracism hump? Admittedly I’ve never read Lying in State, and our definitions of “extremely rare” may not align, but it seems that – sticking with uncontroversially true examples from the post-war West – Operation Gladio, Operation Ajax, Operation PBSuccess, MKULTRA, Operation Mongoose, the Gulf of Tonkin deception, Operation Menu, Iran-Contra, the CIA’s role in cocaine smuggling, Iraq and others might suggest they’re not that rare.

On the other hand, I quite agree that evidence is needed before people draw conspiratorial conclusions some people who should know better have theorised very badly.

Alex Snowdon,

Everyone who regards themselves as remotely liberal, left-wing or progressive should unequivoically defend Wikileaks from attacks on the site’s ability to function freely, and oppose the violation of Assange’s human rights.

Please see my post @4 above about the left’s need for figure heads. I think you make my point quite eloquently by assuming Assange is Wikileaks, and that he represents freedom of information.

And since the only human right that is at stake here is the right to a fair trial (he has been accussed of a crime remember, whether you think he did it or not, and everything else has been due process), should we not wait and see?

Apart from anything else, with that delusional twist that those of the left who follow their messiahs seem to gain at times, you seem to have forgotten about the human rights of the alleged victims. If they were raped, are you prepared to forgive that to allow Assange to be your Che Guevera (a man lionised despite his habit of committing summary exections), and put aside the rights of the victims because you think his cause (which is not even relevent to the case) is just.

If so, you are no liberal – you are a disciple. I disagree with feminists on many things, but here at least they are able to see this is about a man and his actions towards two other people. You seem to see this as about a man who can have done no wrong and is being opposed by evil forces – but this is not a childhood comic or a new religion; it is simply about people’s lives.

Rick @ 34,

Thanks. I meant to decide if the case is proven – need to read things more carefully at times!

And in the next post Unity will defend Jews for Hitler.

Wake the hell up for Gawds sake. Why do you think the global elites have come up with this charge? (no charge ,just wild accusations) ……..It splits the left. Wake up and smell the CIA.

It is embarrassing as a woman to see feminists fall for this nonsense. Remember Scott Ritter the Arms expert who dared to point out that there were no weapons of mass destruction? He was a child abuser according to the American govt. Funny he is still free.

Do people really believe if this was Joe Bloggs from Guildford, who was facing the same accusations, of a split condom that he would be held without trial, and then have bail set for £200,000 with an electronic tag?

Some people are very stupid.

Does Unity believe that Pilger merely “asked” Assange of his guilt and believed his reply of “Not guilty!”? Do they also think that Pilger would happily put-aside his years of investigative journalism and truth-seeking, and commitment to human and civil rights, just to defend the founder of Wikileaks in an attempt to protect the disclosures?

Pilger has spent over 40 years uncovering and reporting uncomfortable truths: He would not sell us and himself short simply to defend that which he might deem as revelatory, particularly at the expense of those he has spent his life trying to help?

29 @ Alex Snowdon

Firstly, I support Stop the War Coalition. Secondly, I support Wikileaks. Thirdly, I am a Socialist feminist who is anti-imperialist and fourthly, I believe the allegations against Assange should be tested in court. How do you know the “feminists have got it so wrong”? You don’t. You contradict yourself when you say, “None of us know what Assange did or didn’t do in Sweden”, and then you say, “and there is no evidence in the public domain to support the allegations.” So, Alex, have you seen all of the evidence? Or is it what you have gleaned from unsubstantiated media reports? I think I would prefer to see the evidence tested in court before I make a judgement.
Stop the War Coalition’s letter was awful, bloody awful where they refer to “dubious charges”… How do they know they are dubious?

There has been some awful misogyny about this case, and I think you just don’t see it Alex instead you kinda excuse this behaviour, blindly accepting that Assange has been fit up. Has he? I don’t know myself and don’t want to pre-judge. But Pilger’s article is terrible, and if you want to read something with is anti-feminist bile hatred then read Craig Murray, he’d probably accuse me of being some hate filled feminist with an ugly soul.

42. Torquil MacNeil

“Wake the hell up for Gawds sake. Why do you think the global elites have come up with this charge? ”

The women who accuse him are not ‘global elites’. We will find out in due course if the allegations stand up. Unity is right, it is just plain odd hat some people cannot imagine that it is possible to be a rapist and run a website.

I don’t believe in heroes outside comic books and I trust leaders even less: they’ll always let you down eventually.

Pilger’s previously outstanding journalism should be the standard by which this current idiocy should be measured against.

Personally, I’m more pissed off by Iain Banks.

‘And in the next post Unity will defend Jews for Hitler.’

Sally, you really are scum.

45. Torquil MacNeil

Jews all over the world will smile wryly at the amazement of people on the left over the ease with which Pilger, Loach, Banks and others are willing to dispense with their erstwhile egalitarian principles when it suits them.

Ah, I’ve attracted the ire of the Sallybot, so I must be doing something right.

For once, Sally’s right.

For the wrong reasons but right nonetheless.

“Jews all over the world will smile wryly at the amazement of people on the left over the ease with which Pilger, Loach, Banks and others are willing to dispense with their erstwhile egalitarian principles when it suits them.”

Torquil. You are on the wrong page if you’re here to defend Israel!

@ Watchman

I am not a leftie so I’m not looking at it from an ideological perspective. However, your claims of lefties focusing on Assange are looking for a figurehead are bizarre. If they believe he is being smeared and set up who else but the subject would they focus on? Pretty difficult not to focus on Assange if you believe he is being smeared. Moreover, Hilary Clinton is part of the administrative state. There is a whole permanent US state that operates quite separate from the US administrative state. Se this Ian Fraser post about how Washington upped the ante when he said he had negative information about a major US bank. Ian Fraser is a highly reputable finance journalist not some conspiracy crank.
http://www.ianfraser.org/dear-paypal-wikileaks-is-not-a-terrorist-organization/

Fascinating how the Right wing trolls have suddenly become so CONCERNED about Rape.

Usually they don’t give a shit about rape or woman. But suddenly they rub their pointed chins and become ever so concerned about the subject.

Again, the Fake Libertarians defend secretive Govt actions. Priceless.

Hmmm…FWIW it seems I was right to stay well out of any argument about Assange once he was accused of a sexual offence. I’ll just wait and see what happens rather than feel obliged to pick a side in the argument.

There’s nothing pointy about my chin: it’s as rugged as Judge Dredd.

this is fantasy. there are some so called feminists who assume all women tell the truth and all men are liars . this is a strange case,as feminist helena kennedy who supports assange said,this case would not have come to court in most countries including britain. the swedish prosecutor originally said there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a case ,then a politician standing for election hawked the case around to try to get a prosecutor who would bring a case. all very suspicious.

Oh, and Torquil… We can all imagine a web-site runner can be a rapist. We can also imagine that ‘global elites’ can corrupt individuals to do their bidding (plenty of examples from the past!). What we can’t imagine is a Western government expending so much time, effort and money to extradite a man accused of rape, when the statistics on rape in so many European countries suggest that they (normally) do not care!

well said sally,don’t you love right wingers concern about the issue of rape? lol .i don’t know whether assange is guilty or not.if he’s guilty jail the scumbag . either way wikileaks is exposing official hypocrisy. well done.

What we can’t imagine is a Western government expending so much time, effort and money to extradite a man accused of rape, when the statistics on rape in so many European countries suggest that they (normally) do not care!

Oh well, at least you’re willing to admit to your own lack of imagination.

Of course, police forces and prosecutors never throw extra resource into high profile cases that are attracting a lot of media attention just because they feel the need to be seen to be doing everything possible to pursue a case while the press are breathing down their neck but don’t let that deflect attention away from your Jason Bourne fantasies.

However, your claims of lefties focusing on Assange are looking for a figurehead are bizarre. If they believe he is being smeared and set up who else but the subject would they focus on?

