Assange to Sweden – Latest

From the Financial Times –

Ecuador’s government may ask the UK to allow safe passage for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to its embassy in Sweden so that he can respond to sex crimes allegations there.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, who is likely to meet Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague in New York next week at the UN General Assembly, said Ecuador was considering the transfer as an option to solve a diplomatic stalemate over Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The two foreign ministers will resume their discussions on Mr Assange’s case among other foreign policy issues.  Britain has repeatedly said it will not grant him a safe passage to Ecuador.Safe passage to Sweden would allow Mr Assange to “remain under our protection while also satisfying the demands of the Swedish justice system,” Mr Patiño said.
The British Foreign Office said on Saturday it had a binding obligation to extradite Mr Assange if he left the Ecuadorean embassy and that it fully intended to do so.  “We want to reach a diplomatic solution but need to make sure our laws are respected and followed,” said an official.

The WikiLeaks founder fled bail three months ago when he lost his legal appeals against extradition to Sweden.
On Friday, Mr Patiño also hinted at fresh developments in the Swedish case against Mr Assange, saying that “several elements of proof have been dismissed.”

Mr Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador in mid-August, having been holed up since June in its London embassy, where he enjoys diplomatic protection.
Mr Assange has said that once in Sweden he would be at risk of being extradited to the United States because of WikiLeaks’ whistleblowing activities and involvement in publishing of thousands of secret US diplomatic and military cables.  Both Stockholm and Washington reject the claim.

“I think Ecuador is making a huge effort to resolve the diplomatic problem and protect Assange from the gorilla in the room: persecution by the US,” Michael Ratner, Mr Assange’s lawyer in New York, told the Financial Times.  “Ecuador is suggesting many solutions.  We hope the UK is likewise willing to come to a solution.”

Mr Assange is seeking asylum from a government that has a controversial attitude towards independent media. “If he sets foot in the US, it is very likely that he won’t see the light of day,” said Mr Ratner.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ec97e5ae-04a9-11e2-b64f-00144feab7de.html#axzz27Jo0uttS

Seems perfectly reasonable to me.  Sweden gets to question Assange in Sweden and he remains protected from any US machinations by the Ecuadorian embassy.

It’s Rape, Jim…. A Clarification.

I have had quite a bit of feedback following the publication of my blog post “It’s Rape, Jim.  But Not As We Know It.”   To all who took the time to offer me constructive criticism, thank you very much indeed.  The following is some clarifications and updates based on the negative comments I have received in recent days.

While I was writing in the opening paragraph what rape meant *to me*, and not what it meant in Law or in a dictionary, I acknowledge that my impressions were naive and poorly written.  Rape does not need to be accompanied by violence or the threat of violence.  This point was put strongly to me by posters to the blog and by female friends of mine, some of whom have actually been victims of rape.  So I apologise for my limited perspective as shown in that opening paragraph, and readily concede I was wrong.  As a poster called EdinburghEye pointed out, there are multiple varieties of rape, and not all require violence or menace –

1.  You could set up a situation where, without saying a word of menace, you make clear to the woman there are unpleasant consequences to saying “no” to you.  (a) You’re her boss or have influence in her career (b) You’re say the driver and you make a sexual proposition in the car miles from anywhere (c) you’re a lot bigger than your target, alone together, and she couldn’t physically stop you and you make that clear.

2.  As you say, you could just wait until she’s asleep and then do what you want.

3.  You could get angry and unpleasant if she says “no” until she learns from fear of your temper not to say “no” even if she really isn’t feeling anything sexual for you any more.

4.  In the context of a long-term relationship, you could become a nagger for sex such that your partner knows she won’t get any peace, once you demand sex, until she gives in.  Then you can rape her regularly because she knows that she has no choice until the day she decides to ditch you.  And you might be a very pleasant person otherwise. You can even tell yourself it’s not rape, even though she doesn’t want it, because she “consents” – ie she knows the consequences of saying “no” mean you will keep on at her and whine and moan and refuse to let her sleep no matter how tired she is, because you don’t care what she wants, only what you want.

And that is the essence of rape. Overriding what the other person wants: just taking what you want.

