WikiLeaks founder’s woes over sex in Sweden
Assange’s defenders say women’s allegations are a honeytrap
ENKOPING, Sweden: A winter morning in backwoods Scandinavia and the chime of a church bell drifts across this town. Does it also toll for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange?
Today, this small industrial centre is best-known as the birthplace of the adjustable spanner.
But if extradition from Britain is allowed by the court, it could soon be rather more celebrated as the place where Assange made a catastrophic error.
Here, in a dreary apartment block, the mastermind behind the leaking of more than 250 000 classified US diplomatic documents slept with a female admirer. She subsequently made a complaint to police.
As a result, Assange, who is in British custody after being denied bail following the police’s response to an international arrest warrant, now faces an extradition hearing on Monday.
He could be deported to Sweden for police questioning regarding the possible rape of the woman and separate allegations from another Swedish admirer.
But there is a huge question mark over the evidence. Many people believe the Australian-born whistleblower is the victim of a dirty tricks campaign.
They argue the whole squalid affair is a honeytrap.
The story began on August 11, when Assange, 39, arrived in Stockholm. He was to speak at a seminar on “war and the role of the media”. His point of contact was a woman whom we shall refer to as Sarah (her identity must be protected because of the legal proceedings).
An attractive blonde, Sarah was a well-known radical feminist.
Sarah and Assange had never met. But in a series of internet and telephone conversations, they agreed that during his visit he could stay at her apartment in Stockholm.
What happened over the next few days suggests that even if the WikiLeaks founder is innocent of any charges, he is certainly a man of strong sexual appetites.
They went out for dinner and returned to her flat for sex, during which the condom broke.
However, the pair continued to be friendly and the next day Sarah even threw a party for him.
That same day, Assange attended his seminar at the Swedish trade union HQ. In the front row was a pretty 20-something whom we shall call Jessica. She was the woman from Enkoping.
It is believed Jessica also met Sarah. After the meeting, she hung around and was still there when Assange left with friends for lunch. She joined them. Subsequently, one of Assange’s friends recalled, Jessica had been “very keen” to get Assange’s attention.
The attraction was mutual. After lunch, the pair saw a film. Jessica’s account suggests that they were “intimate”. But he had to leave to go to a “crayfish party”, a usually boozy, Swedish summer event.
They parted and he took a taxi back to Sarah’s flat for the party. You might think it strange that Sarah would throw a party for the man about whom she would later make a complaint to police.
This is only one of several puzzling flaws in the prosecution case.
A few hours after that party, Sarah apparently Tweeted: “Sitting outside… nearly freezing, with the world’s coolest people. It’s pretty amazing!” She later tried to erase this message.
During the party, Assange apparently phoned Jessica and a few hours later she boasted to friends about her flirtation with him.
On the Monday, Jessica called Assange and they arranged to meet in Stockholm. They agreed to go to her home, but he had no money for a train ticket. So Jessica bought both their tickets.
She had snagged perhaps the world’s most famous activist, and after they arrived at her apartment they had sex.
According to her testimony, Assange wore a condom. The next morning they made love again. This time he used no protection. Jessica reportedly said later she was upset he had refused when she asked him to wear a condom.
The following morning, the pair amicably went out to have breakfast together. He returned to Stockholm, and Jessica again paid for his ticket.
What happened next is difficult to explain. The probable interpretation of events is that as a result of a onenight stand, one participant came to regret what had happened.
Jessica was worried she could have caught a sexual disease, or even be pregnant. She phoned Sarah and apparently confided to her that she’d had unprotected sex with him.
At that point, Sarah said that she, too, had slept with him. Sarah then reportedly phoned an acquaintance of Assange and said she wanted him to leave her apartment.
A few days later, Sarah and Jessica went together to a police station and Jessica lodged a complaint against Assange.
According to one source, Jessica wanted to know if it was possible to force Assange to undergo an HIV test. Sarah also gave police an account of what had happened between herself and Assange, alleging he had “deliberately” broken the condom.
The female interviewing officer concluded both women were victims: that Jessica had been raped, and Sarah a victim of molestation.
A duty prosecuting attorney, Maria Kjellstrand, was called. She agreed that Assange should be sought on suspicion of rape.
The following day, Sarah was questioned again. Detectives tried to find him in Stockholm – but to no avail.
By Sunday, the news had leaked to the press.
The authorities realised they had a high-profile case on their hands and legal papers were rushed to the home of the chief prosecutor, who dismissed the rape charge.
She felt it was just a minor offence. But the case was now starting to spin out of control.
Rejecting accusations of an international plot to trap Assange, Sarah said: “The accusations were not set up by the Pentagon or anybody else. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man with a twisted view of women, who has a problem accepting the word ‘no’.”
The two women then instructed Claes Borgstrom, a so-called “gender lawyer” who is a leading supporter of a campaign to extend the legal definition of rape. As a result, in September the case was reopened by the authorities, and last month Interpol said Assange was wanted for “sex crimes”.
Yesterday, his lawyer Mark Stephens said the Swedish warrant was a “political stunt” and that he would fight it on the grounds that it could lead to the WikiLeaks founder being handed over to the American authorities. Sweden has an extradition treaty with the US.
Assange continues to insist that he has done nothing wrong, and that his sexual encounters with both women were consensual.
Clearly, he is responsible for an avalanche of political leaks. Whether he is also guilty of sexual offences remains to be seen.
But the more one learns about the case, the more one feels that, unlike the bell in Enkoping, the allegations simply don’t ring true. – Daily Mail
Sarah gave police her account of what went on, alleging Assange had deliberately broken the condom
GO FIGURE: A figurine of Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website in Naples this week.
FOUR SEX CHARGES FILED: Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.