SocraticGadfly: Assange, rape, Duke lacrosse, Sweden, motives and WikiLeaks

January 16, 2011

Assange, rape, Duke lacrosse, Sweden, motives and WikiLeaks

First, I'll stipulate that the allegations against Julian Assange are about nonconsensual sex.

Contra Assange's London attorney, Mark Stephens, it's clear from here and here that no such offense exists, as Sweden's criminal code confirms and that Sweden is NOT wanting to talk to him about "Sex by surprise" but the charge is at least in any charges involving force, felonious nonconsensual sex.

Now that that's all stipulated, and we know to not believe Mark Stephens when he tells us it's daytime outside (while undercutting himself as a lawyer), let's proceed to the more serious issue at hand.

And, that is, does the background of primary accuser Anna Ardin leave the possibility, even the likelihood, that this is a false charge?

Update, Jan. 15, 2011 The Counterpunch article, referenced by FiredogLake in the link in the paragraph above, is ... problematic at least. That's because its co-author, Israel Shamir, is controversial at least. A (former) Jew who says he's a Christian and therefore not a Jew, apparently seeing that as only a religious identifier, he's at least a Holocaust minimizer if not a denier.

Here's more of a problem with the original charge, even, from a San Francisco Chronicle blog at the time Assange was originally charged:
(I)t was reported that the two women, who knew each other, came forward to Swedish Police. But the problem was they did not want to file an official report because of their so-called fears of his power.

What's fishy about that story is if the women actually knew who Julian was, thus "fearing his power," which is a joke of a claim, and knew what his controversial Wikileaks issue was about, why would they seek to file a false report of rape, especially since he up against the U.S Government?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, not Sweden?

As for false accusations? They happen. I'm not saying they happen often, but they clearly happen. Per the headline, need I remind you of the Duke lacrosse team?

Or, maybe they DO happen kind of often.

And, as for allegations that may be made that false rape claims are inflated, that many such claims aren't false because women withdraw their charges under male pressure, etc., and that a "men's rights" movement is engaged in blowback? In the Duke lacrosse case, then-DA Mike Wilfong was generally, and apparently rightly, seen as using the case as a potential election springboard. In the link above, it seems clear, if you go to the blogger's "about" page, he has no such men's right movement connection. Wiikipedia also reminded me of Tawana Brawley, an excellent comparison here, since she was exploited by more powerful people like Revvvvvvv. Al Sharpton for their own socio-political ends.

And, per Peter Neufeld and Barry C. Scheck, prominent criminal attorneys and co-founders of the Innocence Project, about one in four rape claims referred to the FBI don't pan out. Now, does that mean all of them are deliberately false? No. Interestingly, the false allegations have a strong age bias, being most common among the young, namely 16-25.

I don't know how old Ardin is, but her photographer friend mentioned in some stories is 26.

Appearing to use "false" in the sense of willful claims, a British study puts false rape claims there at about 9 percent.

And, one more thought on this issue. In the U.S. military, about 75 percent of BOTH men and women think false rape accusations are a problem.

Finally, let's remember that no country, no matter how idealistic in general, is perfect. A list of countries that cooperated with the Bush Administration on extraordinary renditions shows that.

As this blog reminds us, Sweden was one of those countries. As well as reminding us that Sweden has motive to dislike Assange:
Ahmed Agiza was rendered from Sweden to Egypt by U.S. agents through Bromma airport. However the U.S. agents were assisted by the Swedish secret service. He was tortured in Egypt and sentenced to 25 years later reduced to 15. His lawyers sued in Sweden for damages and won. He was awarded 330,000 Euros--but is still in jail!

The Swedish government was also directly involved. The rendition was approved by Anna Lindh, who was at the time the Minister of Foreign affairs but also the Minister of Justice.

(T)hese events show that the Swedish government can give in to pressure by the U.S. first by allowing transiting flights and then by allowing and cooperating with the USA in rendering Agiza. As mentioned there is no sign that Sweden has the stomach to actually charge CIA operatives. They did not want us to know either that they had stopped the flights because of disagreement with the U.S. Only Assange revealed that.

"Goes to motive," as a prosecutor would say.

Human Rights Watch has more, including on how Sweden's government engaged in foot-dragging on making amends for this illegal rendition and taking steps to prevent it in the future.

Speaking of extraordinary rendition and the CIA's relationship with Sweden, Counterpunch's original story on Ardin's political background goes straight to Swedish motive on wanting to run Assange to ground:
The WikiLeaks founder, pursued by malevolent forces around the world, sought momentary relief beneath Sweden’s reputation as a bastion of free speech. But the moment Julian sought the protection of Swedish media law, the CIA immediately threatened to discontinue intelligence sharing with SEPO, the Swedish Secret Service. That got the present right-wing government out of its chair, as it does everything it can to bury the Prime Minister Olof Palme’s legacy of careful neutrality. The suspicion of whether the rape farce is an orchestrated campaign, might be illuminated by these facts: (1) Sweden sent troops to Afghanistan, (2) Assange’s WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Diary which exposed this cruel and needless neo-colonial campaign

So, Sweden has plenty of motive for a second prosecutor to refile charges, with pressure from the central government, after the original prosecutor dropped charges.

With all this in mind, for some feminists challenging perceived callousness of some men about whether what Assange allegedly did is rape or not, because of everything involved, this is a slender reed on which to hitch this issue. After all, Assange hasn't been formally charged of anything by Swedish authorities.

Finally, all of this is a reminder that, given previous British governments caving to both Obama and Bush pressure on various War on Terror related secrecy issues, Assange arguably has little chance at a fair extradition hearing.

Of course, as long as he stays in jail while being denied bail, that actually suits American interests just fine.

That said, despite the motives of both the Swedish government and Ms. Ardin, it's possibly Assange is guilty of some sort of sexual assault.

That then said, it's arguable he stands little chance of a fair trial in Sweden, should he be extradited there without a U.S. claim on his corpus.

UPDATE, Sept. 14, 2011: Here's another false rape claim, admitted to by the false claimant, a former New York City TV weatherwoman. Sad. And a reminder that while rape is a serious crime ... for that very reason, so is a false rape claim. Especially when driven by possible attempts to reclaim fame (this case?) for money (possibly in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case?) or for political or other motives (just barely possible in the Assange case?).

In any case, gender feminists like Stephanie Zvan need to get more honest about this.

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