Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: Innocent or Guilty?

Asked by ETpro (34581points) August 16th, 2012

News broke today that Ecuador has decided to offer Assange political asylum. It is unclear how he will get to Ecuador, however. He is currently in London and thought to be within the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden by Great Britain. It is likely if he is sent to Sweden on the assault charges that Sweden will extradite him to the USA to face espionage charges for his disclosures of embarrassing and potentially illegal US activities in Iraq and elsewhere.

Do you think Assange is guilty of the assault he’s been charged with, or is he being set up as punishment for Wikileaks exposing the corruption of various governments and powerful corporate interests?

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85 Answers

syz's avatar

I have no way of knowing if he’s guilty or not. Only those directly involved or investigating would be able to speak to that.

If he truly sexually assaulted someone, then I feel very badly for his victim. But I would have to agree that he would likely be extradited to the US for the “leaks”.

wonderingwhy's avatar

No idea if he did it or not but I find the whole thing a bit suspicious, particularly the timing. It certainly doesn’t seem unlikely that the situation has been manufactured or at least manipulated. All that would need to be done is for Sweden (or the US) to provide formal guarantee that he can/will not be extradited and (now) can remain under Ecuador’s custody during trial and upon serving any sentence he might receive and the case could move forward. No one’s mentioned that such that I’ve heard so it would seem the sexual assault inquiry would be a secondary consideration.

josie's avatar

I would place my bet that he committed assault.
I am not a student of Julian Assange, but it is my understanding he had an unstable childhood, and a sympathetic judge allowed him to avoid a big prison sentence for hacking computer systems in Australia and the Pentagon.

One does not have to be a psychologist to imagine that he thinks he is special person and thus above the legal scrutiny of mere mortals.

I would not be surprised to hear that a narcissist like Assange probably believed that the women were placed on this earth merely to please his unique, fabulously intelligent and superior self.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Innocent or guilty of what?

Rape of those women?
Releasing secrets?

As I understand the Swedish laws, the women don’t need to prove their case, they only need to make allegations for a male to be found guilty. Which seems profoundly unfair.

Sunny2's avatar

Not enough evidence to judge. I don’t like what I know about him, but I don’t know enough to even guess about the facts.

ragingloli's avatar

This smells stronger of being a manufactured pretense to “extradite” him to the US than my genitals reek of fish.

Qingu's avatar

Innocent until proven guilty. I wouldn’t support extraditing him to the US.

But Assange is a self-absorbed dick, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he, like many powerful and self-absorbed men, had no moral compunctions about sexually assaulting his female fans. He should be tried for his alleged crime in Sweden.

zenvelo's avatar

My memory may be failing me, but I recall when the sexual assault charges first arose that they were not equivalent to what defines rape in the United States.

And although I know the US has laws against it, I think Assange committed any violations of US law beyond US jurisdiction. He is a foreign citizen acting outside of the US border with materials that were given to him.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Guilty of being an annoying ass.

downtide's avatar

Guilty of attempting to evade trial, for sure.

flutherother's avatar

It seems suspicious to me that he was charged with assault after the wikileaks episode.

King_Pariah's avatar

He started releasing documents that got him is serious trouble with the US in November 2010, He was being investigated by Swedish police for rape since August 2010. The arrest warrant was initially canceled in August by a chief prosecutor only to be reissued in September by the Swedish Director of Prosecution.

I’d say it was just coincidence and (un)fortunate that he’s in trouble with the US as well. If he really did rape those two women, well, even if he only raped one of them, I think he should be put in the deepest, darkest hole that they can find.

rooeytoo's avatar

Egomaniac, watch him swagger, thinks he is above the law and all should worship at his feet. I can see no good he has accomplished, he is merely seeking his 15 minutes of fame at any cost. Send him back to Sweden, let the law work as it would for any other human.

Some choose strange people to be their heros.

Elm1969's avatar

With the modern technologies that we have, a trial via telenet would be a safe option for Julian Assange. A virtual court room could be set up. A fair trial would then determine what actions if any should be taken. The Ecuadorian Embassy, Sweden, the US and the UK would be able to submit their case without Julian Assange having to be under jurisdiction.

Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

Lightlyseared's avatar

Of course the real problem is Equador have set a nasty precedent for offering politcal asylum to someone to help avoid them being tried for rape in effect making rape a political crime.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I have no idea if he committed rape in Sweden, first they said he did, then the arrest warrant was canceled, then the arrest warrant was reissued. I do know that he revealed a great many political blunders made by the leaders of various countries including the US. He is a whistle-blower for sure & I think that if the US could get their hands on him, he would never stand trial for any rape in Sweden, he would be charged with treason in the US & would be subjected to the same treatment as Bradley Manning (whom our government has said the information that he gave to Wikileaks never had anything bad happen from the information that he gave to them). We need whistle-blowers in order to keep our governments & big corporations from walking all over us. I am glad that Ecuador chose to give him political asylum.

Qingu's avatar

I think his contributions to whistle-blowing and transparency are utterly overrated, and his management of WikiLeaks sounds messed up and counterproductive. I hope his successors at WikiLeaks don’t let him back at the helm.

Also, it’s not actually clear what harm some of the leaks published actually did. I’m not opposed to WikiLeaks or their mission, but I think it’s absurd to suggest that there is no risk to innocent people in publishing, for example, detailed US military reports about Afghan translators or villagers whom our troops work with. The Taliban has killed thousands of Afghan civilians. Who knows how WikiLeaks has helped them identify targets. It’s for this reason that the NYT and the Guardian and other outlets went out of their way to redact the hell out of those files before publishing them.