First of all, Assange != Wikileaks – the two are separate entities and, as Wikileaks have been at great pains to point out, even if Assange is extradited, and even convicted of an offence, Wikileaks will continue to operate.

In fact, given the events of the last couple of weeks, it should now be much more difficult for anyone to take down Wikileaks given the number of new mirrors that are likely to be spawned by 4Chan’s involvement.

Pretty difficult not to focus on Assange if you believe he is being smeared.

What the membership of the cult of Assange believe is immaterial given that they appear to have no more of an evidential foundation for their beliefs than the Discovery Institute has for Intelligent Design.

Pilger has spent over 40 years uncovering and reporting uncomfortable truths: He would not sell us and himself short simply to defend that which he might deem as revelatory, particularly at the expense of those he has spent his life trying to help?

If you read the full post over at the Ministry you’ll find that Pilger didn’t even bother to check out what Julia Gillard actually said before accusing her of tearing up the presumption of innocence in Australian law and fundamentally misrepresented the content of her remarks as a result.

Tell you what, I’ll do you a favour and bring that section over… this is Pilger’s comment:

In her public remarks, the prime minister, Julia Gillard, has shamefully torn up the presumption of innocence that underpins Australian law.

And this is what Gillard actually said, with my own annotations,,,

…before moving on we should address the question of Pilger’s assertion that Gillard has ‘torn up the presumption of innocence that underpins Australian law’ by looking at what Gillard actually said:

“Let’s not try and put any glosses on this. It would not happen, information would not be on WikiLeaks if there had not been an illegal act undertaken.”

And she is quite correct – the theft of the confidential documents supplied to Wikileaks does amount to an illegal act.

Characterising that act as ‘whistleblowing’ does not automatically negate its illegality, all it does is provide the alleged perpetrator, Bradley Manning, with a plea in mitigation that could provide the basis for mounting a public interest defence of his actions. This is technical point, but nevertheless a point of considerable importance. Whistle-blowing only amounts to a legal act in certain narrowly defined circumstances, i.e. where it exposes criminal activity and facilitates its investigation or where it is becomes a necessary act in order to comply with a statutory duty. Beyond those boundaries, whistle-blowing – or rather the actions that are typically undertaken to facilitate whistle-blowing – is illegal but any criminal actions undertaken in the course of blowing the whistle can – and will be – be overlooked by the authorities, if the overall effect of those actions is deemed to have been in the public interest.

Getting back to Gillarrd, she then went to say that:

“The Australian Federal Police is going to provide the Government with some advice about potential criminal conduct of the individual involved,”

So there’s no presumption of guilt there, merely a public reference to the government taking advice from Australia’s Federal Police on the question of whether Assange might reasonably be suspected of having committed a criminal offence under Austalian law.

“People would be aware that there’s also the issue of a warrant relating to an alleged sexual assault in Sweden.

No presumptions made there – Gillard merely acknowledges the existence of the warrant.

What I would say about the publication of the WikiLeaks information is it’s grossly irresponsible.

Personal opinion – and gross irresponsibility does not constitute a criminal act in itself

“We’ve got the Australian Federal Police looking to see whether Australian laws have been broken, and then we’ve got the commonsense test about the gross irresponsibility of this conduct.”

And we’re back again to the AFP looking at whether there may be grounds to investigate Assange’s activities and Gillard’s personal opinion that he’s behaved irresponsibly, which she deems to be a matter of mere common sense.

To suggest that any of that amounts to tearing up the presumption of innocence is, to say the least, a wholly tendentious and intellectually dishonest mischaracterisation of the content of Gillard’s remarks:

Quite, but before moving on we should address the question of Pilger’s assertion that Gillard has ‘torn up the presumption of innocence that underpins Australian law’ by looking at what Gillard actually said:

– “Let’s not try and put any glosses on this. It would not happen, information would not be on WikiLeaks if there had not been an illegal act undertaken.”

And she is quite correct – the theft of the confidential documents supplied to Wikileaks does amount to an illegal act.

Characterising that act as ‘whistleblowing’ does not automatically negate its illegality, all it does is provide the perpetrator, Bradley Manning, with a plea in mitigation that could provide the basis for mounting a public interest defence of his actions. This is technical point, but nevertheless a point of considerable importance. Whistle-blowing only amounts to a legal act in certain narrowly defined circumstances, i.e. where it exposes criminal activity and facilitates its investigation or where it is becomes a necessary act in order to comply with a statutory duty. Beyond those boundaries, whistle-blowing – or rather the actions that are typically undertaken to facilitate whistle-blowing – is illegal but any criminal actions undertaken in the course of blowing the whistle can – and will be – be overlooked by the authorities, if the overall effect of those actions is deemed to have been in the public interest.

Getting back to Gillarrd, she then went to say that:

– “The Australian Federal Police is going to provide the Government with some advice about potential criminal conduct of the individual involved,”

So there’s no presumption of guilt there, merely a public reference to the government taking advice from Australia’s Federal Police on the question of whether Assange might reasonably be suspected of having committed a criminal offence under Austalian law.

– “People would be aware that there’s also the issue of a warrant relating to an alleged sexual assault in Sweden.

No presumptions made there – Gillard merely acknowledges the existence of the warrant.

– What I would say about the publication of the WikiLeaks information is it’s grossly irresponsible.

Personal opinion – and gross irresponsibility does not constitute a criminal act in itself

– “We’ve got the Australian Federal Police looking to see whether Australian laws have been broken, and then we’ve got the commonsense test about the gross irresponsibility of this conduct.”

And we’re back again to the AFP looking at whether there may be grounds to investigate Assange’s activities and Gillard’s personal opinion that he’s behaved irresponsibly, which she deems to be a matter of mere common sense.

To suggest that any of that amounts to tearing up the presumption of innocence is, to say the least, a wholly tendentious and intellectually dishonest mischaracterisation of the content of Gillard’s remarks

57. Unity

“What the membership of the cult of Assange believe is immaterial given that they appear to have no more of an evidential foundation for their beliefs than the Discovery Institute has for Intelligent Design.”

I suppose all they have is an accusation, Unity. Pretty much like, um, the Swedish case.

I suppose all they have is an accusation, Unity. Pretty much like, um, the Swedish case.

The difference being that the Swedish authorities will eventually have to either drop their case or substantiate it in court.

Assange’s groupies, meanwhile, can wibble away on teh interwebz to their heart’s content without ever having to produce a single shread of evidence to support their conspiracy theories.

61. the a&e charge nurse

“What the membership of the cult of Assange believe is immaterial given that they appear to have no more of an evidential foundation for their beliefs than the Discovery Institute has for Intelligent Design” – do you really believe that commentators are so blinded to the importance of WikiLeaks that they are prepared to turn a blind eye as Assange rapes and pillages his way across Europe, rather like a later day viking?

Personally, I don’t think you could be more wrong – isn’t it far more likely that Assange supporters have been swayed by the unusual particulars of the case?
The fact neither woman went to the police immediately in the wake of the alleged sexual assault?
The fact the women colluded with each other days after their encounter with Assange before giving their version of events to the police?
The fact the first, and politically untainted prosecutor, said there was not even a case to answer for?

Now none of this is enough to unequivocally clear Assange of any wrong doing but it does least suggest the POSSIBILITY of a disappointing sexual encounter rather than an act of sexual violence?

Presumably the strength of the accusations will rest on further revelations that the first prosecutor was not privy too – if so, in the absence of any forensic evidence (since the fact of intercourse has already been admitted) what will the NEW version of events amounts to beyond he said, she said sort of stuff?

Pilger and others are right to raise questions about how much trust should be placed with the authorities – if WikiLeaks has taught us anything, it is to be skeptical about people’s motives once something becomes politicised?