I accept all of this without reservation.  My critics are right on this point, and I was wrong.  I ask forgiveness for any offence my myopic view may have caused.  A fabulous article about what rape actually is can be found on the EdinburghEye’s blog.  I found it very informative indeed.

It was put to me by some that, as a man, I have no idea about sexual assault, rape, and predatory males.  This is not quite true.  I was a victim of an attempted sexual assault by a man when I was about 13 or 14.  A man, who I did not know, but who knew me as a player for the school football team, approached me one Sunday while I was out for a walk along the shores of the River Clyde at Dumbarton.  He pulled a knife on me, and pushed me to the ground.  He tried to pull my trousers down while waving the knife in my face.  Somehow I managed to struggle free and ran faster than I ever have back home.  It was a fortunate escape.  It turned out the man had a string of offences against young boys to his name.  In mitigation, I would say this event has possibly coloured my view of what rape is or is not.

Regarding the allegations against Julian Assange, I acknowledge that to echo George Galloway’s view on what the allegations amount to was hasty of me.  If the allegations are 100% correct, they amount to far more than “bad sexual etiquette” as George stated.  They amount to a criminal act (in Sweden) if true.  Initiating sex without a condom with a person who has expressly asked you to use one, is more than just bad form, it is a terrible liberty to take, and arguably a sexual molestation offence.  Whether it amounts to ‘rape’ or not is another matter altogether.

“If initiating nocturnal sex with a sexual partner who is half asleep is rape, then every girl I have ever slept with is a rapist, and so am I…”

When I wrote this I was thinking of the many, many times I have woken to find a girlfriend playing with my penis, or even engaging in penetrative sex.  This has happened to me several times.  I do not regard that as me being raped.  But I accept that it is of a different order of magnitude from that alleged against Julian Assange, as I, for one thing, am unlikely to end up pregnant.  Neither did any of my girlfriends try anything that I had previously refused consent to.

I hope this addresses some of the concerns that have been put to me.  I still think the pursuit of Assange stinks to high heaven, but I am open to persuasion.  If there is anything else, please feel free to get in touch.  I am not arrogant enough to think I am always, or even mostly right, and welcome differing perspectives and viewpoints.  Thanks again for reading, and commenting.

http://www.thenation.com/article/169632/julian-assange-justice-foreclosed#  (interesting article with VERY interesting comments)

“It’s Rape, Jim. But Not As We Know It.”

*NOTE* – As has been pointed out to me by a few people, my wording here is far from ideal.  Rape does not necessarily need to be accompanied by violence or the threat of it.  I shall be writing a further post to clarify in due course.  Thank you to all those who took the trouble to offer constructive criticism.  I really do appreciate it.  *END*  1.9.12
My response to feedback received can be found HERE.

  ******************

Rape.  Such an unpleasant word that it should have it’s own sentence, so as not to contaminate the words around it.   For me it has always meant forced sex with violence, or the menace of violence.  I see the victims as battered and bruised, crying, often abandoned.  And more often than not this is compounded by a judicial system that doubts, fails, and ultimately humiliates those seeking justice.  Ask any woman, the society we live in does not move heaven and earth to provide justice to victims of rape or sexual assault.  Very far from it in fact.

But it would appear things are rather different if the alleged perpetrator is called Julian Assange, the Editor-in-Chief and founder of WikiLeaks.

Suddenly it seems heaven and earth will indeed be moved in order for justice to be done, what with the UK government threatening to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in order to arrest Assange and have him extradited to face questioning over allegations of rape and sexual molestation.  There are those who deny this was a threat, but one has to bear in mind the language that diplomats use with one another.  Threats are couched in the most banal terminology.  Here I think is the killer sentence –

You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the Embassy.”

Quite a change from 1998 then, when the UK refused to extradite General Augusto Pinochet to Spain, to face charges of genocide and terrorism.  And also quite a change from June this year, when the UK refused to extradite to the US a man suspected of raping children.

Which kind of throws into serious question William Hague’s claims about Britain’s “blinding obligations” under “international law”.  You’d think if William Hague was so concerned about ‘binding obligations’ and ‘international law’, he’d also be an advocate of nuclear disarmament and the prosecution of Tony Blair for war crimes.  But no.

