WikiLeaks trials

2010-12-05 Sweden case updates [Update 1]

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In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr, lawyer Mark Stephens said:

"In Sweden it's quite bizarre though, because the chief prosecutor, the director of public prosecution in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to face, back in September. And then, a few weeks ago, after the intervention of a Swedish politician, a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm, where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case, which of course has resulted in these warrants and of course the Interpol red notice being put out across this week.

It does seem to be a political stunt, I mean, I have, and his Swedish lawyer, have been trying to get in touch with the prosecutors since August. Now, usually, it's the prosecutor who does the pursuing, not the pursued. And in this particular case, Julian Assange has tried to vindicate himself, has tried to meet with the prosecutors, to have his good name restored."

He remarked that "A warrant was issued on Thursday by reports. We've asked for it. We've been ignored at this point," adding that "He's only wanted for interview, why not have that interview by consent, rather than this show trial?"

He also talked about the calls for assassination coming from "credible sources around the world," and particularly the United States, including people as high up as Sarah Palin. He said that Julian Assange would certainly fight deportation to Sweden on the grounds that it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where senior politicians have called for him to be executed.

2010-12-02 ACLU: Prosecuting WikiLeaks For Publishing Documents Would Raise Serious Constitutional Concerns

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The ACLU has released a statement by Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“We’re deeply skeptical that prosecuting WikiLeaks would be constitutional, or a good idea. The courts have made clear that the First Amendment protects independent third parties who publish classified information. Prosecuting WikiLeaks would be no different from prosecuting the media outlets that also published classified documents. If newspapers could be held criminally liable for publishing leaked information about government practices, we might never have found out about the CIA’s secret prisons or the government spying on innocent Americans. Prosecuting publishers of classified information threatens investigative journalism that is necessary to an informed public debate about government conduct, and that is an unthinkable outcome.

“The broader lesson of the WikiLeaks phenomenon is that President Obama should recommit to the ideals of transparency he invoked at the beginning of his presidency. The American public should not have to depend on leaks to the news media and on whistleblowers to know what the government is up to.”
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2010-12-02 Sweden case update: Supreme Court will not consider appeal [Update 2]

The Sweden Supreme Court has declined today to consider the appeal request filed on behalf of Julian Assange against the arrest warrant previously issued, reports Dagens Nyheter, quoting case handler Kerstin Norman.

This would leave the current warrant standing.

Update 1: The Court's statement says that a review would only be granted if it is essential to the interpretation of the law, or in exceptional circumstances, when there is a "serious reason" for Supreme Court involvement. The Court has not found this to be the case, according to Aftonbladet.

We are to understand that evidence of false charges and prosecutorial misconduct does not constitute a sufficiently serious reason for the Supreme Court to grant a review. The Swedish justice system has failed, again.

WL Central would like to reiterate our support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and we ask you to do the same. Here are some ways to help.

Update 2: Jennifer Robinson, a UK-based lawyer for Julian Assange, gave a live interview on Democracy Now! earlier today. She said that Assange had not been formally charged and that he was not evading arrest, as some had suggested, but that he kept his location confidential because of genuine concerns over his safety. Robinson said that calls for his assassination (see some examples) are outrageous and illegal, and that those making such statements should be prosecuted for inciting violence. She also noted that there were serious due process problems related to the conduct of the Swedish prosecutors, and that in view of statements like those of Sarah Palin, there are real concerns over whether Assange would get a fair trial in the US, should he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Robinson mentioned that US lawyers were involved in consultations over the Espionage Act, but that in her opinion the WikiLeaks disclosures fall under the protection of the First Amendment.

2010-12-02 WikiLeaks and the US Espionage Act: legal opinions

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has confirmed that the Justice Department is examining whether Mr. Assange could be charged with a crime, but legal scholars say that such an effort would encounter steep legal and policy difficulties," writes Charlie Savage in the New York Times.

“The government has never brought an Espionage Act prosecution that would look remotely like this one,” law professor Stephen I. Vladeck told Savage. “I suspect that has a lot to do with why nothing has happened yet.”