62. Torquil MacNeil

“Torquil. You are on the wrong page if you’re here to defend Israel!”

I never mentioned Israel. Blimey, some people!

None of us know what Assange did or didn’t do in Sweden. But not only is someone innocent until proven guilty after they have been charged, it’s worth recalling that Assange hasn’t been charged and there is no evidence in the public domain to support the allegations

He hasn’t been charged because he can only be charged in person when he is within Swedish jurisdiction. It is in order to get him within Swedish jurisdiction that an international arrest warrant has been issued. You do realise that arrests come before charges?

This is, ultimately, pretty straightforward. Allegations have been made that the Swedish prosecution service consider sufficiently robust to warrant a full trial. If the evidence really is as flimsy as people above seem to think, then the case will be a farce – and that’s something I suspect the Swedish prosecution service would be keen to avoid. The suggestion that the entire Swedish legal system is corruptly aligned with the US State Department is simply ridiculous. I know the site is called Liberal Conspiracy, but even so…

Presumably the strength of the accusations will rest on further revelations that the first prosecutor was not privy too – if so, in the absence of any forensic evidence (since the fact of intercourse has already been admitted) what will the NEW version of events amounts to beyond he said, she said sort of stuff?

The overwhelming majority of rape cases rely on “he said, she said sort of stuff”. I have read a dozen or so threads on LibCon decrying the appallingly low level of convictions for rape. Am I to understand that the left have now worked out the difficulty in acquiring such convictions?

65. the a&e charge nurse

[64] “Am I to understand that the left have now worked out the difficulty in acquiring such convictions” – no, but the low conviction rate has been used to imply a sort of guilt by association even if it does not satisfy the legal standard of beyond all reasonable doubt.

I think rape stats have emerged on other LC threads about this case more or less as a way of saying Assange is guilty because the numbers are against him?

For the billionth time – Wikileaks is not Assange. Assange could be a mass-murdering drug-running child-pimping Tory and it still wouldn’t change that Wikileaks is a Good Thing and should be defended against attacks from the US and others (Swiss bank account etc). Assange is but one person and may or may not have committed a crime – NO commentator on this case has access to any more information than any other which is why the defenders of Assange come across as distasteful.

If Assange is guilty may he rot in prison. We can continue to support Wikileaks as he does so. If he is innocent I hope everyone who has condemned him retracts their statements. I don’t know if he is innocent or not. Neither do you. We are all – I hope – intelligent enough to seperate the person from the organisation.

~

Oh, and good article, Unity.

67. the a&e charge nurse

[66] “the defenders of Assange come across as distasteful” – yes, fancy letting him out of solitary for Christmas.

@39

‘Do people really believe if this was Joe Bloggs from Guildford, who was facing the same accusations, of a split condom that he would be held without trial, and then have bail set for £200,000 with an electronic tag?

Some people are very stupid.’

Is this what you believe Jullian Assange is accused of Sally? If so, they you are one of those ‘some people’.

I’ll second Shatterface with the scum charge.

69. Torquil MacNeil

“[66] “the defenders of Assange come across as distasteful” – yes, fancy letting him out of solitary for Christmas.”

What a relief it must have been finally to shed the leg irons!

@67

As someone who has always been opposed to detention without trial I found the imprisonment of Assange worrisome – luckily the judge changed his mind. But do bear in mind there are very good reasons why rape suspects are denied bail – there was a case near me (reported in the national press I believe) of a rapist who was released on bail pending trial and went on to murder his victim (and former girlfriend). Life is not as black and white as we’d like it to be.

71. Torquil MacNeil

“there was a case near me (reported in the national press I believe) of a rapist who was released on bail pending trial and went on to murder his victim (and former girlfriend). Life is not as black and white as we’d like it to be.”

I think Sally would require inverted commas for ‘victim’, there. After all, what evidence is there that she was not just a vengefully disappointed woman who felt she had not had enough attention.

73. the a&e charge nurse

[69] “What a relief it must have been finally to shed the leg irons” – only for them to be replaced by an electronic tag.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11989216

For those such as Alex Snowdon/29: “and there is no evidence in the public domain to support the allegations.” who are concerned that no-one seems to be providing evidence that Assange is guilty.

You shouldn’t in general at this stage expect there to be any.

I’ll dig out my copy of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists for this. It’s slightly on the old side, but I think it’s still basically current on contempt of court laws.

One of the things it makes extremely clear with regards to contempt of court is that in general reporting on the evidence in cases before that case reaches court and other than the evidence reported in open court is extremely risky. An couple of relevant extracts:

Once proceedings become active, the crime can still be reported but the story must be carefully worded lest it should suggest in any way that those in police hands are indeed the culprits.
Thus, one can report a post office robbery and say that later a man was arrested but not that the man was arrested. It would also be prejudicial to describe the appearance of three men who raided a bank as being tall or dark-haired or bearded, lest those arrested answered to that description. To publish such matter would be to curtail the ability of the defence to contest identity.
[…]
Journalists should also be aware that it is possible to prejudice proceedings in favour of the accused, as well as against him. Newspaper campaigns to secure an acquittal could be held to be contempt.

I’m not going to copy the whole thing, since it goes on for several pages about various legal situations and their implications. Nevertheless, the principle under English law is clear – reporting on any evidence and details that may be used in a case that would suggest the accused is guilty, before those details are made available to the jury in the trial, is infringing on the right of the accused to a fair trial and due process, and is contempt of court.

I’m not familiar with Swedish law, but I don’t expect it’s hugely different in this regard.

So don’t expect the press to report on the evidence against Assange (or indeed on any evidence that might acquit him), because – as with any other criminal charge – they’re not allowed to.

Mr S. Pill –

Come to that, the same could be true of suspected killers, thieves, drug pushers or, heck, illegal downloaders.

76. Torquil MacNeil

A pungent comment from Jack of Kent:

‘Mark Stephens, the lawyer for Julian Assange, has complained his client still does not know the evidence on which the prosecution is relying. It is thereby inexplicable how Mr Pilger is any position to regard the accusations as “chaotic, incompetent and contradictory” ‘

77. Torquil MacNeil

“Come to that, the same could be true of suspected killers, thieves, drug pushers or, heck, illegal downloaders.”

I don’t think there is a big risk that illegal downloaders will ‘murder their victim’.

I assume if someone like Rush Limbaugh was accused of rape & sexual assault Michael Moore and John Pilger will rush (sorry) to his defence & claim it to be an, erm, left-wing conspiracy.

@75

Which is exactly why we have judges who are supposed to assess the risk to the public posed by letting someone out on bail, without casting any judgement re: guilty or innocent. tbh I thought the reason why Assange was locked up was for his safety, seeing as Palin wants to hunt him down like Osama bin Laden….

The other poor sod.

http://www.salon.com/news/wikileaks/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2010/12/14/manning
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

“From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out “

81. Luis Enrique

It’s an interesting question (well, to me) just what degree of conspiracy-theory-esque suspicion is justified in this case.

I’m sure the US government and its agencies would like to have Assange taken off the board (I feel like John Grisham writing that) and we all know that the CIA or whomever ain’t exactly above smear campaigns and dirty tricks. I’d say the chances are the Swedes are being put under pressure and were perhaps persuaded to refresh their interest in this case. But more than that?

At the same time there do appear to have been original (i.e. not plausibly manufactured) charges against this guy, which deserve taking seriously and being properly investigated. I’m not writing a defense of Pilger here, I don’t think I’m disagreeing with Unity.

It looks to me like the correct stance is to say the justice system ought to be take its course and trust it to withstand any behind the scenes pressures from wherever. But I don’t think one has to be a conspiracy theorist to regard things with a jaundiced eye. I wouldn’t bet my house on everything being above board.

82. Luis Enrique

Richard W,

yeah I read that. Outrageous.

