Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A “Sexfalla” Translates From The Swedish As A ‘Honey trap’ : The Allegations Simply Don't Ring True As Assange Is Detained As If For Murder!

A “Sexfalla” Translates From The Swedish As A ‘Honey trap’ : The Allegations Simply Don't Ring True As Assange Is Detained As If For Murder!

Hauled off to a British prison with a wry smile, the WikiLeaks chief now facing extradition on rape charges

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was in a British prison last night after a parade of celebrity supporters failed to secure his freedom.

The 39-year-old ex-computer hacker, behind the release of 250,000 leaked files on the internet, was refused bail and remanded in custody by a London magistrate – facing extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault.

In a court hearing, film director Ken Loach, Jemima Khan, and journalist John Pilger pledged £20,000 each to stand as surety for his bail, as did two more human rights supporters. Two other, unnamed backers were willing to promise a further £100,000 between them.


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But the wave of support didn’t convince a judge that the controversial Australian would not go into hiding if granted bail.

So yesterday Assange, until recently the best-known name on Interpol’s ‘most wanted’ list, could only smile as he was led from the dock of a London extradition court to Wandsworth Prison.


In his wake he left outraged supporters claiming a ‘mockery of democracy’, a brace of lawyers determined to fight for his release – and an enduring question mark over just what the evidence was against this self-appointed champion of free speech and distributor of secret government information.

His lawyers confirmed that jailing Assange will not stop WikiLeaks from continuing to make public more secret or sensitive cables.

Now a complex legal battle that could last a year is under way to clear his name – underpinned by the assertion that his political notoriety means he can never get a fair trial.

The hearing at City of Westminster magistrates’ court was the leaker’s first public appearance here since Interpol’s search for him began.

But the Westminster case focused only on demands that he be extradited to Sweden to be questioned over claims he molested two women there. Lawyers had already made it clear he denied the allegations and would fight to demonstrate his innocence. And not, as it seemed, alone.

So many supporters were ready to stand surety for him that extra space had to be made in the courtroom.

Mrs Khan and Loach didn’t know the defendant, they told the judge, but were willing to back him. The other two sureties were Tricia David, an emeritus professor of education at Sheffield and Canterbury Christ Church universities, and Geoffrey Shears, a lawyer and president of a trade union solidarity movement.

Assange had been taken here after being arrested ‘by appointment’ yesterday when he presented himself at a London police station. The necessary European arrest warrant documents from Swedish authorities had been received by the Metropolitan Police extradition unit hours earlier.

In court, Assange gave a street address in Victoria, Australia. He has been staying at the journalists’ club, the Frontline Club in London, its founder said.

Gemma Lindfield, for the Swedish authorities, told the court Assange was wanted in connection with four allegations. The first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of ‘unlawful coercion’ into sex on the night of August 14 in Stockholm.


What is Julian Assange charged with?
Rape, two counts of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion, all allegedly committed in Sweden in August.

Why is he in court?
He was arrested after Swedish authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant.

What happens next?
He will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on December 14. His lawyers are likely to argue against extradition and re-apply for bail. He may seek to stay in Britain by claiming a Swedish trial would be prejudiced by his political notoriety. He could take his case to the High Court and even the Supreme Court, which may take two years. He could then go to the European Court of Human Rights.

What is his defence?
Assange may claim Sweden was acting under pressure from Washington. He would have to prove Swedish authorities were in collusion with the U.S. and the rape claims were trumped up, which is denied by the alleged victims.

Has he any prospect of success?
Little. It is hard to fight a European Arrest Warrant as Sweden need not produce evidence. If a district judge is satisfied with the warrant and Assange is fit for trial, he will be deported within 90 days of arrest or ten days of the extradition order if there is no appeal. 

What will happen if he is extradited?
He is likely to be charged with rape and face a trial by judge as Sweden does not have a criminal jury system. If convicted he faces up to six years in jail. 

