Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations


7:56 pm - September 18th 2012

by Newswire    


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The veteran socialist Tony Benn has apologised for his comments last year down-playing the rape allegations against Julian Assange.

The comments by Benn were made at a Stop the War rally in 2011 in defence of Julian Assange.

The apology was sent to students at Goldsmiths University, who published it online with permission.

The exchange started with a letter from Goldsmiths Students Union writing him a letter asking him to retract his comments.

Dear Tony

We are writing to request you apologise for and retract the comments you made at the Stop the War ‘Defend Wikileaks’ rally in February 2011 and make clear your support for the position we hold that non consensual sex is always rape and no means no.

We don’t think that it is possible to be ‘for sexual equality’ and then describe ‘non-consensual sex’ as different from rape.

As honorary president you have a level of accountability to Goldsmiths students, and they have a responsibility to hold you to that.

The idea that rape is defined by the survivor not having consent is far from controversial. It is the definition found in most dictionaries and, more importantly, the definition that the trade union and student union movement has argued for over years of struggle.

You have been a respected figure on the left for many years. It is precisely because of that, and because people therefore take your opinion seriously, that we are making this request. We hope you recognise that for many members this position is also informed by years in the struggle against sexism.
We cannot and should not fail to challenge people who are part of the left if they voice opinions that go against the hard-won values of liberation movements.

We hope you are able to retract your comments.

GSU Exec

Tony Benn responded to their letter, and asked them to pass on his statement.

He said

I wish to apologise sincerely for my previous remarks on rape at the ‘Defend Wikileaks’ meeting in February 2011. These comments do not represent my position.

As an Honorary President of Goldsmiths Student Union, I share the union’s position. Hence my position is that non-consensual sex is rape, that no means no and that all allegations of rape must be treated with the utmost sincerity.

I have been involved in support for women’s rights for all of my political life and would like to state clearly that I stand with all those committed to sexual equality.

A few weeks ago the writer Naomi Wolf also walked back some of her comments on the issue, in an online interview with Mumsnet.

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Reader comments


Galloway

Murray

Benn

The depravity of the far-Left laid bare.

Online savaging with Mumsnet more like. The transcript was painful to read. It’s not helped that her new book can basically be boiled down to “if women shag better then the patriarchy will fall”.

And so he should be – the silly old sod.

Did he suggest “no” might not mean no? what did he say?

Tony Benn said:

“The charge of rape doesn’t stand up to examination. First of all, the charge is that it was a non-consexual- er… a non-consensual relationship. Well that’s very different from rape, which most people would understand to be the seizure by force of a woman for the gratification of the man’s need. …”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyBcqPwuQE8#t=3m

mental.

He was wrong.

Now he’s right.

He did express himself badly.

Anyone who’s followed this case with one eye half open, however, will have known what he was referring to:

The particularities of Swedish law that it is an oversimplification to translate back merely as “rape” in English.

So a little bit of understanding and less huffing and puffing fake outrage would be more intelligent.

It’s evident Benn he didn’t know what rape means in English law and he was ignorant of the specific allegation he was talking about. Following my quote above, he said:

“And all that is said of Julian Assange is that without using a condom he was guilty of rape, and if that is the charge then I tell you a lot of people in this country will be guilty of rape on a daily basis.” [audience laughs loudly]

Of course that is incorrect, that isn’t all that is said of Assange; the essence of this particular allegation (one of four) is that consent was predicated on condom use, a condom was not used and consent was not obtained.

To be fair to Benn, he probably relied entirely on the myths propagated by Assange’s supporters and didn’t bother to look into it for himself. Why would he? Assange is a hero, therefore his enemies are villains. There were probably good and decent people telling him this stuff, people like Jemima Khan, Assange’s mother etc. Why wouldn’t he believe them?

For readers who don’t know what the EAW alleged, it can be found at paragraph 3 here (look at allegation 4 for this specific one Benn talked about):
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html

The High Court dealt in detail with the allegation in paragraphs 106-126 of that decision.

Now, I’m not saying Assange dunnit, that’s for a court in Sweden to decide. But there’s an awful lot of people saying “he isn’t accused of rape” and whatnot, even now.

9. So Much For Subtlety

The idea that rape is defined by the survivor not having consent is far from controversial. It is the definition found in most dictionaries and, more importantly, the definition that the trade union and student union movement has argued for over years of struggle.

Actually the idea that rape is defined by the victim is highly controversial. Crime exists, as a general rule, in the minds of the people accused. Not in the mind of the victims. The test is usually whether or not the accused had a good faith belief that consent was given.

So I doubt that is the definition given in most dictionaries.

To be fair to Benn, he probably relied entirely on the myths propagated by Assange’s supporters and didn’t bother to look into it for himself. Why would he? Assange is a hero, therefore his enemies are villains. There were probably good and decent people telling him this stuff, people like Jemima Khan, Assange’s mother etc. Why wouldn’t he believe them?

Well, yes. It’s perhaps best to extend benefit of the doubt where possible to the apologetic due to rather premature statements that did the rounds a fair bit.

Due to the terrible mishandling, miscommunication and mistranslation of the early stages of the case by the Swedish authorities, it was completely unclear up until the time of the English high court hearing in July 2011 (which ukliberty links above) as to whether the accusations counted as rape under English law.

That’s *why* the court was tasked to rule on them. Anyone who says otherwise is simply lying. Likewise, anyone who continued to claim the accusations didn’t amount to accusations of rape under English law after the court hearing in July 2011 clarified their meaning is simply lying.

Benn acted in good faith when the evidence pointed one way, and retracted when asked to retract after the evidence changed. What more d’you want, a ceremonial self-flagellation ceremony?

I wonder if he still believes that Mao was the greatest man of the 20th century.

I think some of the responses above illustrate why politicians rarely admit they were wrong.

The initial comment rightly makes them a target for criticism but then their retraction, instead of being accepted as an apology for being wrong, simply becomes a pretext for a second round of criticism for their first comment.

Tsk – have any of you actually looked into the background of the charges levelled at Assange? By which I mean what actually happened, the sequence of events, and the bizarre outcomes (one of the 2 women involved didnt want Assange charged at all, only to be certain that he wasnt carrying an STD).

15. margin4error

so much for subtlety

Not sure your understanding of the law works very well. After all, ignorance is no defence. As such the crime is not dependent on what is in the mind of the perpetrator.

As such the crime is not dependent on what is in the mind of the perpetrator.

We do seem to go through this rather a lot. The law is as follows:

A person (A) commits an offence if— .
(a)he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,
(b)B does not consent to the penetration, and
(c)A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

What the perpetrator actually believes (and the reasonableness of that belief) is a fundamental part of the offence.

16 – as a follow-up to that, it’s clear that what Assange is accused of would amount to rape under English law.

The accusation is that consent to sex was predicated on the use of a condom – no condom, no consent – and that Assange knew this. Penetration without a condom was therefore done without the consent of the victim, and therefore was rape.

18. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@9

‘Crime exists, as a general rule, in the minds of the people accused. Not in the mind of the victims.’

Great news for the Courts; no need for Mens Rea or Actus Reus

Just asked the accused if they thought they were a criminal.
I bet most would say no.

Where do you get this stuff from?

19. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@1 Tory

Sadly its worse that that; he’s a Christian.

@ Tim J

The accusation is that consent to sex was predicated on the use of a condom

But how can such an accusation ever be proved? Unless we have CCTV cameras in every bedroom it will come down to the word of one person against another.

“I told him”

“I didn’t hear her say that”

Because of this precise difficulty in prosecuting rape cases to conviction, the feminist lobby in Sweden now want to move the burden of proof onto the accused, raising the prospect of rape allegations in every instance of regretted sex.

And I imagine the number of participants in one night stands who might wish to withdraw consent retrospectively could be quite high. Swedish males will be foolhardy indeed to consider reaching orgasm prior to their partner.

One problem was that his lawyers appeared to have fed the media a lot of bullshit, e.g. “sex by surprise”, remember? Maybe these were honest mistakes; regardless, people continue to repeat such myths today, as well as myths about sieges and house arrest etc.

Another problem is that people, however well-meaning, are too quick too comment (I include myself in this) with strong, unequivocal views despite not having access to the facts. Particularly if you’re leaping to a friend’s defence (confirmation bias, right?) or having an argument on the internet.

And that’s my point about Tony Benn, really; I’m trying to make a wider point, not meaning to have a go at him, in that here is an educated and AFAIK honest and decent person, who has an audience (and therefore I think he has some responsibility to get these things right, particularly comments about English law), but says stuff that is wrong. I do understand and agree with Shatterface’s comment @13 and don’t mean to pick on Benn – he is but one of many, many, many people who made a mistake in relation to this.