King_Pariah's avatar

Remember, the warrant was reissued BEFORE he released those documents.

ETpro's avatar

Wow, I’ve learned a great deal about this from what you all have shared. I really knew little of it, and just posted the question when I saw the news release. For the record, Assange is accused of having had sex one time with a consensual sexual partner but failing to wear a condom, and another consensual sexual partner when she claims she wasn’t fully awake. That’s hardly rape in my mind, and I always thought the Swedish were much more enlightened about such matters than an uptight American like me. Shows what I know of international culture. And if @elbanditoroso is right, Swedish law is insanely biased in this. Funny the charges should begin there.

Wikipedia has a very up-to-date article that seems to be relatively balanced. Here’s the left-wing defense. And here’s what Murdoch’s boys think.

It’s truly hard to sort among all the partisan claims. I don’t put much stock in the argument that the timeline indicates that this isn’t a frame. Assange has been on the CIA’s radar for years. When in 2010 a particular event occurred seems to me irrelevant. The powers that be have been out to crucify this guy for many years. Here’s a great BBC timeline that appears to be nonpartisan.

@Lightlyseared I have to take exception with both your highly partisan answers. One man’s annoying ass is another man’s avenging angel. Consider Galileo and the Pope. Who won? Who was right?

And Ecuador has set no such precedent as you claim. As I noted above, the “assault” charges against Assange are certainly not about rape as we understand the word. They revolve around disputes after the fact regarding admittedly consensual sex. No formal charges had even been filed in Sweden when the European Arrest Warrant was issued. That’s unprecedented. It begs the question, why did that happen?

But more to your point, this is not really about rape. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, he will then face extradition or extraordinary rendition to the US and be put into Guantanamo. He will face potential execution for the high crime of exposing the truth.

I don’t know how much actual damage the Wikileaks expose did, and I am pretty sure you don’t either. I do know it focused US and world attention at something that reeks like a dead whale. For that, I am willing to forgive him for having a more active sex life than I do.

rooeytoo's avatar

This is an interesting article on the subject. It says in part:

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said there were “serious indications” that the United States could threaten Mr Assange’s “security, integrity and even his life”, a nod to the fears expressed by Mr Assange and others that the Swedish sex case is merely the opening gambit in a Washington-orchestrated plot to make him stand trial in the United States – something disputed by both by Swedish authorities and the women involved.
He said he’d tried to get guarantees from the Americans, the British, and the Swedes that Mr Assange would not be extradited to the United States, but that all three had rebuffed him. He said it was clear that if Mr Assange were extradited to the US “he would not have a fair trial, could be judged by special or military courts and it’s not implausible that cruel and degrading treatment could be applied, that he could be condemned to life in prison or the death penalty”.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced that he had granted political asylum to Mr Assange, who had been holed up at the small, coastal nation’s embassy since June 19. He said Ecuador was taking action because Mr Assange faces a serious threat of unjust prosecution at the hands of US officials.

Mr Patino said there were “serious indications” that the United States could threaten Mr Assange’s “security, integrity and even his life”, a nod to the fears expressed by Mr Assange and others that the Swedish sex case is merely the opening gambit in a Washington-orchestrated plot to make him stand trial in the United States – something disputed by both by Swedish authorities and the women involved.

Meanwhile the Swedish say,

“In a mark of its anger over the asylum ruling, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Ecuador’s ambassador to complain about the decision. The country’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, said in a message posted to Twitter that “our firm legal and constitutional system guarantees the rights of each and every one. We firmly reject any accusations to the contrary.”

I hope that all the millions we send to Ecuador dries up quickly since in the words of their foreign minister USA is apparently incapable of lawful and humane behavior. This despite the fact that Sweden and the women accusing him say that has no bearing. So Ecuador and Assange are calling everyone liars and he Assange is the truthful one. His actions have managed to put the Brits, Swedes and USA all at odds with the Ecuadoreans. All in his pursuit of his 15 minutes of fame. And of course I figure Ecuador is involved mainly so they can thumb their noses at USA, Assange is just the pawn for them.

I have never been able to understand why people go to a country, break the law and then expect special treatment because the laws are different than in their own country. Smart guy like Assange should have known what the sex laws were in Sweden.

Qingu's avatar

@ETpro, “hardly rape”? If you consent to sex and then change your mind when the dude refuses to wear a condom—or if you consent to sex but then you get penetrated while you are SLEEPING—that is still rape. Seriously, what the hell?

And I think it’s absolutely absurd to compare Assange to Galileo. The man posted a bunch of documents that someone else risked his livelihood to acquire on a website.

You also say: “I do know it focused US and world attention at something that reeks like a dead whale.”

Can you be more specific? I actually sat down and read many of the Afghan and Iraq war documents. I can’t think of a single thing I read that “reeked.” I read all of the major newspapers’ summaries of the documents. Assange did not expose a cover-up. He did not expose human rights abuses. The documents revealed little, if anything, about the wars that journalists did not already know about. They did provide many ground-level details and middling insights into the minds of the people writing them (for example, explicit US worries about Pakistan complicity with Taliban, worries about Iraqi-run prison abuses). But the idea that WikiLeaks has acted as some sort of expose of US malfeasance is, as far as I can tell, complete bullshit.

Finally, you are assuming that the Swedes will extradite Assange to the US. AFAIK he hasn’t even been charged in the US. What would he be charged with?