"A relic of World War I, the Espionage Act was written before a series of Supreme Court rulings expanded the First Amendment’s protection of speech and press freedoms. The court has not reviewed the law’s constitutionality in light of those decisions," continues Savage. He points to a 2005 case which "ended in embarrassment" for the government because it could not prove that the accused "specifically intended to harm the United States or benefit a foreign country."

“If you could show that [Assange] specifically conspired with a government person to leak the material, that puts him in a different position than if he is the recipient of an anonymous contribution. If he’s just providing a portal for information that shows up, he’s very much like a journalist,” said Jack M. Balkin, a Yale professor of constitutional law.
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Reuters' Mark Hosenball writes that "U.S. authorities could face insurmountable legal hurdles if they try to bring criminal charges against" Assange. "Three specialists in espionage law said prosecuting someone like Assange on those charges would require evidence the defendant was not only in contact with representatives of a foreign power but also intended to provide them with secrets. No such evidence has surfaced, or has even been alleged, in the case of WikiLeaks or Assange."

Reuters quotes Mark Zaid, a defense lawyer who specializes in intelligence cases, saying it would be "very difficult for the U.S. government to prosecute (Assange) in the U.S. for what he is doing."

"Joseph DiGenova, a former U.S. Attorney in Washington who prosecuted high-profile espionage cases, said that federal authorities would face "pretty tough" legal obstacles if they tried to bring a prosecution against Assange. But he said officials like Holder had to make threats of prosecution, even if they lack legal substance, to "send a signal" to other would-be leakers."
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Trevor Timm of the New York Law School has already made the case last month that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have committed no crime in publishing such information.

2010-12-02 Sweden case: The lawyers speak up II

London-based lawyer Mark Stephens spoke with The Guardian:

"Comparing the Swedish prosecutor to Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, Stalin's notorious security chief, Mark Stephens said "neither Mr Assange nor his lawyers have been provided any further information beyond that reported in the press."

He continued: "This appears to be a persecution and a prosecution. It is highly irregular and unusual for the Swedish authorities to issue a red notice in the teeth of the undisputed fact that Mr Assange has agreed to meet voluntarily to answer the prosecutor's questions. Mr Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the prosecutrix – both in Sweden and subsequently – in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr Assange sought permission from the prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr Assange has continued to seek meetings with the prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."

He added: "At this point in time, we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation – indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations.

2010-12-02 Sweden case: The lawyers speak up

London-based lawyer Mark Stephens spoke with The Guardian:

"Comparing the Swedish prosecutor to Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, Stalin's notorious security chief, Mark Stephens said "neither Mr Assange nor his lawyers have been provided any further information beyond that reported in the press."

He continued: "This appears to be a persecution and a prosecution. It is highly irregular and unusual for the Swedish authorities to issue a red notice in the teeth of the undisputed fact that Mr Assange has agreed to meet voluntarily to answer the prosecutor's questions. Mr Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the prosecutrix – both in Sweden and subsequently – in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr Assange sought permission from the prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr Assange has continued to seek meetings with the prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."

He added: "At this point in time, we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation – indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations.

"We are also investigating whether the prosecutor's application to have Mr Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners – again a unique request – is in any way linked to this matter and the recent, rather bellicose US statements of an intention to prosecute Mr Assange."

The Guardian also refers to Stephens's statements to The Times arguing that the arrest warrant issued was invalid:

"The arrest warrant has been issued in circumstances where Assange has an outstanding appeal in Sweden," Stephens said in the Times, while a police source was quoted as saying Assange's warrant was "not a properly certified warrant so we can't act on it."

Stephens argued that although Assange was originally wanted on a charge of rape, this had been thrown out after a partially successful appeal and which meant that Swedish law did not allow for another arrest warrant for current allegations.

He said British police had probably not taken any action against Assange because the warrant was issued incorrectly rather than because they didn't know where he was.

"The sole ground for the warrant is the prosecutor's blatantly false allegation that he is on the run from justice: he left Sweden lawfully and has offered himself for questioning. An appeal against this decision was filed on Monday and is pending," Stephens said.

