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More About the Condom
'It's bullshit - it's all bullshit.'
Julian Assange spoke a while back at UC Berkeley about his original vision for WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks would be a mere conduit and purveyor of 'raw data'; the media and above all the blogosphere would analyse the data and write about it. This didn't happen. 'It's bullshit. It's all bullshit', quipped Julian Assange.
The media don't like writing about things. Not unless the table's been set for them and someone's on hand to spoon-feed them. The translation of the Swedish police documents has been available for almost five months and the silence from the media is deafening. As Olle Andersson commented: 'you can hear the sound of all the chairs being pushed back as those brave journos excuse themselves to go to the bathroom'.
It happened with the police documents and it's happening right now with the de facto resource site for the case of Sweden vs Assange, it happened with the Gitmo files, the US embassy cables, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, Collateral Murder - it happens with just about everything. And not just stuff related to WikiLeaks. Although matters concerning WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks releases are so much more important.
Rixstep published 'Let's Talk Condoms' on 19 June and deliberately placed the article in the 'Learning Curve' section of the site. The hint being: 'you can read this and learn something'. The data presented there is 'raw data': to understand anything about it, you need to read and you need to think. Not a lot of people are reading in this brave new world of today, much less thinking.
The article is about a recent discussion at the famous Flashback forum, in the thread devoted to the Assange case since August last year. That thread has broken all records for views and posts long ago - it's probably the biggest discussion thread anywhere in the world. About anything.
The pertinent discussion kicks off months ago. 13 March. It's an exchange between two forum members who have pedigrees in biology and forensic medicine. The first - Batuta - reports on a memo written by Stockholm police investigator Mats Gehlin upon receiving a reply from the state crime lab. He'd sent them a condom Anna Ardin had turned over to him on 25 August. Batuta points out that Gehlin's understanding of DNA is a bit primitive and erroneous.
Ollenblau jumps in and corroborates Batuta's conclusions.
The mysterious Publicistklubben, who has a habit of coming and going and appearing at the most opportune times and who claims to have deep-rooted contacts within the Stockholm police, turns up one month later to the day. His first order of business is to report on Mats Gehlin. Contrary to the impression Marianne Ny has tried to give the international media, Swedes do travel to foreign countries to interrogate suspects. And Mats Gehlin was in Estonia at the time, conducting just such an interrogation that Marianne Ny told Time they weren't allowed to conduct.
But Publicistklubben has more. He's reporting from his 'sources' now and reporting that the condom sent by Mats Gehlin to the state crime lab had no 'real' DNA, only traces of what he incorrectly calls 'mitochondria'. Publicistklubben also intimates it would be possible to identify Julian Assange by these traces, something that's patently not true. But Publicistklubben isn't and doesn't claim to be an expert in the field.
Aleksanterinkatu responds two days later, correcting Publicistklubben. It's not 'mitochondria' - it's mitochondrial DNA. And if the test results in fact showed only mitochondrial DNA, it's very important information.
Members of the forum were later to agree that if the lab had been able to turn up anything better then the word would have gone out and the police would have jumped for joy. So what's the difference between 'ordinary' DNA and mitochondrial DNA?
Aleksanterinkatu explains - and is backed up by Batuta and others. And all of this can be checked by any journalist who takes half an hour to research it.
'There is also DNA in mitochondria, the cell's power stations, in the form of DNA stumps, of which there are hundreds or thousands of copies in each cell. Mitochondrial DNA is therefore easier to detect and analyse than DNA from the cell nucleus. But mitochondrial DNA is not unique because it's principally inherited from the mother.'
And Aleksanterinkatu offers this excellent link for further info.
And after that, Aleksanterinkatu defers to Ollenblau who wrote about the matter a month earlier.
Publicistklubben is back on 6 May to inform the others that his sources say there were precisely mitochondrial traces on Ardin's condom. He again makes the monstrous gaffe in implying Julian Assange might be matched to this DNA - you can't match with such DNA period. And this in turn brings everyone back to the original head-scratcher: why submit a condom in the first place?
The answer is of course given: Anna Ardin was interrogated by telephone on Saturday 21 August; she told the investigator she thought she might have that condom she and Julian Assange used still lying about her small flat one week later; the case was all but tossed out a few hours after Ardin completed her interrogation; Ardin's friends at the 'Rebella' blog posted a hit piece the following Tuesday, accusing Assange all over again; Ardin contacted Claes Borgström already on Sunday 22 August as she didn't like the way things were going; she submitted 'a' condom to Gehlin on Wednesday 25 August, the day after the hit piece hit the blogosphere.
But it wasn't until Monday 30 August that Julian Assange was interrogated, this only for the remaining 'molestation' count (it wasn't even sexual molestation) for his encounter with Ardin. And Assange readily admitted having sex with Ardin - but his recollection of the evening was entirely different.
Up until that moment, no one knew Julian Assange would admit having sex with Ardin. But now that he had, the condom was moot. It served no purpose. There was nothing to prove. Except...
Except two people cannot have sex with a condom and have that condom not show egregious signs of ordinary 'chromosomal' DNA. DNA is like glue - it gets on everything. The real kind. The kind - the only kind - that can be used to identify people.
And it doesn't matter how contaminated the object is. Dirt, whatever - crime labs are experts at removing the extraneous matter and getting out the DNA for testing.
There are only a few cases where this 'real' DNA won't appear on an object - even for so little as a touch of someone's hand: there are only a few places on the human body that don't have this type of DNA. One is human hair and another is the human fingernail. All they'll give you is mitochondrial DNA.
Back to our discussion thread. Batuta posts again on Saturday 18 June this year, explaining for the others how DNA works and providing links to university papers and Swedish police tutorials on the subject. Batuta concludes:
'So the question remains. Have they gone further with their findings of mitochondrial DNA to determine if it comes from JA or from Ardin (or from some other false source that's touched the condom)? JA and his legal counselors should demand that they analyse the mitochondrial DNA that was found to be able to show that he didn't touch or use the condom that was ripped and turned over to the police.'
Forty minutes later he responds to MoLoK.
'The lack of chromosonal DNA on the condom is extremely troublesome for Ardin and all her support team, ie Claes Borgström, assorted dykes, the Swedish journalist corps, as well as the muslim phalanx of Social Democrats for Faith and Solidarity. The rest of the world no longer believes in Ardin.'
In other words:
- Anna Ardin didn't need to 'find' a condom to prove anything. But she didn't know it at the time.
- All evidence points to her 'creating' the evidence: the condom she turned over to Mats Gehlin of the Swedish police can't possibly - with the facts in the case as presented so far - have been used for sex. Not only would that latex have been soaking with Julian Assange's DNA, it would have had even more DNA from Anna Ardin herself. And not minute quantities either - but gobs of it. And there's no facile way that DNA can be removed after the fact either.
So the 'condom' would therefore appear to have backfired on Anna Ardin. She never needed to produce a condom. She told the police interrogator she 'might' have it - a week after the incident. As if Lou Reed groupies save them as souvenirs. But she could have told the police she couldn't find it. And no one would have been the wiser.
Falsifying evidence or bringing false accusations in Sweden is serious business. The Swedish judiciary normally will be lenient because of pressure from feminist groups. But any such revelations are going to spell the end of Anna Ardin's political career, no matter what the prosecutors say.
So should any real journalists be interested in pursuing the story, all they have to do is join Flashback and get in on the discussion.
There are a lot of notables there. Olle Andersson's been there. Brita Sundberg-Weitman's been there. And they all speak English as well. Don't be shy.