“the defenders of Assange come across as distasteful” – yes, fancy letting him out of solitary for Christmas.

Assange was only remanded in custody because he failed to provide the court with the address of a place of residence in the UK at the first hearing as was, therefore, deemed to be of no fixed abode.

Remand is pretty much automatic in those circumstances.

As for spending the weekend in solitary, as an alleged sex offender in a high profile case, solitary was by far the safest place to put him for a few days given that bail was out of the question.

The prison service could have put him in a standard wing, but only at the risk of his re-application for bail becoming a moot point.

@80

That is who we should be defending. Outrageous.

85. the a&e charge nurse

[81] “I wouldn’t bet my house on everything being above board” – let’s just say the USA would very much like to introduce Assange to his own little room at somewhere like Guantanamo if his supporters desert him?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/16/julian-assange-extradition-us

86. the a&e charge nurse

[83] “Assange was only remanded in custody because he failed to provide the court with the address of a place of residence in the UK at the first hearing as was, therefore, deemed to be of no fixed abode” – so what’s changed since he was banged up at Wandsworth – money was on the table the first time first time round?

If he is such a danger to women, or such an absconding risk why let him out?

One question for those who are conviced Mr Assange is innocent. Can you show me any one example of anyone saying he is guilty?

We seem to be having two seperate arguments you see; Unity’s original post identifies a strand of thought (epitomised by John Pilger in this case) which claims Mr Assange is innocent and that the accusations are designed to discredit/imprison him. And various of you (including I note most of those most given to knee-jerk reactions and sterotypical slurs around here, which is interesting) seem to agree with that.

But the rest of us seem to be arguing that since there is no evidence of a conspiracy (see Bensix’s link at 36 for quite how weak the CIA connections actually are – on that basis, I am a CIA front as well (sally, you see – I’ve finally admitted it ;) )), there is no reason for due process not to take its course. As I understand the ‘feminist’ position (such as there is one) this is not particularly a feminist issue up to the point when people start deciding that an accusation of rape can be overcome by a presumption of innocence due to a so far unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, when they decide this might be detrimental to the welfare of women. I have to say, I agree with this. But no-one has said that Mr Assange is guilty, so those arguing he is innocent are effectively in a separate discussion.

What strikes me is that there it is the same logic applicable here as occured in the Roman Polanski case, whereby a man that people look up to and seen as a good thing is excused from any possibility of bad behaviour by his supporters, who instead just ignore the rights of the victim and of society (justice unserved is one of those things that causes social tensions). As far as I am concerned it comes down to this: is it acceptable to ignore an accusation of sex crimes purely because you like what the man (who most if not all of you have never met remember) stands for? If you say yes, fair enough, but you not only have no standing as a feminist, but you have no standing as a liberal or, in my eyes, a worthwhile member of society if you believe that.

Find me actual evidence of a conspiracy (and evidence is something substantive, not wild assumptions by sally) and I will withdraw the question – remember, my original reactions were to suspect a government conspiracy as well (check out the early Assange threads if you doubt me). Up to that point, the question is the line in the sand I am drawing. Anyone want to take the challenge?

What’s changed is that Assange has now given a place of residence and can therefore be bailed to reside at that address and report regularly to the local nick.

Money wasn’t the issue, the lack of a place of residence was.

89. the a&e charge nurse

[88] “What’s changed is that Assange has now given a place of residence and can therefore be bailed to reside at that address and report regularly to the local nick” – any number of his supporters would have offered a temporary address at the first hearing.

Any reasonable observer recognises that absolutely NOTHING has substantially changed over the last 7 days, except a golden opportunity for the British legal system to inflict a week’s solitary on somebody that is being returned to more or less the same conditions before his spell in jail, albeit with an electronic tag on his leg.

If really is a risk to other women he should not be on the street, or if he really is a high absconding risk he should remain where he is – but it’s very hard to imagine that either condition actually applies?

90. Torquil MacNeil

“except a golden opportunity for the British legal system to inflict a week’s solitary on somebody that is being returned to more or less the same conditions before his spell in jail”

Don’t be silly. First of all Assange was in solitary at his ow request. Secondly, offering an address is obviously a significant change.

A&E:

If you won’t take my word for it, how about the word of serving magistrate:

http://thelawwestofealingbroadway.blogspot.com/2010/12/wiki-leaker-locked-up.html

There have been a few comments about the bail decision in the case of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks figurehead. From the information available in the press, I don’t think that I would have bailed him either.

Are there substantial grounds to fear that if granted bail he would abscond, commit further offences, or interfere with witnesses? We are dealing with the Swedish warrant alleging a sexual offence. He is clearly an international citizen without a job home or family in the UK. I have no idea how the Swedes deal with these matters, but on any analysis a conviction is likely to lead to a prison sentence, albeit in the relatively humane Swedish system. That must be an incentive to abscond. What conditions could address this fear? Sureties or securities from very rich people wh do not even know him don’t mean a lot. If Ms. Jemima Khan (Née Goldsmith) were to lose £20,000, that would very likely be less than she spends on her hairdresser in a year. It might be a price worth paying to get her protégé on his way. So inside he must go, I’m afraid.

And this is the Swedish warrant. If America’s rage and frustration turns to a determination to make an example of Assange, then he could be looking at 20 years or more in the barbarous hellhole of a Supermax jail. If that isn’t an incentive to do a runner, I don’t know what is.

You might also like to reflect on the fact that neither Carl Gardner (Head of Legal) or David Allen Green (Jack of Kent) were in any sense perturbed by the decision to refuse bail at the first time of asking.

Alex Snowdon – gosh, don’t you ever get tired of coming here constantly telling us how delusional we are?

veryone who regards themselves as remotely liberal, left-wing or progressive should unequivoically defend Wikileaks from attacks on the site’s ability to function freely

And we’ve done that repeatedly. But it has nothing to do with trying to pretend Julian Assange is not guilty or this is one big conspiracy before the allegations have been fully investigated and dealt with. If the legal process isn’t followed then people would be right to raise an outcry. But as it has been said before, defending WikiLeaks is not the same as thinking Assange is not-guilty. It’s not that difficult to comprehend.

93. the a&e charge nurse

[91] “Are there substantial grounds to fear that if granted bail he would abscond, commit further offences, or interfere with witnesses? We are dealing with the Swedish warrant alleging a sexual offence. He is clearly an international citizen without a job home or family in the UK. I have no idea how the Swedes deal with these matters, but on any analysis a conviction is likely to lead to a prison sentence, albeit in the relatively humane Swedish system. That must be an incentive to abscond. What conditions could address this fear? Sureties or securities from very rich people wh do not even know him don’t mean a lot. If Ms. Jemima Khan (Née Goldsmith) were to lose £20,000, that would very likely be less than she spends on her hairdresser in a year. It might be a price worth paying to get her protégé on his way. So inside he must go, I’m afraid.

And this is the Swedish warrant. If America’s rage and frustration turns to a determination to make an example of Assange, then he could be looking at 20 years or more in the barbarous hellhole of a Supermax jail. If that isn’t an incentive to do a runner, I don’t know what is”.

So I ask again – what has REALLY changed.
A supporter has supplied a nominal address (something that could have been done without any fuss a week ago) and the bill for surety was upped by £60k, no problem I’m sure some of Assange’s wealthier supports could have found this money without to much effort?

All of the points you raise have not mysteriously evaporated while Assange was held in solitary without a computer, etc – in effect exactly the same risks apply today as they did pre-Wandsworth.

Anyway, even Assange WAS planning to abscond how would be able to evade half the world’s secret services who are tracking him (including the Ossies) – and think how much worse it would be for him if the Americans managed to apprehend him hiding out in some sort of secret bunker.
Remember these images?
http://www.orwelltoday.com/saddamhole.jpg

Assange’s not Saddam Hussein and he’s hardly going to run to ground in a hole in the middle of a war zone.