Separately, Melbourne barrister James D. Catlin wrote in Crikey:

"Apparently having consensual s-x in Sweden without a condom is punishable by a term of imprisonment of a minimum of two years for r-pe. That is the basis for a reinstitution of r-pe charges against WikiLeaks figurehead Julian Assange that is destined to make Sweden and its justice system the laughing stock of the world and dramatically damage its reputation as a model of modernity.[...]

That further evidence hasn’t been confected to make the charges less absurd does Sweden no credit because it has no choice in the matter. The phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilén boasting of their respective conquests after the “crimes”.

In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the “crime” and tweeted to her followers that she is with the “the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!”. Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern. That she has published on the internet a guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends ever graver. The exact content of Wilén’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors. Niether Wilén’s nor Ardin’s texts complain of r-pe.

But then neither Arden nor Wilén complained to the police but rather “sought advice”, a technique in Sweden enabling citizens to avoid just punishment for making false complaints. They sought advice together, having collaborated and irrevocably tainted each other’s evidence beforehand. Their SMS texts to each other show a plan to contact the Swedish newspaper Expressen beforehand in order to maximise the damage to Assange. They belong to the same political group and attended a public lecture given by Assange and organised by them. You can see Wilén on the YouTube video of the event even now.[...]

A great deal more damning evidence is yet to be revealed about what passes for legal process in Sweden, such as Assange’s lawyers having not received a single official document until November 18, 2010 (and then in Swedish language contrary to European Law) and having to learn about the status of investigations through prosecution media announcements but make no mistake: it is not Julian Assange that is on trial here but Sweden and its reputation as a modern and model country with rules of law."

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An appeal against the arrest warrant was filed on Tuesday on behalf of Julian Assange with the Sweden Supreme Court, covered here. Our full Sweden case coverage section can be found here.

2010-11-30 Updates in Sweden case

Julian Assange's lawyers have filed an appeal with the Sweden Supreme Court against the warrant issued for him by the Stockholm District Court earlier this month. Kerstin Norman, the case handler on the docket, confirmed to AFP that the Court had received the appeal:

"Norman said the country's highest court would first need to determine whether to hear the case at all. 'This is a so-called high-priority case, so that decision should go quickly,' she said, adding she expected the ruling to come 'tomorrow, the day after, but also perhaps next week.'

'If no trial permit is given, the appeals court verdict will stand, but if a permit is given, we will reconsider whether the detention order was correct,' she said. Such a hearing would also likely go quickly, Norman said, adding it would take anywhere from 'a few weeks to over a month, depending on the circumstances,'" reports The Local via AFP.

In the meantime, The Interpol has issued a "Red Notice" for Julian Assange. The notice is not an international arrest warrant, as the Interpol and the BBC clarify.

Mark Stephens, Julian Assange's London-based lawyer, told The Guardian that "the Swedish attempts to extradite Assange have no legal force. So far he has not been charged, Stephens says – an essential precondition for a valid European arrest warrant. Under the EAW scheme, which allows for fast-tracked extradition between EU member states, a warrant must indicate a formal charge in order to be validated, and must be served on the person accused."

"Julian Assange has never been charged by Swedish prosecutors. He is formally wanted as a witness," Stephens told the Guardian today.

In its report on the Interpol notice, The Independent notes: "Wherever Assange does decide to set up base, one thing is certain – the leaks will keep coming. For the past month, WikiLeaks' administrators have had to suspend the submissions wing of the website because they have been overwhelmed by the number of fresh whistle-blowers sending them information. Anyone who thinks the WikiLeaks founder will take a back seat over the coming months and wait for the heat to die down must be mistaken."

2010-11-24 Updates in Sweden appeal case [Update 3]

The Svea Court of Appeals requested prosecutor Marianne Ny to provide additional information today. There has been no announcement yet as to whether a decision will be made today in the appeal case.

Update 1: Expressen reports that the court has reached a decision at 15:00 local time, but it will need to be written and published.

