Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Sex Allegations Against Assange

[Author’s note: The following post contains graphic descriptions of sex. Reader discretion is advised.]

[Author’s note: This post is the first part of a three part series on Julian Assange.

I first covered Wikileaks in my editorial on Bradley Manning. In that editorial I praised Wikileaks’ disclosures of government misconduct and other information that is useful to understanding world politics. In my post on Bradley Manning’s first pre-trial hearing, I criticized Wikileaks for releasing the names of US informants in Iraq and Afghanistan. I praised Assange’s interview show on RT in a post on Bahrain.]

Sweden is seeking the extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden to provide testimony in regards to 4 allegations of sexual misconduct. These allegations are alleged to have taken place during Assange’s visit to Sweden in August 2010.

Three of the allegations come from Miss A and one comes from a second woman, Miss W. There have been no formal charges made in the case.
The first allegation comes from Miss A.
"On 13th-14th August 2010, in the home of the injured party [Miss A] in Stockholm, Assange, by using violence, forced the injured party to endure his restricting her freedom of movement. The violence consisted in a firm hold of the injured party’s arms and a forceful spreading of her legs while lying on top of her and with his body weight preventing her from moving or shifting." has translated the testimony of individuals who have been interrogated in the course of the investigation. Their testimony has been translated from Swedish to English by a supporter of Assange. All of the documents are worth reading if you are interested in the case. Some of the testimonies are in the form of summaries written in the third person. This is the part of Miss A’s testimony corresponding to the first allegation.
“Then they lay in the bed. Anna was on her back and Assange was on top of her. Anna thought Assange wanted to immediately put his penis in her vagina which she didn't want as he didn't have a condom on. So she tried to twist her hips to the side and squeeze her legs together to prevent a penetration. Anna tried several times to reach for a condom which Assange stopped her from doing by holding her arms and prying open her legs and trying nevertheless to penetrate her with his penis without a condom. Anna says that in the end she was ready to cry because she was pinned and couldn't reach a condom and thought 'this might not end well'. In answer to a question Anna says Assange must have known she was trying to reach for a condom and he was holding her arms to stop her.

Assange asked after a while what Anna was doing and why she was squeezing her legs together. Anna then told him she wanted him to put on a condom before he entered her. Assange released her arms and put on the condom Anna got for him. Anna felt a huge unexpressed reluctance from Assange to using a condom which led to her getting the feeling he didn't put on the condom she'd given him. She therefore reached down with her hand to Assange's penis to check if he'd really put the condom on. She could feel that the edge of the condom was where it should be at the root of Assange's penis. Anna and Assange resumed having sex and Anna says she thought 'hope it's over soon'.”
This incident is addressed in the translator’s note.
“The 'ado' about being pinned down was obviously a total non-event. As soon as the man noticed the strange behaviour of the girl, he stopped and asked her point blank what she was doing. Aggressors don't do this.

The girl explained she was reaching for a condom. 'OK then' was the man's reply in so many words and he let her get the condom which was then used for the continuation.”
"On 13-14 August 2010, in home of the injured party [Miss A] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity. Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, consummated sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge."
This is the corresponding passage in Miss A’s testimony.
“Anna notices after a while that Assange withdraws from her to fix the condom. Judging from the sound, it sounded to Anna like Assange took the condom off. He entered her again and continued the act. Anna again checked his penis with her hand and again felt the edge of the condom where it should be and so let the sex continue.

