- Reprinted with permission from Washington's Blog
Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for "sex crimes".
Everyone assumed it was for rape.
But it turns out it was for violating an obscure Swedish law against having sex without a condom.
As Newsweek wrote in August:
A Swedish lawyer representing two women whose allegations triggered a sexual-misconduct investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has given [Newsweek column] Declassified the first on-the-record confirmation of the allegations that led to the issuance—and then rapid cancellation—of a warrant on a rape charge and to a parallel investigation into alleged “molestation." Claes Borgstrom of the Stockholm law firm Borgstrom and Bostrom, who is representing two women who said they had sexual relationships with Assange, said his clients complained to the police of Assange's reluctance to use condoms and unwillingness to be tested for sexually transmitted disease.
Borgstrom said that specific details about the the allegations had not yet appeared in Swedish media. But he acknowledged that the principal concern the women had about Assange’s behavior—which they reported to police in person—related to his lack of interest in using condoms and his refusal to undergo testing, at the women’s request, for sexually transmitted disease. A detailed, chronological account of the women’s alleged encounters with Assange—which in both cases began with consensual sexual contact but later included what the women claimed was nonconsensual sex, in which Assange didn’t use a condom—was published on Tuesday by The Guardian; aDeclassified item included a more explicit reference than The Guardian to Assange’s declining to submit to medical tests.
Similarly, the Daily Mail reported in August:
'When they got back they had sexual relations, but there was a problem with the condom - it had split.
'She seemed to think that he had done this deliberately but he insisted that it was an accident.’
Whatever her views about the incident, she appeared relaxed and untroubled at the seminar the next day where Assange met Woman B, another pretty blonde, also in her 20s, but younger than Woman A.***
The [second] woman admitted trying to engage her hero in conversation.
Assange seemed pleased to have such an ardent admirer fawning over him and, she said, would look at her ‘now and then’. Eventually he took a closer interest.***
What he did not tell her was that the party was being hosted by the woman he had slept with two nights before and whose bed he would probably be sleeping in that night.***
‘The passion and attraction seemed to have disappeared,’ she said.
Most of what then followed has been blacked out in her statement, except for: ‘It felt boring and like an everyday thing.’
One source close to the investigation said the woman had insisted he wear a condom, but the following morning he made love to her without one.This was the basis for the rape charge. But after the event she seemed unruffled enough to go out to buy food for his breakfast.
Today, a former attorney for Assange - James D. Catlin - has confirmed that the charges are for having sex without using a condom. He notes that:
The consent of both women to sex with Assange has been confirmed by prosecutors.
He also accuses the prosecutors of "making it up as they go along", and said that Sweden's justice system is destined to become "the laughingstock of the world" for pursuing the case against Assange.
And Assange's current London attorney - Mark Stephens - told AOL news that he doesn't even know what the charges against Assange are, but that they are not rape:
Stephens, told AOL News today that Swedish prosecutors told him that Assange is wanted not for allegations of rape, as previously reported, but for something called "sex by surprise," which he said involves a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715.
"We don't even know what 'sex by surprise' even means, and they haven't told us," Stephens said, just hours after Sweden's Supreme Court rejected Assange's bid to prevent an arrest order from being issued against him on allegations of sex crimes.
"Whatever 'sex by surprise' is, it's only a offense in Sweden -- not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza," Stephens said. "I feel as if I'm in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls. The prosecutor has not asked to see Julian, never asked to interview him, and he hasn't been charged with anything. He's been told he's wanted for questioning, but he doesn't know the nature of the allegations against him."
The strange tale of Assange's brief flings with two Swedish women during a three-day period in mid-August -- and decisions by three different prosecutors to first dismiss rape allegations made by the women and then re-open the case -- has more twists, turns and conspiracy theories than any of [Swedish novelist] Stieg Larsson's best-sellers.
So Assange might be a cad for sleeping with 2 women within a couple of days, and he might be irresponsible for having sex without a condom and then failing to submit to HIV tests afterwards.
But he has not been accused of rape under any traditional meaning of that term.
Of course, this wouldn't be so surreal if the Department of Justice hadn't launched acriminal probe of Wiklileaks, Assange didn't face potential espionage charges, representative Peter King wasn't asking that Wikileaks be designated a foreign terrorist organization like Al Qaeda, and some people hadn't called for Assange'sassassination (and see this, this and this).
Indeed, Reuters provides some bizarre details courtesy of Assange's current lawyer:
Tuesday, international police agency Interpol said it had issued a "red notice" which allows arrest warrants issued by national police authorities to be circulated to other countries to facilitate arrests and help possible extradition.
"There is no arrest warrant against him. There was an Interpol red notice, which is not a warrant, alerting authorities to monitor his movements," Stephens told Reuters.
"We are in this position where we have never been told what the allegations are against him, we do know that he hasn't been charged, we do know that he has only been asked for as a witness," he said.
"We know that ... the offence is one of 'sex by surprise', which is not an offence known in England. He has not been given the evidence against him."Stephens said Assange was willing to meet Swedish prosecutors but they did not want to meet him.
"We are in a very, very surreal situation at the moment it's like a Swedish fairytale."