Update 2: Svea Court of Appeals decided to uphold the warrant issued by the Stockholm District Court. However, the charges have been downgraded.

Update 3: Björn Hurtig tells Aftonbladet that he will take the case to the Supreme Court.

In further reactions to the case, Marcus Fridholm at Sagor från livbåten argues that the Sweden justice system needs significant reform in an article highly critical of the "legal circus" around the case.

Expressen has obtained part of the declassified legal brief filed for the appeal.

The Sweden justice system has failed, again, to provide actual justice. Now more than ever, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks need our support. This fight is not over.

2010-11-18 WikiLeaks staff editorial: Why our editor-in-chief is busy and needs to be defended

Thursday November 18, 2010

STAFF EDITORIAL (via @wikileaks)

In October 2010 Julian Assange won the Sam Adams Award for Integrity. He has also been awarded the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award and the Economist Index on Censorship Award in 2008. It is important to remember that accolades such as these do come without tremendous hard work.

The expose of the Afghan War Diaries was a moment of media history, orchestrated by Julian Assange. He brought together The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, three of the world’s most reputable newspapers to collaborate with WikiLeaks on exposing more than 90 000 secret significant action reports by the United States relating to the war in Afghanistan. This involved a huge amount of administration in order to co-ordinate all four media partners’ publishing schedules and a lot of time to carefully construct the levels of trust needed to bring together three major newspapers who were also competitors.

Since 2007 Julian, WikiLeaks and the Sunshine Press have been behind international front page stories that have changed the world. However, every story exposing abuses by powerful organizations, whether they be from New York or Nairobi results in a counter attack. Such the importance and veracity of revelations must be defended. Immediately after the Afghan War Diaries he conducted seventy-six interviews in three days maximizing the impact of the disclosures. It is very important for WikiLeaks to create a global platform with which to reach all corners of the earth. This demonstrates to those who wish to expose wrongdoing and misconduct that there is a way to do so without putting themselves at risk. He remains a messenger who big governments and their agencies can, and constantly do, attack while all the time keeping the source of the information published safe.

2010-11-22 Further updates in Swedish case [Update 3]

Court set to decide on warrant appeal today [Delayed]

Realtid and Expressen report that the Svea Court of Appeals will rule today on the appeal filed by Julian Assange's lawyers against the arrest warrant issued by the Stockhold District Court. The decision is expected to be made public in the afternoon.

Attorney Mark Stephens told Expressen that even if the warrant is upheld, it will take at least five working days, and up to fifteen, until the warrant is communicated to local authorities, at which point its validity will be determined.

Update: No decision was reached today in the appeal case. The Svea Appeals Court said it needed more evidence, and called the prosecution to testify on Wednesday, according to Svenska Dagbladet. Attorney Björn Hurtig called it an unusual development, but noted that he interpreted it as a positive sign.

Reactions, continued:

Financial Times: Warrant for WikiLeaks founder condemned

"Mark Stephens, a UK-based lawyer for Mr Assange, accused Swedish prosecutors of an “ambush” after ignoring his client’s offers to co-operate. “I’ve worked with third world countries and authoritarian regimes where there has been more of an attempt at a fair process,” he told the Financial Times."
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LA Progressive: Swedish Justice on Trial in WikiLeaks Case

Tom Hayden, author and former California state senator, writes: "The silencing of WikiLeaks will deny people around the world, including the American people, vital information about secret operations by US forces, which have resulted in higher civilian casualties than previously reported. [...]

A network of whistleblowers in the US, including Daniel Ellsberg, and noted civil liberties firms, are exploring ways to defend Assange against extradition. But the first line of defense will likely be in Sweden, where the state’s core identity could be on trial."
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Tercera Informacion: Continúa la persecución contra el fundador de WikiLeaks

"De hecho el caso fue cerrado hace unas semanas por la falta de fundamento y las contradicciones en las declaraciones de las mujeres, además de que no existen pruebas que demuestren los cargos de los que se le acusa al australiano.