A supporter has supplied a nominal address (something that could have been done without any fuss a week ago) and the bill for surety was upped by £60k, no problem I’m sure some of Assange’s wealthier supports could have found this money without to much effort?

The judge is persuaded Assange is not a flight risk and apparently Assange’s cooperation with police is one of the reasons why.

No, Unity, it wasn’t just the place of residence. This was established on Tuesday. The court also demanded that the money be plonked on the table in cash. A rather rare occurrence I believe. The extra hours of solitary confinement were imposed so that Mr Assange’s supporters could meet this condition. Meanwhile the US is leaning on Bradley Manning offering to exchange an improvement in his living conditions for evidence that will incriminate Mr Assange. Given the ruthlessness and lack of principle of the powers ranged against Mr Assange, who is innocent till proved guilty yet universally treated by the state as guilty already, sympathy for his plight is hardly “shameful”.

97. the a&e charge nurse

[94] “Assange’s not Saddam Hussein and he’s hardly going to run to ground in a hole” – my point exactly, so why put him in solitary in the first place?

Assange has nowhere to run and in fact trying to leggit would only strengthen the chances of the Yanks nabbing him.

Assange spoke to the press today and criticised the way Swedish authorities have sought to have him extradited, “that is something that actually needs monitoring, it needs scrutiny,” he said. “We have seen this with the Swedish prosecutor in representations to the British government here, and the British courts say that it did not need to provide a shred of evidence – said this three times – and in fact has provided nothing, not a single shred of evidence in its extradition hearings, in the hearings that ended up putting me in solitary confinement for 10 days.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-wikileaks-us-investigation

Apparently many commentators are sanguine with this arrangement?

Let’s go back to the first hearing when Assange asked for bail. From the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/07/julian-assange-refused-bail-over-rape-allegations):

“Assange appeared in court in blue suit with a white shirt. Asked to give an address he replied: “PO Box 4080.” When the question was asked again, he said: “Do you want it for correspondence or for some other reason?” Later, the WikiLeaks founder, who was accompanied by officials from the Australian high commission, gave an address in his native Australia.”

A reasonable person might assume that Assange was not playing ball with the court, so the judge declined his request. If a defendant grandstands and fails to demonstrate that s/he intends to abide by bail conditions, what happened will happen.

The second time around (probably after a standup with his barrister), Assange played ball and got his bail.

“Find me actual evidence of a conspiracy (and evidence is something substantive, not wild assumptions by sally) and I will withdraw the question”

Nobody gives a rats arse if you withdraw your question or not. Your concerned trolling is becoming very predictable.

Evidence?

What, like the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and said evidence was ok for a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people? So spare me the lecture on evidence and due process.

100. the a&e charge nurse

[98] ahh, so a man is imprisoned for reasons of pettiness rather than assessment of risk?

One question – what type of personality is/was driving the WikiLeaks phenomena, certainly not one accustomed to kissing the arse of authority, that’s for sure?

101. Shatterface

‘Meanwhile the US is leaning on Bradley Manning offering to exchange an improvement in his living conditions for evidence that will incriminate Mr Assange. Given the ruthlessness and lack of principle of the powers ranged against Mr Assange, who is innocent till proved guilty yet universally treated by the state as guilty already, sympathy for his plight is hardly “shameful”.’

Unless Manning is a witness to Assange’s alleged sexual offences you are confusing two very different issues.

102. the a&e charge nurse

[101] “Unless Manning is a witness to Assange’s alleged sexual offences you are confusing two very different issues” – so you completely discount the possibility that the second prosecution was politically motivated?

According to this report, ‘the chief prosecutor in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to find back in September. And then a few weeks later, after the intervention of a Swedish politician, a new prosecutor, NOT in Stockholm where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case’.
http://www.france24.com/en/20101208-julian-assange-swedish-sex-crimes-allegations-usa-wikileaks

Swedish politicians intervening, a new prosecutor in a different city – I mean, aren’t you even slightly curious about how/why these developments transpired?

Well, it’s good to see that so far the greatest achievement of Wikileak’s War on Secrecy has been to out a bunch of radical left heroes as mendacious tossers.

Keep up the good work, comrades!

(Interesting article on this aspect here, btw)

@100 the a&e charge nurse: “ahh, so a man is imprisoned for reasons of pettiness rather than assessment of risk?”

If a defendant is denied bail because s/he fails to recognise the seriousness of his/her situation, that is not pettiness. It is simply recognition that the defendant must take bail seriously and demonstrate a willingness to meet the conditions. Providing the court with a simple statement about residence is one step for a defendant to show that s/he is sincere.

103 shows why the Right is full of brownshirts who shout small govt, but really love big govt.

Good piece, Unity. I’ve found the kind of outcry against the two women in this case reminiscent of what’s been chucked at women rape victims over the years. It boils down to:- don’t bring a rape charge – you’ll only get pilloried yourself and it’s not worth the grief. People will think it was your fault. You must have been asking for it. The charge must be some outburst from a woman scorned. You must have enjoyed it, really.

In some parts of the world rape victims get stoned to death, in others they are outcasts from their families. They are not taken seriously by the authorities.

So this case has seen that kind of reaction to a charge of rape magnified to a global degree. What has been horrible is to see self-professed feminists like Naomi Wolf joining in the mockery of the women concerned. (Mind you, I’ve always thought she writes modish, precious wank.)

Feminists have campaigned against the bitter fate of rape victims, and getting better treatment for them in this country at least has been one of feminism’s victories.

Like everyone else I don’t know the facts of the case. But the reaction to it – the assumption that the accusers must be lying, conniving women -has been shameful.

@102 It is important to note that the man you refer to as a politician is actually a lawyer (though Pilger claims he is “foremost” a politician). And he is not a member of any of the governing parties but of the centre-left Social Democrats, for whom he is or was a spokesperson on gender equality issues. As the two women are also Social Democrats, I find nothing surprising in his agreeing to represent them.

“Everyone who regards themselves as remotely liberal, left-wing or progressive should unequivoically defend Wikileaks from attacks on the site’s ability to function freely”

Yeah Barrack Obama should come out and defend Wiki leaks – comments like this and thinking like this is a key reason why the right and the centre right have been governing us for vast parts of the last couple of centuries.

Or is Obama not lefty – do we need sally’s or A&e nurse to be lefty? I think not.

Yeah I guess the entire labour front bench should.

I am sorry but I am a lefty and I think Wikileaks is dodgy. If you wish to be a whistleblower and hold the candle for transparency – then you should operate in a transparent manner which Wikileaks does not. And Assange is a megalomaniac. He wants accountability for everyone but not himself –

And Wikileaks has made transparency and accountability more difficult than easier. And anyone who thinks that Wikileaks is changing the world is living in a fool’s paradise.

@102 the a&e charge nurse:

1. According to something last month reported second hand in a journal that does not use Swedish as an operating language, Assange was not charged with anything.

2. According to courts in the UK this month, Swedish prosecutors have employed UK barristers to ensure that Assange returns to Sweden to answer questions following allegations by two women.

Point 1 is tittle tattle.

Point 2 is legal process.

Or is Obama not lefty ?

Definitely not a lefty.

It is not what he says, it is what he does. He is just black Tony Blair. .

111. the a&e charge nurse

[110] The first Swedish prosecutor found there was no case to answer – legal process or tittle tattle?

The second Swedish prosecutor produced no evidence (at the extradition hearing in a British court) that a new situation had emerged after the verdict by the first prosecutor. This did not prevent Assange from doing solitary in a British jail – legal process or tittle tattle?

112. the a&e charge nurse

Oops – meant [109]

111/a&e charge nurse: legal process, of course.

