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):

English version:

Please see our full coverage index of the Sweden case so far: . 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:

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

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.

2010-11-17 TruthDig: Wars Went MIA from Midterm Debates

Jon Dillingham on the absence from the US public debate of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

"But we in the press often do Washington’s bidding: The politicians don’t talk about these things, so neither do we. We’ve rendered ourselves, and this entire exercise in democracy, null and void. We may prattle on about health care reform or human rights in China, but if the press and the public don’t push back against America’s crimes of aggression and the mass killing of innocents, then we’re nothing more than obscene jingoists.

Our silence, that of the people and the press, has quickened our country’s slide into what military historian Andrew Bacevich calls “permanent war.”"

Read the full article here: TruthDig

2010-11-17 MIT panel: "Communications Forum: Civic Media and the Law"

The MIT Center for Future Civic Media hosted a panel titled "Civic Media and the Law" to discuss the legal challenges related to crowdsourcing and websites like WikiLeaks, versus traditional journalism source protection.

The panelists included David Ardia, co-founder of the Citizen Media Law Project and Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Micah Sifry, co-founder and editor of the Personal Democracy Forum, and Daniel Schuman, policy counsel at the Sunlight Foundation.

Event details and the video recording of the panel are available at the MIT website

2010-11-16 The Nation: What We Learned from WikiLeaks

The 29 November edition of The Nation features an article by Jonathan Schell on the "war- and torture-system" revealed in the Iraq war logs, and the moral imperative that drives people like Bradley Manning and Julian Assange in the face of such

"Faced with this particular and general knowledge, Manning felt "helpless," he told Lamo. "That was a point where I was... actively involved in something that I was completely against." In sum, Manning found himself in the classic, excruciating dilemma of the decent person enmeshed in an abhorrent system, not as a victim but as a perpetrator. By following the rules, he would be an accomplice of torture. Only by breaking them could he extricate himself."

Read the full article here: The Nation

2010-11-16 EU Parliament calls for inquiry into Iraq abuses

European Parliament issues press release on upcoming EU-US summit and "calls for [Iraq torture revealed in WikiLeaks documents] issue to be raised in the context of the EU-US summit with a view to an independent transatlantic inquiry". Read the full press release here:

The proposal comes from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE Group). ALDE made known its intention to raise this issue shortly after the release of the Iraq war logs. The group issued a press release on October 26 including ALDE President Guy Verhofstadt's statement:

At a EU Parliament plenary session on data protection in the context of sharing information with the United States, ALDE member Marietje Schaake raised some of the same issues: video.

The EU-US summit will take place in Lisbon on November 20.

2010-11-16 WikiLeaks registers company in Iceland

(AFP) REYKJAVIK — Whistleblower WikiLeaks has registered in media-friendly Iceland its first known legal entity -- a business that so far has no office or activity, the website's spokesman said Friday.

Wikileaks is now mulling whether to use the firm to fundraise or for information gathering, Kristinn Hrafnsson told AFP.

"We want WikiLeaks to have a global presence and having a business in Iceland is part of this plan," said Hrafnsson of the new entity, called Sunshine Press Productions.

Read the full article here

2010-11-16 IPJ update

The Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights has posted two new reports on Julian Assange's visit to Geneva last week and the UN conference. You can read them here ("Rapport de visite de M. Julian Assange en Suisse: Le témoin qui dérange") and here ("Le fondateur de WikiLeaks à Genève, invité par l'IIPJDH") on the IPJ website.

2010-11-18 WikiLeaks panel discussion in Madrid

This Thursday at 19:30, a panel discussion titled "Crímenes de guerra y transparencia: los papeles de WikiLeaks" ("War Crimes and Transparency: The WikiLeaks Papers") will take place in Madrid. The speakers will be war correspondent Olga Rodríguez, activist Javier Couso and Rafael Escudero Alday, professor of the philosophy of law at the University Carlos III in Madrid. Please see for the event details.

2010-11-16 UN rapporteur urges full U.S. torture investigation

GENEVA, Nov 16 (Reuters) - The new U.N. torture expert urged the United States on Tuesday to conduct a full investigation into torture under the Bush administration and prosecute offenders as well as senior officials who ordered it.

Juan Ernesto Mendez told Reuters he also hoped to visit Iraq to probe a "very widespread practice of torture" of detainees with the help of coalition forces, revealed in confidential U.S. files issued by WikiLeaks.

"The United States has a duty to investigate every act of torture. Unfortunately, we haven't seen much in the way of accountability," said Mendez, himself a former torture victim, in the wide-ranging interview at the United Nations in Geneva.

Read the full article here: Reuters

News Archive - 2010-11 (November 2010)

Archive - 2010-10 (October 2010)

2010-11-15 In These Times: War News Unfit for Print

"WikiLeaks revelations clearer outside the United States": Andrew Oxford looks at how US media reporting of the WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs has been strikingly different from the rest of the world.

"When five news organizations - including Der Spiegel and Al Jazeera — were granted access to WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs before they were published online on October 22, only The Times avoided drawing the same conclusions as its colleagues abroad. The Guardian’s coverage featured headlines such as “Secret Files Show How U.S. Ignored Torture” and “How Friendly Fire Became Routine,” while Le Monde was no less dramatic. Der Spiegel, the German news weekly, published a lengthy editorial titled, “Dumb War: Taking Stock of the Iraq Invasion,” which concluded that the WikiLeaks documents confirm that the war was a failure.

Meanwhile, The Times’ front-page headline assured us “Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands.” Other American newspapers seemed similarly unimpressed by WikiLeaks’ latest publication of nearly 400,000 classified military documents. The Washington Post printed an editorial declaring that the Iraq War Logs offered no new insights."

Read the full article at In These Times

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