Sin embargo, coincidiendo con la nueva filtración de WikiLeaks, un grupo de fiscales suecos reabrieron el caso y ahora el Tribunal de Justicia del Distrito de Estocolmo ha emitido una orden de búsqueda y captura contra Julian Assange, conocido como el "Che Guevara de internet"."
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Pravda: Aussie man Assange and Swedish sex scandal

"Here is a question: Did the Australian really commit unlawful acts, or was it a setup of the U.S. intelligence services? Harassment by the CIA is quite possible. The creator of WikiLeaks caused the United States too much trouble, and the image of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that was tarnished already, became even worse. The Americans did have the grounds for revenge. Assange could have been purposely sent well trained girls recruited by the CIA, who then slandered him."
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2010-11-21 RSN petition in support of Julian Assange

Reader Supported News is hosting a new petition in support of Julian Assange, reading as follows:

"We here undersigned express our support for the work and integrity of Julian Assange. We express concern that the charges against the WikiLeaks founder appear too convenient both in terms of timing and the novelty of their nature.

We call for this modern media innovator, and fighter for human rights extraordinaire, to be afforded the same rights to defend himself before Swedish justice that all others similarly charged might expect, and that his liberty not be compromised as a courtesy to those governments whose truths he has revealed have embarrassed.

In earnest support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:"

Please join us in signing the petition here: http://www.readersupportednews.org/julian-assange-petition

2010-11-20 The persecution of Julian Assange: reactions, Part 2

Arab News: A Different War

"Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, is being framed with multiple charges with the motive of silencing him. [...] There is an all out war going on against this fearless whistleblower by the affected parties and the question is who will come to his rescue and how powerful the pressure is? We have heard of “war on terror” but this is “war on one who exposes crimes”.
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The Voice of Russia: WikiLeaks case – state interests or democratic values?

According to Alexander Perendzhiyev, Deputy Chairman of the Association of military political analysts, it is unlikely that the charges against Assange are coincidence. Before the scandalous publication [of the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs] there had been no accusations against the journalist.

"I am confident that the US administration is making pressure on the founder of the website. In this case even the great American democracy shows that the interests of the state are placed above the proclaimed common democratic values. The publication and the prosecution are definitely linked. He was not accused of anything before the publication. Secondly, there had been statements already that the actions of Assange threaten the national security of the US."
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IT Wire: Assange pokes tiger, tiger pokes back

Julian Assange has done a lot to annoy authorities through his website WikiLeaks. Aside from all the commercial information that a variety of companies would have preferred wasn't released, there was the "Collateral Murder" and the more recent "Iraq War Logs".

All of this way well be seen as 'tiger poking' by many authorities. With the latest news, it seems the tigers are starting to poke back.
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2010-11-20 Updates in Swedish case

Channel 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange to fight order for arrest

Channel 4 has an interview with Julian Assange's British counsel Mark Stephens. He called the arrest warrant "bizarre and exotic" and C4 noted that "the prosecutor has not yet given Mr Assange details of the allegations against him, nor the evidence. He said Mr Assange has repeatedly asked to meet her and face police questioning.": "It makes it nigh on impossible to answer her. It is highly irregular. I have never seen this happen before. [...] She is deliberately poisoning the media well."

"Mr Stephens, a partner at Finers Stephens Innocent, said Ms Ny's "cynical ploy" is in breach of Swedish laws. "The co-counsel was not even told what the allegations were until they stood up in court yesterday," he added."
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OWNI: L’avocat d’Assange dénonce une procédure “illégale”

The OWNI team are live-blogging the events and are following up on their own research. On contacting the Interpol today, they were told that: "We cannot provide more details, as the Swedish Interpol division did not give the General Secretariat the green light to make public the notice in question. Also, Interpol Sweden will not be able to provide this authorization unless the prosecutor general authorizes such an initiative."

They have also spoken with Mark Stephens, who said (translated from French): "The prosecutor is in complete breach of Swedish laws, European laws, international laws and even British laws: she has completely failed in her duties. Until now, she has not given my client a single document, and he had no knowledge of the plaintiffs' names until yesterday, when the complaint was presented to the court. The prosecutor had not informed us. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights obligates her however to communicate to my client, in a language he understands, the nature of the accusations and evidence against him."

