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The story's the leak, not the contents.
LONDON (Rixstep) — In a move timed to coincide with the bail hearings for Julian Assange in the city, someone in Sweden leaked the 'new' version of the accusations against the WikiLeaks leader to BFFs at the Guardian.
The task of actually translating (?) the documents went to veteran reporter Nick Davies who is rumoured to have had a falling out (for unknown reasons) with Assange. The work was of course supervised by editor Alan Rusbridger who's been nothing but laudatory of Assange and WikiLeaks for years.
The Davies article adds little of substance to previous stories but was nevertheless received as a bombshell. On second read it's not as bad as the first time around but it still leaves one wondering - not so much about the character of Julian Assange as about what's going on behind the scenes and what Assange's good friends are up to - and just how good friends they are.
'Documents seen by the Guardian reveal for the first time the full details of the allegations of rape and sexual assault that led to extradition hearings against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange', wrote Nick Davies last Friday. But that's not entirely true as documents - including Assange's own testimony - have been leaking all over the place for four months.
But what Davies worked on is at least the current version. The first version was dismissed by chief prosecutor Eva Finné on 21 August - four months ago today. And it wasn't until politician Claes Borgström got involved some days later that there was talk of pulling rank on Finné and reopening the tin of worms.
This is something Rusbridger and Davies - experienced journalists both - seem to have missed.
The original case against Assange began when at 17:00 Friday 20 August prosecutor on duty Maria Kjellstrand issued an in absentia arrest warrant for Assange even before any formal testimony had been received, much less read and reviewed.
This became a matter of huge embarrassment for the Swedish prosecutor's office. Their spokesperson Karin Rosander was interviewed live on Al Jazeera the following day and made an utter fool of herself. She was of course trying to sidestep the fact the first prosecutor Maria Kjellstrand hadn't seen anything at all and the immediate reaction of the first prosecutor (Eva Finné) when looking at the file was 'no case here'. But how could Karin Rosander admit such a stupid thing to the world media? In a way she still did - and the reaction of the reporter and the studio crew told its own tale.
The Assange case was dismissed eight minutes short of 24 hours after it had begun. Only a few hours before that, Anna Ardin had been interviewed on the telephone by a new police interrogator, had her testimony read back to her, approved it, and hung up believing everything was hunky-dory in her twisted world. The day before, she and Sofia Wilén put the final part of the plan into action: they contacted the tabloid Expressen to make sure Julian Assange's name was smeared good and proper.
But that was the first case. And that first case didn't survive too well - eight minutes short of 24 hours and it was all over.
Five o'clock on a Saturday night and all one's plans for revenge failing utterly. Talk about frustration! What to do? A sucky Saturday to say the least. But the following day Ardin contacts her crony Claes Borgström.
Claes Borgström is a story unto himself. A politician with a law degree rather than a practicing lawyer - a disgraceful lawyer the few times he's dared practice - Borgström's in like Flynn with the Social Democrats. He got his big start back in 1995 when he was called in as public defender for the disgraced Social Democrat Mona Sahlin who got caught using her government credit cards for her personal expenses (including satisfying her never-ending lust for Toblerone chocolate bars).
Sahlin got off lightly - politicians always help each other - but had to disappear from the limelight for a while (until Persson brought her back a few years ago) and the name Borgström was never again forgotten. Borgström became the Swedish equality ombudsman and the Social Democrats' jack of all trades lapdog.
Known around town as one who still hasn't understood it's the bottle letting him down, Borgström's made a career out of saying all the wild and crazy things the new generation of Swedish ultrafeminists so love to hear. Such as Swedish men treat their women worse than the Taliban, all Swedish men should pay an extra tax because of the plight of poor Swedish women (but never the other way around despite myriad documented cases of women physically abusing men). Blah blah - same old same old. Such as the world would not be in a recession today if societies were all matriarchies instead.
And so forth. It's a good career.
Borgström also made a fortune as the public defender in absentia for Thomas Quick. Borgström did nothing for his client in seven years. He talked to him briefly before court dates, chitchatting about family life, the weather. But nothing about the case. He was supposed to defend his client but he never bothered - and most likely wouldn't have known how to anyway.
Thomas Quick was convicted of eight murders with no forensic evidence and no witnesses and Quick himself sometimes needing a half year or more to get his story right. Quick's a mythomaniac who panicked when told he was to be released from that 'home sweet home' mental institution of his - so he made it all up so they'd keep him where he was.