Lightlyseared's avatar

@ETpro the fact of the matter is that Equador have offered political asylum to someone to help them avoid being brought to trial on charges of rape. It is neither my place nor yous,r no matter how self important you feel your opion to be, to decide one way or the other.

Also google partisan before you use next time please.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

First, lets clarify what he is accused of (but has not yet been charged with). Julian Assange had consensual sexual relations with these two women over the course of several months. At some stage after the relationships ended, the women met each other, and expressed uneasiness over his reluctance to use contraception. Their primary concern was the possibility of having STDs. The women met with a law enforcement official to determine their options in compelling Assange to be tested for STDs. This all occurred before they had raised this concern with him. However, the women consented to the sex at the time despite their reservations. At no stage did he force himself on to them. When the law enforcement official heard the story, he determined to question Assange regarding the situation, but one of the women protested that she did not want to press charges. While the women are witnesses, they are not the ones pursuing the case. It is the Swedish public prosecutor that is pursuing the case.

So is he probably guilty of having sex without a condom, but without the women withdrawing consent at any time.

The fact that the Swedish authorities have refused to question Assange in the UK, or in the Ecuadorian embassy, reveals the true motive behind the investigation. Assange is Red Listed by Interpol, and is the first to ever make that list for a sexual misconduct allegation. Despite Sweden’s bleating that this has nothing to do with Wikileaks, their special treatment of the case gives them away.

The simple, obvious fact is that the US is angry that their war crimes have been exposed, and their diplomacy compromised, and therefore they want to demonstrate to the world that they are capable and motivated to destroy anyone for speaking out against their rampant imperialism.

Julian Assange is a true modern hero, but as with every hero he has attracted the attention of a great evil that will, in all likelihood, end up destroying him.

King_Pariah's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh sure, but the TIMING makes no sense. The warrant was reissued roughly 2 months BEFORE those documents surfaced on wikileaks.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@King_Pariah The Collateral Murder video was released in April 2010, which is a full eight months before the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued. The Cablegate document release began in February 2010, which is ten months before the EAW was issued. The timing seems just fine to me.

rooeytoo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh – why do you assume that what asange says is truthful but what these women say is not? Do you know them? Why should Sweden make special arrangements for julian asange, who is he to receive special treatment? Treatment that any other citizen would not receive. Because that is all he is or perhaps one of those 15 minutes of fame type guys. The motives and veracity of GB, Sweden and the USA are all being questioned because of one silly little man who is no hero in my eyes. What did he do or accomplish that makes him a hero?

ETpro's avatar

Sorry to have been away. @FireMadeFlesh thanks fo injecting some factual intofmation into this emotional, partisan debate. @Lightlyseared I am will aware of what partisanship meant. I’m neither condemning not exonerating the man. You are. Maybe you are right, but you haven’t provided proof of that, and you are making charges of serious crimes. You are also ignoring the actual concerns of Ecuador, that Assange may be extradited or moved by extraordinary rendition to a Guantanamo “trial” where information obtained by torture is admissible evidence and there are severe limits on the rights of the accused to even meet with defense attorneys. You are instead trying to claim that the Ecuadorians are intent on defending him from forcible rape when he hasn’t been charged with that and the facts of the case make such a charge absurd. Sounds pretty partisan to me.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@rooeytoo The facts of the case that I stated did not come directly from Assange, and are not disputed by any of the involved parties. No one involved denies that it is not the women bringing the charges, but the public prosecutor. Likewise no one involved denies that issue at hand is the use of a condom to prevent the spread of STDs. Any attempt to characterise the “sexual misconduct” charge as rape or sexual assault is a blatant lie.

What did he do to make him a hero? He was a major player in exposing war crimes, re-introducing transparency to supposedly democratic countries, and promoting awareness of large scale privacy violations. Democracy cannot successfully exist without accountability, and accountability cannot exist without transparency – else governments are not compelled to follow the wishes of the people, because the people are unaware of the actions of the government. Julian Assange gave the world a glimpse of what our elected officials and their staff are doing, and in so doing made them accountable for their actions.

rooeytoo's avatar

It amazes me that one pathetic little man can become a hero with so little effort. And how much information you have that is the opposite of what is available to most. Are you in the secret police?

The women themselves say they are bringing the charges of their own volition, but you choose to call them liars and believe the little man.

Sweden claims they have no arrangements with the USA but you call them liars and believe the little man. GB says the same, they are merely complying with the law.

Based on his last appearance in the window of the embassy and his ramblings on the embassy being attacked by police, I think he has gone even further over the edge.

But let him be treated as anyone else would be, he is nothing special just a pathetic little man looking for his 15 minutes of fame.

Qingu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, “However, the women consented to the sex at the time despite their reservations. At no stage did he force himself on to them.”

If a woman agrees to have sex with you but then you don’t put on a condom… guess what? She can still say no. And if you still have sex with her, it’s still rape.

I mean I understand this is not the same as getting beaten up and raped in an alley by a stranger, but it’s kind of shocking how little value some posters on here are placing on the woman’s consent. Have you ever considered the possibility that, like many so-called “heros,” Assange has some major flaws?

Frankly I think the idea that Assange is a “hero” is absolutely fucking ridiculous. The man posted some shit that others brought him on a website.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@rooeytoo Take a look here for a news source that backs up everything I have said. A large part of what I said came from the story on ABC’s “Four Corners”. Considering this is the same channel that broadcasts “Media Watch”, I dare say they did their research. For those in other countries, these are TV shows on the Australian ABC.

