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The Sinister Symbiosis of Sweden's Judiciary and Media

By noted blogger 'Citizen X'. From August 2012.

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No one can have missed the persecution of Julian Assange these past years, all based on a (false) accusation of rape and on a Swedish legal system (under the leadership of prosecutor Marianne Ny and with the help of politician Claes Borgström) where prestige has been a major factor from the beginning. The thought that the case could be handled in a customarily practical and pragmatic manner never entered into it.

Matters didn't get better when Swedish media launched a smear campaign against Assange. Or need we talk about 'talk about it'? Politicians stuck their noses into the affair with predictably derogatory comments - and they haven't limited their barbs to Assange and WikiLeaks: they've also begun attacking Ecuador.

But now more and more people are speaking out about the lies perpetrated by Swedish journalists and the way the Swedish judicial system has been used to harass Assange. In this context it might be good to review precisely what happened back in Stockholm in the year 2010, as well as how the judicial system and the media have behaved since then.

It all began with Anna Ardin returning a full day early to her flat in Stockholm where she'd let Julian Assange stay for his talk. When Anna returns - unexpectedly - Assange offers to find somewhere else to stay (Johannes was nearby) but Anna will have none of it: Julian will stay with her anyway. Despite the flat being only 25 square metres and there being no room for furniture save one bed. In other words: Anna Ardin 'bedded' Julian Assange, and that evening/night they have lots of sex, and Anna does not express any displeasure or disappointment.

But Julian spends the next afternoon with one Sofia Wilén, a girl he met at his talk, and the two decide to meet again. That same evening, there's a crayfish party in his honour in Anna's courtyard, where Anna makes it as obvious as she can that she and Julian are an 'item'. Several people at the party offer to let Julian stay with them, but Anna will again have none of it.

Julian meets Sofia Wilén in the beginning of the following week, and follows her to her flat in Enköping. Sofia pays for his train ticket - yes Sofia is after him too. They too have lots of sex and they always use a condom, save for the final time when she warns that, without a condom, he'd 'better not have HIV', after which she lets him continue. They part amicably later that day and are in agreement that they should meet again.

But Sofia starts getting nervous that she might have contracted HIV and tries to contact Julian by phone. And when she can't reach him, she contacts his press secretary Anna Ardin. Sofia asks Anna to help her reach Julian, but Anna responds that evening by demanding suddenly that Julian leave her flat. And on the following Friday, Anna takes Sofia to a police station to, according to Anna, make enquiries if it's possible to force someone to take an HIV test. But it's not to any old police station Anna leads them, and certainly not to the closest one, but to the central station, far uptown, where a friend of Anna's, one Irmeli Krans, is on duty.

And it's Irmeli Krans, Anna's friend, who conducts the formal interrogation with Sofia, but not until the both of them are interrogated together - something that's strictly forbidden in those circumstances. The more serious allegation is that Julian was to have raped Sofia because she was, because of fatigue, in a 'helpless condition' - yet Sofia was, by her own testimony, awake enough to converse with Julian and demonstrate her delight with more sex. And as one cannot be both asleep and awake at the same time, Irmeli writes that Sofia was 'half' asleep.

There is very little information to go on at this point, although Ardin says she made one decisive remark; and with that, the prosecutor on duty, Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand, decides to issue an arrest in absentia for Julian, on the basis of suspicion of rape and other sex crimes. And this warrant is issued before Sofia completes her testimony, before Kjellstrand can actually read it. And when Sofia, who is still in the police station at this point as she's still giving testimony, learns about the warrant, she breaks down and is incapable of continuing the interrogation, and flees the building before reading back what Irmeli has written down, before approving (with her signature) what Irmeli has written down, as is legally necessary.

News of the arrest naturally leaks to the tabloid Expressen in no time - suddenly 'rape' is an established fact - and there's still no completed testimony or even evidence to speak of. Anna Ardin also contacts the same tabloid to drop a few disparaging remarks about Julian - a relatively meek beginning of what would soon blossom into a systematic campaign of character assassination.

Stockholm City's chief prosecutor Eva Finné is brought in the following day to clear up the mess. She's out of town in her summer cottage; a messenger brings her the case file. She studies the testimony which is now available - she's the first prosecutor to read through it - and she concludes that there is no suspicion of rape or other sex crime, and consequently quashes the warrant.

Anna Ardin is simultaneously interviewed by telephone back in Stockholm, and she accounts for her first night with Julian. But this version of events is dramatically different from the version she's been telling friends. Now she says she was molested. She claims Julian deliberately damaged a condom and thereby tricked her into having unprotected sex. But the 'used condom', that she claims she's saved for over a week and later that evening gives to the police: it's shown to not have any DNA, and therefore cannot have been used for sex, and therefore cannot have been damaged as she's claimed. Already we have a confirmed case of falsification of evidence. And Irmeli Krans, Anna's friend who interrogated Sofia the day before, is now ordered by her superior to modify the interrogation file - something the police computer system was designed to prevent. And Sofia's testimony still hasn't been reviewed and approved. So now, 24 hours after this began, we already have falsified evidence and a tainted interroagation.

Quick attorney Claes Borgström is in the middle of an election campaign, and he's rather desperate to restore his reputation after the scandals with his part in the Quick story. He's contacted by the girls who want his help in defending them. He makes sure he's appointed 'counsel for plaintiff' for the both of them, gets the police documents a day before he's been formally approved for the assignment, and immediately reaches out to the media to start the smear campaign. He accuses Assange of everything under the sun, including cowardice, and he gets the media to dance to his flute.