I wish people would stop smearing Sweden. This is another disturbing thing about the case, the readiness of people to traduce a people and criminal justice system they know nothing about (except for what Assange’s supporters have said). Suddenly this inoffensive country has become The Great Enemy.

Politicians in this country (UK) have suggested lowering the standard of proof for particular, serious offences. In the USA, elements in the government and legislature seriously propose the government should be free to have people indefinitely imprisoned on the government’s say so – no access to law, lawyers, or hearing to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. It doesn’t mean such things will happen or if they did happen that they will go unchallenged.

tl;dr stop smearing Sweden, every country has politicians who propose objectionable things.

23. Chaise Guevara

@ Shatterface

“The initial comment rightly makes them a target for criticism but then their retraction, instead of being accepted as an apology for being wrong, simply becomes a pretext for a second round of criticism for their first comment.”

Tory @1 apparently thinks that admitting you were wrong is “depravity”.

(OK, that’s almost certainly not what he means, but I’ll treat him with the same courtesy he extends to others: none.)

@ Tim J

The accusation is that consent to sex was predicated on the use of a condom

But how can such an accusation ever be proved? Unless we have CCTV cameras in every bedroom it will come down to the word of one person against another.

“I told him”

“I didn’t hear her say that”

Well that’s the difficulty in prosecuting rape cases where the dispute is as to consent rather than penetration, and it’s why juries in the UK are often reluctant to convict on so-called date rape cases – when it’s one word against another, it’s hard to prove things beyond reasonable doubt.

Mike@14: yes, we all have, many times. Pretty much universally, it is agreed that the early stages of the Swedish investigation were weird in terms of procedure and utterly botched PR-wise. However, at the end of it, there is a case where women are making credible accusations that amount to rape under English and Swedish law, with evidence that an English court considers sufficient for Assange to face charges.

Agree with ukliberty on Pagar’s comment – the fact that some women in Sweden want to change the law to become grossly illiberal doesn’t mean that it currently is.

@ Tim J

when it’s one word against another, it’s hard to prove things beyond reasonable doubt.

Indeed. Or maybe impossible.

So do you agree there is no point in compelling Assange to go to Sweden to stand up in a court and say

“I didn’t hear her say that”

or are we going to get onto the “can’t interfere with the due process of other countries legal systems” meme.

Frankly, I think the existence of the pernicious EAW homologates the legitimacy of our interest in the justice systems in other states.

So do you agree there is no point in compelling Assange to go to Sweden to stand up in a court and say

“I didn’t hear her say that”

Um, no for two reasons. The first is that “hard to prove” is not the same as “impossible to prove”. The second is that I haven’t seen (and you haven’t seen) the evidence that the Swedish prosecutors have. They have decided that there is sufficiently compelling evidence to justify a trial.

If Assange’s defence is watertight – if, in other words, there is no compelling evidence that he knew or ought to have known the conditionality of consent – then he should have nothing to fear from a trial. The reverse, really. It’s an opportunity to clear his name.

Frankly, I think the existence of the pernicious EAW homologates the legitimacy of our interest in the justice systems in other states.

It’s a red herring in this case. The previous extradition regime would have applied in pretty much the same way.

Pretty much universally, it is agreed that the early stages of the Swedish investigation were weird in terms of procedure and utterly botched PR-wise.

It’s not clear to me where each piece of misinformation came from it’s not clear to me the early stages were weird in terms of procedure.

Some misinformation appears to have come from Hurtig (his Swedish lawyer), e.g. “the prosecutor made no effort to get in touch with my client before he left Sweden”, who misled defence witnesses appearing at the extradition hearing, and some from his former UK lawyers, e.g. “sex by surprise”. Some appears to have been invented by his supporters / defenders / people interested in the case, e.g. Naomi Wolf, John Pilger etc, e.g. what Interpol Red Notices are for.

Whatever ‘sex by surprise’ is, it’s only a offense in Sweden — not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza. I feel as if I’m in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls. The prosecutor has not asked to see Julian, never asked to interview him, and he hasn’t been charged with anything. He’s been told he’s wanted for questioning, but he doesn’t know the nature of the allegations against him. – his former UK lawyer, Mark Stephens, my emphasis in bold about what was definitely false and he should have known to be false (of course he too may have been misled).

@ Tim

If Assange’s defence is watertight – if, in other words, there is no compelling evidence that he knew or ought to have known the conditionality of consent

Other than a tape or a threesome (and neither has been mentioned) I can’t see what that could be. I know you’ll say that’s why he should go to Sweden and answer the charges but you will understand that ignores the sub-plot.

I take your point on the EAW in this case.

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 27 Tim J

“Um, no for two reasons. The first is that “hard to prove” is not the same as “impossible to prove”. The second is that I haven’t seen (and you haven’t seen) the evidence that the Swedish prosecutors have. They have decided that there is sufficiently compelling evidence to justify a trial.”

Well, we don’t know that. They might just want to be seen Doing Something when the eyes of the world are on them.

“Hard to prove” would, I believe, generally mean no trial would be brought in the UK: I think the CPS benchmark is an estimated 50% chance of conviction. Don’t know how it works abroad.

“Um, no for two reasons. The first is that “hard to prove” is not the same as “impossible to prove”. The second is that I haven’t seen (and you haven’t seen) the evidence that the Swedish prosecutors have. They have decided that there is sufficiently compelling evidence to justify a trial.”

Well, we don’t know that. They might just want to be seen Doing Something when the eyes of the world are on them.

In Sweden, the Svea Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Sweden upheld the Stockholm District Court’s order for his arrest in absentia with their equivalent of probable cause.

pagar,

Other than a tape or a threesome (and neither has been mentioned) I can’t see what that could be. I know you’ll say that’s why he should go to Sweden and answer the charges but you will understand that ignores the sub-plot.

What’s the sub-plot, that as soon as he arrives in Sweden they will brandish an extradition request from the USA?

Meaning he will now be able to fight extradition in two countries, the UK and Sweden, instead of just one country, the UK, which we regularly complain makes it too easy for the USA?

33. Truth's Spokesman.

Tony! if this scum was as fanatic about Hitler and National Socialism as he is about Stalin and Communism he’d have been kicked to the winds years ago.

A frustrated Communist, American-hating, Islamist fanboy hypocrite (which is why he shares the same attitude to women as his knuckle-dragging Islamist friends).

34. Chaise Guevara

@ UKL

“In Sweden, the Svea Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Sweden upheld the Stockholm District Court’s order for his arrest in absentia with their equivalent of probable cause.”

Wasn’t aware of that. Fair enough.

“Hard to prove” would, I believe, generally mean no trial would be brought in the UK: I think the CPS benchmark is an estimated 50% chance of conviction. Don’t know how it works abroad.

Nor me – but I think you’re extrapolating too much from a general statement. Rape cases that turn on consent are, generally, hard to prove. That doesn’t mean (in fact, really really doesn’t mean) that they shouldn’t be prosecuted as a result.

Rape cases that turn on consent are, generally, hard to prove. That doesn’t mean (in fact, really really doesn’t mean) that they shouldn’t be prosecuted as a result.

Eh!!!

Are you saying that the bar should be lower for rape accusations than for other crimes?

That the CPS should prosecute on, say, a 10% chance of success rather than the normal 50% or whatever?

On Red Notices, just to make a point about the misinformation:

JENNIFER ROBINSON, UK LEGAL ADVISOR TO ASSANGE: You only need to look at the way that Red Notices are used around the world. Red Notices are normally the preserve of terrorists and dictators. The president of Syria does not have a Red Notice alert. Gaddafi in Libya, at the same time Julian’s arrest warrant was issued, was not subject to a Red Notice but an Orange Notice. It was an incredibly… it was incredibly unusual that a red notice would be sought for an allegation of this kind. – From Sex, Lies and Julian Assange.

Normally the preserve of terrorists and dictators!

Google Interpol red notice, click on the Interpol result. Hey Interpol, what does Red Notice mean?

Red Notice: To seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.

Nothing about terrorism. They might be wanted for terrorism, but a red notice just means they are wanted for extradition or similar.

Well, I don’t know how to get reliable numbers of red notices for various offences from the Interpol website; the number of results returned seems to be limited to 160. But click on the Red Notice link. Choose Sweden from the country dropdown list. Pick the first person from the first page of results: road traffic offences. Next person: Theft. Next person: Kidnapping. Um… where are the terrorists? Fourth person: Drug person. Fifth person: ‘Life and Health’, I don’t know what that means but it doesn’t scream terrorism. Sixth and seventh people: drugs. Eighth: theft. Ninth: theft. I could go on.

“Hey man,” someone says, “she said look at the way they are used around the world, not just Sweden.”

OK, sure. First result, theft; second, fraud; third, forgery, theft and fraud; fourth, crimes against children, sex crimes; and so on.