Sweden has repeatedly refused to question Assange in the UK, even before he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy. If he was only wanted for questioning, as they maintain, they would have accepted this offer. Julian Assange has also offered to travel to Sweden by choice to face the allegations, if given a guarantee that he will not be extradited from Sweden to the United States. Again, the authorities have declined. If he was merely wanted for sexual misconduct, any reasonable prosecutor would have accepted both those options. Sweden says they have no arrangements with the US, but they refuse to rule out forming such an arrangement once he is in custody.

@Qingu Sure, a woman (or man) can refuse sex at any time, even during the act if they so wish. But note what I said above – they originally consulted authorities regarding compelling Assange to have an STD test. They did not, at this stage, claim that the sex was anything but consensual. In the days following the alleged incident, one of the women even organised a party for him, and invited him to stay with her again that night. That is not the way a woman behaves towards a man who has sexually assaulted her the night before.

I have never made Assange out to be infallible, nor do I believe him to be. It probably wasn’t a good idea to have ongoing sexual relationships with two women at the same time in the first place. My points are simply that he is being hounded in a manner disproportionate to his alleged crimes, that the women have been inconsistent in their statements regarding the allegations, and the combination of these facts makes it obvious that the case is about more than alleged sexual misconduct.

And if exposing war crimes and privacy violations in the face of the anger of the world’s most powerful superpower does not make a person a hero in your book, I wonder what does?

Qingu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, what is your source for the rape charges? Here is my source; I see nothing about such a party, and in any case neither of the women have actually recanted their charges.


And you know what? You have absolutely no idea what is “normal behavior” for a rape victim.

As for what makes a hero, generally that entails putting your own life at risk. I mean there are actual reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan who document helicopter attacks* against civilians—not to mention the actual Iraqis and Afghans who live with such things—at great risk to their own life. You could even call Bradley Manning a hero; he was a paper pusher but he certainly put himself at great risk and is now suffering the consequences. Assange? He’s a puffed up middleman. I’m sorry, but I find the hero worship of him quite repulsive.

* By the way, you called the “Collateral damage” video a war crime expose. Surely you are aware that the video showed nothing that journalists haven’t already documented in Iraq, right? Surely you are aware that thousands of civilians have died through similarly shoddy ROE by for example Americans shooting them when they don’t slow down at roadblocks? One important difference between the journalists who document these atrocities on the ground and Assange—beyond the fact that they are actually risking their lives and he is not—is that the journalists don’t misleadingly edit their videos to make the atrocities seem worse than they already are.

rooeytoo's avatar

You go @Qingu – I’m tired of it, obviously the definition of a hero has softened. Using this definition makes Brooks and Coulson and their phone tapping heros as well.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Qingu Have you looked at the sources I mentioned in the comment to @rooeytoo? The “Sequence of Events” section states that on the 14th of August Ardin supported Assange at a seminar and organised a crayfish party. Your SMH link also mentions the crayfish party about halfway down the page. I do not think it is necessary to re-state my credentials every time I make a statement on here, but suffice to say I have more of an idea about the psychological effects of rape than you seem to think I do.

The difference between Assange’s work and that of the reporters on the ground, who are incredibly brave and skilled, is that he showed it first hand. Reporters have told us of several attacks on civilians, but it is much more powerful when the source is essentially the perpetrators themselves. If Assange’s work is over-emphasised, and he is a “puffed up middleman”, why are there still US officials calling for his execution?

@rooeytoo Don’t be ridiculous. Brooks and Coulson stole information on people’s private lives for no public benefit at all, while Assange published information that helped change public opinion towards the United States’ illegal wars. Big difference.

rooeytoo's avatar

So in your mind the end justifies the means but only when it is about world events and not brad and angelina? And really there is much public information in Australia that goes against Assange. Citing 4 Corners as the ultimate source of true reporting is pretty funny.

Now he is telling the president of the usa what to do! He is good for a laugh if nothing else.

Qingu's avatar

Was the crayfish party in honor of assange or of wikileaks? I mean it is possible to support an organization and still be upset that the organization’s head raped you.

Why don’t you just spell your conspiracy theory out. Were these women honeypots? Did they make up the allegations entirely? Because they did allege rape. So far you haven’t really offered any counterweight to their story except pointing out the fact that they went to a wikileaks party 3 daus later and oooo the evil empire hates assange.

And you seem confused as to what the helicopter attack in fact showed, and who actually put themselves at material risk by disseminating it. You also continue to assert that wikileaks changed public perception of the wars. It really didn’t. But it’s important to Assange’s hagiography that it did, so… keep on saying it I guess?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@rooeytoo Individuals have a right to privacy. Governments do not. That is the difference between Wikileaks and News of the World.

@Qingu The women concerned have changed their story to a misrepresentation to help justify the Swedish prosecutors’ disproportionate pursuit of him. This is for the purpose of forming a legal basis by which he may be extradited to Sweden. Sweden will then receive an extradition request from the US, who have a grand jury investigating potential espionage charges against Julian Assange. Sweden has a poor record in these matters, having participated in extraordinary rendition during the Bush years. The US will then subject Assange to prosecution without due process as allowed for by the Patriot Act, meanwhile mistreating him in the same way they have Bradley Manning. The reason the US has not made an extradition request of the UK is to avoid creating the perception that the UK does the bidding of the US, as that would weaken the UK’s image abroad.

Can you please explain why, if Assange is an insignificant middle man, there have been so many prominent US figures that have called for his assassination, and why Hillary Clinton was so angry when the cables were first released?

Qingu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, can you support your claim that the women changed their story? I have not seen that.

