This post also features in OffGuardian
Questions, questions, questions … Did you know the Swedish Chief Prosecutor initially handling the allegations of rape against Julian Assange found no case to answer? Are you aware she was succeeded by Marianne Ny, who has pursued – I’m being ultra cautious here, given Stockholm’s record of deference to Washington – a legally dubious course of action? Did you know Assange has always said he was willing to go to Sweden with a guarantee of no extradition to the USA – and that Sweden refused to give any such guarantee? Have you familiarised yourself with other aspects of what this man is saying?
Yesterday’s Guardian ran with Failure to extradite Assange to Sweden would endorse ‘rape culture’, say women’s groups. Four paragraphs in, it says:
Sarah Green, co-director of End Violence Against Women, an alliance of more than 80 organisations, said Assange’s portrayal as a victim was an affront to rape survivors.
“He’s always benefited from his cult hero status, painting himself as a victim and being very righteous. Yet this is about rape, it’s what he is accused of. It’s extremely serious.”
This is about rape? Really? Here’s me thinking the pretext for his arrest a technicality about bail, while the unsealed extradition request from Virginia speaks of conspiring to crack a password, end of. Should Assange be extradited there’s no knowing, of course, what other charges might later be added, including capital ones whose inclusion at this stage would debar extradition. But Green shows no concern and that, as with her less than neutral language about a man not even charged with rape, far less found guilty, is of a piece with the recklessness with which, as Eric London has argued, the presumption of innocence is ditched by ‘progressives’ as soon as sexual misconduct is alleged.
But insofar as that adjective can ever apply to rape, London is speaking of ‘normal’ cases. Since Assange’s could not be further from anything passing for normality, the recklessness I speak of rises exponentially. Given what Assange has told us, all of it falsifiable and none of it falsified, of the criminality of our rulers; given even what we knew before Wikileaks of their capacity to lie in circumstances less conducive, it takes myopia and blind faith to new and dizzying heights to insist that this is about rape. No, Ms Green, with all due respect it is not, and that holds even in the unlikely event of Assange being convicted, through fair trial in a truly independent court, of that very serious crime.
In a 2012 piece, We are Women Against Rape but do not want Julian Assange extradited, Katrina Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff offer a reading that should have leapt out at anyone the moment the allegations, still repeatedly misrepresented as ‘charges’, saw light of day:
When Julian Assange was first arrested, we were struck by the unusual zeal with which he was being pursued for rape allegations.
It seems even clearer now, that the allegations against him are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction.
Quite. And if like me you say rape is a deadly serious matter, don’t you owe it yourself, Assange and his alleged victims to spend a little time reading what the man himself is saying? In 2016 he made a lengthy statement, not to my knowledge published in any corporate media – least of all a Guardian which, having gained handsomely from a book for which Assange received nothing, has led an odious narrative of vilification – but posted on Document Cloud and beginning thus:
You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four and a half years at this embassy. You should have asked me this question six years ago. Your actions in refusing to take my statement for the last six years have been found to be unlawful by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and by the Swedish Court of Appeal. You have been found to have subjected me to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. You have denied me effective legal representation in this process. Despite this, I feel compelled to cooperate even though you are not safeguarding my rights.
The full statement can be downloaded in PDF form here. It took me the best part of an hour to read but that won’t put you off, I’m sure. Didn’t I hear you telling me rape is serious?
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