“What are orange notices then?”

To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.

You can see why they might issue one for Gadhaffi.

Does she think the colour of the notice relates to the level of danger the person represents? And if so why does she think that? And why do people take it at face value and repeat it as The Truth?

36 – I think we’re arguing at cross-purposes here. I’m not suggesting that the general standards of proof should be lowered for “date rape” style prosecutions. I’m making the point that in general this sort of accusation is a tough one to prove. That doesn’t mean, however, that any specific case will fail to meet current standards of prosecution (there are lots of such cases brought, and conviction rates are roughly in line with similar offences).

Fraud cases are in general hard to prove – the facts tend to be so complicated that it’s very easy for a jury to lose the thread. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be prosecuted if the CPS thinks there’s a sufficiently good chance of a conviction.

39. the a&e charge nurse

[22] ‘I wish people would stop smearing Sweden’ – well they don’t help themselves when supposedly impartial prosecutors leak allegations about sex crimes to the MSM, or police interviews are conducted by a mate of one of the complainants (with the tape switched of), or the spooks assist assange onto the plane so he can fly out of sweden.

Even the Svea Court of Appeal could not agree with Ny on the exact nature of the charges (downgrading the offense from ordinary to minor rape).
http://justice4assange.com/Sexual-Offences.html

I agree we shouldn’t be smearing the swedes but that doesn’t stop us from rubbishing them on the specifics of this case – put another way, what part of the investigation has been handled well?

Notably any allegation should never be dismissed. I would ask people in this case to note that to say an allegation against Assange exists then one would hope that the complainants went to police and signed a formal statement and had a recorded interview about the allegations. Neither of those things have happened.

The extradition order was gained from an account of the conversation between a police officer known to the complainant who did not record the interaction or ask them to sign anything. Very poor policing at best. One victim is on the record as being shocked by the police for pursuing assange for rape saying that nothing that Julian did with them was violent and they went to police to see if they cold seek assurance that Julian did not have any STD’s after having unprotected sex with him.

“‘I wish people would stop smearing Sweden’ – well they don’t help themselves when supposedly impartial prosecutors leak allegations about sex crimes to the MSM”

AFAIK there is no evidence of a leak from the prosecutors. What they did, but perhaps shouldn’t have done, is confirm Assange was being investigated when asked by the media.

42. the a&e charge nurse

[41] ‘but perhaps shouldn’t have done – PERHAPS!!!

Perhaps the swedes should have just put up, or shut up in the first place.

I don’t understand what you mean by, they should have put up or shut up.

44. Chaise Guevara

@ 35 Tim

“Nor me – but I think you’re extrapolating too much from a general statement. Rape cases that turn on consent are, generally, hard to prove. That doesn’t mean (in fact, really really doesn’t mean) that they shouldn’t be prosecuted as a result.”

At some point, the odds on conviction get too low to make prosecuting reasonable. Bear in mind that, very roughly speaking, the lower the conviction odds, the higher the chances that you’re dragging an innocent person through the courts.

You could argue that 50% is too high, or that it should be lower for more serious allegations like rape and murder. But at some point you have to draw a line and say “beyond this, it’s not worth the candle”.

“But how can such an accusation ever be proved?”

Some sort of trial perhaps?

46. the a&e charge nurse

[43] two women accused assange of rape and sexual molestation, and these crimes were alleged to have taken place on separate occasions, at separate venues – at least 3 prosecutors were involved in the case during the 7 weeks or so assange was in sweden.

There was no new evidence after 18th August – assange did not fly out of sweden until the 27th September.

If there was any substance to the women’s claims the authorities would have treated their allegations with the gravity they deserved, especially given that the alleged assailant was a non-national, and thus a flight risk.

Personally I do not find it a very credible that justice in sweden depends on the ability of a lawyer to answer text messages in a timely fashion.

Assuming there was meaningful prima facie evidence Assange should have been arrested, charged, and prevented from leaving the country, and this should have happened within a very short time of the alleged facts being made known to the authorities.

God, you’re so obsessed with this.

a&e,

Even the Svea Court of Appeal could not agree with Ny on the exact nature of the charges (downgrading the offense from ordinary to minor rape).
http://justice4assange.com/Sexual-Offences.html

I think you make a lot of that. You seem to infer something from it that I don’t think is there.

It’s a degree thing. There are three degrees. The prosecutor apparently went for the second degree. The court said actually it’s the third degree, the most ‘minor’, imprisonable by up to four years.

It really isn’t this great smoking gun of incompetence you seem to triumphantly post every time you mention it.

It isn’t unheard of for courts to not go with the sentencing the prosecutors ask for / recommend.

49. Robin Levett

(This may be a near duplicate)
@a&ecn #46:

Assuming there was meaningful prima facie evidence Assange should have been arrested, charged, and prevented from leaving the country, and this should have happened within a very short time of the alleged facts being made known to the authorities.

And you and all the other Assangistas on here would have been wailing about the jackbooted Swedish thugs throwing him in chokey when all the prosecutors needed to do was arrange an appointment with his lawyer. Just like you’re arguing elsewhere that the EAW was an over-reaction, and they should have conducted a videolinked interview, despite the fact that he has jumped bail.

a&e,

assange did not fly out of sweden until the 27th September.

‘Citation required.’

If there was any substance to the women’s claims the authorities would have treated their allegations with the gravity they deserved, especially given that the alleged assailant was a non-national, and thus a flight risk.

Personally I do not find it a very credible that justice in sweden depends on the ability of a lawyer to answer text messages in a timely fashion.

Assuming there was meaningful prima facie evidence Assange should have been arrested, charged, and prevented from leaving the country, and this should have happened within a very short time of the alleged facts being made known to the authorities.

So in essence you’re complaining that they weren’t strict enough. That instead of for example asking him / his lawyer about a mutually convenient time for interview, they should have say broken his door in at 4am and carted him off to the police station, with all that entails. That’s your complaint, that they should have treated him more harshly.

Now he can apologize for saying scargill balloted the Miners and he won a vote in 1984,
that stalin did more good than harm,
that Chariman Mao was the greatest bloke of the 20th century,
that the Union block vote on how polcies were formed shouldn’t be scrapped ,as it was too technical to give omov, (which was the same reason they didn’t give black people the vote in South africa),
that Labour lost he 83 and 87 elections as they wern’t left win enough,
that reslection of MP.s was used by militant to deselect right wing laobur M.Ps.

that it wasn’t the winter of disconent that lost laobu rin 1979 ,it was that we hadn’t given public workers good enough pay deals

that he couldn’t stop hecklers booing Denis Healey in the 81 deputy leadership as it was freedom of speech,

52. the a&e charge nurse

[49 + 50] ‘That’s your complaint, that they should have treated him more harshly’ – the treatment of alleged crimes should be commensurate with the seriousness of the allegation (in this case multiple sex offences including rape) – I mean that’s not a hard concept to understand, is it?

This entire debacle could have been avoided if the swedes had acted decisively at the beginning – decisive action would have proved that they took the women’s version of events seriously, and it would have gone some way to nipping conspiracy theories in the bud – instead they decided to let the case hang on a lawyers cell phone – not only that they were even incapable of preventing assange from leaving the country (despite the presence of their top spooks) .

The quality of the investigation in the meantime fell far short of the kind of standards prescribed by Ny herself.

Apart from that there is little else to worry about, providing you believe the use of a EAW, and surrounding the equadorian embassy was proportionate.

the treatment of alleged crimes should be commensurate with the seriousness of the allegation (in this case multiple sex offences including rape) – I mean that’s not a hard concept to understand, is it?

Well, the more I learn about this the more it seems the Swedes and our authorities bent over backwards to get his cooperation.

instead they decided to let the case hang on a lawyers cell phone – not only that they were even incapable of preventing assange from leaving the country (despite the presence of their top spooks) .

Setting aside your continued failure to provide a cite that he was followed to the airport by their spooks, not that it matters- see other thread, how were they supposed to get in touch with him? They contacted his lawyer over a couple of days, trying to arrange the interview, his lawyer presumably said sure I’ll tell Assange. Whether he did or didn’t, Assange left Sweden didn’t he? So what should they have done?

providing you believe the use of a EAW …was proportionate.

Well, I do think its proportionate, but hey what do I know? I’ve only read a few decisions. Defence witness Alhem says he would have done the same if the facts are as Marianne Ny stated, three English courts say it’s proportionate, three Swedish courts say it’s proportionate. I just don’t see a reasonable argument that it’s disproportionate.

surrounding the equadorian embassy was proportionate.

There are four or five police officers in front of it at present. Hardly surrounding it. Do you really believe this stuff, like “surrounding it” and laying siege to it or are you just being melodramatic? Some people seem to believe it; you wouldn’t be alone.

