2013-01-17 Senator Ludlam to Foreign Minister Carr 14 January 2013

Senator the Hon Bob Carr
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Senate Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

14 January 2013

Dear Minister,

Please find below a series of statements made by members of the Swedish Executive and government officials on the Assange case.

Such executive commentary in Sweden, or indeed Australia, compromises the democratic principle of separation of the executive from judicial processes and is prejudicial and therefore jeopardises the potential for a fair trial.

For these reasons I respectfully request that representations be made to the Swedish government noting and regretting the potential damaging nature of these statements made about an Australian citizen, requesting their retraction or at the very least cessation.

11 February 2011 - The Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt mistakenly stated that Assange had been charged. The statement was never officially retracted. https://ccwlja.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/reinfeldts-statement-published-r...

25 January 2012 - Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, criticised Assange on Swedish national radio one week before Assange's Supreme Court case was heard in the UK. Reinfeldt stated that Julian Assange's criticisms of abuses by the Swedish system in his case were not legitimate and were a strategy to avoid extradition. The full interview is available at this link: https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=1637&artikel=4928323

February 2012 - Foreign Minister Carl Bildt makes statements on Assange via Twitter

8 February 2012 - In a parliamentary address the Prime Minister Reinfeldt said that "we do not accept sexual abuse or rape" and said that Assange and his lawyers had little regard for women's rights. Mr Assange's barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC, said Mr Reinfeldt had also "accused Mr Assange of claiming women's rights are worthless".

15 August 2012 - Swedish Minister of Social Affairs Göran Hägglund issued a series of tweets: "Sick. A coward who does not dare to have his case tried by the court. If the accusations against him are true, he is a lowlife." None of these statements have been retracted. https://twitter.com/goranhagglund/status/235462124435025921 For a longer version of the entire Twitter conversation: http://rixstep.com/1/1/20120815,00.shtml

In a statement given to Expressen later that week, The Minister called Assange a "coward" and a "pitiful wretch" for taking refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy. "Assange is a very cowardly person who does not dare confront the charges against him." http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/hagglund-om-asyl-for-assange-fegis/

18 August 2012 - the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a tweet, presumably arguing why Assange cannot be questioned in London: "You do not dictate the terms if you are a suspect. Get it?" https://twitter.com/Utrikesdep/status/236792222937399296

While the comments of journalists, particularly those writing for Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen and Aftonbladet are beyond the control of the government, statements made by senior officials have contributed to providing a permissive environment for blatantly offensive aggression towards Assange in the Swedish press, a few examples of which are also provided below.

22 February 2012 - Expressen publishes a story - entirely false as it turns out - that Wikileaks threatens to publish an internal memo that will reveal Carl Bildt as an informant for the US. This causes Bildt to make hostile public statements on his blog. Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson puts the matter to rest but not before a great deal of destructive and malicious commentary is made in the Swedish press.

29 February 2012 - Sweden's largest daily, Dagens Nyheter, called Assange "paranoid", and a "querulant". http://www.dn.se/ledare/huvudledare/riddare-i-solkad-rustning-1

14 March 2012 - Aftonbladet's prominent journalist Martin Aagård called Assange an "Australian pig". "There are many good reasons to criticize Assange. One of them is that he's a repugnant swine." http://www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article14519491.ab

24 April 2011 - Jan Guillou stated in Aftonbladet that regardless of "whether Assange is guilty or not - he's still an unprincipled disgusting little creep", adding "and now I'm holding back". http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/kolumnister/janguillou/article12926443.ab

16 August 2012 - Aftonbladet columnist Oisín Cantwell characterised Assange as a "coward", a "creep", a "white-haired crackpot" and an "asshole" because he would rather request asylum from Ecuador than face extradition to Sweden. http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/kolumnister/oisincantwell/article15270...

18 August 2012 - TV journalist Jenny Strömstedt stated in Expressen that Assange should be put on display in a glass cage at Ecuador's London embassy for the next fifteen years "so that anyone willing to pay entrance can watch his aging struggles". http://www.expressen.se/kronikorer/jenny-stromstedt/mindre-snack-och-mer...

Minister, I look forward to discussing these issues with you in the near future and request that you raise these matters with your Swedish counterparts.


Senator Scott Ludlam

Cc: Senator Doug Cameron

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