On The Arrest Of Julian Assange

from the this-is-what-we-cover? dept

To date, I had avoided all of the stories both about the allegations against Julian Assange in Sweden, as well as his arrest this morning. But people keep asking us to cover it. Frankly, I'm not sure what to say about it. Assange's former lawyer's writeup for Crikey, in which he presents a compelling, if extremely one-sided view of how Sweden appears to be "making it up as it goes along," is an interesting read but, again, it is extremely one-sided. Slate's more level-headed analysis of questions concerning consensual sex laws is also worth reading.

The reason I have not covered this is, while this whole thing has obviously become political, these charges do not, officially, have anything to do with Wikileaks. Perhaps the two cannot be separated but there's a lot of FUD flying from all sides on this right now and it seems rather early to comment on all of this.

However, I think the larger point is that too many are looking to connect this issue more closely to Wikileaks than it deserves to be connected. We're interested in Wikileaks from a public policy perspective and what it means for free speech, whistleblowing and journalism in a distributed world. I have no idea what happened between Assange and those two women in Sweden and it's difficult to see how adding any commentary on the matter at this stage really adds anything to the discussion.

Filed Under: arrest, julian assange, sweden, uk, wikileaks

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  1. icon
    Tor (profile), 8 Dec 2010 @ 3:06am

    Being a swede myself I can tell you that there are some real problems with the Swedish legal system related to sexual crimes. The former Ombudsmen for Justice got a lot of critique for saying that he believed that there are innocent people in Swedish prisons and stressed the importance of keeping the legal procedure standards high.

    So I would urge people to not be so quick to see conspiracies in every corner. There are actually some other good explanations:
    * an imperfect legal system regarding due process in cases of allegations of a sexual crimes.
    * a prosecutor who wants to further her career
    * the girls' laywer is a highly political figure with some quite radical ideas (for example he wanted Sweden to boycott a soccer world championship in Germany in order to protest against the situation of sexually exploited women there).

    The reason that the prosecutor wants to hold the interrogation in Sweden is probably because she wants to have the possibility of arresting him if their suspicision of crime is strengthened by the interview. Assange's swedish lawyer Björn Hurtig has however referred to a case where the Swedish High Court found that a man who lived in Dubai and was suspected of tax evation of some 17 million SEK should not be arrested in his absense since he had been free to leave Sweden at the time (just like Assange got an ok from the prosecutor to leave Sweden) and had volunteered to be part of questioning over the phone (just like Assange). The court found that an arrest would lead to unnecessary inconveniences and costs for the man.

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