When Jack Straw, the Labour Home Secretary, denied the Spanish request for the extradition of Pinochet, he cited the unique circumstances, saying the case was “unprecedented”, and that he was “in uncharted territory”.   Jack Straw in this case used his wide discretion and was said to have been obliged to “consider the personal circumstances of the alleged offender and any new evidence since the committal.”  Which is a considerable distance from Hague’s strict adherence to “binding obligations”.

So why the different approach to the extradition of Julian Assange?  For many, including activists from Women Against Rape, and the feminist author Naomi Wolf, there are good reasons to be suspicious of the uncommon zeal being shown in the efforts to get Assange extradited, and the “glaring aberrations” in the handling of the case.

It is widely believed that Assange’s ultimate destination is the USA to be prosecuted for his political work with WikiLeaks.  And this is the number one reason why he is in the Ecuadorean Embassy today, to avoid the terrible fate of Bradley Manning, namely torture, solitary confinement, and the possible death penalty.  Assange has stressed repeatedly he would readily travel to Sweden today and face the allegations if he could be assured there was no risk of him ending up in the hands of the US authorities.

Yet to mention these issues is to run the risk of being labelled a “rape apologist”, as George Galloway, Tony Benn, John Pilger, and even the ladies from Women Against Rape have found in recent weeks and months.  Galloway, in particular, has been slaughtered for calling Assange’s behaviour nothing more than “bad sexual etiquette“, and saying that even if the allegations of the two women “were 100% true” they would not constitute rape.

My guess is that Galloway based these remarks on the leaked Police transcripts of the interviews with the women involved.  Another aberration in the pursuit of justice, but very interesting nonetheless.   Here is the account of the incident –

They sat on the bed and talked and he took off her clothes again.  They had sex again and she discovered he’d put the condom only over the head of his penis but she let it be.  They fell asleep and she woke by feeling him penetrate her.  She immediately asked ‘are you wearing anything’ and he answered ‘you’.  She told him ‘you better not have HIV’ and he replied ‘of course not’.  She felt it was too late.  He was already inside her and she let him continue.  She couldn’t be bothered telling him again.  She’d been nagging about condoms all night long.  She’s never had unprotected sex.  He said he wanted to come inside her, he didn’t say when he’d done it but he did it.  There was a lot running out of her afterwards.

She told him what happens if she gets pregnant.  He replied that Sweden was a good country for raising children.  She told him jokingly that if she got pregnant then he’d have to pay her student loans…….”

Personally, I agree with Galloway to the extent that the above does not describe “Rape” as I have understood the word most of my life.  There is no violence, no hint of it, and no expressed refusal of consent.  In the circumstances above, I think one can be forgiven for thinking there would be a “reasonable expectation of consent”.   As I wrote on my Facebook page this morning, “If initiating nocturnal sex with a sexual partner who is half asleep is rape, then every girl I have ever slept with is a rapist, and so am I.”   I guess this makes me some kind of prehistoric, misogynistic rape apologist too.

But still, the allegations need to be tested in a court of law.  Everyone wants that.  I have read no serious commentator suggest otherwise.  While Sweden and the UK refuse to use their ‘discretions’ in this particular ‘uncharted waters’ to assure Assange of no forward extradition to the USA, the pursuit of justice will stall.  If the UK and Sweden are really interested in getting justice for these two women, then all it will take is a few little words – “No extradition to the US on Wikileaks related charges.”  It really is that simple.

*Further article responding to criticism of this post – HERE.

Further reading –
Debate between Women Against Rape advocate and Bonnie Greer.
In Defence of George Galloway, Huffington Post.
Glenn Greenwald on extradition myths.
Ruth Hull – The Persecution of Assange is a Persecution of Women Worldwide.
Greenwald again, on the Media contempt for Assange.
Seaumas Milne, Don’t Lose Sight Of Why The US Is Out To Get Assange.
US intends to chase Assange, cables show.
Craig Murray – America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally
John Pilger, The Pursuit of Assange is an assault on freedom.
Guardian, leaked police reports.
Bradley Manning Support Network.

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