Quick's first public defender quit in protest after two years because he was not allowed to question the methods of the prosecutor and interrogators, not allowed to actually defend his client. Call in the next public defender - Claes Borgström who absolutely is not going to make waves and try to defend a client. Oh no.
Yet nearly ten years later and the corruption is unraveling and Eva Finné is unraveling it.
So Ardin contacts Borgström. This is an excellent opportunity for Borgström to get back at Finné. But he needs leverage. Fortunately he's got it: his buddy, business partner, and fellow politician Thomas Bodström - also a member of Ardin's freako 'brotherhood movement' - is the one who gave a far out ultrafeminist prosecutor a new job. She's on the west coast and not in Stockholm. But she could theoretically pull rank on Finné and reopen that case that Finné's already closed.
That prosecutor is of course Marianne Ny.
Yet days before Ny gets involved, Borgström is already in the media, boasting he knows things about the case the police and prosecutors don't know. How could he possibly claim that? There's only one possibility: Anna Ardin who either had additional data to give the police that conveniently and inexplicably and indefensibly slipped her mind at the time, or who in the short 2 day interim had thought through her 'story' and figured out how to 'improve' it so the charges would 'stick'.
For a great number of the 'sordid details' in the story leaked to Davies and the Guardian are not in the original report reviewed (and dismissed) by Eva Finné.
Finné interrogated Assange once only - on a suspicion of a lesser charge related to Anna Ardin. All else had already been discarded. Shortly afterward, Finné also dismissed this final charge. The case was closed, the tabloid melodrama was over, the damage to Assange might gradually subside. Then Ardin went back to work.
And what holds for Anna Ardin holds in spades for Sofia Wilén. Her charges were summarily dismissed by Eva Finné with no further inquiry. She'd sought out Assange with the greatest enterprise, seduced him, had sex with him twice - once without a condom. Finné didn't accuse Wilén of lying - she simply said no crime had been committed. Case closed.
But as with Ardin, the Wilén story would undergo significant enhancement now that Claes Borgström had been hired on as special counselor. For neither the charges nor the stories from this 'revision B' of testimony match what's found in the original police protocol. And so you either believe those two girls approved testimony which still lacked the most salient and damning parts or you fully understand they're still making things up. But this time as clients of Sweden's clumsiest lawyer in history.
The Davies documents are from the second batch. It's instructive to go through the little Davies and Rusbridger are willing to share and see how many times the new 'testimony' embarrassingly clashes with the old.
Guardian editor Rusbridger claims Davies translated the documents himself. 'Unredacted statements held by prosecutors in Stockholm, along with interviews with some of the central characters, shed fresh light on the hotly disputed sequence of events that has become the centre of a global storm', writes Davies.
Davies goes on to qualify the character of the documents leaked to him.
'[Mark Stephens] maintains other potentially exculpatory evidence has not been made available to his team and may not have been seen by the Guardian.'
This rings true: Assange's Swedish counsel has now stated - and not just once - that documents Marianne Ny will not let him bring to the UK make it plain the two girls set Julian Assange up and further gave the initial story to the tabloid Expressen.
Given Hurtig's claims, it matters little if a new version of the charges seems more serious than the first - something Davies and Rusbridger should have considered before publishing: it's still a smear campaign.
Julian arrives in Stockholm 11 August. Anna Ardin has invited him and offered him a place to stay. He's to speak on Saturday 14 August. He can stay at Ardin's flat as she'll be gone until Saturday visiting relatives on the island of Gotland. No info where Julian was supposed to stay after that. But arrangements had been made for him to use her flat for the remainder of the week.
Ardin returns a day early. This isn't disputed. Julian is of course surprised by her homecoming. It's likely late in the day and he wouldn't have known quite what to do. Ardin must have in some way explained why she had to return, made her apologies, and so forth. They do manage to go out to get a bit to eat together, chat a bit more, drink a glass of wine or two.
Ardin's first story was they had sex and the condom broke and she hysterically accused Julian of breaking the condom on purpose? That was the beginning and end of Ardin's story - the story reviewed by chief prosecutor Eva Finné who dismissed the charges.
