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The Extraordinary Marianne Ny (Part I)
Justice must be seen to be done. A reunion of sorts. September/October 2010.
STOCKHOLM/GOTHENBURG (Rixstep) — Marianne Ny became prosecutor in the case of Assange in Sweden on 1 September 2010, and reopened the case of Sofia Wilén which Stockholm prosecutor Eva Finné had closed a week earlier with the motivation 'no crime committed'.
Marianne is not today a practicing prosecutor, but has been known from time to time to intervene in cases run by other prosecutors, not always with great results. One of the worst examples is when she took an innocent man back off the street after his case was closed, then kept him in a lockup another one and one half years, only to finally think better of it and let him go.
Win some, lose some.
Marianne Ny proclaimed that she would leave no stone unturned. Unfortunately, she proved incapable of inspecting more than one stone at a time. After Assange answered questions for inspector Mats Gehlin on 30 August 2010, Marianne opened the case again and, with little involvement herself, got the police to conduct a number of at times extraordinary interrogations.
Sofia Wilén was interrogated on 20 August, Anna Ardin the day after per telephone, Julian Assange in the one remaining point on 30 August. Thereafter it wasn't until 7 September - 9 days later or 18 days since the case opened - that the first 'witness' was interrogated.
Except Petra Ornstein wasn't a witness. She was a friend of Anna Ardin, and could only report on what Anna Ardin had told her, and the updates and revisions she'd made over time, which at the best constitute hearsay.
Hanna Rosquist, Sofia's childhood friend, was interrogated the following day. Again: hearsay and no more. Anna's friend Kajsa Borgnäs was interrogated the same day, but Kajsa had actually met Assange, at the crayfish party 14 August that Anna arranged in her courtyard. So to some extent, Kajsa's testimony was not hearsay, but on the other hand, most of what she could reveal was that Anna had offered her Julian for the night, and Kajsa's credibility was later jeopardised by her arrest by the Stockholm police, including subsequent prevarications to wiggle free. (She was previously a ranking member of the Social Democrat party, but had to end her assignments because of the arrest.)
Five days later, on Monday 13 September, Sofia's friend Katarina Svensson is interrogated. Katarina is a friend from work. Katarina's interrogation took all of 16 (sixteen) minutes. Katarina had no first hand knowledge of the events. Only hearsay.
Johannes Wahlström and Donald Boström are both interrogated one week later on Monday 20 September, and these interrogations took the greater part of the morning. And for once, interrogation equipment was available. (Interrogations were recorded only for witnesses thought to be supportive of Assange; all other interrogations lacked proper recording equipment and/or were conducted by telephone.)
The interrogation of Johannes Wahlström took one hour 28 minutes. The interrogation of Donald Boström took place after a ten minute break and took 57 minutes. Things could go faster because nothing needed to be transcribed on the spot - the police had succeeded in finding part of their recording equipment (some of which broke during the interrogation anyway).
At the end of that day, it was 31 days (four weeks and three days) since the case was filed, and still Julian Assange had not been interviewed. A very important procedural guideline is to interview everyone - especially suspects - as soon as possible after a case is filed. Sofia Wilén was interviewed on the spot, and Anna Ardin the day after. And none of the other 'witnesses' had anything to directly contribute to the case. And yet Marianne Ny, who had appointed herself (!) chief investigator, held off on bringing in the suspect.
The 'suspect', Julian Assange, could have at any time made a formal statement for the record. Julian Assange was not a resident of Sweden. And yet he was expected to 'sit tight' and wait a full month for the most rudimentary of judicial procedures?
Julian left Sweden with the approval of Marianne Ny 38 (thirty eight) days after the case opened. And still he wasn't allowed to make a statement or invited to an interview.
More: Julian's lawyer Björn Hurtig had repeatedly beseeched Marianne Ny for word on the status of the case and when his client could be interviewed, and more often than not, he was ignored by Marianne Ny. He left messages, but she never got back.
[It's interesting to note that Marianne's representative at the Crown Prosecution Service made a big deal out of Hurtig somehow missing an SMS message Marianne Ny later sent; considering how careless Marianne Ny was with her own correspondence, it's very much the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.]
So Julian got word already on 15 September that he could carry out his business on the continent whilst he was waiting to be interviewed, and he would return sometime in the beginning of October. And Björn was still trying to get Marianne Ny to agree to a date for his client's interview, but with little luck. An otherwise ideal date was turned down by Marianne Ny when she heard that her favourite inspector, Mats Gehlin, was home with a cold. For Marianne, no one else would do.
Julian left for the airport 38 days after the investigation began, still denied his right to give a statement. Then, whilst en route to the airport, Marianne Ny issued a 'secret' warrant for Julian. This warrant was never processed in the customary manner. Julian was able to depart Sweden, despite the fact that Marianne Ny had issued a warrant two hours earlier. Julian's luggage was simultaneously made to 'disappear' behind the check-in counter. This was discovered when Julian arrived in Berlin: there was no on-board luggage on the plane. That luggage included three laptop computers meant for the journalists Julian was meeting.
It was now that Julian would learn that Marianne Ny had suddenly changed her mind about his leaving the country. He could have left of his own volition at any time, had he wished: he was not under arrest, and he had his passport. But he stayed in town, patiently, as his lawyer tried to contact Marianne Ny. And when she once again refused to let him give a statement, or let an inspector interrogate him, he asked if it was OK to leave the country, as she still isn't ready. And then as soon as she says it's OK to leave, she turns around and expects him to come back again! And now, Björn learns, she's issued an unprocessed warrant, yet continues to insist to Björn that Julian will not be arrested on his return!
Björn continues to try to set up dates for Julian's interview. Julian could have decided then and there to not return to the country, but he wanted to cooperate. Björn contacted Marianne's assistant Erika Lejnefors, and they together arrived at a suitable date for the interview; but when Marianne Ny heard of this, she dissed the date on the grounds that it was 'too far in the future'. This after she did nothing to speak of for the first 38 days.
Julian planned to return to Stockholm in the first week of October. He had a talk scheduled in town for Afghanistan Week. There were some snags on getting there in time, as he still had to replace three laptops and the data they were to have, but he could at any rate be back by the next weekend, when he was expected to take part in a demonstration in support of Afghanistan.
Then a curious thing happened. Björn got a call from Marianne's assistant Erika, who asked him to remain in his office after hours the evening of 6 October, as Marianne Ny expected to have his client in custody! Julian never arrived, as he was still fixing the replacement computers, but Marianne Ny hadn't known this, and neither had the media she sent to Julian's venue, so they could report on things - and get pictures of Julian being led away in handcuffs!
Imagine then that a foiled Marianne Ny again tells Björn that his client is still welcome to return to Sweden - and he will not be put under arrest!
Are there any warning lights going off yet? No?
The official website of Marianne Ny's office, aklagare.se, has since been scrubbed of all details for this period.