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Assange: Swedish rape case 'an empty black box'

AFP/The Local · 8 Feb 2011, 12:23

Published: 08 Feb 2011 12:23 GMT+01:00

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The 39-year-old Australian's lawyer Geoffrey Robertson is expected to argue that Assange could face the death penalty if extradited on from Sweden to the United States on separate charges relating to the whistleblowing website.

The lawyer spent the first day of the two-day hearing Monday arguing that Assange would face a "flagrant denial of justice" if extradited over allegations of rape and molestation.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange over allegations he raped one woman in Sweden and sexually molested another, moves which he claims are

politically motivated.

The former computer hacker arrived at the high-security Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in southeast London wearing a blue suit, white shirt and a red tie and waved cheerily to supporters in the public gallery as he made his way to the dock.

Following the end of the first day's evidence, Assange claimed that a "black box" of accusations against him was being opened to inspection and that the claims of his alleged victims were "empty".

"On the outside of that black box has been written the word 'rape'. That box is now, thanks to an open court process, being opened," he told reporters outside court.

"I hope over the next day we will see that that box is in fact empty and has nothing to do with the words that are on the outside of it."

The judge is expected to defer his ruling until later this month. If the decision goes against Assange, he will be able to appeal all the way to England's supreme court.

Robertson said a rape trial in Sweden would violate Assange's human rights.

"He would be tried behind closed doors in a flagrant denial of justice," he told the court.

"The Swedish custom and practice of throwing the press and public out of court when rape trials begin is one that we say is blatantly unfair, not only by British standards but also by European standards," Robertson added.

Assange's lawyers are also expected to argue that the extradition request is unacceptable because he has not been charged with any crime.

Having won worldwide notoriety for his website's release of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables, Assange insists his real fear is that Washington will try to persuade Sweden to pass him on to American authorities.

Robertson argued that a rape charge would not count as rape under European law.

"The (Swedish) prosecutor describes this charge as 'minor rape'. That is a contradiction in terms, rape is not a minor offence," the lawyer said.

But Clare Montgomery, representing the Swedish authorities, said the arrest warrant alleges that Assange had sexual intercourse with one of the women

"improperly exploiting the fact that she was asleep".

Story continues below…

Montgomery said talk of extradition to the United States "depends on a factual hypothesis that has not yet been established as being real".

Assange, who was arrested in London on December 7th, faces a widening criminal probe in the United States having enraged Washington by releasing the cables detailing US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the work of US diplomats.

He was released on bail a week after his arrest and has been staying at a supporter's country mansion under strict conditions.

Meanwhile a British journalist from The Guardian has been expelled from Russia after he reported claims in the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that the country had become a "mafia state", the newspaper said.

Luke Harding, the daily's Moscow correspondent, flew back to the Russian capital at the weekend after two months in London reporting on the contents of the US cables, given to his paper by WikiLeaks.

But he was refused entry when his passport was checked on arrival.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:51 February 8, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
lets put aside how much BS this entire circus is for a moment.

is it 1860?

why don't they just hook up a web cam and ask the questions ?

and i'm just curious, how many people have been extradited from one country to the other based on pure allegations in the past?

how many people have had a TWO DAY trial for extradition based on simple allegations?

i'm pretty sure its ZERO.
12:52 February 8, 2011 by apelsin000
It is getting boring ...
13:17 February 8, 2011 by John Wayne
String him up with a rusty chain...
13:32 February 8, 2011 by Rishonim
Since when has Sweden been so interested in a rape case?
14:05 February 8, 2011 by Syftfel
While, based on what I've read in tghe media, I don't particularly like Assange - he has made himself guilty of all kinds of disgusting breaches of etiquette - he is right. The Swdeish rape case is an empty black box. There's something else going on here. Were he to be extratided for this, it should unleash a barrage of extraditions for a lot worse cases, rapes and worse. I don't think the Swedish justice system could then hanlde all the "extraditions" which, in fairness, would have to ensue. Just think of all the sharia infractions that have occurred in violation pf Swedish law, and where the perpetrator is hiding, comfortably, in some alien land. Let's extradite them too. But I would pay money to find out what really lies behind all this Assange extradition chatter.
14:09 February 8, 2011 by nyh2o
its a total farse...but i worry that he has angered america too much to get away from this =(.
14:17 February 8, 2011 by svenne101
yes it is a empty box , in your opinion but it is crime as per swedish law.
14:21 February 8, 2011 by saraswed
this guy has one his representatives a woman.i wonder what are argument is .this case concerns two ladies.is it all about money for being a lawyer?.i guess a law profession do not do with conscience.am saying if this guy actually committed this crime would he admit to his lawyers and one of them a woman and yet she argues.what about if it happened to one of her own would she smack someone on the face ???
14:46 February 8, 2011 by Israeli Jew
I love this man. He taught the Swedes and the entire universe lessons and manners :)
14:54 February 8, 2011 by J Jack
I think he has a great sense of humor .. she: Are you wearing something? he: Yes, you! ha ha ha aharardihar! It's a classic.
16:43 February 8, 2011 by bob3000

