12 Days Remaining

Saturday 20th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

SWEDISH prosecutor Marianne Ny’s decision to drop her investigation of the rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange without consulting or informing his accuser beggars belief.

The accuser maintains that Assange had unprotected sex with her when she was asleep after she had made having sex with him conditional on wearing a condom.

This is a serious accusation and she has the right to have it judged in court.

The allegation by her lawyer Elisabeth Fritz that Assange has deliberately obstructed the judicial process because he was “afraid” neglects to acknowledge that Assange’s fear is not confined to being found guilty of rape.

His major concern is that, if he goes to Sweden for trial, he will be extradited to the US for his role in publicising classified documents provided by US soldier Chelsea Manning.

These revealed facts that the Pentagon and its political superiors preferred to keep hidden — a video of US troops slaughtering 18 people from a helicopter in Iraq, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq and countless diplomatic cables.

Successive US administrations have pronounced Assange guilty and confirmed that a trial there would be a charade after which he would be banged up for eternity.

No-one would willingly place himself in such a position, so it was understandable that Assange declined to fly to Sweden to answer the rape charge against him without a guarantee of non-extradition to the US.

His decision to jump bail and seek political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012 also makes sense given the probability that the British government would accede to an extradition request from Washington.

Ny’s announcement does not assist the woman seeking redress over her accusation of rape and it also does no favour to Assange whose position is largely unchanged.

Dropping the investigation does not confer innocence on him, despite his lawyer Per Samuelson’s claim that the decision was taken because the prosecutor had concluded that the case amounted simply to “consensual sex between two adults.”

That is precisely what the complainant disputes and why her lawyer describes Ny’s ruling as a “scandal.” Ny has already said that she will swiftly reinstate the case if Assange returns to Sweden.

Nor does suspension of the investigation enable Assange to regain his freedom, since, if he walks out of the embassy, he will be arrested on a charge of failing to surrender his bail five years ago.

Having absconded once, the likelihood would be that he will be held in custody and the US authorities would waste no time in demanding that his transfer to their jurisdiction to face trial on national security charges.

So Assange’s seven-year nightmare continues as he remains isolated from his family and friends, while the woman who accused him of rape is denied her right to justice.

Ny’s play-acting in Stockholm shows that she is less concerned with the woman’s right to her day in court than with continuing a low-intensity propaganda war against Assange.

Now that Sweden’s director of public prosecutions has washed her hands of the case, the ball is back in the court of the British government and judiciary, which could swiftly cut through the legal knots that have held back this case, announce that there will be no extradition of Assange to the US, get the Swedes to take a similar stance and there would then be no legal impediment to this long overdue case being heard.