Case against WikiLeaks founder was weak say Swedish prosecutors
By Jay Jackson, Japan Herald
29 Aug 2020, 09:25 GMT+10
- The case brought against WikiLeaks founder, Australian journalist Julian Assange, which turned his life on its head, forcing him into exile at a foreign embassy, and to a British jail a …
- Swedish prosecutors this week conceded the evidence to indict Assange on a sex offence was, “not strong enough.”
- “After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough.”
LONDON, UK – The case brought against WikiLeaks founder, Australian journalist Julian Assange, which turned his life on its head, forcing him into exile at a foreign embassy, and to a British jail after the embassy forced him out – and now facing an extradition order by the United States, has been dropped.
Swedish prosecutors this week conceded the evidence to indict Assange on a sex offence, “is not strong enough.”
“After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment,” Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson told reporters.
It is not the first time Sweden has back-tracked on the charges, Assange and his supporters have claimed were politically motivated.
The saga began on 20 August 2010 when two women, aged 31 and 26, in the Swedish capital Stockholm, told police they had slept with Assange and he engaged in unprotected sex (did not wear a condom) which they said violated the scope of their consent. One of them also claimed to be asleep at the time.
The following day, the case was referred to Chefsaklagare Chief Public Prosecutor Eva Finne. She told reporters, “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Karin Rosander from the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said however Assange remained suspected of molestation.
“The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing,” Assange said in a statement on hearing of the claims.
The preliminary rape investigation was discontinued by Finne on 25 August 2010. Two days later however Claes Borgstrom, a lawyer acting for the two complainants requested a review of the prosecutor’s decision to terminate the major part of the investigation.
On 30 August 2010 Assange was interviewed by the Stockholm police regarding the alleged molestation. He denied the allegations, maintaining he had consensual sexual encounters with the two women.
On 1 September 2010, Overaklagare Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny made the decision to resume the preliminary investigation concerning all the allegations. On 18 August 2010, according to Wikipedia, Assange had applied for a work and residence permit in Sweden, which was denied on 18 October 2010. He subsequently left Sweden on 27 September 2010.
Assange’s lawyer in London Mark Stephens said Assange had asked to be interviewed by prosecutors before leaving Sweden but was told he could leave the country without being interviewed.
Swedish prosecutors said that on the day Assange left they had informed his Swedish lawyer an arrest warrant would be issued.
On 18 November 2010, Marianne Ny requested Assange be detained on suspicion of rape, three cases of molestation and unlawful coercion. The Stockholm District Court acceded to the order and issued a European Arrest Warrant to execute it. The warrant was appealed to the Svea Court of Appeal which upheld its issuance, but lowered it to suspicion of rape of a lesser degree, unlawful coercion and two cases of sexual molestation rather than 3. The warrant was also appealed to the Supreme Court of Sweden, which decided not to hear the case. Assange’s legal team argued that there is no such thing as “minor rape,” that “rape” is a mistranslation from Swedish, and that the allegations given do not meet the English or European legal definition of “rape.”