Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and Allegations of Sex CrimesPosted: December 22, 2010
For the past three days, I’ve been reading as much as I could about the claims and counterclaims about Julian Assange and his alleged sexual misconduct during a visit to Sweden in August, 2010.
It should go without saying that I do not approve of Assange’s behavior if the allegations against him are true. Nevertheless, I still believe the allegations are very convenient for the powers that be. The elites who control our government and the powerful multinational corporations that have been “victims” of Wikileaks couldn’t care less whether Assange committed sex crimes in Sweden. All they care about is stopping publication of leaks that so far have revealed and/or substantiated suspicions about some pretty shocking behavior by governments around the world.
Furthermore, now that we have at least some information (filtered by Swedish police and prosecutors and journalists) about the basis for the allegations of sexual assault, I think that reactions by conservative Swedish politicians and the media in the U.S. and Great Britain have been far out of proportion to the usual government and media responses to allegations like the ones described by the Guardian.
In fact, according to Amnesty International, Sweden usually is terrible at prosecuting and convicting accused rapists (h/t Dakinikat for the link).
…an Amnesty International report on rape in the Nordic Countries took Sweden to task last autumn for what the human rights organization saw as an abysmally low conviction rate for rape cases.
Released in September 2008, the Amnesty report – Case Closed – examines issues surrounding rape and human rights in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.
Despite Sweden’s considerable emphasis on women’s rights, currently ranking an impressive 3rd place in the UN global gender-related development index, instances of reported violence against women are showing no signs of abating.
Amnesty’s most damning criticism of Sweden relates to the considerable disparity between the number of rapes reported and the conviction rate.
Case Closed highlights the damning evidence that, despite the number of rapes reported to the police quadrupling over the past 20 years, the percentage of reported rapes ending in conviction is markedly lower today than it was in 1965.
There’s a lot more information at the link. BTW, anyone who has read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the two sequel might have suspected that Sweden isn’t that good at dealing with violence against women.
Knowing Sweden’s usual treatment of rape allegations, are we really supposed to believe that suddenly Sweden is so deeply concerned about two women who had consensual sex with the same man followed by unwanted sexual behavior, that they asked Interpol to issue a red alert to find this guy?
Are we to believe that it is SOP for Great Britain, without being asked to do so by Sweden, arrests and imprisons the man before releasing him on hundreds of thousands of dollars cash bail based solely on these accusations by two women?
A number of self-described feminist bloggers (for some background, see this post by Valhalla at Corrente) are outraged that Assange has not voluntarily returned to Sweden–not to face charges, because there aren’t any yet–but to talk to a prosecutor who allegedly had refused to meet with him for the five weeks that Assange spent in Sweden waiting for the meeting to happen.
Where were these feminists in November when a young woman was violently raped in her high school Muncie, Indiana and school officials refused to even report it to police and allowed the perpetrator to leave school and go home and clean up and change clothing? What other rapes of powerless young women have these bloggers highlighted in the past couple of months? Maybe they’ve been busy doing this, I don’t know. But I’ve searched for blog links to the case in Muncie and haven’t found any posts by the bloggers who are now so outraged about Julian Assange.
I think the allegations against Assange and the effects they may have on Wikileaks itself are worth discussing. Personally, I’m not absolutely sure how I feel about all of it yet. But I’ll share my thoughts so far.
First, I think Julian Assange and Wikileaks have revealed a great deal of important information that has struck fear in the hearts of governments and powerful corporations. I see that as a good thing.
Second, I think Julian Assange is probably a very arrogant, egotistical man who is very likely lacking in social skills. I base that on what I’ve read about his childhood as well as quotes from people who have known him. I won’t go into that in detail here–I’ll just stipulate that he is probably difficult for other people to get along with. He may even be a complete a$$hole, for all I know. But he has accomplished something that I consider valuable.
Third, from what I know of the two women who accused Assange, they appear to be strong, powerful women who are capable of standing up for themselves. I realize that rape is traumatic for anyone. I’m just saying that these women are not poverty-stricken, homeless sixteen-year-olds like the woman who was raped in Muncie. These two women have good attorneys and they have powerful supporters, including a Swedish government official. I think it is a shame that they have been bashed on the internet and reportedly threatened by anonymous people. Unfortunately, women who report sex crimes against famous people often get treated pretty badly by the public and the media. But I’ll be willing to bet these two women knew that before they even got involved with Assange. If these allegations are true, then I hope they will both get up in court and testify against Assange. At the same time, Assange has the right to defend himself against their allegations. That’s how it works.
Fourth, as I said at the beginning of this post, these events are playing into the hands of both the power elites. The arguments in the media and on the internet about sex crimes charges is overwhelming the information coming out of Wikileaks to the point that I have seen a number of people actually claiming that nothing of importance has been revealed!
Fifth, the bloggers who are arguing so vehemently that Assange is a vicious rapist and must return to Sweden are also playing into Assange’s hands. He himself claims that the publicity over these charges has only helped him and his organization.
Finally, I think Julian Assange is right to fight extradition to Sweden, and I hope he continues to do so. I think it is highly likely that if he does return to Sweden, the Swedish government will hand him over to the U.S. Officials in the U.S., including Vice President Biden, that have deliberately referred to Assange as a “terrorist.” A number of U.S. politicians have state publicly that Assange should be assassinated. The President of the U.S. claims the right to detain indefinitely and even assassinate anyone from any country whom he designates as a “terrorist.” Therefore, if I were Julian Assange, I would fight tooth and nail to stay out of the hands of the U.S. government.
Those are my initial reactions after spending much of my time for a few days reading everything I could about these issues. Let’s talk about it here at Sky Dancing. Maybe we can manage to look at more than one side of these issues and draw some reasonable conclusions.
Before we get started, please watch these two videos from Democracy Now. They consist of a debate between Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman, two self-described feminists with different points of view on Assange and the sex crime allegations.
Democracy Now interview with Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman, part 1
Democracy Now interview with Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman, part 2
Have at it! What do you think?