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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Swedish Due Process, International Law, Not Followed in Assange Case

Given Sweden's close relations with the United States, despite its pacifist/peaceable image, and violations of Swedish legal and police procedure in pursuing the case against Julian Assange, there is sufficient cause for the founder of the Wikileaks organisation that leaked hundreds of thousands of secret US embassy cables to the world's leading newspapers in late 2011, to worry that the Swedes would quite easily be persuaded to extradite him for prosecution in the USA with the possibility of being tried for a capital offence.

Sweden contributes military forces under US-NATO control in Afghanistan; it contributed military assistance during the Libyan intervenion; its ministers report regularly on military and intelligence matters to the US embassy; its Afghanistan-based aid agencies supply intelligence to the United States on a regular basis. It collaborated with the United States on extraordinary rendition by the CIA of people who had applied for asylum to Sweden. And Assange's Wikileaks  website exposed a whole range of US-Swedish cooperation that did not reflect well on Sweden's global image as "a good state".

A country that is so close to the United States may be likely to extradite Assange. If that is assumed, then the violations of police and judicial procedures during the early part of the investigation of Assange's alleged sexual assault and rape of two Swedish women - which he denies - acquire an essentialpolitical context that appears lacking in most mainstream analyses of the matter - for example in The Guardian's editorial (17 August, 2012).

Some issues that are pertinent - based on the legal opinion of Sven-Erik Alhelm, former Stockholm District Prosecutor, who now lectures at Lund University, among other roles, as submitted to the Stockholm Court are indicated below. Together, they case doubt on the nature of the investigation of rape allegations against Assange and, according to Alhelm, make a fair trial unlikely:

1. The police interviewed both female complainants together rather than separately which, according to Alhelm, was "a mistake" that "contaminated the evidence" which was "not professional".

2. The prosecution informed the media of Assange's identity during the investigation phase against normal procedure; rape trials are normally held in secret and the identity of suspects is maintained until after successful prosecution. "Such confirmation of the identity of a suspect to the meid is, in my view, completely against proper procedure and in violation of the Swedish law and rules regarding preliminary investigations." Alhelm also noted in his expert witness statement that the prosecutor should not have done this although there is no remedy against this in Swedish law. Hence, the word spread to the world's media that assnage was a rape suspect, despite the early stage of the preliminary investigation.

3. Despite Assange making himself available for interview by police while still in Sweden, the Prosecutor chose not to do so, even though one of the alleged rape victims was re-interviewed while Assange was in the country. Failing to obtain the alleged suspect's side of events, at an early stage of the preliminary investigation, prevents the full picture of events from emerging, from all sides.

4. Assange could still be interviewed in London, including at the Ecudorian embassy, and has indictaed his willingness to be interrogated by Swedish police, but to no avail. He is still not charged with any offence, which may be surprising given the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that has been issued calling for his extradition.

5. Alhelm argues that issuance of EAW is "against the principle of proportionality"

6. The current Stockholm Prosecutor, Marianne Ny, may still seek British permission to interview assange in London but cliams it is against Swedish law - a claim Alhelm denies has any grounds under Swedish law.

It is difficult to understand why Assange was not interviewd by Ny in Sweden when he was there and offering to be interrogated, or in London thereafter. To ask for extradition of an individual who was not interrogated when available and is still not charged with an offence would appear to be wholly disproportionate.

At the very least, there are grounds for Assange credibly to claim that he is unlikley to be dealt with fairly in Sweden and, at worst, to be handed over to the US for prosecution for the most heinous of crimes - leaking official information on how American power really works.

In that context, UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague's, thinly veiled threat to send in police to arrest Assange from within the Ecuadorian embassy in London, are reminiscent of the sort of gunboat diplomacy British imperial rule was built upon, with scant regard for international law.

It demonstrates that Hague, in citing a 1987 UK law passed after the shooting from the Libyan embassy of a police woman, considers Assange a terrorist, just as much as many leading American politicians do, for leaking to the world's publics information vital to understanding the nature of US power. Indeed, the secret US embassy cables showed, among other things, that Hillary Clinton, Obama's secretary of state, orderd the CIA to violate the Vienna Convention to gain information on UN diplomats and representatives.

Blow the whistle on anyone else, but not on the global powers that be - that's the message of the case against Julian Assange and the Wikileaks organisation. In pursuing Assange they way they are, the Swedish and UK authorities demonstrate their slavish compliance with US power.


  1. Sweden's reputation and especially that of it's justice system is losing much of its gloss as this continues.

    As Mr. DeRoest comments on another site

    "Did I just cross to a parallel universe, where Latin nations are the bastions of freedom?"

  2. THe following is not a political point it is one of Domestic and International law and International treaties UK Citizens demand the arrest of MP’s who are war criminals

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