54. the a&e charge nurse

[53] ‘three English courts say it’s proportionate’ – no, that would have entailed giving consideration to the quality of evidence, as you know the courts here did not have to concern themselves with this question.

The decision to uphold the EAW was simply a matter of deciding if it had been correctly issued.

This entire debacle could have been avoided if the swedes had acted decisively at the beginning – decisive action would have proved that they took the women’s version of events seriously, and it would have gone some way to nipping conspiracy theories in the bud

hahahaha

Decisive action like taking away his passport and putting him in prison pending interview. You would complain about that, too, wouldn’t you? “Why are they arresting him? Surely he should only be arrested if he doesn’t volunteer for interview.” – that is what you would complain.

56. the a&e charge nurse

[55] ‘Decisive action like taking away his passport and putting him in prison pending interview. You would complain about that, too, wouldn’t you?’ – absolutely, at least the robustness of the prima facie evidence could have been properly tested at an early stage.

This goes to the very heart of the matter because as far as I can tell the case seems to hinge on confusing, and even contradictory testimony, and little else – the latest reports of a dna free condom only adds to this perception.

The decision to uphold the EAW was simply a matter of deciding if it had been correctly issued.

Um no, there was rather more to it than that.

It’s pretty stupid of you to say things like that.

@54. the a&e charge nurse: “no, that would have entailed giving consideration to the quality of evidence, as you know the courts here did not have to concern themselves with this question.

The decision to uphold the EAW was simply a matter of deciding if it had been correctly issued.”

That is complete bollocks. Swedish authorities requested that he answered questions in Sweden. UK courts, not just one, determined that Assange needed to address a complaint under Swedish law. Thus Assange should be sent to Sweden.

59. the a&e charge nurse

[58] you are referring to equivalence, in other words whether or not the accusations in sweden constituted a crime in the UK as well.

The british courts did not test the quality of evidence – the veracity of the accusations were taken at face value.

After determining that the warrant had been correctly issued the british court OK’d the extradition request.

What else of substance is there to add.

The real issue is the amount of misinformation that people keep propagating despite it being trivial to deal with on a issue-by-issue basis. We have a leak of information from the defence bundle to the internet. We have Assange’s Swedish lawyer misleading defence witnesses. We have Assange’s UK lawyers misleading the world about the natures of things ranging from the allegations to Interpol Red Notices. And we have his supporters keep on repeating such falsehoods time and again, along with traducing and smearing a hitherto inoffensive country and legal system.

a&e @ 59, I think the numbering has gone wrong and you inadvertently commented to Charlieman instead of me. I am not referring to ‘equivalence’ (dual criminality) or the quality of evidence.

Here is the skeleton argument for the defence at the extradition hearing:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/48345071/Assange-Skeleton-Argument

Here are the arguments before the High Court on appeal (I haven’t included the dual criminality argument, and apparently there were originally rather more arguments): ‘The EAW had not been issued by a “judicial authority”‘; ‘As regards offence 4, the conduct, if fairly and accurately described, would not have amounted to the offence of rape’; ‘The condition in s.2(3) of the 2003 Act had not been satisfied as Mr Assange was not an “accused”‘; ‘The issue of the EAW and subsequent proceedings were not proportionate.’

And the argument on appeal to the Supreme Court was that ‘the Prosecutor does not fall within the definition of “issuing judicial authority” within article 6 of the Framework Decision”.’

Of course as you have read the three judgements you should be aware of the arguments.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2011/5.html extradition hearing
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html High Court (161 paragraphs)
http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2012/22.html Supreme Court (266 paragraphs)

@a&ecn #59:

The british courts did not test the quality of evidence – the veracity of the accusations were taken at face value.

You really should try to read the decisions one day.

It is true that the law doesn’t require minute examination of the credibility of the evidence – apart from anything else, that would mean two separate trials in two different countries of the same offence.

But what the Divisional Court did was to examine the evidence de bene esse and it came to the conclusion that the evidence of the complainants did indeed disclose the offences alleged. That is all that is required at the committal stage in English law. The time for testing credibility is always at trial.

63. the a&e charge nurse

[61] do you mean the evidence from the improperly conducted investigation?

64. So Much For Subtlety

17. Tim J

The accusation is that consent to sex was predicated on the use of a condom – no condom, no consent – and that Assange knew this. Penetration without a condom was therefore done without the consent of the victim, and therefore was rape.

I am not convinced of this at all. She consented. She also demanded a condom was used. Where in the law does it say that the major issue, the consent, is reliant on the minor condition? If I promise to pull out and don’t manage to do so on time, is that rape too? If the wife says no sex until I take the garbage out, is that rape if I don’t? Consent is the major issue here.

18. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Great news for the Courts; no need for Mens Rea or Actus Reus

I am sorry but what do you think Mens rea means? Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea. A crime is not a crime, by and large and more in theory these days, but still as a legal principle, unless it is accompanied by a criminal state of mind. If someone is suffering delusions and they think someone else is an alien bent on eating their brains, it is not murder to kill the second person.

Just asked the accused if they thought they were a criminal. I bet most would say no.

I am sure some of them would. But that is not what I said. Clearly reading simple English statements is expecting too much of you. It must be Sixth Form Hols again.

Someone else quoted the law. It is as I said it is. The crime does not exist in the mind of the victim alone, but in the mind of the accused.

SMFS, if a woman says plainly (for the sake of argument), “I’ll have sex with you as much as you want, but only if you use a condom,” why do you think the man has reasonable belief to consent to sex absent condom?

To me it’s as plain as day the woman in this example has consented only to sex with a condom.

66. So Much For Subtlety

8. ukliberty

Of course that is incorrect, that isn’t all that is said of Assange; the essence of this particular allegation (one of four) is that consent was predicated on condom use, a condom was not used and consent was not obtained.

Wouldn’t that make it rape? I thought this was a brand new odd Swedish crime – violating her personal integrity or something, and not rape per se.

“1. Unlawful coercion

On 13-14 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm. Assange, by using violence. forced the injured party to endure his restricting her freedom of movement. The violence consisted in a firm hold of the injured party’s arms and a forceful spreading of her legs whilst lying on top of her and with his body weight preventing her from moving or shifting.

Although Benn has a point about this – if this sort of horseplay is illegal, then a lot of people will be going to jail. Depending on what took place – if she was screaming and crying, perhaps, but I am not sure that is the allegation.

2. Sexual molestation

On 13-14 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity. Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge.

So it is not a question of rape. Consent was given. But no condom was used despite the stated preference. That makes it some form of sexual assault.

3. Sexual molestation

On 18 August 2010 or on any of the days before or after that date, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity i.e. lying next to her and pressing his naked, erect penis to her body.

Again, if this is a crime, a lot of people are going to jail. Who can honestly say that they have not woken up and given their SO a hug?

4. Rape

On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enkoping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep. was in a helpless state.

It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange. who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used. still consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her. The sexual act was designed to violate the injured party’s sexual integrity.”

That is the real crime. Nothing much wrong with cuddling up in the morning. Even trying your luck. But actual penetration is a more extreme issue. Still, I doubt that many men can put their hands on their heart and say they are completely innocent of everything up to the penetration.

67. So Much For Subtlety

64. ukliberty

SMFS, if a woman says plainly (for the sake of argument), “I’ll have sex with you as much as you want, but only if you use a condom,” why do you think the man has reasonable belief to consent to sex absent condom?

To me it’s as plain as day the woman in this example has consented only to sex with a condom.

Yes but this is where the issue gets murky. It is unlikely she said that. What if she said she would love to have sex, and then later said, by the way, she would prefer a condom was used. Has the original consent been revoked? Does he have a reasonable belief that it has been? I just don’t think people going around saying things like “I’ll have sex with you but only with a condom”. Rather each issue is negotiated as it comes up. So to speak. What if two people agree to have sex, and then the last condom breaks while putting it on, on being told this, the woman makes some grunting noise, and sex takes place. Rape? At the edges of the law there is a lot of human behaviour that really no sane court should waste their time with.

I just don’t think people going around saying things like “I’ll have sex with you but only with a condom”. Rather each issue is negotiated as it comes up. So to speak.

I’m inclined to agree. But to add to my example we have an allegation from the woman (who said previously no sex without a condom) that she was asleep or half asleep when the man penetrated her without wearing a condom. Do you think he had reasonable belief in consent? When was the negotiation?

smfs,

[ukliberty said] Of course that is incorrect, that isn’t all that is said of Assange; the essence of this particular allegation (one of four) is that consent was predicated on condom use, a condom was not used and consent was not obtained.

Wouldn’t that make it rape? I thought this was a brand new odd Swedish crime – violating her personal integrity or something, and not rape per se.

