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Julian Assange rape allegations

August 21, 2012

The facts as presented to the UK Appeal Court

The following are extracts from the full ruling available here.  

“Introduction

In August 2010 the appellant, Mr Julian Assange, a journalist well known through his operation of Wikileaks, visited Sweden to give a lecture. Between 13 August 2010 and 18 August 2010, Mr Assange had sexual relations with two women there, AA and SW. On 20 August 2010 SW, accompanied by AA, went to the police. The police treated their visits as the filing of complaints. On 30 August 2010 Mr Assange, who had voluntarily remained in Sweden to co-operate with the investigation, was interviewed. Mr Assange subsequently left Sweden on or about 27 September 2010 in ignorance of the fact that an arrest warrant had been issued. Attempts had been made by the Swedish prosecutor to interview him.

After proceedings in the courts of Sweden, […] a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued on 26 November 2010 by the Swedish Prosecution Authority […]. The warrant […] set out four offences:

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Assange’s defence was partly based on points of law, that the arrest warrant wasn’t issued by a competent aurthority, etc.  And partly that if the judges had read all the evidence in the prosecutor’s file, i.e. the full statements of the accusers, not just the summary in the arrest warrant, they would find that the even on the alleged facts there was no case to extradite. The appeal judges decided that they should not consider such material.  However they presented it as follows:

“Para 74. As regards offence 1, AA said in her statement that she had offered the use of her apartment to Mr Assange from 11-14 August 2010 when she was away. She had returned on 13 August 2010 earlier than planned and then met him for the first time. They went out to dinner and returned to her apartment. As they drank tea, he started to fondle her leg which she welcomed. Everything happened fast. Mr Assange ripped off her clothes and at the same time broke her necklace. She tried to put her clothes on again, but Mr Assange had immediately removed them again. She had thought that she did not really want to continue, but it was too late to tell Mr Assange to stop as she had consented so far. Accordingly she let Mr Assange take off all her clothes. Thereafter they laid down on the bed naked with AA on her back and Mr Assange on top. Mr Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina, but she did not want him to do that as he was not using a condom. She therefore squeezed her legs together in order to avoid him penetrating her. She tried to reach several times for a condom which Mr Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without a condom. Mr Assange must have known it was a condom AA was reaching for and he had held her arms to stop her. After a while Mr Assange had asked AA what she was doing and why she was squeezing her legs together; AA told him she wanted him to put on a condom before he entered her. Mr Assange let go of AA’s arms and put on a condom which AA found for him. AA felt a strong sense of unexpressed resistance on Mr Assange’ s part against using a condom.

Para 93 AA’s statement went on to describe what happened immediately after what we have set out in relation to offence 1. She made it quite clear, as we have set out at paragraph 74, that she wished him to put a condom on before he entered her. Indeed she was concerned he had not put a condom on. She felt his penis with her hand to check he had really put it on. She felt that the edge of the condom was in the right place on the root of his penis. They therefore continued to have sex, as she said that she thought that she just wanted to get it over with. After a while AA noticed that Mr Assange had pulled his penis out of her and started to arrange the condom. Judging by the sound AA thought he was removing the condom. He then penetrated her again and continued sexual intercourse. She felt again with her hand that the edge of the condom was, as previously, around the root of the penis. She therefore let him continue. AA stated that a while later he ejaculated inside her and then pulled out. When he removed the condom from his penis, AA saw it was empty of semen. When she started to move her body she noticed something was seeping out of her vagina and understood it must be his semen. AA told the police she was convinced that Mr Assange, when he pulled out of her, broke the condom by the glans and then continued the intercourse until he ejaculated.

The evidence in the file showed that the condom was examined by the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science. The conclusion of the expert was that there was nothing to indicate that a tool had been used, but that the damage to the condom was created by the wear and tear of the condom.”

 […]

“Para 99. In her statement describing offence 3, which is alleged to have occurred some days later on 18 August 2010 or (in the revised translation) on or about 18 August 2010, AA stated that after 12/13 August 2010 they did not have sexual intercourse again. AA said that Mr Assange tried to make sexual advances towards her every day thereafter. For example he had touched her breasts. She rejected him on all occasions. He accepted these rejections.

Para 100. During this time, however, she continued to sleep in the same bed as Mr Assange. When they were in the same bed on 18 August 2010, he suddenly took all his clothes off from the lower part of his body and rubbed that part of his body and his erect penis against AA. She had felt this was very strange behaviour and awkward. After this, she no longer slept in the same bed as Mr Assange, but moved to a mattress on the floor.

Para 101. The essential complaint made about the fairness and accuracy of the description of offence 3 is that it did not state that Mr Assange was sleeping in the same single bed as AA and that, understandably and without criminal intent, he might have had an erection in those circumstances.”

[…]

“Para 121. [referring to offence 4, the alleged rape] In her statement SW said that she had been captivated by Mr Assange when she had seen him in a TV interview. She had attended a lunch with him and others on 14 August 2010. He had flirted with her over lunch and they had gone out together ending up in cinema where they kissed and fondled. She contacted him on 16 August 2010 and invited him to her house. In the bedroom he took her clothes off; they were naked together on the bed and engaged in sexual foreplay on the bed. He rubbed his penis against her. She closed her legs because she did not want to have intercourse with him unless he used a condom. After a period of some hours, he went to sleep. For a long time she had lain awake, but then she also fell asleep. They then had sexual intercourse with him using a condom. They fell asleep and woke and had sex again. They had breakfast. They had sex again with a condom only on the glans of his penis.

Para 122. Her statement then describes in some detail the conduct that forms the basis of Offence 4. She fell asleep, but was woken up by his penetration of her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered to the effect that he was not. She felt it was too late and, as he was already inside her, she let him continue. She had never had unprotected sex. He then ejaculated inside her.”

That’s it. There are millions of words of hearsay, but the prosecutors and judges quite rightly ignored all that, and went on the witness evidence above.

Eva Finne, the chief prosecutor for the Stockholm region initially dismissed the rape allegations. Then a male lawyer called Claes Borgstrom, a former gender equality ombudsman and politician, got the case reopened and the arrest warrant issued. Mr Justice Riddle ordered Mr Assange’s extradition. Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Ousely rejected Assange’s appeal.  Who has more common sense? One woman or four men? You decide.

Jim Thornton

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