And just to be clear, are you saying that the women are actively working for the US? Like paid stooges? Were they always spies against Assange or did the US recruit them after the fact (ie after having sex with Assange)? I mean you’ve told me the broad strokes of your conspiracy theory, which is the easy part, but I’m more interested in the mundane details.

As for Assange’s notoriety, I’m not really sure what you’re asking. I mean do you honestly think I value the opinion of the dipshit Republicans calling for his death? I think they’re just as wrong to puff up Assange as a person of outsize importance as you are. Or are you making the argument that someone is a “hero” if a bunch of trogolodyte Republican congressmen want him jailed or killed?

As for Clinton, I imagine she was angry because the cable releases directly fucked over her staff’s privacy and confidentiality and the state department’s entire operation. I mean how would you feel if someone hacked into your work e-mail and posted everything you’ve ever written for all the world to see?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Qingu I don’t have the details, and so have only given broad brush strokes. Any more detail would be wild speculation. The link I posted above states that the women visited the police “by their own account, for the limited purpose of obtaining assistance in compelling Assange to take an HIV test.” Thus the arrest warrant came from the prosecutor, and not on the request of the women. It is possible that their story did not change, but it appears that they did not intend to press charges, since Ms Wilen refused to continue the interview once she was notified that Assange had been arrested in absentia. I would expect if a woman was to talk to police about a sexual assault or rape, it would be about the act itself, and not the possibility of STDs – but that is something I cannot know for certain.

My point about Assange’s notoriety is simply that if he was an insignificant player, there would not be such attention on the case. Its not just Republicans either – Visa and Mastercard continue their blockade on Wikileaks as a direct result of the cable release. If he is an insignificant player, but yet the cable releases “directly fucked over… the state department’s entire operation”, do you then think Clinton misdirected her anger?

If someone hacked into my work email and posted it to the world, I wouldn’t care one bit. Because it is in a work setting, and I don’t work with intellectual property as such, I don’t have the expectation of privacy. A government department should have even less of an expectation of privacy, because they are supposed to be accountable to the entire nation – as opposed to little me who is only accountable to my immediate manager.

Qingu's avatar

You seem incredibly ignorant of how rape victims often engage with police. How rape victims often have no desire to confront their rapists in court. Rape is an incredibly underreported crime, and the process of going to trial is often traumatic for the victim’s and damaging to their reputations.

The kind of speculation you are engaging in, for example, (that the two alleged victims were honeypot whores working for the US to entrap Assange) is exactly why so few women come forward with rape allegations.

If Assange were instead, say, a conservative politician, and two women came forward and said he sexually assaulted them but waffled or refused to press charges, would your default stance be to give “broad brush strokes” about a grand conspiracy by the women to act as honeypots and silence this politician?

And if you honestly don’t believe diplomats have an expectation of privacy in their work, I think you are hopelessly naive. I guess you think that all of government’s foreign policy communications should be put on a public Google Doc? There is a difference between accountability and forcing government workers—who are by the way human beings—to work in Panopticon-like conditions.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I do not recall making a claim about rape victims in general. So far I have only discussed this specific case. I have also not made any accusation about entrapment on the part of the women. Rape victims regularly fear going to the police, and many do not do so for several years following the rape. The fact that they went to the police promptly and directly discussed the incident means that they are atypical (alleged) victims. While discussing the incident with police, stating in detail the act in question, do you not think they would state it was not consensual rather than querying an STD test if that was the case?

I do not believe they are “honeypot whores working for the US to entrap Assange”, and you obviously have a distorted view of what I have written to claim such a thing. The US has manipulated the situation to their advantage after the fact. Regarding the politician, I am not familiar with the case, and cannot determine what my stance would be.

Diplomats work on behalf of the people. They represent their given nation to the rest of the world. If the people do not know what they are doing, how can they ensure they are being properly represented? Democracy cannot function without transparency, or else the electorate winds up voting for the candidate with the most flashy ad campaign, financed by the legalised corruption that is the US lobbying system.

Please recognise that I am not making wild claims along the lines of Todd Akin’s comments about rape victims. I am commenting on the case in a limited sense. My stance would also change completely were the US to openly state that they would not seek Assange’s extradition from Sweden. If such a guarantee were made, there would no longer be any reason to believe that there was some ulterior motive behind the disproportionate manner in which Assange has been pursued.

I would also appreciate a response regarding Assange’s significance.

rooeytoo's avatar

Do you really think Julia tells you everything that happens, or Costello in the embassy in DC reports everything he says and does to you back home or that they should? Transparency in all government sounds so idealistically wonderful but so realistically inefficient.

Qingu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, “The US has manipulated the situation to their advantage after the fact.”

You’ve asserted this, repeatedly, with no evidence. You have yet to show specifically how the US has allegedly manipulated the case. Did the US get in touch with these women and tell them to say Assange raped them? If not, why would they claim such a thing?

“My stance would also change completely were the US to openly state that they would not seek Assange’s extradition from Sweden.”

Great. They did.

“A White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, told reporters on Saturday that the Obama administration considered the standoff a matter for the governments of Britain, Sweden and Ecuador.”

I look forward to you changing your stance.

Ron_C's avatar

Good for Ecuador! It is nice to know that there are still law abiding countries willing to protect the innocent. The U.S. and U.K. trumped up the charges and got Sweden to charge Assange.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says that the charges aren’t an attempt to limit free speech but they are completely wrong. Assange wouldn’t be in this trouble if he hadn’t released the material from Bradley Manning. What we need now is a way for Manning to escape his illegal imprisonment and join Assange in Ecuador.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@rooeytoo No, of course they don’t. They do not, in my opinion, have an obligation to disclose everything they say and do throughout the day, since that would be logistically ridiculous. However when a third party does report their actions as an official, that should not be punished or frowned upon in any way.