OWNI has also contacted the Pentagon, whose spokesperson Maj. Christopher Perrine declared: "I don't think it would appropriate for us to comment on a decision of the Swedish justice system, internal by nature."

OWNI remarked on Twitter that while Julian Assange is sought as a private person, the Interpol is looking for "the founder of WikiLeaks."

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2010-11-19 Julian Assange to appeal Swedish arrest ruling [Update 4]

Attorney Mark Stephens tells AFP that Julian Assange intends to challenge the Swedish ruling, Björn Hurtig files appeal in Sweden, and the prosecution is up to more shenanigans:

AFP / ABC News:

"Stephens told AFP the decision by the court in Stockholm was "still a little premature because the Swedish process hasn't finished its course -- there are still appeals (to be made) in Sweden." [...] Stephens blasted the Swedish prosecutor, saying that Thursday's hearing was the first time Assange's lawyers had heard the full details of the charges since the allegations were made public in August."
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Svenska Dagbladet

SvD carries a similar story referring to Mark Stephens's statement. It also quotes Julian Assange's Swedish attorney Björn Hurtig saying that "There is no right to detain someone just because you want to interview that person whenever you want," and that he had just now been given access to the dossier for the first time.

SvD also carries a surprising statement by prosecutor Marianne Ny that Julian Assange "had been charged in absentia since the end of September," but she has "no further comments." If the prosecution office's timing of their case updates was already highly suspect, this makes it rather clear that a plan had been in place all along.
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Rixstep

"Ny refuses to explain why she didn't take Assange up on previous offers from the WikiLeaks founder, why she has such blatant disregard for international law, who is pulling her strings, or if it's accepted praxis in Sweden to invite people to meetings with international arrest orders when they've already tried to meet you and you're the one always refusing."
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Prosecution update:

In the meantime, the prosecutor's office is playing games again, saying they "will not announce the exact date for the international arrest warrant for Julian Assange, nor which other measures will be taken." The statement was available here, but has in the meantime mysteriously disappeared. Cryptome has the screenshots. (Thanks to @_anachronisme for pointing that out.)

Marianne Ny was also interviewed by SVT, where she avoided answering whether there are any new facts in the case that prompted this action. Please see the English transcript here. Link to original video included in the post.

Le Monde

Björn Hurtig tells AFP he has filed an appeal against the warrant. An appelate court will be expected to make a decision relatively quickly.
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2010-11-18 The persecution of Julian Assange: reactions [Update 2]

Reactions are starting to come in with regards to the international arrest warrant issued for Julian Assange earlier today in Sweden:

Index on Censorship

Index on Censorship chief executive John Kampfner said: “While we cannot comment on the specifics of the case, we are extremely concerned at the apparent conduct of the investigators. Anyone concerned about free speech and human rights will be alarmed at any suggestion that the allegations against Mr Assange are being manipulated for political purposes.”
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Death and Taxes: The Assassination of Julian Assange?

Alex Moore writes: "Will this “character assassination” once again stand in for actual assassination? If Assange is indeed convicted of rape, will we ever really know for sure that the evidence against him is credible? Every sovereign government clearly has a motive to silence Assange, which makes a fair trial a problematic proposition."
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All Voices: Can Sweden Be Believed On WikiLeaks Assange Rape Accusations?

Robert Weller writes: "Now that it is known that the U.S. had advised Sweden of planned surveillance Stockholm recently claimed was conducted without their knowledge, it raises more questions about the handling of the WikiLeaks case. The same government is now saying it didn’t know Julian Assange had offered to be interviewed on allegations of rape and sexual molestation, even though the offers were made publicly and frequently immediately after the claims first were leaked nearly three months ago."
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2010-11-18 The persecution of Julian Assange, continued [Update 5]

The Swedish prosecutor's office issued this morning a request for a court order to detain Julian Assange for questioning regarding the allegations made against him in August by two Swedish women. The hearing on the detention request will take place today at 2pm, Stockholm time.

