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Lawyers connect Interpol alert to WikiLeaks anger

AFP/The Local · 1 Dec 2010, 18:00

Published: 01 Dec 2010 16:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Dec 2010 18:00 GMT+01:00

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UK-based Media lawyer Mark Stephens refused, however, to give the whereabouts of the 39-year-old Australian, for whom the global police agency issued a so-called "red notice" for questioning on suspicion of rape on behalf of Sweden.

"This is a persecution and not a prosecution," Stephens said in a statement.

"At this point in time we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables," Stephens said.

"However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation."

He said it appeared to be a "unique action" by Swedish prosecutors.

The statement mirrored comments by Assange's Swedish lawyer, Björn Hurtig on Wednesday afternoon. While WikiLeaks have on occasion linked the allegations to a "hidden US agenda", Assange's lawyers have not until now.

"It is very surprising that Interpol takes such extreme measures for something that the appeals court has said is less serious. This seems ridiculous," he said while raising the possibility that there may be other motives behind the refusal of Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny to allow Assange a hearing by videolink or at a Swedish embassy.

"There must be something else behind this. Is my immediate reaction. And that is of course WikiLeaks. Then it is up to each and everyone to draw their own conclusions," Hurtig said, with Mark Stephens even comparing Ny to Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, Stalin's notorious security chief.

"We are also investigating whether the prosecutor's application to have Mr Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners -- again a unique request -- is in any way linked to this matter (the WikiLeaks data release) and the recent, rather bellicose US statements of an intention to prosecute Mr Assange."

Hurtig went on to repeat Assange's assertion that he had repeatedly made himself available to the Swedish authorities for interview and that he had sought permission to leave Sweden, repeatedly describing Marianne Ny as "the prosecutrix".

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused WikiLeaks on Monday of an "attack on the international community" by releasing the vast trove of leaked US diplomat memos containing a string of embarrassing revelations.

Story continues below…

Earlier this month Stephens told AFP that Assange was in Britain, but he did not give details on where his client was now.

Sweden's International Public Prosecution Office in Gothenburg issued an arrest warrant for the secretive activist on November 18th, citing "probable cause of suspected rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion."

Assange has contested Sweden's international arrest warrant in a Stockholm appeals court, but his first bid to get it thrown out was rejected last week and he has lodged a second appeal.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:04 December 1, 2010 by stillwatersrd
In the next life, Assange may want to come back as a cartoonist; he'd be safer.
17:43 December 1, 2010 by planet.sweden
Stirring up the conspiracy pot like this is a very low shot by Assange and shows he is prepared, contrary to the supposed spirit of his organization, to put his personal considerations before the wider good of society.

If the allegations have no foundation why is he on the run?

If the allegations have no foundation why doesn't he come and face them in Sweden?

Or is he also now suggesting that the entire Swedish legal system is in the pocket of the CIA.

Is he suggesting the two Swedish women who accused him of assault are agents of the US government? Then why not come and say that to their faces Mr Assange and see if they have something to say about that!?

I also have my small part as a witness in this sorry saga. The Wednesday BEFORE this story broke I was in the "grown ups" bar in Riche with a friend and who should we see? Yep none other than Julian Assange, alone at the bar. Now if there's one thing a guy knows it's when another guy is out on the pull. And I'm telling everyone that Assange was that night (after he had already allegedly attacked two women) very definitely out on the pull. We lost sight of him after he gave up with the adults and disappeared off into the "junior" bar in Riche popular with students and the 20 somethings.

So please don't anyone try and tell me that Assange wasn't out to enjoy himself with the ladies while in Sweden last August, I saw him in action with my own eyes!
17:45 December 1, 2010 by Kalyissa
He needs to run and hide far away from the Americans in my opinion. I have enjoyed reading about the leaks, it has been some entertaining reading. Shows up a lot of embarrasment for world leaders and the Americans. It will show them to be carefull what they say behind peoples backs :)

(I'm a Brit living in Sweden)
18:13 December 1, 2010 by itsspideyman
He has a real chance of a public relations coup and he's missing it. If all these allegations are false, bring them to the open light of publicity and make fools of the governments issuing these warrents. Afterall, isn't that what Wikileaks is supposed to be about?

If on the other hand he is guilty, he'd better dig a hole for himself and make sure it's deep.
18:16 December 1, 2010 by Kalyissa
But I can understand if hes worried about handing himself in. Though he would probably be safer in a prison here than if the Americans get hold of him.
18:34 December 1, 2010 by LordSqueak
The US Conspiracy (if you belive in that.), made a grave mistake trying to entrap Assange with a rape crime. That might work in the US, but here in sweden, the praxis is to lets rapists walk free.
19:15 December 1, 2010 by don willer
I am a conservative with a social conscience and support the U.S for the most part. It is important for Sweden to be even handed and seen to be even handed, the prosecutor must see that justice is done and seen to be done, nothing less will do. If the Swedish security service is found to be involved in a coordinated action to wrongfully smear Assange now or at a later date shame on Sweden. Swedish citizens should not allow their country's reputation be sullied.
19:27 December 1, 2010 by Göteborgare
Mr Assange should fight the allegations of rape against him. But when it comes to exposing the card games played by US and some other politicians, I don't know how much freedom of speech Swedish constitution and judiciary would like to offer. US state Secy Hillary Clinton´s states that exposures made by wikileaks is an attack on the international community. So one whom US politicians consider an enemy should also be an enemy of the international community..not so logically explainable.
21:12 December 1, 2010 by gmfm
If he has done nothing wrong and has nothing to fear, then what's he hiding from?
21:35 December 1, 2010 by thebittertruth
Anybody asking why Assange is hiding is simply naive : naive because they want him to give in himself for a crime everybody knows is a no-crime, i,e telling the bitter truth the way we all hate it.