@Qingu If Sweden was serious about the sexual misconduct allegations, they would have charged Assange already. They would have interviewed him in London, as they have been invited to do, and as they did for a Swedish national wanted for murder not so long ago. The fact that Sweden is not pursuing this in the manner of a usual case indicates the involvement of more serious issues. I don’t have any privileged information as to how the US has manipulated the situation, but it is quite obvious that Assange is being treated as a special case, and the only candidate motive for this special treatment is his involvement in the release of information the US did not want to be released.

I am aware that the US has repeatedly refused to engage in discussion about their role in the current state of affairs, but they have not at any stage, as far as I am aware, stated that they will not seek extradition from Sweden. Your quote mentions nothing of their future intentions.

rooeytoo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh – so you don’t think there is an obligation for complete disclosure but you do believe that the decision as to what can or cannot be disclosed should be left up to Julian Assange? Assange should make the decision what information may or may not be harmful to national security or safety of military personnel? Wow, he must be one smart dude!

Qingu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, you didn’t answer my question.

Did the alleged rape victims make up their stories? Or not?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@rooeytoo There is no obligation for complete disclosure because that is not the role of diplomats. It is, however, the role of journalists. If publicising information could compromise national security, do you think we are better off compromising governmental accountability? If you can propose a method by which governments would be compelled to act according to the wishes of the people without such a level of disclosure, I’m all ears.

@Qingu No, the stories do not appear to be fabrications. They are being pursued in a manner that is not appropriate to the crime, and they are being misrepresented in the media as if Assange had been charged or that the incident qualifies as rape under Swedish law.

rooeytoo's avatar

So you are saying you would sacrifice national security for what you call governmental accountability? The checks and balances are in place for accountability.

Qingu's avatar

@ragingloli, what do you consider pursuing rape charges in an appropriate manner to be, @FireMadeFlesh?

The charges are sexual molestation and rape under Swedish law. Are you really going to quibble about whether (allegedly) inserting an unprotected penis into a sleeping woman without her consent is “legitimate rape”?

Qingu's avatar

@rooeytoo and @ragingloli, I think the idea that the US (or any other country) should just conduct diplomacy “open-source” for all the world to see is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

I mean, do you actually believe that diplomats can function in such a regime? Or do you just not want the US to have diplomats in the first place?

Qingu's avatar

And @ragingloli, would you sacrifice the security of Afghan civilians mentioned explicitly in some of those war reports for “transparency”?

Many of those reports describe meetings with Afghan civilians. Dates, places, names. Many of these people are targets for assassination by the Taliban and other groups. Many of them have been assassinated.

How does airing this information remotely aid your supposed quest to keep the government accountable?

I guess what pisses me off is the presumption that there is no downside to releasing private information, ever, as long as that private information comes from the government. (Or large corporations). Some information should never be public—irrespective of where this information comes from or who owns it.

ragingloli's avatar


King_Pariah's avatar

At this point, all we can do is wait and see. At the end of this one group will get the rights to go “I told you so!” in the other’s face.

In short, this thread doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere fast.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Qingu – I think the idea of complete transparency is ludicrous except perhaps at the level of small town politics. That is what @FireMadeFlesh seems to think is the way to go, not I!!!!!

What I wonder is why this one little man should have special treatment, why should Sweden question him in UK? Why do people think this??

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@rooeytoo The checks and balances for accountability are not in place. That is why there have been no political repercussions for so many of the irresponsible acts of those who are supposed to represent us. I would compromise national security for the sake of transparency, because security has always been promoted as a reason to compromise civil liberties – just take a look at the Patriot Act for a prominent example.

Sweden should question Assange in the UK, as they would be able to obtain the information they require without posing a risk of international extradition. This would negate Assange’s reason for avoiding questioning. It is not special treatment in any way, as Sweden only last year interviewed a man accused of murder in an international location.

@Qingu The accusations I am aware of do not involve either of the women being asleep at the time of the alleged incident. I have also not used the term “legitimate rape”, nor do I believe such a thing to be possible. I have merely highlighted the highly unusual way in which Assange’s case has been pursued, and the indications that it is about more than the allegations (which may or may not be true). As far as a normal rape investigation, it generally involves the alleged offender being charged within two years of the accusations coming to light, and has never before in history involved an Interpol Red Notice.

Lack of transparency in diplomatic affairs is akin to censorship, because information that would otherwise be used to stimulate political change ends up being buried. I do not trust politicians or bureaucrats to self-regulate.

ETpro's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I’ve stayed out of the way of this running debate I wasn’t party to, but amen to the statement above about checks and balances being a distant memory.

Ron_C's avatar

What really worries me is that everyone is talking about Assange and nobody is looking at Bradley Manning. While Assange is globe trotting; staying away from the Thought Police, Manning is languishing in jail, often in solitary confinement. He has yet to have a trial and the year plus uncertainty is true torture. I voted for Obama but if Manning isn’t tried and released before the election, I will not, in good conscience, vote again for Obama.

rooeytoo's avatar

Manning trial is set for this date. He and Assange make a lovely pair.

Qingu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, you’ve highlighted absolutely nothing unusual about the case. You’ve just spouted conspiracy theories.