After a while Assange ejaculates inside her and thereafter withdraws. Anna saw that the condom didn't have semen in it when Assange took it off. When Anna began moving her body she noticed how things were running out of her vagina. Anna understood rather quickly that it must be Assange's semen. She pointed this out for Assange but he denied this and told her it was she who was wet with her own juices. Anna is convinced that Assange, when he withdrew from her the first time, deliberately broken the condom at the tip and thereafter continued the sex with the resulting ejaculation. In answer to a question Anna says she didn't look closer at the condom, if it was broken as she thought, but she says she thinks she still has the condom at home and will look at it. She says that even the bed sheets used on that occasion are most likely still in her hamper.”
Assange denies this. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would deliberately break a condom and continue to use it.
"On 18 August 2010 or on any of the days before or after that date, in the home of the injured party [Miss A] in Stockholm, Julian Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity; that is, lying next to her and pressing his naked, erect penis to her body."
Corresponding testimony:
“According to Anna Assange made sexual overtures every day after that evening when they'd had sex. For example by touching her breasts. Anna rebuffed Assange on all these occasions and Assange accepted it. On one occasion, Wednesday 18 August, he'd suddenly removed all his clothing on his lower body and thereafter rubbed his lower body and his erect penis against Anna. Anna says she thought this was strange behaviour and uncomfortable and had therefore moved down to a mattress on the floor and slept there instead of up in the bed with Assange.”

I don’t find it strange that a person who had consensual sex with a lover recently would attempt to initiate sex with that individual again. 

The fourth allegation was made by Miss W.

"On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [Miss W] in Enköping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state. It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, still consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her. The sexual act was designed to violate the injured party’s sexual integrity."
This is the corresponding passage in Miss W’s testimony to the police.
“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.”

Rixstep’s translator addressed this alleged incident as well:

“The two people involved have a simple exchange of two lines each before going at it again for what likely is the fifth time in a long sleepless night. The girl's just come back to bed after being out early and shopping, the two of them make love again, and start dozing off to sleep.

Suddenly the one starts all over again. The girl senses the man is about to penetrate her.

'What are you wearing?'

'I'm wearing you.'
'I hope you don't have HIV.'
'No of course not.'

And that's it. They weren't well acquainted, the one may have conveyed a desire to always use protection, but it's impossible she would have also conveyed (or spoken outright) about her near phobia about it. Most importantly, the resumption of sex immediately after that simple exchange can in no way indicate to the man that the girl had any objections to continuing - she in fact did continue herself.”

Miss W never approved her testimony to the police. Miss W originally went to the police to see if she could compel Assange to take an STD test and was not planning on pressing charges against Assange. Miss W would later say that she felt “railroaded” by the police. The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported in September 2012 that Miss W told police that she didn’t mind Assange having unprotected sex with her. I find it likely that she is saying this in order to get her allegation against Assange dropped. I also find it likely that she was upset with him when she originally went to the police, but that she never wanted him criminally charged in the first place.

Miss A threw a crayfish party for Assange the night after she had sex with Assange when she claims two of her incidents of sexual misconduct took place. At the party she tweeted, “Sitting outdoors at 02:00 and hardly freezing with the world’s coolest and smartest people! It’s amazing!” The tweet was later deleted.
In January 2010 Miss A had posted a “7 step guide to revenge” on her blog that was later deleted.

Miss A allowed Assange to stay at her flat for several days after the night they had sex.

A condom submitted by Miss A to the police did not contain Assange’s DNA, which opens up the possibility that Miss A attempted to fabricate evidence.

All of these facts call into question the credibility of Miss A’s testimony.
All of this brings me to the conclusion that the case against Julian Assange is weak.

However, what is also clear is that Julian Assange had sex with two women in Sweden neither of which he intended to have a long term emotional relationship with. While one is free to live such a lifestyle, it is not without its potential consequences. Assange was forewarned of this, and still learned it the hard way.

Assange has only been interrogated with respect to one of the allegations and the investigation will be incomplete until it contains his responses to the other three. Assange fears that if he is extradicted to Sweden he will then be extradited to the US to face charges with regard to Wikileaks. That is why Sweden should take up Assange’s offer to be interrogated in the Ecuadorian embassy in London or by phone, both of which are allowed under Swedish law. If he is extradited to Sweden, that country should promise not to extradite him to the US. After Assange provides his testimony on the sex allegations, charges may be brought against Assange. If they are, it will then be up to the Swedish legal system to determine his guilt. Until then, it should be fair game for the public to evaluate the credibility of the allegations against him that have garnered worldwide attention and created an international standoff.


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