The Cable Guy Julian Assange Becomes US's Public Enemy No. 1
Part 3: Parallel Affairs in Stockholm
The Stockholm affair began in mid-August with an event held by an organization tied to the Swedish Social Democrats. Anna A., the organization's spokeswoman, had invited Assange, who stayed at her apartment in Stockholm. It is undisputed that Assange and Anna A. had sex with each other on the evening before the event.
The next day, Assange gave a talk about the preceding Afghanistan leaks at the headquarters of the Swedish trade union association. A young artist from a town near Stockholm named Sofia W., who had obtained accreditation for the event as a photographer and worshipped Assange, was in the audience. It is also undisputed that Assange and Sofia W. had sex that night and again the following morning, before Assange disappeared.
A short time later, the two women found out about the parallel affairs, discussed their experiences and decided to go to the police together. Anna A. later went on record as saying that she had only intended to accompany the younger Sofia as a witness. Assange, she said, was not violent but had a strange attitude toward women and refused to accept "no" for an answer.
Arguments over Condoms
The statements by the two women marked the beginning of a case rarely seen in Swedish legal history. The public prosecutor assigned to the case applied for an arrest warrant on charges that included rape. She also confirmed the name of the accused when asked by the tabloid newspaper Expressen. Within less than 24 hours, the public prosecutor's office withdrew the arrest warrant and the rape charge, but not a charge of sexual harassment.
Weeks later, the attorney for the two women managed to convince the prosecution to reopen its investigation of the rape allegation. A new arrest warrant was issued in November and the Swedes began the search for Assange. But the European arrest warrant contained a technical error. A revised version now exists.
It is now up to the courts to determine what exactly happened in those two nights. Both women testified that they initially had consensual sex with Assange. But they claim that this changed later on, when arguments erupted over the use of condoms.
Swedish legal practice in relation to sex offenses is more rigid than German practice. Under the Swedish criminal code, a person who threatens to perform sexual acts is to be convicted of rape and sentenced to a minimum of two years and a maximum of six years in prison. Moderately severe cases are punishable with up to four years in prison.
What is questionable, however, is the approach taken by the Swedish investigating authorities. Assange made himself available for questioning in Sweden for four weeks, then left the country with the permission of the public prosecutor's office and told Scotland Yard in Great Britain that he could be reached through her law firm, says Jennifer Robinson, Assange's attorney. He also offered to be questioned at the Swedish Embassy in London or directly at Scotland Yard, she said.
Speaking ahead of Assange's arrest on Tuesday, Robinson denied the rumors that her client had disappeared and was on the run. Because of the latest death threats after the publication of the embassy cables, Assange, Robinson said, was merely keeping himself "in the background." The Swedish prosecutor assigned to the case was unavailable for comment. Robinson had already announced that she would take action against the arrest warrant and a possible extradition.
The publication of the diplomatic cables is Assange's biggest leak by far -- and one that gives even him food for thought. "The effects are at such a scale, it eclipses our ability to survey them," he said.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
- Part 1: Julian Assange Becomes US's Public Enemy No. 1
- Part 2: A Battle for the Internet
- Part 3: Parallel Affairs in Stockholm