Prosecutor's office statement (Swedish): http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Assange-begard-haktad-i-sin-franvaro/

English version: http://www.aklagare.se/In-English/

Please see our full coverage index of the Sweden case so far: http://wlcentral.org/assange-in-sweden . We recommend you start with the case chronology.

Anyone paying the slightest attention to this case will come to the same conclusions that we did: this is nothing but a dirty, underhanded smear campaign. Please read the reports linked above to see for yourself.

Those following the case will also have noticed that the Swedish prosecution authority has the uncanny ability to issue updates on the case to coincide with every significant event involving WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The fact that they decided to pick this timing to coincide with the upcoming EU-US Lisbon summit this week, where European Parliament members have announced they will raise the torture and abuse issues revealed by WikiLeaks in the Iraq War Logs, is one more in a string of highly unlikely "coincidences."

We at WL Central stand by Julian Assange and we ask you to do the same. Please spread the information we have collected and let the world know what the truth about this case really is. If you support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, the time to show that support is now.

Update 1: Julian Assange's attorney, Björn Hurtig, tells SvD that he believes the request for the court order is disproportionate and that there is little evidence supporting a warrant. He called the prosecution's case "thin."

Update 2: Björn Hurtig tells VG Nett that Julian Assange has no immediate plans to return to Sweden.

Update 3: Statement by Julian Assange's counsel Mark Stephens, at 1pm: http://wlcentral.org/node/222

The reason stated by Marianne Ny for requesting the arrest warrant is that "we need to interrogate him. So far, we have not been able to meet with him to accomplish the interrogations."

However, as those who have followed the case remember, and as Mark Stephens's statement notes, this is yet another falsehood: "Before leaving Sweden Mr. Assange asked to be interviewed by the prosecution on several occasions in relation to the allegations, staying over a month in Stockholm, at considerable expense and despite many engagements elsewhere, in order to clear his name. Eventually the prosecution told his Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig that he was free to leave the country, without interview, which he did."

Update 4: WikiLeaks issued a staff editorial under the title "Why our editor-in-chief is busy and needs to be defended", a Letter from Swedish Counsel Bjorn Hurtig to English co-Counsel for Julian Assange and a Press Release by Counsel for Julian Assange.

Update 5: SvD and Expressen confirm that an international arrest warrant will be issued by the Stockholm District Court. The Swedish prosecutor's office has also updated its statment: English, Swedish. Prosecutor Marianne Ny can be reached at +46 31-739-41-04.

From the prosecutor's office statement: "Due to the ongoing investigation and the parties involved, the prosecutor cannot at the moment give more information concerning the suspicions or which investigation matters have been conducted." So then on what basis, exactly, is an arrest warrant being issued?

Breaking news coverage:

SvD: Julian Assange begärs häktad
Aftonbladet: Julian Assange begärs häktad
SVT: WikiLeaks grundare begärs häktad
VG Nett: Vil etterlyse WikiLeaks-gründer internasjonalt
Helsingborgs Dagblad: Julian Assange begärs häktad
The Guardian: WikiLeaks founder faces Swedish detention
ABC News (Australia): Arrest ordered for WikiLeaks founder
SvD: Julian Assange kommer att efterlysas
Expressen: Assange häktad i sin utevaro
Deutsche Welle: Swedish court orders arrest of WikiLeaks founder
ORF: Staatsanwältin will Vernehmung
Nouvel Observateur: La justice suédoise va lancer un mandat d'arrêt international contre le fondateur de WikiLeaks

2010-11-18 Letter from Swedish counsel Björn Hurtig to English co-counsel for Julian Assange

(via @wikileaks)

Note Neither Mr. Assange nor Counsel, nor WikiLeaks have ever received a single written word, at any time, in any form, from Swedish authorities on the Swedish investigation against our editor.