Swedish law (like many foreign countries laws) are probably different from the laws that you are used to. They have a different process in terms of the timing of pressing charges against people accused of rape. This article gives a decent explanation on why he is not formally charged but still being sought for extradition (Swedes don’t formally charge until later than other countries).

As for the gory details on the rape allegations, here they are, if you’re interested. (It does indeed say a woman awoke to find him having sex with her, unprotected.) Note that the women have not retracted the allegations. Which means he can, under perfectly normal Swedish law, be extradited to Sweden for questioning and perhaps formal charges.

And you know what? It’s the easiest thing in the world to say you don’t trust politicians. I don’t trust them either. This doesn’t change the fact that the system of diplomacy you are proposing is not possible.

Ron_C's avatar

Thanks @rooeytoo you don’t hear much about Manning in the U.S. but delaying his trial until 2013 is reason enough to abolish all charges and let him go free.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Ron_C – so you advocate a statute of limitations on sex crimes of less than a year, wow, that’s not good news for victims.

ETpro's avatar

@rooeytoo You must be gettin too involved in this debate to even read and respond to what @Ron_C said. Bradley Manning isn’t charged with any sex crime, and he’s been in custody now for well over a year.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ETpro – I meant to comment on a statute of limitations on divulging classified information, that’s not good for the victims either.
Thank you for pointing out the error of my ways.

Ron_C's avatar

@rooeytoo I don’t know what Assange did but I doubt that it was a sex crime. The crime was trumped up as an excuse to put him under lock and key The absolutely worst thing you can do in politics is to tell the truth. He told a lot of truth. If they don’t jail him soon he will eventually have a fatal “accident”. Its the way big government and business works.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Ron_C – according to the women who are accusing him, and the law of Sweden, what he did is a sex crime.

It intrigues me why people decide to believe one person instead of another. You are so willing to believe assange but so eager to call these women liars and pawns.

Ron_C's avatar

@rooeytoo there are too many coincidences to go with the charges and the actions of the U.S. and U.K, in the mean while Bradley Manning is still in solitary confinment with no official charges.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Ron_C – so the women are liars and assange is telling the truth? You know this based on the “facts?”

Ron_C's avatar

@rooeytoo I expect that the women are on someones payroll. The charges are just too convenient.

rooeytoo's avatar

So the women are paid liars and assange would never have sex without a condom?

ETpro's avatar

@rooeytoo If you wish to have a legitimate debate, quit putting words in other people’s mouths. Time and again in this, you have charged others of taking positions they never took. If it is too personal for you to be objective and honest about, perhaps you should just let it go.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ETpro – when one says “I expect that the women are on someone’s payroll” it certainly implies that they are being less than honest. Above that he said, ” I don’t know what Assange did but I doubt that it was a sex crime.” The women who are making the accusation against Assange are indeed stating he did commit, what is a sex crime in Sweden, on them. Again that to me is tantamount to calling the women liars and assange an innocent. No words were put in anyone’s mouth. How do you come to the conclusion that my position is less than objective or honest? And what exactly are you implying by the comment that the issue is “too personal” for me?

Ron_C's avatar

At @ETpro and @rooeytoo I will say unequivocally that I believe Assanges’ accusers are payed or otherwise coerced to bring those charges. It wouldn’t look too good for governments to accuse him of treason because he was not a citizen of he countries that were exposed as liars and manipulators of facts. The best thing is to accuse him of a sex crime because most people assume ,he;s guilty. A perfect cover-up for revenge and possibly live prison. Just like Bradly Manning they just want those people locked away. Revenge trumps justice in all cases of state suppression. .

ETpro's avatar

@rooeytoo So the women are paid liars and assange [sic]would never have sex without a condom? Where did @Ron_C say that “Assange would never have sex without a condom?” The fact that condom or no, both women continued their relationship with Assange after the dastardly deed leads me to wonder if they actually felt a crime had been committed against them. And @Ron_C is spot on when he notes that if the CIA wanted to get Assange, which they most certainly do, trumping up charges of sexual impropriety is the perfect ruse. Most people will react exactly as you have. He will be seen as guilty till proven innocent.

rooeytoo's avatar

Well it is a fact, I will almost always be on the side of the women. Too many millions of times men get away with rape or other sexual abuse because the women “ask for it” or continue a relationship or some such reason. I don’t know if assange is guilty but the fact that he is afraid to go back and confront his accusers and answer questions sure as hell makes him look guilty to me. And if there are consequences to his return to Sweden, then the saying is, don’t do the crime if you are afraid of the result.

Now with regard to @Ron_C – I don’t really think he needs you to defend him but whatever. He did just said again however, addressing both of us, that the accusers are paid or coerced, I think to say that is not calling them liars is simple semantics. But you are like a broken record so I give up. Assange can stay in the Ecudorian embassy til doomsday for all I care, at least it keeps him from committing sex crimes. Now if they can just keep him away from mentally ill soldiers via the internet!