Yes that would make it rape. Allegation 4 that you quoted is what I was talking about and what Benn was talking about. I don’t understand what is meant by the bit about “sexual integrity” in that allegation.

We accept Ms Montgomery’s observations about how far it would be right to see what happened afterwards as consensual rather than reluctant submission. [something to be argued at the criminal trial in Sweden – ukliberty] But the fact of protected sexual intercourse on other occasions cannot show that she was, or that Mr Assange could reasonably have believed that she was, in her sleep consenting to unprotected intercourse. – High Court decision

Still, I doubt that many men can put their hands on their heart and say they are completely innocent of everything up to the penetration.

Sure, but that isn’t the allegation. And it may well be the case that she would not have complained to the police if he had used a condom. But that does not mean he did not rape her if all this occurred as described.

70. KJ Pritchard

This is such a distraction from the real issue of this story. Many of you know so little about the facts of this case and I can’t believe that LC is yammering on and on about rape.

This case is about the US wanting to get their hands on Assange for Wikileaks and that’s why they want him extradited to Sweden. Assange was already interrogated in Sweden on these allegations of rape and they didn’t have evidence to arrest him.

And he’s perfectly willing to talk to Swedish authorities here in the UK. So, why won’t they come here and talk to him? They’ve done it for other alleged criminals. Why don’t they come here and question him?

Go research the facts of this case FFS. I’m starting to think that LC is working for the US government.

71. Robin Levett

@K J Pritchard #69:

This case is about the US wanting to get their hands on Assange for Wikileaks and that’s why they want him extradited to Sweden.

How many times does this need to be dealt with on this site?

Why would the USA want Assange in Sweden, where they would have to get both Sweden and the UK to agree to extradition, rather than simply extradite him from the UK? Particularly since Sweden has better press protection laws than the UK, so the USA would have more difficulty establishing dual criminality in Sweden? You may recall that those laws were the reason he was in Sweden in the first place…

And since the UK has not been entirely uninvolved in extraordinary rendition, don’t bother with the “Yabbutt, extraordinary rendition…”.

72. Robin Levett

@K J Pritchard #69:

And he’s perfectly willing to talk to Swedish authorities here in the UK. So, why won’t they come here and talk to him? They’ve done it for other alleged criminals.

Name another alleged criminal whose charging interview took place outside Sweden. And explain why the Swedes should agree to do so when the man has now shown that he is perfectly prepared to skip bail; even if they conducted that interview here, why should they trust him to surrender into their custody for trial if that was the decision?

@69: “This case is about the US wanting to get their hands on Assange ”

If that was really the case, then it would be much simpler to just let Assange go to Equador and then disappear. People disappearing being, you know, considerably more likely in Equador than in UK, let alone Sweden. Not to mention their freedom of speech…

Just repeating and repeating that line about Swedien handing Assange to Sweden doesn’t make it true. There is a rape allegation. There is a due process. The due process should be followed.

74. KJ Pritchard

@ Robin Levitt – 69. How many times, indeed!

Sweden, according to Assange’s US Attorney, has much quicker extradition laws and there is great fear that he will be very quickly extradited or rendered to the US. And if you don’t think that they want their hands on him then just look at what they’re doing to Bradley Manning. Are you familiar with that case?

Have you read Glenn Greenwald at all? Do you actually know what the US is doing to whistleblowers?

@K J Pritchard #73:

<blockquote.Sweden, according to Assange’s US Attorney, has much quicker extradition laws and there is great fear that he will be very quickly extradited or rendered to the US.

Quote chapter and verse, please. I’ve looked at the claim already made (see my previous postings on this topic ad nauseam), and the passage relied upon (i) also appears in the UK-US treaty and (ii) isn’t a fast-track anyway.

@ Robin Levitt 74 – here’s your link.
http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/09/the-assange-case/

“Craig Murray …[Assange’s] fear is that he would very quickly be extradited on from Sweden to the United States, either extradited or rendered. And the Swedes actually now have a sort of legal rendition law for speedy temporary rendition to the United States, as it’s called. That’s what is worrying Julian Assange. Though I should say, I mean, my experience of the way they treat whistleblowers and my experience of what we have seen of the process in Sweden, I would say there must be just as big a fear that he will be unjustly convicted of rape, which I’m quite sure he hasn’t done. But if he arrives in Sweden, he will immediately be jailed. There’s no provision for bail. And the thing which most people don’t understand is that rape trials in Sweden are held entirely in secret, so nobody would ever see any of the evidence. The next thing we will hear is the verdict. My own view is the most likely scenario is that it’s been cooked up well in advance and that verdict will be guilty. And it’s very possible to do that because not only is the trial held in secret but there is no jury.

Now I’m not one of those people who believes that only the British system of law is okay. Many countries have different systems and often those systems work very well. But what you do have with the jury system is a situation where ordinary men and women do have that chance to stand up to the authorities and to say what they believe to be true. It may not be a chance that they take very often, but that possibility is there. Where you don’t have a jury, as in Sweden, the chances of the government if it wishes to seriously influencing the result are pretty firm.”

This is why Assange doesn’t want to go to Sweden. If it’s so easy to extradite someone from the UK then why Gary McKinnon still in the UK after 10 years?

@ Robin Levett —

And also… from http://justice4assange.com/US-Extradition.html#WSJA

“Certainly Assange’s lawyers would mount a very vigorous opposition [to extradition] in either case [Sweden/UK], in London in particular. Past U.S. extradition requests for criminals from the UK have faced vigorous opposition, and a number of people have successfully resisted that through appeals through the House of Lords and ultimately all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights. We can anticipate lengthy litigation. – John B. Bellinger III

That’s (again) why he doesn’t want to leave the UK.

Why is it so hard for people to believe that the US is behind this matter? This stinks to high heaven and if they ever get their hands on him he will be jailed for life, if not executed. Do you know that some US politicians have called for his execution?
Are you aware of what Obama is doing to whistleblowers in the US?

KJ Pritchard,

Sweden, according to Assange’s US Attorney, has much quicker extradition laws and there is great fear that he will be very quickly extradited or rendered to the US.

It’s arguable he is better protected from extradition to the USA if he submits to Sweden’s extradition request: both Sweden and the UK would have to agree to the USA’s request (until after the end of criminal proceedings in Sweden); and Sweden will not extradite for offences based on what they think are political or journalistic reasons.

Furthermore: There was at one stage a suggestion that Mr Assange could be extradited to the USA (possibly to Guantanamo Bay or to execution as a traitor). The only live evidence on the point came from the defence witness Mr Alhem who said it couldn’t happen. In the absence of any evidence that Mr Assange risks torture or execution Mr Robertson was right not to pursue this point in closing. – first extradition hearing

This argument was not pursued on appeal.

And if you don’t think that they want their hands on him then just look at what they’re doing to Bradley Manning. Are you familiar with that case?

I don’t think anyone here disagrees the USA would like to get their hands on Assange. I don’t think anyone here would disagree that Manning’s treatment is wrong. The disagreement is about whether such things should be an obstacle to Assange’s extradition to Sweden to face criminal proceedings. Certainly his UK lawyers did not pursue the point in the three hearings here.

But if he arrives in Sweden, he will immediately be jailed. There’s no provision for bail.

I think, given that he’s jumped bail in the UK, that Assange would find getting bail anywhere in the world pretty much impossible.

As to the extradition point, if the UK extradite Assange to Sweden, then any subsequent extradition to the US would require the consent of both Sweden and the UK. If avoiding extradition to the US were Assange’s primary motivation, then the very best thing he could would be to accept extradition to Sweden, as he then gets two bites of the cherry in resisting any prospective US extradition request.

Craig Murray’s view that the entire Swedish judicial process has been bought and sold by the US should be remarkable – but from him it sadly isn’t.

KJ Pritchard,

“And the thing which most people don’t understand is that rape trials in Sweden are held entirely in secret, so nobody would ever see any of the evidence. The next thing we will hear is the verdict. My own view is the most likely scenario is that it’s been cooked up well in advance and that verdict will be guilty” [says Craig Murray]

The fair trial aspect was discussed at the first extradition hearing.

Section 21 – human rights
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2011/5.html

An excerpt:
Mr Robertson [acting for Assange] says that: “Any sense of fair play – that justice must be seen to be done – revolts at this Swedish practice”. The question for me is whether it offends against article 6 and other fundamental rights. I have been referred to Fedje v Sweden. However I have not been referred to any significant body of European Court cases that show that the Swedish practice in rape cases offends against article 6. Article 6 specifically envisages circumstances where the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the hearing. Apparently the practice in Sweden is long-standing. One assumes that rape allegations are not that uncommon. If the Swedish practice was in fundamental and flagrant breach of human rights I would expect there to be a body of cases against Sweden confirming that. In fact I think the position is more subtle and less stark than Mr Robertson suggests. His own witness, Mr Alhem, who is clearly a thoughtful man and much attached to the principle of fairness, was in two minds about the issue.