From: Björn Hurtig
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:43 PM
To: Jennifer
Subject: SV: Our client

Dear Jennifer,

Enclosed You will find a copy of the documents that I have would like to send to the prosecutor. I have not been able to have the document translated in detail, but I will now tell You the most important things in it.

First of all I comment the ongoing investigation and tell the prosecutor that I have asked her several times that they should hear my client so that we can be aware of the accusations. They have said no to this initially (and by this I mean for several weeks). Furthermore I remind her that I several times have asked her to give me the evidence in the case. She has said no to this also. I then tell her that I have asked my questions informally and in writing and tell her about a formal request that I made 14 of September 2010. This formal request has not yet been formally answered, which I find to be a breach of Swedish law (23:18 Rättegångsbalken). I also tell her that Sweden has not followed art 6:3 of The European Convention of the 4 november 1950, because Julian has not been informed of the accusation in detail and in his own language. Neither has he been informed of the documents in the case in his own language. This is an incorrect behavior.

2010-11-18 Press release by counsel for Julian Assange

LONDON, 2pm Thursday November 18, 2010 (via @wikileaks)

Mark Stephens of law firm Finers Stephens Innocent said today, “On the morning of 21 August 2010, my client, Julian Assange, read in the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen that there was a warrant out for his arrest relating to allegations of “rape” involving two Swedish women.

2010-11-18 WikiLeaks staff editorial: Why our editor-in-chief is busy and needs to be defended

Thursday November 18, 2010

STAFF EDITORIAL (via @wikileaks)

In October 2010 Julian Assange won the Sam Adams Award for Integrity. He has also been awarded the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award and the Economist Index on Censorship Award in 2008. It is important to remember that accolades such as these do not come without tremendous hard work.

The expose of the Afghan War Diaries was a moment of media history, orchestrated by Julian Assange. He brought together The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, three of the world’s most reputable newspapers to collaborate with WikiLeaks on exposing more than 90 000 secret significant action reports by the United States relating to the war in Afghanistan. This involved a huge amount of administration in order to co-ordinate all four media partners’ publishing schedules and a lot of time to carefully construct the levels of trust needed to bring together three major newspapers who were also competitors.

Since 2007 Julian, WikiLeaks and the Sunshine Press have been behind international front page stories that have changed the world. However, every story exposing abuses by powerful organizations, whether they be from New York or Nairobi results in a counter attack. Such the importance and veracity of revelations must be defended. Immediately after the Afghan War Diaries he conducted seventy-six interviews in three days maximizing the impact of the disclosures. It is very important for WikiLeaks to create a global platform with which to reach all corners of the earth. This demonstrates to those who wish to expose wrongdoing and misconduct that there is a way to do so without putting themselves at risk. He remains a messenger who big governments and their agencies can, and constantly do, attack while all the time keeping the source of the information published safe.

2010-11-18 Statement by Julian Assange's counsel Mark Stephens

Finers Stephens Innocent http://www.fsilaw.com

LONDON, 1pm Thursday November 18, 2010 (via @wikileaks)

On the morning of 21 August 2010, my client, Julian Assange, read in the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen that there was a warrant out for his arrest relating to allegations of “rape” involving two Swedish women.

However, even the substance of the allegations, as revealed to the press through unauthorized disclosures do not constitute what any advanced legal system considers to be rape; as various media outlets have reported “the basis for the rape charge” purely seems to constitute a post-facto dispute over consensual, but unprotected sex days after the event. Both women have declared that they had consensual sexual relations with our client and that they continued to instigate friendly contact well after the alleged incidents. Only after the women became aware of each other’s relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him.

The warrant for his arrest was rightly withdrawn within 24 hours by Chief prosecutor Eva Finne, who found that there was no “reason to suspect that he has committed rape." Yet his name had already been deliberately and unlawfully disclosed to the press by Swedish authorities. The “rape” story was carried around the world and has caused Mr. Assange and his organization irreparable harm.

Eva Finne’s decision to drop the “rape" investigation was reversed after the intervention of a political figure, Claes Borgstrom, who is now acting for the women. The case was given to a specific prosecutor, Marianne Ny.

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