Will the U.S. extradite him from Britain?
No. U.S. prosecutors have yet to decide if he has broken their laws and have not issued an arrest warrant. Sweden’s case comes first anyway so it would only happen if the Swedish case collapses before he is sent to Stockholm.

Can the U.S. extradite him from Sweden?
Yes, but with difficulty. Although the countries have an extradition treaty it bars sending people to America for trial over ‘military or political offences’. He would be certain to claim WikiLeaks was political. And because he was not in the U.S. when the leaks were published he can claim Washington is not the place for him to be tried. 

Sweden’s treaty with the U.S. is far more favourable to those fighting extradition than the controversial agreement which exists between Britain and America. It allows anyone to be extradited from Britain without the U.S. having to show they have a case against them, which is why the Daily Mail is campaigning for justice for alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who faces life in prison in the U.S. for an offence over which Britain has refused to try.

Could he claim UK asylum if extradition is refused? 
Amazingly, yes. He is in Britain on a six-month visa, but reports in Australia claim that the country could withdraw his passport, making him a stateless person and eligible for asylum. If the U.S. does issue proceedings against him, he would be unlikely to settle here as Britain has a favourable extradition treaty with America. He is more likely to apply for asylum in Sweden if he ends up there. But if America issues an arrest warrant, his nomadic life would be over. Most countries would arrest him at their borders and many would automatically extradite him to the States.

The second charge alleged Assange ‘sexually molested’ Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her ‘express wish’ one should be used. The third charge claimed Assange ‘deliberately molested’ Miss A on August 18 ‘in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity’.

The fourth charge accused him of having sex with a Miss W, on August 17 without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.

Miss Lindfield argued he should not be given bail because of the likelihood he would fail to answer conditions that would have to be imposed to ensure he did not abscond. 

There was no record of his entry into the UK, she said, he led a ‘nomadic’ lifestyle, and had easy access to funds. He had been ‘unco-operative’ and had refused to give fingerprints or a DNA sample. She said custody would also be for his safety as ‘any number of unstable people could take it upon themselves to cause him harm’.

But his counsel John Jones said he had not been ‘in hiding’. Nor was he planning to seek asylum in Switzerland. He did not have access to vast funds and had refused to give samples only on legal advice.

The case was ‘not about WikiLeaks’, he said, and Assange had resisted extradition because it was ‘disproportionate’ to extradite someone in connection with a case that had already been dropped once for lack of evidence. And he was as likely to suffer harm in prison as outside.

Judge Howard Riddle said: ‘If these allegations are true, then no-one could argue the defendant should be granted bail. If they are false, he suffers a great injustice if he is remanded in custody.’

He had ‘comparatively weak community ties in this country’, the judge said, ‘with, in my view, the means and ability to abscond if he wants to if he were granted bail’. Therefore he was remanding him in custody.


Julian Assange is likely to take his fight against extradition all the way to the High Court which could take over a year to resolve. 

The WikiLeaks founder, who was arrested today on a European Arrest Warrant, may fight to stay in Britain on the grounds that any trial in Sweden would be prejudiced because of his political notoriety, according to legal sources.  

His lawyer Mark Stephens has disputed the credibility of the rape allegations and questioned Sweden's motive to pursue the matter  when prosecutors had dropped the case earlier on the grounds of lack of evidence.

Mr Stephens has pledged to investigate whether the Swedish prosecutor's actions are in any way linked to the 'rather bellicose US statements of an intention to prosecute Mr Assange'.

The problem for Assange is that he cannot fight extradition on the basis that he is innocent.

Swedish prosecutors don't have to produce any evidence that the 39-year-old Australian committed the alleged sexual offences to justify the warrant.

The authorities only have to supply a short description of the circumstances surrounding the offence, the details of the person sought and the applicable penalty in Sweden.