In this game where the authorities want to play judge and lawmaker at same time, there is no way ASSANGE shall ever come out innocent.

A cockroach has NEVER been innocent in a gathering of fowls, and thats what Assange is now ..A COCKROACH.

Assange needs his freedom to prove himself innocent, but now that even the jurisprudence of presumed innocence until proven guilty has been thrown to the DOGS, then ASSANGE cannot pretend to be a gentleman and JUST HAND HIMSELF IN to be slaughtered by the same people who have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent victims without any pity..SHAME UNTO ALL THESE POLITICIANS WHO HAVE NO CONSCIENCE
22:16 December 1, 2010 by heroine
@thebittertruth....> well said !

In the eyes of the USA authorities Assange has become the 2nd Osama Bin Laden to destroy.

They are going to do anything...i repete anything to destroy him.

Obviously the Swedish justice and government are working for the US. What a shame !

The truth is really bitter !
22:25 December 1, 2010 by Eric Cantona
PLANET SWEDEN: What judical planet are you actually from?

So you saw a guy in a bar in Stockholm having a drink, and seeing what's about.... Oh, shock horror, a hetro male in a bar where hetro females also gather. He's a rapist! Burn Him.

What seems to have been forgotten is the lift-him-leave-him issue at the start of the 'allegation'. First a warrant was issued, then withdrawn as being without foundation - WHILE HE WAS STILL IN SWEDEN and volunteering himself to authorities.

A few months down the line just before the biggest of the leakages, suddenly Interpol are involved to find him and invite the newly labled 'cyber-terrorist' on a free rendition flight, to somewhere. Hopefully Sweden for his sake.

For the record, I think the whole thing is a mess and actually rather wreckless disclosure of confidential correspondence. Mostly for no reason other than high-level international bitching. I also think some of the 'revelations' have been planted for various agendas...
23:15 December 1, 2010 by marianne667
We don't need to worry about Assange for too much longer he will probably end up dead very soon if he is not already.
01:52 December 2, 2010 by sgt_doom
This is a horribly coded site, I'm never able to post anything. Seems like a Svensk government honey pot, as no one else could code a site this pathetically.
04:50 December 2, 2010 by jackx123
haha what a joke this is. RED alert for "for questioning on suspicion of rape"

Sweden has KNOWN refugee rapists. are they deported. and the ones that flee the country are the sought after by interpol.

"for questioning on suspicion of rape" there has to be some censorship in this ridiculous saga. i hope the women get a loooooong jail sentence for these BS allegations.

I demand to see the medical records showing rape
12:39 December 2, 2010 by RobinHood
"We are also investigating whether the prosecutor's application to have Mr Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners -- again a unique request -- is in any way linked to this matter ….."

How often does a prosecutor ask for a defendant to be held incommunicado (even from his/her own lawyers) in a sexual offences case? I would guess never before this case. Why this particular case?

This is quite an interesting constitutional dilemma. A government should never interfere with a criminal prosecution. But what if the prosecutor is acting, not in the interests and on behalf of Sweden; but in the interests, and on behalf of a foreign power?

The moral position is surely that a Swedish prosecutor represents Sweden first, foremost and only; and does not take orders from any other country. The legal position is not so clear. Is the government entitled to dismiss the prosecutor for breaching his/her duty to be independent? Should the prosecutor be disbarred from law altogether? I suspect no one knows the answer because such a weird situation has never happened before.

Oh Sweden, how did you get into this mess?
14:53 December 2, 2010 by Nomark

Regarding the incommunicado request, how often does the name of the alleged rape victims get disseminated on the web by supporters of the alleged rapist ? The abuse that one alleged victim has received (she's "the most hated woman in the internet" apparently) is pretty shocking. Perhaps the prosecutor is worried that JA was behind this in some way.

BTW I'm still curious as to how I'm a hypocrite, how you draw the conclusion that I think JA's innocence should be proven and the specific facts to which I supposedly have a casual attitude. I shan't ask again since I'm sure I'll then be labelled as a troll (in addition to the many other names I've been called). However, I feel rather strongly that those who make allegations have a responsibility to back them up. To do otherwise is a little lame.
19:23 December 2, 2010 by virtdave
I'd be more convinced that Sweden was not just participating in a honeypot sting against Assange if they and/or Interpol also issued an arrest warrant for Berlusconi, whose shenanigans are at least as slimy.
22:07 December 2, 2010 by planet.sweden
@Eric Cantona

The relevance of my point is that by the time I saw Assange in the bar he was already aware that two previous women he had recently met in Sweden were pressing charges against him (although the wider world weren't to learn of this for few more days). Despite this he was once again out in the bars chasing chicks. I'd say the guy has a problem. Wouldn't you?

Would you be out chasing in a foreign country if you'd just learnt that the last two women you'd met in that country were pressing charges against you?

And this guy claims to be a victim of a US conspiracy. Hah! I'd say he's a victim of nothing more than the fact that his brain is located somewhere within his boxers, and he still doesn't understand that "No" means "No".
06:58 December 4, 2010 by Onivan
Question: Will the quality of journalism and media reporting, in the US, Sweden and elsewhere, improve as a result of this WikiLeaks saga?
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