Ron_C's avatar

@rooeytoo look, I have daughters and would never argue that any form of coerced sex is acceptable. All that I am saying is that the CIA and NSA have their own agenda that does not necessarily benefit the U.S, I discouraged one of my daughters from joining the CIA because their methods are almost always unethical and often criminal. It takes no stretch of the imagination that they quickly found a couple girls to accuse Assange of a sex crime. Any other crime requires a court hearing before people believe that the accused is guilty. With sex crime people mostly assume the accused is guilty way before it goes to trial. What is surprising is that the charges are so mild. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was accused of attacking little boys or teenagers. I guess that would take too much trouble to trump up. Besides being a corrupt organization the CIA is mostly lazy

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

’ h g ” ”

Been following Assange closely for a few years now as I find him very, very interesting. This type of thing doesn’t seem to be consistent with his character profile. Just an opinion. I’ve read a lot about him, read various histories on him, followed is career. Notably, his stay in Iceland last year comes to mind. He was working closely with women while he was there and they wrote that he was quiet, very reserved, business-like, worked long hours—which is consistent with other’s reports about him. There is nothing in his background that would suggest lecherous behaviour and a person usually doesn’t just become a letch overnight—by middle age, they usually have a history. His mom thought a lot of him and, in turn, he was good to her (I mention this only because over half the population, namely women, seem to put an enormous amount of weight on this character trait.). It’s no secret that certain elements in the US government would love to have a heart to heart conversation with him after he dumped all that data on the net about eighteen months ago. As a matter of fact they have let it be known quite publicly that they are pissed off. And the “honeypot” arrangement is an ancient and effective scheme in spy-craft. I lean toward his innocence in this case and the strong possibility that the women were coached or themselves duped.

Would anybody here know why my very clean, nearly new laptop keyboard is quitting on me one letter at a time? Christ, I had to cut and paste my ’, h, g, and ” to make this readable. What a PIA.

Ron_C's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus excellent answer!

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@Ron_C Tanks. Nice seein you and @ETpro aain.

ETpro's avatar

Glad to see your sane and informed voice back here, @Espiritus_Corvus

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Qingu I have not spouted conspiracy theories. I have merely made suppositions based on the unusual nature of the case. These suppositions may or may not be true, but the questions raised by the international handling of the case cannot be ignored. You have merely projected your “everyone who disagrees with me must by default be an idiot” attitude on to me. For example:

“And just to be clear, are you saying that the women are actively working for the US? Like paid stooges?”
“The two alleged victims were honeypot whores working for the US to entrap Assange”
“Are you really going to quibble about whether (allegedly) inserting an unprotected penis into a sleeping woman without her consent is “legitimate rape”?”

Since it appears this discussion no longer resembles a constructive discourse between intelligent individuals, here is my stance as clearly as I can phrase it:

Julian Assange has been accused of sexual assault in Sweden. These charges may or may not be true, and their truth or lack thereof is a matter for the Swedish courts. He is, however, entitled to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty in court. Sweden and the United States refuse to provide guarantees that Assange will not face legal proceedings over his whistleblower activities. Such guarantees are necessary for a fair legal assessment regarding the sexual assault charges, in order to dispel concerns over the politically motivated nature of the case. These concerns have been judged as legitimate by Ecuador, which has risked a diplomatic backlash to offer Assange asylum. Assange has vowed multiple times to face the charges in Sweden of his own free will if extradition to the United States is definitively ruled out. In the absence of such guarantees, concerns of legal proceedings relating to the activities of Wikileaks remain legitimate, and any trial will be coloured by political dynamics. Assange should answer the allegations that have been brought against him, but only if he can be assured of fair treatment under the law.

As for the practicality of transparent diplomacy, I believe that is now a separate discussion for a separate thread.

Qingu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, both you and @Ron_C have, in fact, spouted conspiracy theories. You keep on trying to tap-dance around it, but Ron C has come out and said explicitly that Assange’s alleged victims are on the CIA’s payroll. That’s a conspiracy theory. It’s not quite as stupid as “9/11 was an inside job,” but it’s offered with zero evidence or logical consistency.

Your stance, FireMadeFlesh, is more subtle. You won’t say one way or the other if Assange is guilty (great, neither will I). But you will say that Assange is justified to avoid facing trial in Sweden. Why? Because the US will try to extradite him. Why? Because they haven’t explicitly said they won’t extradite him. Note that he hasn’t been charged with a crime to be extradited, but I guess that doesn’t make a difference.

Can you tell us what action by the US government would be sufficient, in your view, to indicate “fair treatment” and “definitively rule out” extradition? I’ve already pointed out an explicit statement by the Obama administration that they view Assange as a matter between GB, Ecaudor, and Sweden—you’ve said that doesn’t go far enough. What would?

If you are able to answer this question specifically and reasonably, I am honestly willing to agree to disagree amicably and leave it at that. But I have a suspicion that nothing will be sufficient for you. After all, even if Barack Obama himself says he won’t seek to extradite Assange, he could be lying. It could all be part of the conspiracy. I hope this isn’t how you think, since obviously we see eye to eye on many other matters and in general I like the cut of your jib.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Qingu To some extent you are correct, in that I have a huge amount of distrust for the US governmental and bureaucratic systems. While Assange has not yet been charged, the Grand Jury investigating whether he may be charged is, to my knowledge, ongoing. This is removed from the threat of punitive action by many degrees, but I believe the threat is still quite real. The US does not have a record of responding kindly when their dirty laundry is exposed.

The US has stated multiple times that the situation is between Britain, Sweden and Ecuador, however to my knowledge that has only been in the limited sense of his sexual assault allegations, in isolation from his activities as a whistleblower/activist. I do not expect the US to say that Assange’s activities with Wikileaks were blameless, but it would be enough for them to state that no charges would be filed against Assange with regard to the cable releases and related material. The Grand Jury should also be disbanded, or at least no action taken on its verdict.

I don’t think Obama is lying, I just think he is speaking only with regard to Sweden’s allegations. Since there is no conclusive decision whether or not to charge Assange in the US, I don’t think US officials’ (including Obama’s) comments can be interpreted with regard to the cable releases.

I have not read @Ron_C‘s posts, so I will not comment there.

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