But now Ardin's second 'embellished' story is sent to Davies. This new version contains any number of classic gems. They might or might not be as Davies translates them. But Davies isn't doing the 'WikiLeaks' thing here and letting his readership see the actual source documents. All people have to go by is what Davies claims he found in them.
- 'Miss A then realised he was trying to have unprotected sex with her.' Discovery of the century.
- 'She tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs.' This sounds serious - so serious in fact that it's impossible Ardin would have left this out of her original testimony, her interrogator wouldn't have made special note of it, Ardin wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't read back to her at the end of the official phone interview, and Finné would have dismissed matters so summarily.
- 'The statement records Miss A describing how Assange then released her arms and agreed to use a condom.' Ah well yes. So a bit of clumsy monkey business between the sheets but when put to it, Assange isn't a rapist, he lets her grab the condom. Nothing here folks, move along - except this too is new.
- 'At some stage Assange had done something with the condom that resulted in it becoming ripped, and ejaculated without withdrawing.' Julian can do many things, hack like few others, he's the ultimate social engineer that makes Kevin Mitnick look like a noob - but breaking a condom? Why? To have a child with - Anna Ardin? Oh heavens - please stop it. [Note: Ardin actually recovered the condom (true) and sent it to a criminal lab - but just how she or anyone else intends to prove who broke it and if it was done deliberately - maybe you don't have to do that in Sweden: maybe it's enough to be a poor innocent female victim and point a finger.]
And so forth. Wilén's testimony changes slightly to make her look less suspect: now she goes out and buys brekkers before she has sex with Assange, not after. This is probably supposed to make her look less the liar too.
Other than that, there's not much in this new version of the complaints. But there's enough to give Marianne Ny something to work with - further details neither Ardin nor Wilén would have allowed to be omitted from their initial stories. These details are added later after finding their first complaint is dismissed, after contacting Claes Borgström.
The 'Harold' mentioned time and again is probably Johann Wahlström (or 'Johannes' as he fancies himself). Wahlström lives near the Zinkensdamm subway station where Wilén took Assange on his way to the Saturday crayfish party.
Wahlström was consulted for the recent SVT documentary on WikiLeaks but he's also known for being a bit of a mythomaniac and was already sacked from one journalistic job for making things up and putting words in people's mouths.
'Harold' claimed to be acquainted with both girls - quite the feat as they didn't know each other. Testimony given by 'Harold' - it doesn't change the new story anyway - isn't worth much now and is worse even less later on.
At the end of the day (and this after mucking about with a closed case for four months) is a charge of intentionally ripping a condom (for who knows what unbelievable reason) and initiating sex whilst both parties were still drowsy and not starting with a condom. That's it. No broken bones, bloodshed, bruises or scratches. So much for Julian Assange as a serial rapist.
While there is little newsworthy in the contents of the Davies documents, there's a lot newsworthy about their arrival, their destination, and their timing.
Someone was miffed Julian Assange might not keep his Oscar Wilde cell for the next few weeks/months: someone with a bent agenda. The nature of the arrival of the documents, the fact that crucial parts of the documents were deliberately withheld, and the embarrassing lack of consistency with the original documents: these are things Davies and Rusbridger should have checked before publishing - that is if they're to continue calling themselves journalists.
Industry Watch: 7th December
Industry Watch: Assange Arrested Again
Industry Watch: Nick Davies' Deep Throat
Industry Watch: Assange Update 2010-12-02
Industry Watch: Julian Assange & Anders Perklev
Industry Watch: A Simple Swedish Factoid Collection
Industry Watch: Assange: Aftonbladet's 'Inside Story'
Industry Watch: Assange: Intercepted SMS Traffic Exposes Setup
Industry Watch: Assange Case: Evidence Destroyed Over and Over Again
Industry Watch: US Govt Already Pressuring Sweden on Assange Extradition
Industry Watch: Assange Case: Ny Knows the Girls Made it Up but Doesn't Care
Red Hat Diaries: Bodström Gone
Red Hat Diaries: Borgström & Quick
Red Hat Diaries: Julian Assange & Claes Borgström
Red Hat Diaries: How to Rape Julian Assange Twice
Red Hat Diaries: Assange/WikiLeaks: The Betrayal of Sweden's Cultural Elite
Red Hat Diaries: Assange: Decisions Can Wait (Saving Face and Saving Careers)
The Technological: Borgström: 'I Know Things Too!!1!'