It is fair to say that there has been an argument in other jurisdictions, including our own, that some cases should not be publicised or evidence reported. There can be no doubt that Sweden incorporates article 6 principles into its judicial system. Because that country has reached a different conclusion on the appropriate balance between privacy and open justice does not mean that their practice offends against article 6. I am satisfied that the appropriate test is applied in Sweden and that if a decision is taken to hold a trial in private then that will be after
the necessary balancing has been undertaken, and will not breach article 6 or any other fundamental human right.

The argument was not pursued by Assange’s lawyers.

@KJ Pritchard #75:

And the Swedes actually now have a sort of legal rendition law for speedy temporary rendition to the United States, as it’s called.

Unless I miss my guess, that is exactly the claim that I dealt with; we have exactly the same provision for dealing with extradition requests for persons already charged with offences in this country as do the Swedes; but that provision does not bypass any of the extradition procedures generally applying.

See http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/06/21/julian-assanges-supporters-will-end-up-destroying-wikileaks/#comment-391761

#76:

“Certainly Assange’s lawyers would mount a very vigorous opposition [to extradition] in either case [Sweden/UK], in London in particular. Past U.S. extradition requests for criminals from the UK have faced vigorous opposition, and a number of people have successfully resisted that through appeals through the House of Lords and ultimately all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights. We can anticipate lengthy litigation. – John B. Bellinger III

That’s (again) why he doesn’t want to leave the UK.

What you’re missing is that for the US to get home from Sweden, after he’s been sent there under an EAW, they still need to convince us – Sweden can’t send him to the US without our say-so; so getting him to Sweden is buying two separate sets of lengthy litigation, not bypassing any such.

@ UKL

But the fact of protected sexual intercourse on other occasions cannot show that she was, or that Mr Assange could reasonably have believed that she was, in her sleep consenting to unprotected intercourse. – High Court decision

I said above that “date rape” was almost impossible to prove because it invariably comes down to trying to reconcile the accounts of the plaintiff with the accused, and without corroborating evidence.

Question 1

If Assange goes to Sweden and says “She got into bed with me and did not give me any indication before during or after sex that she wanted me to wear a condom. She was fully awake when throughout the act of intercourse” and there is no possibility of other evidence to disprove his statement(as there cannot be)can he be found guilty?

Question 2

As there are two separate allegations of sexual misconduct from two separate women should Assange’s version of events be disbelieved (and he found guilty) because it differs from that of two complainants rather than one?

Because, if you answer no to both the above, you have to accept that getting Assange to Sweden to answer allegations (that, as I have demonstrated) can never be proved is a waste of time.

HINT- If you try to avoid straight answers to the above by getting out your “these are matters to be decided by the Swedish courts routine” you will appear to have lost the argument.

Which is it? Is it all an elaborately contrived effort to get Assange to Sweden where he can allegedly be extradited more easily to the US, or is it a cooked up accusation by the US authorities with assistance from the Swedish authorities and volunteers from the pirate party in order to convict him of rape and discredit him and his organisation forever? – it can’t be both, doing both would cancel out any ‘gains’ from the ‘trumped up’ rape accusation and make him a martyr, which would, if anything, further destroy the United States international reputation. Indeed I’d go so far as to say it’s in the USA’s best interests to just sit back and let this car crash play itself out without its interference.
Also, if it is a plot, why isn’t the rape allegation much much clearer and conforming to ‘stereotypical rape’ scenarios and have ‘better behaving’ victims?

81/pagar: Yes, it is practically possible for the courts to find Assange guilty beyond reasonable doubt if they assess that his account of what happened is not credible. How they assess that will depend on:
– his witness statements
– other witness statements
– the line of questioning used by lawyers for both sides
– other evidence presented by prosecution and defence.

He would hardly be the first person to be convicted (in either Sweden or the UK) of raping someone they knew while there were no other witnesses about, after all.

Cylux,

Also, if it is a plot, why isn’t the rape allegation much much clearer and conforming to ‘stereotypical rape’ scenarios and have ‘better behaving’ victims

I think cim incisively pointed out there are better charges to fit someone up with than rape.

@ Robin Levett – Julian Assange was questioned in Sweden originally. He was given authorization to leave the country. Only after he left did they issue an extradition request for him to be returned to Sweden for questioning. There’s been a huge diplomatic spectacle over this, when all Sweden has to do is come over here and question him. They’ve been invited to do so. Why wouldn’t they do that? They’ve done it for other people. If all they want is to question him, then come and do it!! The fact that they’re going to such lengths to extradite him and it’s turning into such a huge bru-ha-ha makes me very suspicious about their motives for extradition.

Even if what you state is true…that it will be more difficult to extradite him to the US from Sweden (which is disputed by international law attorney, Michael Ratner) – perhaps Assange doesn’t want to go straight to jail and have a secret trial should they arrest him.

Let me say one final thing and then I’m done.

Ecuador did strict due diligence about this case when he asked for asylum. They rigorously investigated the allegations and the US involvement in this case and they followed the criteria for asylum and found that he was eligible. They seem to feel, also, that he has very good reason to fear for his life should he be extradited to Sweden.

I don’t know what happened in the case of the alleged rape. For all I know he’s a big asshole and he probably is. But this isn’t about rape. This guy is being hunted down for leaking information about the US military actions in Iraq and other places.

@ cim

What nonsense!!!!

– his witness statements

will say he didn’t do it.

– other witness statements

there are none other than the complainant, who will say he did it.

– the line of questioning used by lawyers for both sides

you are seriously suggesting that Assange is going to break down in the witness box and confess under questioning? You watched too much Perry mason as a child!!!

– other evidence presented by prosecution and defence.

there is none that is relevant apart from the statements of those involved.

Those defending this contrived prosecution are sounding increasingly divorced from reality.

Nobody has answered my simple questions @82.

pagar, the question is not, “is it one person’s word against another’s?” it is whether the court is persuaded that the defendant committed a particular offence.

The implication of your argument is that there should be a significant reduction in the number of rape trials, if it’s ‘just’ one person’s word against another’s. But the law doesn’t work like that. In this sense, Assange isn’t being treated differently from any other alleged offender.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but surely, given the presumption of innocence, there can be no conviction for anything based on the testimony of one person over another without corroboration.

Are you suggesting that someone will be locked up because their adversary can lie more convincingly than they can tell the truth?

Without some corroboration or other evidence, such a case would never get to court here.

So why in Sweden?

KJ Pritchard,

@ Robin Levett – Julian Assange was questioned in Sweden originally. He was given authorization to leave the country.

What they said is, there are no measures preventing you leaving. There has to be restraint to have meaningful permission / authorisation. There was no restraint at that time.

Only after he left did they issue an extradition request for him to be returned to Sweden for questioning.

Well they wouldn’t issue an extradition request if he was still in Sweden, would they? /facetious

What happened is that the authorities told his lawyer they wanted to talk to him for a second time. Assange then left the country. When the authorities discovered he had left the country they issued the arrest warrant. Until that point they evidently believed it wasn’t necessary and/or an arrest warrant would have been disproportionate / not granted by the court. Until he left the country they were trying to arrange with his lawyer a mutually convenient day and time for interview.

There’s been a huge diplomatic spectacle over this, when all Sweden has to do is come over here and question him. They’ve been invited to do so. Why wouldn’t they do that? They’ve done it for other people.

Citation required. The only example used by Assange-ists that I’ve seen is a guy who was in fact returned to Sweden for the second interview – the authorities visited his country for the first interview.

Defence witness Alhem (his witness statement is often cited by Assange-ists) says that on the account given by the Swedish prosecutor he too would have issued an EAW (he is a former senior prosecutor in Sweden). Do bear in mind Assange’s Swedish lawyer misled Alhem about the facts of the case, e.g. that the prosecutor made no effort to contact Assange for a second interview.

If all they want is to question him, then come and do it!! The fact that they’re going to such lengths to extradite him and it’s turning into such a huge bru-ha-ha makes me very suspicious about their motives for extradition.

You’re suspicious because an EAW has been issued for sexual offences even though lots of EAWs are issued for sexual offences?

Even if what you state is true…that it will be more difficult to extradite him to the US from Sweden (which is disputed by international law attorney, Michael Ratner) – perhaps Assange doesn’t want to go straight to jail and have a secret trial should they arrest him.

Of course no innocent person or criminal wants to go straight to jail.

Let me say one final thing and then I’m done.

Ecuador did strict due diligence about this case when he asked for asylum. They rigorously investigated the allegations and the US involvement in this case and they followed the criteria for asylum and found that he was eligible.