The Swedish system allows a decision not to proceed with an investigation or charges to be appealed (something that the English system would benefit from at times, too). The appeal might be based on new information or it might be based on the belief that the original decision was made on mistaken grounds. All that proves is that Bergstrom is a good lawyer.

Meanwhile, the extradition hearing, because it’s a European Arrest Warrant, doesn’t require much evidence to be presented, because we trust the Swedes (and they trust us) to have a fair justice system. (The EAW system has been working fine and without complaint for years. Now there’s the possibility someone “important” might be extradited under it, it’s suddenly controversial)

As I said above, quite a lot of the “lack of evidence” is because we’re looking at a case that’s in pre-charge stages, which is actually a really rare stage for cases to come to public attention. No sensible justice system presents more evidence to the suspect at the pre-charge stage than is necessary for questioning them before deciding whether to proceed with charges. And contempt of court rules prevent – mainly for Assange’s benefit! – anyone else reporting on details of evidence either.

Sally – what is your definition of lefty?

What would you do want Obama to do? Rewrite the entire Constitution himself. What could he have done differently?

Pray tell me – because I would like to know. Maybe you would like him to have NSC meetings on youtube – and clear every decision he makes with Michael Moore and the vanguard of the loony left.

Obama did not lose the mid terms it was the loony congress – and guess what if you lot continue carrying the way you are – get ready to say President Pawlenty.

What would happen to the left agenda then – push wikileaks more and more and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. If Obama is not seen to do anything against wikileaks – then 527 adverts coming out next year would be full of – you can’t trust him with national security. he makes america weak –

Sometimes I think you guys don’t like the concept of left being in power because you don’t like the responsibility of power – most people could not give a toss about the left or the right – just because on forums and blogs like minded people slap each other’s back (figuratively) doesn’t mean the wider community sees issues the same way you do.

Have you ever campaigned for any candidate and went and spoke in meetings or done phone banks or doorstepped any campaign? most likely you haven’t.

Do you even like democracy or would you like to live in the lefty heaven of N. Korea or Chavez’s Venezuela –

And more importantly, without power Left is actually powerless to do anything to improve lives for anyone – most people want to be successful and be rich and at the same time most people want a better society – but they do not share your chaos theory – they want order in their lives.
*********************************************************

115. the a&e charge nurse

[114] oh, it’s only tittle tattle I know, but one of Assange’s lawyers, Helena Kennedy, said they’ll fight the case in part by arguing that Sweden is abusing the law. “What we are concerned about here is what they want Julian Assange for is not to prosecute him, but to interview him to decide whether to prosecute him,” – “We’re not satisfied that the extradition procedures under the European arrest warrant allow for that.”
http://www.theworld.org/2010/12/17/assange-fears-extradition-to-us/

Tricky thing legal process?

Another thing – one of Blair’s biggest achievements was Northern Ireland and if the early stage negotiations between Sinn Fenn and Blair; or Blair and Iain Paisley; or the three way talks between Trimble, Blair and Adams leaked – we would have no peace in N. Ireland.

Because people like Seumus Milne or glenn beck would have hijacked the story and spin it out of control and called adams and trimble traitors etc etc and peace would have gone out of the window.

But wikileaks would have leaked it –

In 1993, a peace accord was signed between the PLO and Israel which gave birth to the Palestinian authority – and the secret negotiations went on for 2 years in Oslo – if that leaked assholes like hamas and their equivalent in Israel would have killed the peace deal – how would that have benefitted the world – pray tell me.

Most complex problems need to be solved through negotiations which require compromise and that needs to always happen behind close doors. because then when you announce to the world you show both sides compromised and there is a common purpose.

This is not freedom of press neither is this investigative journalism that benefits the world.

So please spare me the psycho babble crap

117. the a&e charge nurse

of course I meant [113] – thank god I’M not anybody’s lawyer?

114 Try these for starters…….Might as well of had a republican.

1st Obama endorses the Bush agenda of spying on and killing americans
2nd Obama attacks Unions (the F! the UAW moment screams republican)
3rd Obama double downs on Bush Wars, (now they are Obama wars)
4th Obama attacks Teacher Unions (teacher unions now hate OBAMA)
5th Obama does not attack the Banks? he bails them out? (sorta like what the GOP does)
6th Obama passes the Bob Dole Health Care Bill (Bob Dole is a republican)
7th Obama kills the Public Option
8Th Obama kills Drug Importation
9Th Obama APPOINTS an insurance executive to manage his health care Bill
10th Obama does not APPOINT Dawn Johnsen
11th Obama hand picks the cat food commission to destroy Social Security
12th Obama supports Blanche Lincoln, a candidate who hates Unions, and has no chance of winning
13 Guantanomo still open for business
14.Patriot Act renewed
15. renditions continue
16. Bernanke reappointed
17. Americans targeted for assassination
18 Obama is all for sending more USA jobs off shore
19 Obama is for tax cuts for the RICH!
20. Obama and the TSA porno Scandal
21 Obama freezes federal wages for 2 years

cim,

Meanwhile, the extradition hearing, because it’s a European Arrest Warrant, doesn’t require much evidence to be presented, because we trust the Swedes (and they trust us) to have a fair justice system. (The EAW system has been working fine and without complaint for years. Now there’s the possibility someone “important” might be extradited under it, it’s suddenly controversial)

Um no, the EAW has been controversial since its inception.

sally,

I would respoind to each one of the points you raised – but that would be beyond this particular thread’s scope – how about I write a whole article refuting those points and some others and hand it to Sunny to publish.

However, what i really disagree with your assertions there is that Obama did something wrong with goign against the teaching unions.

What is wrong not to give tenures to teachers who don’t deserve it? What is wrong with introducing merit pay system for teachers and getting rid of teachers who are not qualified or are simply useless – why do teaching unions object to teachers being tested – would you object to pilots being tested or surgeons being assessed – why not teachers?

This is what the President said last year and it makes sense:

“From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the colour of their skin or the income of their parents, it’s the person standing at the front of the classroom.”

“Good teachers will be rewarded with more money for improved student achievement … [But] let me be clear: if a teacher is given a chance or two chances or three chances but still does not improve, there’s no excuse for that person to continue teaching.”

And that’s exactly what his education bill did. The US has spent almost 400 Billion in public education in the last 4 decades and the result has not been great because while everything else has been reformed – teaching was not.

And the President did not just change tack on this – in fact he supported charter schools in Illinois and even while running in the primaries he made it clear he was on the side of the students and not the teaching unions and he was right then and he is right now.

Good teachers can transform people’s lives for the better while poor teachers can fail students who can achieve a lot. Do you want a better America – I hope you would side with the children too.

Btw, I am a big Bill Clinton fan and never drank the Obama kool aid – in fact if I was in the US , I would have most likely worked against him in the primaries.

I commented earlier that it is essential to defend Wikileaks from attack. Sunny replies by saying ‘And we’ve done that repeatedly’.

But there isn’t a single word or phrase in the article above which defends Wikileaks. Not one. That’s the article I’m engaging with here – not anything else on this site. If the author wants to make clear their defence of Wikileaks against the US state, corporate interests and media vilification, shouldn’t they perhaps at least mention it in passing?

Watchman devotes a remarkable number of words to the idea that I’m perpetuating ‘the left’s need for figureheads’. That has no correlation with what I wrote whatsoever. Instead of making stuff up, please engage with what I’ve actually written.

Louise Whittle says:
‘You contradict yourself when you say, “None of us know what Assange did or didn’t do in Sweden”, and then you say, “and there is no evidence in the public domain to support the allegations.”

There is no contradiction here. It’s a simple factual point: there is no evidence in the public domain. Maybe there will be, maybe there won’t be. But in the meantime it is irresponsible and misguided for people on the left to adopt an equivocal attitude to fair treatment for Assange. Shutting him in solitary for over a week, among other things, is not fair treatment.