If a district judge at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London- where all UK extradition cases are handled- is satisfied that the warrant is valid, Assange is physically and mentally fit to stand trial and there are no human rights considerations to bar his extradition than he will be deported.

In those circumstances, extradition must take place within 90 days of arrest or within 10 days of the extradition order if there is no appeal. 

But Assange could appeal to the High Court on the basis that Sweden was somehow acting under pressure from the American authorities and that he would be prosecuted or prejudiced at trial due to political reasons.

Legal sources say he could take his case to the High Court and even to the Supreme Court on 'a point of law of general public importance' arguing an abuse of process which could take around two years to resolve.

Assange would have to prove that Swedish authorities were in collusion with the US government and that the rape claims were trumped up- a claim which is strongly denied by the alleged victims.    

But legal experts say it may be difficult to prove that the rape allegations are related to his website's publication of US embassy cables.

If his appeal fails, he could take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. 
Throughout that time, Assange may be held in custody after he was denied bail yesterday.


Mr Assange reserved his fiercest criticism for his own Government - accusing Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (pictured) and her administration of 'disgraceful pandering' to the U.S.

WikiLeaks founder Julain Assange yesterday launched a vigorous and defiant defence of his decision to leak confidential government documents to the public - insisting that authorities embarrassed by his disclosures were now attempting to shoot the messenger.

He highlighted that his organisation had 'copped the most vicious attacks' from 'the U.S. Government and its acolytes', and condemned calls for him to be 'taken out' and 'assassinated'.

And in an article which revealed the extreme pressure that the whistleblower has faced in recent weeks, he pointed out that his own son had been threatened with being kidnapped 'for no other reason than to get at me'.

But Mr Assange reserved his fiercest criticism for his own Government - accusing Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her administration of 'disgraceful pandering' to the U.S. and insisting that Australia had colluding with Washington in the hope of 'framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the U.S.'

In an opinion piece published in The Australian before his detention last night, Mr Assange said: 'WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the U.S. embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

'Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the U.S. government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a U.S. citizen. 

'There have been dozens of serious calls in the U.S. for me to be "taken out" by U.S. special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama Bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the U.S. Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly.

The opinion piece published in The Australian before Julian Assange's detention

'There have been dozens of serious calls in the U.S. for me to be "taken out" by U.S. special forces.

Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama Bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the U.S. Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. 

'An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

'And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. 

'The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the U.S. as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a U.S. investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the U.S.

'Prime Minister Gillard and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

'We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.'


The Wikileaks Sex Files: How Two One-Night Stands Sparked A Worldwide Hunt For Julian Assange

A winter morning in backwoods Scandinavia and the chime of a church bell drifts across the snowbound town of Enkoping. Does it also toll for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?

Today, this small industrial centre, 40 miles west of Stockholm, remains best-known — if known at all — as the birthplace of the ­adjustable spanner.

But if extradition proceedings involving ­Britain are successful, it could soon be rather more celebrated — by the U.S. government at least — as the place where Mr Assange made a ­catastrophic error.

Here, in a first-floor flat in a dreary apartment block, the mastermind behind the leak of more than 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables this month slept with a female admirer whom he had just met at a seminar. She subsequently made a complaint to police.

As a result, Assange, believed to be in hiding in England, faces a criminal prosecution and ­possibly jail. Last night, a European Arrest ­Warrant was given by Interpol to Scotland Yard.

The Stockholm police want to question him regarding the possible rape of a woman and separate allegations from another Swedish admirer, with whom he was having a concurrent fling. But there remains a huge question mark over the evidence. Many people believe that the 39-year-old ­Australian-born whistleblower is the victim of a U.S. government dirty tricks campaign.

They argue that the whole squalid affair is a sexfalla, which translates loosely from the Swedish as a ‘honeytrap’.
One thing is clear, though: Sweden’s complex rape laws are central to the story.

The prosecution's case has several puzzling flaws, and there is scant public evidence of rape or sexual molestation..

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