Be honest: there is no substantive evidence at all for your claims about Ecuador’s decisionmaking process, is there?

They seem to feel, also, that he has very good reason to fear for his life should he be extradited to Sweden.

Curiously, Assange’s lawyers don’t feel this; at least, they did not pursue this line of argument in the three UK hearings.

92. Robin Levett

@KJ Pritchard #86:

I won’t repeat UKL’s comments; but:

Even if what you state is true…that it will be more difficult to extradite him to the US from Sweden (which is disputed by international law attorney, Michael Ratner)

The issue is not whether Mr Ratner makes the claim; but whether his claim is borne out when we look at the relevant law. You’ve seen my argument on the law (or at least you would have if you’d followed my link); where’s yours?

perhaps Assange doesn’t want to go straight to jail and have a secret trial should they arrest him.

“Secret”? No.
“Private”? Yes.

There’s a fair body of opinion in this country that private trials for rape should be introduced, so that the Defendant can benefit from the same anonymity as the complainant.

93. Robin Levett

@KJ Pritchard:

Are you aware why Assange was in Sweden?

He was there because Wikileaks servers are there, and he wanted to extend the use of Swedish servers; because Swedish law protects the anonymity of whistleblowers far more rigorously than, to pick a random example, the UK. The Swedes are more likely to tell the US to take a running jump over demands that servers there be shut down – which is why the Pirate Bay servers are there (although they aren’t immune, given their general attitude toward copyright).

If all they want is to question him, then come and do it!! The fact that they’re going to such lengths to extradite him and it’s turning into such a huge bru-ha-ha makes me very suspicious about their motives for extradition.

You’re suspicious because an EAW has been issued for sexual offences even though lots of EAWs are issued for sexual offences?

A further comment on how silly the comment is about “bru-ha-ha”: it’s a bru-ha-ha because (a) he’s famous and (b) he’s had the benefit of the best legal representation in fighting his extradition, he lost, he’s exhausted due process in this country but unlike anyone else he sought asylum in a foreign embassy instead of submitting to the process.

Why are people suspicious about an ordinary EAW as opposed to thinking, if they didn’t issue an EAW anyone would be free to go to Sweden, rape a girl and fly home?

Interesting to note that in 1992 (under a previous centre-right administration, led by the man who is now Sweden’s Foreign Secretary) Sweden refused to extradite a CIA defector to the US. The US wanted Edward Lee Howard on espionage charges, but Sweden said that it was unable to extradite, because espionage is a political offence and therefore doesn’t come under the US/Swedish extradition treaty ( http://samtycke.nu/eng/2012/09/checking-naomi-wolfs-8-big-problems-in-the-assange-case-and-coming-up-empty/ ).

96. TorquilMacneil

It is amazing to read this thread with a number of commentators patiently and clearly explaining and re-explaining the obvious fact that Assange would be much safer in Sweden than the UK in terms of an extradition threat, and yet the same old same old gets wheeled out over and over.

Leaving that to one side, what surprise me most is that people really think the US would rather have Assange being prosecuted in the USA for political crimes with all the international outrage that would follow, and the prestige for Assange-the-martyr it would entail, than to see him seedily answering in court to rape allegations.

Pagar, the presumption of innocence is that the person is not guilty unless the court is persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty – the burden of proof is on the prosecution. We have a law against perjury to punish lies on oath if they are discovered (and proved). What is the alternative?

Prosecutors may well be reluctant to proceed where it’s just “one person’s word against another’s”. Some alleged victims report their reluctance to make a complaint. Such things are among the reasons for the ‘gap’ between allegations and convictions.
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110220105210/rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hors293.pdf

But this doesn’t mean such allegations are never taken to trial and extraditions never sought.

Here is a case about an extradition hearing in 2007 pertaining to sexual offences alleged to have been committed in the mid to late 80s. Here, Ireland is making a request of the UK. So far as I know, no witnesses other than alleged victim and defendant. How is the prosecution going to prove the man fingered her and fondled her breasts 25 years ago?

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/814.html

So, no it isn’t just Sweden, it isn’t just Assange, he isn’t a special case in terms of EAWs and trials of alleged sexual offences where there were only two people in the room. If he were any Joe Bloggs no-one but critics of the EAW would have any issue with it.

The furore comes down to (a) his fame, (b) exhausting due process in the UK despite the best legal representation but then seeking asylum instead of submitting, and (c) leaks, misinformation and lies (there, I said it) that appear to have originated from his / some of his defence team.

If you think rape shouldn’t be prosecuted when there are only two people in the room go ahead and argue that. But that isn’t about Assange. That is your view about rape trials.

pagar: Are you suggesting that someone will be locked up because their adversary can lie more convincingly than they can tell the truth?

Yes. That is how courts work. The jury/judges are trusted not to get it wrong too often, and to have an appeals system should it be necessary.

I’ll note that throughout the 1980s when the UK courts were considering whether the precedent that marital rape was impossible should be discarded, finally doing so in R v R, many of the cases under consideration – and many of the future cases the Law Lords expected to arise under the new precedent – were obviously very similar to the “no other witnesses; defendant claims consent” situation here.

The idea that people could plausibly be convicted in such a situation is a well-established part of English law and practice.

@ cim

Are you suggesting that someone will be locked up because their adversary can lie more convincingly than they can tell the truth?

Yes. That is how courts work. The jury/judges are trusted not to get it wrong too often, and to have an appeals system should it be necessary.

I accept that, strictly speaking, corroboration is not required in English law- it is in Scotland.

But the similarity in prosecution and conviction rates in the two countries indicates that, in practice, a case solely reliant on the testimony of the complainant is most unlikely to succeed and, for that reason, is unlikely to be prosecuted.

I am not, for a moment, suggesting this is a good thing and agree it is likely that many rapists will avoid the conviction they deserve because of it but the alternative, the subversion of the burden of proof, is worse.

100. Chaise Guevara

@ Torquil

“Leaving that to one side, what surprise me most is that people really think the US would rather have Assange being prosecuted in the USA for political crimes with all the international outrage that would follow, and the prestige for Assange-the-martyr it would entail, than to see him seedily answering in court to rape allegations.”

The US has something of a track record of not giving a damn what other countries think. It does run Gitmo, you know.

Incidentally, “seedily” seems a bit guilty-before-proven-innocent there.

101. Chaise Guevara

I have to say I’m not sure how you could get past reasonable doubt in a case where only two people were there and both parties agree on what happened, just disagree over whether consent was given.

102. Robin Levett

@CG #101:

I have to say I’m not sure how you could get past reasonable doubt in a case where only two people were there and both parties agree on what happened, just disagree over whether consent was given.

It happens not uncommonly.

103. Chaise Guevara

@ 102 Robin

How? Is there something I’m missing, or is that reasonable doubt is a lot more fluid in court than it is on paper?

To be honest, I’ve always wondered how you go about preventing juries from convicting on the basis of “yeah, he probably did it”.

I’ve always wondered how you go about preventing juries from convicting on the basis of “yeah, he probably did it

Generally you have a trial without a jury. Jury trial systems have the unfortunate weakness of locking innocent people up on the basis that they look a wrong un.

105. Robin Levett

@CG #103:

How? Is there something I’m missing, or is that reasonable doubt is a lot more fluid in court than it is on paper?

Sometimes – perhaps even often – cross-examination demonstrates that the subject is just lying; or, indeed, that the subject is patently telling the truth.

106. Chaise Guevara

@ 104 Cylux

My thoughts exactly.

@ Robin

To be honest, I’m not sure a self-contradiction should catapult someone through the doors of reasonable doubt, given how unreliable our memories are. I hate to think of people getting locked up because the prosecutor triumphantly says “Aha! You said you left at ten past, but your story indicates you left at ten to!” or something like that.

I can’t remember offhand what I had for dinner five days ago, most of the time. Worse, when memory doesn’t do the job we tend to fill in the blanks from imagination and not even know we’re doing it.

I’m meandering off-topic there, so to get back on: I don’t see how a cross-examination can show that “the subject is patently telling the truth” in a word-against-word situation. For that, surely you’d need evidence beyond a statement.

Here is a real transcript of a direct and cross examination of an alleged sexual assault victim (USA).

http://defensewiki.ibj.org/images/1/10/Sample_Cross_Examination_Sexual_Assault_Victim_3.pdf (cross starts on page 35)

Leaving that to one side, what surprise me most is that people really think the US would rather have Assange being prosecuted in the USA for political crimes with all the international outrage that would follow, and the prestige for Assange-the-martyr it would entail, than to see him seedily answering in court to rape allegations.

