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Swedish envoy bashes Aussie press on Assange

Swedish envoy bashes Aussie press on Assange

Published: 26 Nov 2012 12:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Nov 2012 12:24 GMT+01:00

Sweden's ambassador to Australia took an Australian columnist to task for defending WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange against rape allegations, documents recently released by the whistleblower website reveal.

The criticism comes in an email from Swedish ambassador Sven-Olof Petersson to Elizabeth Farrelly in response to an April 12th column entitled "assange-is-stranger-than-fiction-20120411-1ws4o.html" target="_blank">Truth of Assange is stranger than fiction" in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).

Petersson offers a sarcastic thanks to Farrelly for her defence of Assange in the column.

“It is good to get this straightened out from someone who clearly was present during the 'penetrations'!” Petersson wrote in one of a series of emails published by WikiLeaks on Sunday.

Petersson also branded the newspaper "sad" for editing his response to her piece.

“The way you choose to cut down my letter sends a strong signal that while your columnists are free to write any kind of rubbish, you will not allow those effected (sic) to criticize your columnists!” he wrote in an email to editor Antony Lawes.

Petersson also told colleagues in Sweden that SMH had “mutilated” the adjoining headline.

Wikileaks’ Twitter account published a link to more than 100 pages worth of documents on Sunday and immediately faced flack on the social media site for choosing to describe Petersson’s reaction as “going berserk”.

“Berserk? I'm afraid you lost me. This kind of tabloid biased rubbish i did not expect from you,” one follower tweeted.

Another follower drew attention to the fact that the Swedish government had acted in accordance to transparency law by handing over the documents.

Assange is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations made against him by two Swedish women in 2010.

He is currently living in Ecuador's embassy in London in an ongoing bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He has repeatedly cited fears that Sweden will send him on to the USA.

Sweden's ambassador also addressed those fears in his comment published in the Sydney Morning Herald, in which he details extradition law.

"A person risking the death penalty can not be extradited. Nor can a person be extradited for 'political' or 'military' offences," the ambassador wrote.

The documents also include several emails from members of the public, many of which criticize Foreign Minister Carl Bildt for his handling of the Assange case.

The docket also contains official reports from Swedish embassy officials across the work about how local media reports about Sweden and the Assange case.

Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Anders Jörle downplayed the significance of the documents' release.

"We're the ones who made these documents public," he told The Local.

All official documents that are not classified can be obtained by members of the public in Sweden (offentlighetsprincipen), he underlined.

"We are not biting our nails over this and I see no reason to review how the ambassador reacted to the media reports," Anders Jörle told The Local.

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Your comments about this article

14:51 November 26, 2012 by RobinHood
In most countries, politicians do not comment on ongoing legal investigations or prosecutions for fear of being accused of influencing the decisions of police, prosecutors and judges, who are supposed to be independent.

Last year, the world watched in complete bemusement while the Swedish Prime Minister, in his own Parliament, critcised Mr Assange's defence. In some countries, the Prime Minister might have been charged with the crime of contempt of court. Now we learn that a Swedish ambassador has taken to writing to journalists who question the sagacity of the Assange investigation?

Has Sweden's political establishment taken leave of its senses? To jurists and journalists from the rest of the world, this all looks absolutely terrible. The young ladies may or may not have been raped, but Sweden's international reputation as a place where the conventional rules of law apply is splayed over a barrel, legs akimbo.
15:00 November 26, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
There are responsible journalists who have instead of writing informative articles have embraced strange assumptions in support of Julian Assange. It might be that some believe that journalists must stand up for journalists, and for some Austrilian journalist to shame to their government into repatriating Assange.
16:02 November 26, 2012 by Willy
I think the only possible news angle here is "Swedish Official Grossly Overestimates his English Language Skills", which is kind of funny, but hardly shocking. "Misuse of the exclamation mark" is not a crime in either Australia or Sweden.

And a double facepalm for Wikileaks claiming to "release" documents that are part of the public record. Remember why you were so interested in Sweden in the first place?
03:33 November 27, 2012 by Sven-Ingvar
Australian Government, unlike Sweden, have no say in what the "media" publish, spin or twist. Only Rupert Murdoch has this ability, probably worldwide!
08:27 November 27, 2012 by Nomark
Robinhood

As well documented (http://www.thelocal.se/30628/20101206/), you have a bit of difficulty with the concept of the presumption of innocence until someone is proven to be guilty. Until you get this rather simple point you perhaps you ought not to be commenting on legal matters.
09:59 November 27, 2012 by rolfkrohna
So the Swedish diplomats are now lecturing Aussies how to behave in their own county. I thought diplomats were not allowed to interfere in another county internal matters. As Sweden is largely controlled by the US, Assange has every reason i the world to fee unsafe if coming here. US say "jump", the Swedish government say "how high". Sweden is no longer a safe country with open justice. Nice to see at least there is one Aussie journo speaking out. More of that please/
21:09 November 27, 2012 by unionisten
@RolfKrohna your a funny guy since when is what that journalist wrote somthing that only matters to australia, or are you condemnung equador to interfere in the legal process aswell? Sweden is a very safe country vith open justice
19:21 November 28, 2012 by triple
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/ambassadors-rage-doesnt-dispel-facts-20121128-2ae99.html

This is the most recent response from from Elizabeth Farrelly. She is a well regarded and highly respected journalist. Maybe The Local could learn something...
09:13 November 29, 2012 by smilingjack
nice work triple - you beat me to it.

the entire world knows these 2 girls are repugnant, vial liars and sweden has been told what to do by the USA and are doing exactly what they are told. do what ever they can to get him to sweden so the USA can get their hands on him.

if the article had a pair of boobs as the headline Im sure the local would run it.

how about a piece on these 2 girls including interviews with former partners, work colleagues and the like to expose what they are really like and how much the government paid them.
09:36 November 29, 2012 by unionisten
@smilingjack how much did you pay for your tinnfoil hat?
00:00 December 1, 2012 by Cocoa Jackson
There is no doubt these accusations have been made and exploited for political reasons, wether justified 'in law' or not. The issue at hand is not simply the allegation of local law breaking, because it was going to be something, somewhere, if not in Sweden.

Any assumption or justification the 'prosecutor' here in Sweden or government officials in all countries concerned have not acted politically on some level, is utterly naive. Handing over Julian Assange to America can be be easily justified, because extradition will be legally crafted to avoid breaching 'local' laws. Press support will spin supporting it and he will end up incarcerated or worse. All over unproven 'local' unfalsifiable allegations.

The real issue is the 'internet' and its integration into our lives giving unprecedented access to us all. Access by those wishing us well and otherwise. We all need to use hard critical thinking to set aside our bias when accessing the value systems in play here, even if it is just for purely selfish reasons. Make no mistake the 'Assange Saga', is about personal freedom. It is our choice which side we support.
22:27 December 21, 2012 by FatherJon
Sweden's reputation as a bastion of freedom has hit the dirt with its war on Assange. The Ambassador can rave on all he wants.

The Ecuadorans, and Assange, have freely said he's open for 'interview' by the Swedish Prosecutor, a procedure that has happened in other cases where the Prosecutor has travelled overseas.

It's very clear that Sweden is conspiring with the US to extradite Assange as soon as he lands in Sweden. The fact that the Swedish banks are scutting off his money, as have the American banks and PayPal, is a clear confirmation of conspiracy.

Assange's own Australian Govt. is also to be condemned for its lack of support.
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