What is the lesson being taught, start something potentially noble, then kakk all over it - demean it, by using it to deflect evidence of your toxic personality and poon chasing ass?

The manners? By posting these sad xenophobic comments, with the login name you have chosen, you are letting your country and your people down.

Please do not drag up history in a response, to justify your hate. It is just ignorant hate.

Shame on you, shame on you.

@J Jack

If you get yourself raped and penetrated, perish the thought - ask him "Are you wearing anything?" I'm sure it will break the ice and make you realise it's nothing personal. Pretend it's your safe word.

This is all too, too boring. He could make this all go away by going to Sweden and answering the questions in the investigation.

All this conspiracy guff, is just that...guff.

Great rapist humour.
04:43 February 9, 2011 by philster61
"yes it is a empty box , in your opinion but it is crime as per swedish law. "

How can it be a crime if he hasn't even been charged? It doesn't get any weirder than Swedish law. Your basically publicly convicted in Sweden before you even have a chance to defend yourself.
09:38 February 9, 2011 by bob3000
Assange turned this into a media circus. It could have been cleared out long ago.
13:42 February 10, 2011 by Steve911
The fact is that if JA voluntary goes to or is extradited to Sweden, he will immediately be arrested and held in detention on arrival for perhaps over a year in some stinking jail for foreigners. The Swedes already managed to get him locked up in prison in the UK for about 10 days. The main purpose is to deny him access to the internet and the media so it will slow down the release of the Wikileak logs. The legal case the Swedes are purporting to pursue against JA is a sham. Tabloid newspapers love a good sex story, especially when its distracts people from reading the real message about the corruption and illegal activities of our governments exposed by Wikileaks.

Many UK legal experts doubt if Sweden will succeed in get JA extradited for so called questioning. So Sweden should brace itself for heavy court costs and serious international embarrassment. Even, if they get him to Sweden, what then? He will just say, 'you have already questioned me and I have answered your questions, I have nothing further to say. Charge me or let me go. There is no new evidence other than the SMS messages of the 2 women (which you don't let me see), so perhaps you should question the women about them.' The fact that Ms Ny doesn't have the guts to charge JA proves that even she knows that the case against JA is extremely weak. It is unlikely that his so called accusers will give evidence in court against JA because they would lay themselves open to a charge of perjury and in any event one of them is living in Palestine now.

14:21 February 10, 2011 by bob3000

Dream on.

If he seriously thought the (i) CIA (ii) US (iii) other dark forces, were out for him - he could have been more circumspect.

If look at the facts, he got himself into this. His penis, his decision.

Wikileaks is more than him. If anything it makes more people visit the site and has done - http://stats.grok.se/en/201012/Wikileaks.

So the publishing will continue with or without him. How is that hindering wikileaks, rips a hole in your thin theory.

The conspiracy postulating is just hole ridden.
11:36 February 11, 2011 by Steve911

So what are you saying? That JA should be a man, go to Sweden and spend a year or more in a Swedish prison waiting for some nut-job lesbo prosecutor to join the real world and realise that actually he hasn't committed any crime?

If you bother to read the link I sent showing his lawyers arguments in court you will see his defence is based on solid legal principles, not trashy recycled news that you read on this site or fanciful conspiracy theories.
18:19 February 11, 2011 by bob3000

You assume I do not read any other media, just because I do not agree with you. Selectively linking to another article, does not a balanced argument make.

"...he got himself into this. His penis, his decision." In the context of what happened after, do you deny that?
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