One final point. It is dishonest for people to attack others on the grounds that their position arguably puts them in the same camp as either ‘misogynists’ or ‘conspiracy theorists’, as the article’s author does (and it’s echoed in some comments). It is irrelevant that other people may come out with reactionary remarks about rape. That’s not what you will get from Pilger or the various people in the anti-war movement and on the left who have taken a stand on this issue. Lumping these groups in together is a poor way to conduct debate.

This is an awful piece and indicates the disorientation of those from left/liberal backgrounds who have joined in the attacks on Assange

Hey, it the old quasi-religious ‘false consciousness’ bullshit gambit, and with that you’ve neatly disqualified yourself from being seriously until your balls have dropped and you’ve gained a rudimentary understanding of how the world actually works.

Not in the mood to play footsie with the Judean People’s Front tonight, sorry.

Alex –

Are you saying that countries should not have any right to diplomatic secrecy?

Are you saying that it would have done the world a lot of good if it came out that US and the UK were behind the scenes trying to stop another coup in Pakistan and try to have some political stability? It would have played right into the hands of the extremists and how the hell would that have helped the world?

The US in most cases of the leaks come out looking bloody good – in fact it comes out more good than bad – in fact so does Israel.

And most of the things the Wikileaks revealed are nothing but opinions – and opinions of middle rank diplomats – whose opinions do inform policy makers but is not the basis of foreign policy in its entirety.

Why should the left or someone remotely liberal automatically back Wikileaks?

– most complex issues have been resolved when things have been discussed in private – be it hand over of Hong Kong – to Setting up Palestinian Authority – to sorting out East Timor – to forcing US pharmaceuticals giving aids medicine to Africa – to Northern Ireland.

’ These are private conversations clearly intended as opinion and provisional thinking.

Do you think Wikileaks is going to change China’s behaviour towards Tibet?

However, you seem to be missing the basic point as you lionise a megalomaniac who believes in chaos – is this:

While the public has a right to know why their government finally takes a given decision, following internal discussion, and what the consequences of that decision are likely to be.

The public does not have an automatic right to know how people gather, assess and interpret information.

How did it help anyone’s cause to name Afghan collaborators eh?

What gives you the moral authortiy to demand that left support Wikileaks? It is irresponsible and danagerous. I want our leaders to get a whole range of opinions from as many possible places as possible before they make informed decisions – but if you want all of the advice to be public then you are moving towards a world where there would be less informed decision making.

Which does not serve the cause of humanity the left exists to promote. Would you rather Obama not at all pay attention to Saudi King or take his advice and reject it – when there is a consensus among the Middle East leaders that Iran is the biggest threat – doesn’t that tell you something?

Why do we need to have every personal conversation and thoughts in public – we do not and it makes the world a far dangerous place. But that’s beyond the comprehension of many on the left.

So I guess News of the World was right to tap into John Prescott’s phone, Alan Johnson’s phone – so I don’t see you going and campaigning for Andy Coulson

Dumb ass

124. john p Reid

good article, I wonder what Julie Bindal thinks of the idea that people who are accused of sexual assult, named in the media, on hte flakiest of evidence aren’t prejudged by the public and don’t have Their lives ruined, now?

REUTERS……. “Bank of America Corp said on Saturday it will not process payments intended for WikiLeaks, which has angered U.S. authorities with the mass release of U.S. diplomatic cables”

No conspiracy here , no siree. Look over there Royal Wedding.

And the ‘liberal conspiracy’ still seeks to continue to conspire in the smear of Assange just to keep the feminists on board. Feminism first liberty second.

Unity …is that an ironic name? Another useful idiot for the CIA …

leon,

And the ‘liberal conspiracy’ still seeks to continue to conspire in the smear of Assange just to keep the feminists on board. Feminism first liberty second.

It seems to me that Liberal Conspiracy has ended up on the right side of the argument, which is neither feminist nor libertarian. It, and I mean by that most folk that have argued here, have come to the conclusion that if Assange is to be charged with something then that would be reasonable. Whether or not he is guilty of anything at all is certainly debateable. Until we see evidence of guilt then we should stand back and assume innocence. That is what due process is supposed to be all about.

And I’d have thought that that was what most folk here thought too.

I see no feminist conspiracy. Instead I see Julian Assanges supporters trying to excuse him from facing a charge. Whether that charge is justified is neither here nor there, Jullian Assange should stand up to it. For he must. For his own credibility.

I have read all the threads here, and I see a sense ruling after a bit of a wobble, but correct me if I am wrong….

pagar: “However I can’t agree that, because a woman has cried “rape”, her behaviour and actions both before and after the alleged crime become automatically immune from scrutiny or comment.”

This is an example of why feminists are calling for a trial. There are 1,001 reasons to wipe out a twitter account (including, for example, huge fusillades of abuse from angry Wikileaks supporters).

Having said that, I still believe the chances are these allegations are fabricated, by one means or another (with or without the willing involvement of the accusers). It’s just far too much of a coincidence – not just the convenient timing, but the convenient nature of the allegations.

Dismissing this as “conspiracists going on about CIA honeytraps” is stupid. There didn’t need to be planning beforehand, and it didn’t need to be someone as risk-averse as the CIA. There are plenty of other much less subtle organisations out there who have been severely damaged by the cables.

I suppose only a wild-eyed conspiracist would suggest that senior Russian government officials would send hired agents into the UK to kill a minor dissident with polonium, for example.

AlexSnowdon: “It is dishonest for people to attack others on the grounds that their position arguably puts them in the same camp as either ‘misogynists’ or ‘conspiracy theorists’, as the article’s author does (and it’s echoed in some comments). It is irrelevant that other people may come out with reactionary remarks about rape.”

Exactly – and the stuff about “you shouldn’t say it because it plays into a misogynist narrative” is equally ridiculous. It’s like saying you shouldn’t admit there’s lots of snow outside because it plays into a climate change denier narrative.

Two points
1. As Laurie Penny said, being a crusading activist in favour of data freedom and being a rapist are not logically exclusive. Looking at the report in the Guardian about the charges against Assange would seem to suggest that, if true, there may be a case to answer. Fortunately that’s why most countries have trials to determine guilt or innocence.

2. Why are people so negative about the Swedish justice system? It’s not Saudi Arabia. I generally believe that it’s probably no worse than ours. A lot of the people here seem convinced that he’ll be immediately extradited to the US if he goes to Sweden. When did the Swedes suddenly become a US stooge? More to the point, when did Britain stop? If the US wanted to extradite him or even ‘rendition’ him, it would be no easer or harder to do so in the UK than Sweden.

132. Gutenkatzen

The rape allegations against Julian Assange are yet another example of how feminism has been transformed from a progressive movement into an instrument of imperial aggression. Thanks to a successful military/media PR campaign aimed at curbing anti-war sentiment among women voters, we condone military occupations as a “necessary evil” to “liberate” women overseas, and/or support legislation at home aimed at restricting the rights of Muslims. And while we violently impose ‘democracy’ and ‘women’s rights’ upon countries inconveniently located over vast oil reserves, we define feminism at home as a women’s right to pole dance, and choose from vast reserves of consumer products. As more of Anna Ardin’s sordid allegations against Mr Assange emerge, we can now add the ‘right’ to a dream date, free from broken condoms (and broken promises) to what has become a mostly consumer-based ideology that serves the narrow interests of the whitest and most entitled segment of the female population.

An excellent article. It is vital to seperate the issues: Assange and Wikileaks should be defended over their role in exposing US and Western hypocrisy (though not uncritically: I’m still concerned that WikiLeaks may have put Afghan civilians at risk); but Assange should face the courts over the allegations of rape/sexual abuse in Sweden. The two issues should be quite sepearable, but sadly many of Assange’s supporters (including Pilger and Tariq Ali) have embarked upon a vile, sexist campaign against the women who’ve accused him. Assange deserves due process, but it is simply outrageous to declare him innocent in advance, and even more outrageous for these “left wing” men to impugn in advance the motives and honesty of the women accusers.