Eva Finné finally and formally closes the police investigation, but Claes Borgström is hard at work behind the scenes and ultimately gets his old friend Marianne Ny to reopen the case. Ny is a prosecutor at a 'development centre' across the country on the west coast, in Gothenburg.

Julian finds out about this turn of events not from the police or the prosecutor's office but from the media. Already on his way out of the country, he decides to stay on, ultimately for five weeks, so he can be contacted by the Swedish authorities.

Finally, when he's still not contacted, Julian asks if it's OK to leave the country, as he has business to attend to, business that can't wait any longer. Marianne Ny gives her consent.

Julian is asked by Ny to return to Sweden for interrogation. He offers to return at his own expense and suggests a number of dates for this interrogation. He also points out that he can be interrogated on location in the UK. Marianne Ny turns down this proposal, lying to him when she tells him that it's illegal. But of course Swedish prosecutors do this all the time.

Now [2012] Julian's been in house arrest almost two years. Even if tried and convicted, he'd not spend that much time behind bars. And yet he still doesn't dare return to Sweden, even if the sentence issue is moot. The issue for him isn't falsified evidence, or cleverly altered stories, or even prosecutors lying to him. The issue is that Sweden, with their 'temporary surrender agreement' signed and enacted twice since the 1980s with the US, could render him to GITMO.

The Swedish judicial system has been strange in this case. The prosecutor on duty Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand issued an arrest warrant without even hearing what the women had to say. She also corroborated to the media, in violation of Swedish legislation, that Julian Assange was arrested and hunted on suspicion of multiple crimes.

It is of vital importance that a prosecutor obtain the testimony of the suspect as soon as possible. To properly weigh a decision for an arrest warrant, it is just as important that the prosecutor have the suspect's version of events. Otherwise the defence of the arrest can lack the proper grounds. It is also necessary, according to Swedish policy and judicial routine, that the suspect be able to address the accusations as soon as possible when memories are still fresh. And yet Marianne Ny balked for five whole weeks at interrogating Assange. The customary procedure is to interrogate the suspect within the first week. But Marianne Ny turned down opportunities to question Assange ever since she took over the case 1 September, this despite Julian Assange remaining in the country precisely for interrogation. He'd been interrogated once on 30 August in relation to accusations made by Anna Ardin, subsequently reviewed by Eva Finné.

The most important requirement for concluding an investigation of rape is that the prosecutor, acting responsibly, be able to predict that a court will be able to convict with evidence that proves the case 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. But there's no such evidence in the Assange case. When it comes to the prosecutor's timeline, it's a catastrophe that so much time has been wasted and no thorough interrogation of Assange has taken place. For this and no other reason, it's uncertain that Assange can trust in a fair trial. It must be seen as a violation of the Principle of Proportionality to try to get Assange extradited only to question him.

Extraordinary mistakes were made by the police as well. The two girls were interviewed together and could thereby contaminate their testimony. The police have damaged the value of that testimony.

Because the claim of rape rests completely on the narrative of the complainant, Marianne Ny should have acted as quickly as possible to give Julian Assange an opportunity to give his own thorough version of events. And only then, and only at that point, could there be sufficient basis for a decision whether to continue the investigation. This should have been done when Assange chose to remain in Stockholm precisely for this purpose.

Instead, Marianne Ny used Interpol and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) without even trying to arrange a questioning with Assange in the UK; it would have been the reasonable thing to do, as she ignored the opportunity when Assange was in Sweden. After interviewing Assange, Marianne Ny's evidence situation could have been such that she was forced to close the investigation. Only if it could be shown that it was impossible to arrange an interview in the UK should an arrest warrant be considered - but Assange has been willing and available for such an interrogation all along.

Marianne Ny's refusal to at least try to interview Julian Assange is unreasonable, unprofessional, and unjust. The arrest warrant is not proportional: a reasonably skilled prosecutor would have tried to arrange an interview in the UK and thereby would be able to complete the investigation and as soon as possible be able to determine whether there were sufficient grounds to prosecute, and thereafter, if applicable, issue a request that he be extradited.

An interrogation with Assange is still, and has always been, possible. This would also be the best and most suitable way to conduct an interrogation and thereby obtain Assange's extremely important part of the investigation.

But instead, Marianne Ny lied about Swedish law prohibiting her from conducting such an interrogation. As stated, there is nothing in Swedish law that prevents a prosecutor from applying for Mutual Legal Assistance to question a suspect abroad.

The question remains: why did Marianne Ny lie about this? Why was she prepared to risk her reputation in order to try to force Assange to return to Sweden instead of availing herself of the assistance of the London police to conduct the interrogation there?

What's behind the prestige that permeates this case? Considering how Swedish journalists have smeared Julian Assange, and how Swedish politicians have issued statements, one can very well understand Julian's fear of not getting a judicially fair welcome in Sweden and his further apprehension that he'd be rendered to the US. Considering how the US treated Bradley Manning, there's no reason to believe Julian Assange would be treated better.

The Swedish judicial system has shamed itself internationally, and the Swedish media have clearly shown that they're but a group of bootlickers who don't dare scrutinise political power, prefering instead to ally with it. They should all be ashamed.

See Also
Assange Defence Fund
WikiLeaks: Support WikiLeaks
The Police Protocol (Translated)
Rixstep: JA/WL (Assange/WikiLeaks)
Rixstep: Assange/WikiLeaks RSS Feed
Radsoft: Assange/WikiLeaks RSS Feed

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