Exactly, plus there’s good reason to think that they’re quite happy with already having got their hands on Bradley Manning (aside from a few blowhard politicos) – without people passing Wikileaks sensitive information it is nothing, it’s mission would be beaten. Bradley Manning, and his hardly kept secret treatment while imprisoned, is a big statement that A) Wikileaks can not protect it’s sources from being found out and B) This is what awaits any American that decides to leak sensitive information to Wikileaks.

The spooks openly getting their hands on Assange would embolden people and reinvigorate Wikileaks with an influx of outraged, defiant leakers – presumably the opposite of what the USA would like to see.

@108 “B) This is what awaits any American that decides to leak sensitive information to Wikileaks.”

Or at least this awaits any American soldier who is in service and decides to leak confidential information entrusted to him (or her). Manning’s actions being very clearly a crime within the legal system of the army in which he served. He can only be helped by political will of those who set the rules for the army. Obama, anyone?

110. KJ Pritchard

@ pjt

Has Manning been convicted yet?

Also — is blowing the whistle on war crimes a crime?

Manning hasn’t been convicted – the trial is a large and complex one – but I don’t suppose there is much contest about whether he leaked confidential information entrusted to him, or not.

If he’d been, say, a soldier on the other side (be it al-Qaida or Hizbollah) who’d done similar things for his force, I would expect that the process had been faster and we’d have seen the beheading video already a year ago.

112. KJ Pritchard

@pjt

Is that right?

So – do you think if someone exposes war crimes that they should be tried for treason and executed? Using the same standards as al-Qaida or Hizbollah?

I’m sure you don’t mean that so please clarify.

113. the a&e charge nurse

Manning has been in solitary for 2 years, right wingers are calling for the extra-judicial killing of assange.

Take home message – don’t fuck with uncle sam.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8

A classic case of shooting the messenger – so woe betide any future whistle blowers.
Remember, while at Quantico Manning has been detained for 23 hours a day in a small cell, sometimes naked, and forbidden from exercising.

How Manning is imprisoned is not relevant for Assange’s rape case. If Assange wants to be safe from being handed over to Americans, he should run to Sweden right away.

115. KJ Pritchard

@pjt –

oh but I beg to differ. How Manning is imprisoned IS relevant to the Assange case. It shows us what happens if you dare to expose war crimes. You might be framed for a crime that you didn’t commit or you might be locked up in jail with no charges against you.

116. So Much For Subtlety

104. Cylux

Generally you have a trial without a jury. Jury trial systems have the unfortunate weakness of locking innocent people up on the basis that they look a wrong un.

Which seems to rest on the assumption that one bigot on the bench will act more wisely than twelve of them in the jury room.

But oh wait, I forgot, the one on the bench is almost certainly an Upper Middle class former Public School boy. So nothing to worry about there. Our ruling class has always been totally trustworthy.

@116

Which seems to rest on the assumption that one bigot on the bench will act more wisely than twelve of them in the jury room.

Only if you believe that there’s a perfect trial system rather than each of them having their own specific flaws and weaknesses.

118. So Much For Subtlety

117. Cylux

Only if you believe that there’s a perfect trial system rather than each of them having their own specific flaws and weaknesses.

Well the relevance of this depends on what you mean by claiming a judge-only trial prevented juries locking people up on the basis they look like a wrong ‘un. If by that you meant that it stops *juries* locking innocent people up, sure. A judge locking an innocent person up means that no jury is involved. But if you meant that it stopped *innocent*people* being wrongfully convicted, which is I think the natural reading of what you claimed, then no, your comment is irrelevant. The simple observation that one man is no more or less likely to be wrong than twelve does not depend on a perfect system existing anywhere. It does tend to rely on both systems have flaws and weaknesses. Many judges being, in the old days, blood thirsty bigots and these days being spineless bigots instead, for instance. So doubly irrelevant.

119. john P reid

89 well said

How Manning is imprisoned IS relevant to the Assange case. It shows us what happens if you dare to expose war crimes. You might be framed for a crime that you didn’t commit or you might be locked up in jail with no charges against you.

Manning’s treatment does seem wrong on the face of it, particularly bearing in mind his evident mental health issues, but I think it’s a poor example to say the least of being “framed”. Also, he has been charged.

121. KJ Pritchard

@UK Liberty
“Manning’s treatment does seem wrong on the face of it, particularly bearing in mind his evident mental health issues, but I think it’s a poor example to say the least of being “framed”. Also, he has been charged.”

Manning was imprisoned — in solitary confinement — for 20 months before they charged him. And his trial will begin in Feb. 2013. And under Obama’s NDAA, a person can be held indefinitely without charges and no access to a lawyer. OK?

KJ Pritchard, I said a couple of times in this thread that I think Manning’s treatment is wrong. What about this don’t you understand?

for 20 months before they charged him.

Two months, before the original charges IIRC.

And under Obama’s NDAA, a person can be held indefinitely without charges and no access to a lawyer. OK?

I’m more than happy to agree it is A Bad Thing if “a person can be held indefinitely without charges and no access to a lawyer”.

I’m quite sure I’m on the record here as criticising that.

@118 Well my original comment was only specifically referring to how you stop *juries* from convicting on that basis. The hope is that Judges are more likely to consider the evidence, but yes, not always a met hope. Meanwhile, district judges in our own nation have provided ample evidence of the significant flaws of a single judge non-jury trial.

There was no rape. Anna Ardin made it all up. The sex was consensual.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jack Seale

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations: http://t.co/LXr70Oqj

  2. Helen Garvey

    “@sunny_hundal: Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/8U6GwKks #WikiLeaks” Hooray!!!

  3. Chris Dietz

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  4. Adrian Parry

    @TonyBenn in recent apology were you refering to being wrong on Assange case or sorry for playing down rape reference? http://t.co/mZLTSo4j

  5. Joe Mulhall

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  6. Glyn

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations offhand http://t.co/SM96tFaL

  7. Bob Gordon

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  8. MinniePony

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  9. Ghaffar Hussain

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  10. Andrew MacDowall

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  11. Eugene Grant

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing #Assange #rape allegations | http://t.co/Aj3CelCZ via @libcon > good to hear.

  12. Gillian Dennehy

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  13. Rupert

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing #Assange #rape allegations | http://t.co/Aj3CelCZ via @libcon > good to hear.

  14. elleotz

    Well done #Goldsmiths RT #TonyBenn sorry for dismissing #Assange rape allegations http://t.co/8vvBTuOC #wikileaks

  15. Marie Paludan

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/fCStVd6C via @libcon

  16. Kellie Strøm

    Tony Benn apologises for saying non-consensual relationship different from rape: http://t.co/r87ziD69 Original remarks: http://t.co/3lGlkQjz

  17. John Richardson

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/2aMv1CHU

  18. Toby Atkinson

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/2aMv1CHU

  19. Kayleigh Anne

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations: http://t.co/VCeRWe9d || Still iffy on Benn for this but glad he's apologised.

  20. Kate

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations: http://t.co/VCeRWe9d || Still iffy on Benn for this but glad he's apologised.

  21. Tom King

    Tony Benn apologises for dismissing Assange rape allegations http://t.co/tBkuzN7Q "non-consensual sex is rape, that no means no"

  22. Rhys Needham

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/3xd864F3 via @libcon

  23. szikratigris

    "I wish to apologise sincerely" – Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations – Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/f30G9KJm

  24. Sam Whyte

    Tony Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/K11Qh6au via @libcon

  25. braingarbage

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  26. Sock Puppet

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  27. Sandra K. Eckersley

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  28. Manfred Rosenbauer

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  29. braingarbage

    Benn sorry for dismissing Assange rape allegations | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/9GQ3pkSL via @libcon

  30. Marq James

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  31. John H

    Exchange in which Tony Benn retracts comments on the Assange rape allegations: http://t.co/mEz0DN6V. This is my "relieved" face, Tony. 🙂

  32. John H

    @Emily_Compton Thank you for the RT. It turns out Mr Benn has retracted and apologised for his comments: http://t.co/mEz0DN6V

  33. John H

    @katabaticesque Yes, he apologised in a letter to Goldsmiths student union: http://t.co/mEz0DN6V

  34. EdinburghEye

    @katabaticesque Tony Benn dismissed the rape charges against Assange last year at a rally, apologised last week http://t.co/Mf8DvJBU

  35. Wikiwatcher

    Tony Benn has apologised for dismissing rape allegations against Julian Assange http://t.co/7UhhZLST #WikiLeaks

  36. Gorgeous George | Edinburgh Eye

    […] Tony Benn was also at risk of being no-platformed, but The veteran socialist Tony Benn has apologised for his comments last year down-playing the rape allegations against Julian Assange. […]

  37. Adam

    .@lucrece_borgia @TheRealSGM Didn't realise that. Just found this > http://t.co/oRszFACF.

  38. Ceri Jones

    @Sarahransley http://t.co/UAGCVzw3 ah, hadn't heard he retracted





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