Many years ago I was an admirer of Pilger. But his support for Milosevik, the fascistic Iraqi “resistance” (justified with the words “you can’t be too choosy”), and -increasingly – every other reactionary cause in the world so long as its anti-Western in general and anti-Israeli in particular, has convinced me that Pilger has degenerated into something very nasty indeed. He now seems to operate on the principle of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

No matter what anyone says, to use a phrase, ‘the law must take its course’. Assange will, and must, be extradited to Sweden and made to answer these accusations. He should have gone of his own free will, but if he wont then let him be sent in chains.

Seeing him on Newsnight last week one has to say he seems to be barking. But if he is innocent then why is he being so obstructive ? Leads to the conclusion (using the logic he applies) that he must have something to hide.

Pilger’s absolving of the 7/7 terrorists for responsibility for their actions and totally blaming Blair (these are Blair’s bombs!) makes me not a fan of his.

136. Chaise Guevara

@ 134 Andy

“But if he is innocent then why is he being so obstructive ? Leads to the conclusion (using the logic he applies) that he must have something to hide.”

You’re missing the rather large point that he might not worried about being convicted of rape, but instead about the Swiss deporting him to the US to be jailed for life or executed for an unrelated case.

137. the a&e charge nurse

[133] “Assange’s supporters (including Pilger and Tariq Ali) have embarked upon a vile, sexist campaign against the women who’ve accused him” – in the meantime Assange’s reputation has been trashed and he has spent time in solitary confinement.

Mind you it is not just Pilger and Tariq Ali providing commentary – the Guardian published an item based on access to “police material” (in Stockholm).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-sweden

Allegedly,”there are many more text and SMS messages from and to the complainants which have been shown by the assistant prosecutor to the Swedish defence lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, which suggest motivations of malice and money in going to the police and to Espressen and raise the issue of political motivation behind the presentation of these complaints. He [Hurtig] has been precluded from making notes or copying them.
“We understand that both complainants admit to having initiated consensual sexual relations with Mr Assange. They do not complain of any physical injury. The first complainant did not make a complaint for six days (in which she hosted the respondent in her flat [actually her bed] and spoke in the warmest terms about him to her friends) until she discovered he had spent the night with the other complainant.
“The second complainant, too, failed to complain for several days until she found out about the first complainant: she claimed that after several acts of consensual sexual intercourse, she fell half asleep and thinks that he ejaculated without using a condom – a possibility about which she says they joked afterwards.
“Both complainants say they did not report him to the police for prosecution but only to require him to have an STD test. However, his Swedish lawyer has been shown evidence of their text messages which indicate that they were concerned to obtain money by going to a tabloid newspaper and were motivated by other matters including a desire for revenge.”

You say it is “outrageous for these “left wing” men to impugn in advance the motives and honesty of the women accusers” – but what are we to make of the apparent fact that Assange raped one of the women, yet she continued to serve him breakfast for the rest of the week?

If the first women had simply gone to police the morning after the alleged sexual attack then this case would have played out in an entirely different way – and don’t forget, the first Swedish prosecutor did not think there was any case to answer.

Given the fact Assange is virtually the most wanted man on the planet I do not think it is surprising that his supporters want to do their utmost to ensure that he is not damaged any further by allegations tainted by the political backdrop and a certain lack of credibility.

In many respects I’m rather loathed

You certainly are by some people on this thread.

@136 Chaise,

“You’re missing the rather large point that he might not worried about being convicted of rape, but instead about the Swiss deporting him to the US to be jailed for life or executed for an unrelated case.”

It is unclear why Assange and his supporters feel that extradition to the US is easier from Sweden than from the UK. The evidence points in the opposite direction. The UK extradition treaty with the US is more recent and more one-sided, and the whole UK relationship with the US is famously one-sided, whereas to extradite to the US for a more or less political offence from an ostensibly neutral country might be politically more difficult for the Swedes.

True, if he wasn’t under arrest then he could leave the UK and find a jurisdiction that lacks an extradition treaty with the US and try to get permission to stay there – but then, he made no such move before being arrested, despite already knowing that the US was interested in him.

140. the a&e charge nurse

[134] “Assange will, and must, be extradited to Sweden and made to answer these accusations. He should have gone of his own free will, but if he wont then let him be sent in chains” – yet Assange said today “I don’t need to go back to Sweden” – “The law says that I also have certain rights, and these rights mean that I do not need to speak to random prosecutors around the world who simply want to have a chat, and won’t do it in any other standard way.”

Assange said he had waited in Sweden for five weeks to be interviewed by police but the interview did not happen. He added that he had been told there was no reason for him to remain in the country.

Asked by the BBC’s John Humphrys why he would not return to Sweden to deal with the allegations, Assange said: “If they want to charge me, they can charge me. They have decided not to charge me”.

Why have the enigmatic Swedes not pressed charges – are the accusations so flimsy that they can only proceed on the basis of Assange walking into a Swedish police station and admitting outright that he is a serial rapist?

141. the a&e charge nurse
142. Fran Torazzo

Pilger is quite clearly criticizing the misappropriation of feminism here, not the entire feminist movement or even the idea of feminism. The fact that people can’t see this tells me that many of us are far to close to this and that we all need to take deep breaths, count to ten and re-read the various commentaries around the issue with cooler heads. I think Libby Brooks et al have made some valid points, but so has Pilger – what’s needed here is clear headedness, not knee jerk reactions.

143. david smith

bizarre. assange is attacked soon after he helps to release the apache gunship footage. & we’re all supposed to take these complaints seriously????

if we do we’ll let simple tactics of ‘deflection’ & ‘hindrance’ defuse what’s gotta be one of the sickest acts of cowardly murder ever caught red handed on tape

NOTE: there’s nothing to stop assange being prosecuted for rape sometime in the future, at least if the claims appear to hold water. but for now we should not get distracted and press on with prosecuting the american government for horrible war crimes

[ if we don’t they’ll get themselves a Vader & start calling themselves ‘the Empire’ ]


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  2. TamsinDunedain

    RT @libcon John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0 >"Hardly", says this staunch feminist.

  3. Matt Hayes

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  4. CathElliott

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  5. Philippa

    Gutting :( RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  6. earwicga

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  7. Lizzie Rubbisher

    LOL at "media feminists". Idiot RT @CathElliott John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  8. Marta Cooper

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  9. Jess Haigh

    RT @incurablehippie: Gutting :( RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  10. Hannah M

    John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/tJaU49t via @libcon

  11. sara huws

    http://bit.ly/dGxIa0 "Calls for Assange to be publicly castrated with a broken coke bottle on prime-time TV have been in short supply…"

  12. Philip

    RT @boudledidge: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/tJaU49t via @libcon

  13. Jonathan Davis

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  14. Maria S

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  15. Yonmei

    Jesus wept, how many ppl are pro-rape? RT @libcon John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  16. The F-Word

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  17. TenPercent

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  18. catherine buca

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0 << v. interesting comments

  19. sunny hundal

    Oh John Pilger, you used to be good once. What happened to your powers of judgement? http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  20. OurManInAbiko

    RT @sunny_hundal sunny hundal Oh John Pilger, you used to be good once. What happened to your powers of judgement? http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  21. Noxi

    RT @cathelliott: RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  22. Brintha Gowrishankar

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  23. Jen Hall

    RT @libcon: John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian Assange http://bit.ly/dGxIa0

  24. conspiracy theo

    John Pilger shames himself by attacking feminists over Julian … http://bit.ly/gytCqj

  25. blogs of the world

    As a feminist, I expect the women in the media who call themselves feminists to do better … http://reduce.li/l451ye #shame





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.