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Assange lawyer: fair trial for Julian in Sweden

David Landes · 24 Feb 2011, 14:33

Published: 24 Feb 2011 14:33 GMT+01:00

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Speaking shortly after a UK court ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden, Swedish defence attorney Björn Hurtig, who represents the WikiLeaks founder in Sweden, reiterated his disdain for the handling of his client's case by Swedish prosecutors.

"I've long had concerns about how the objectivity of the prosecutors and how they've handled the case," he told The Local.

"They've continued to delay the case and made claims that Julian hasn't been available to be interviewed. They could have interviewed him before. I've been saying that for a long time."

Hurtig explained that Assange's fears about receiving a fair trial in Sweden also stem from the actions of prosecutors in their handling of the case up to this point.

While sharing his client's negative views about Swedish prosecutors, Hurtig nevertheless defended the Swedish courts against charges that his client wouldn't receive a fair trial in Sweden.

"I'm not concerned how he'll be treated if the case makes it to a court in Sweden," he said, adding that Swedish judges were not the problem, but the merits of the case itself.

"Whatever happened today in London, it doesn't change the fact that the rape case against Julian is very weak," said Hurtig.

Assange has yet to be formally charged with any crime in Sweden as prosecutors continue to carryout their investigation into accusations of rape and sexual molestation filed by two women following an August encounter with the 39-year-old Australian during a visit to Sweden.

Hurtig, who was called to testify by his client's British legal team at the WikiLeaks founder's extradition hearing in London, was roundly criticised in the ruling issued on Thursday by Judge Howard Riddle, who called the Swedish lawyer "unreliable" claiming he had attempted to "mislead the court".

"Mr. Hurtig said in his statement that it was astonishing that Ms. Ny made no effort to interview his client. In fact this is untrue," judge Riddle wrote in the ruling, referring to Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny.

The statements refer to evidence provided by Hurtig regarding efforts made by Ny to question Assange in her investigation into rape and sex-crime allegations against him.

Hurtig at first told the court that Ny hadn't attempted to interview Assange. He later amended his statement to include text message traffic between him and Ny which he said he had forgotten.

While Hurtig eventually corrected his statement, he did so in a "low key" way which at first resulted in the judge Riddle failing to grasp the significance of the oversight.

"I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake," wrote the judge.

"It cannot have slipped his mind. For over a week he was attempting (he says without success) to contact a very important client about a very important matter. The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court."

While Hurtig had not yet reviewed the ruling, he was quick to dismiss the judge's claims about his reliability.

Story continues below…

"I'm a reliable person; I'm a reliable witness," he told The Local.

"There are unreliable people involved in the case, but I'm not one of them."

He also dismissed claims that Assange's extradition to Sweden would pave the way for his eventual extradition to the United States to face possible charges related to WikiLeaks' release of thousands of classified US government documents.

"I don't think he'll be extradited from Sweden to the United States," he said.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:11 February 24, 2011 by UScitizen
Judge Howard Riddle, who called the Swedish lawyer (Swedish defence attorney Björn Hurtig, who represents the WikiLeaks founder in Sweden.) "unreliable"

claiming he had attempted to "mislead the court".

Gee, didn't his British lawyers do the same thing???
16:17 February 24, 2011 by Liquidmonkey

why doesn't the prosecution fly over to the UK to ask these questions?

why don't they do a web-cam chat?

why didn't they ask JA when he was in sweden?

why don't they make a simple phone call?

why hasn't he been charged with anything? oh wait, he has not done anything wrong.

i've never seen more of a misuse of INTERPOL, political powers or the legal system as i have with this case. WOW!
16:26 February 24, 2011 by UScitizen

"why hasn't he been charged with anything? oh wait, he has not done anything wrong."


Seeing how he is fighting this, I've never seen more misuse of common sense!
16:33 February 24, 2011 by hogar2010
It's sad, but no-one expects Assange to get a fair trial in Sweden.
17:25 February 24, 2011 by Steve911
Have you ever heard of anyone outside of Sweden being accused of rape because their condom broke or because their partner was sleeping (not including drink / drug cases)? Pleassssse give me a break, I wasn't born yesterday. This case is costing Swedish & UK taxpayers millions. There is no justification for the authorities pursing this case if it was just about crime, there is a political dimension. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. I'm not normally into conspiracy theories but I think if JA ends up being locked up incommunicado for a year or so in Sweden awaiting trial, it will be job done for the American, Swedish & UK political establishment, as Wikileaks will have all blown over by then. As for the 2 women involved who claim to be political activist's of the left, their political principles seemed to evaporate fast as soon as hard cash was dangled in front of them by a certain Swedish tabloid, doesn't that seem strange?
17:26 February 24, 2011 by big5
@Steve911 Third time you cut and paste the exact same thing. So much for taking you seriously
17:27 February 24, 2011 by UScitizen
@ Steve911

You're right.... this case IS costing Swedish & UK taxpayers millions. And Assange sho be forced to reinburse both countries for those costs.
17:28 February 24, 2011 by Nomark
@hogar2010 + many others.

Just because a lot of people assert something doesn't make it so. What is important is whether or not an assertion stands up to scrutiny,.

For example, with regard to the much maligned Ny, here is what the UK judge had to say. Unlike you, me and everyone else on this forum he had the opportunity to cross-examine people who had serious criticisms to make. The same people had also popped up in the press and helped whip up the whole media frenzy concerning the prosecutor's actions.

If you disagree with the judge then please point out specifically where the judge is wrong i.e. pls don't just blow hot air. Lest I be accused of selective editing, the full judgement can be found at http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/...ge-judgment.pdf.

" The defence have had the opportunity to attack the credibility of the

witness, and have taken that opportunity. In fact the attack on credibility amounts to very little. The main criticism comes from the Swedish judge, Brita Sundberg-Weitman. She does not know Ms Ny. She bases her opinion on what she has been told by this defendant's lawyers and articles she had read in the press. In fact she produced comparatively little evidence to support her strong criticism of Ms Ny. I refer briefly to that part of her evidence at page 3 above. Moreover she confirmed that she had no direct personal knowledge of what had happened in the investigation. Her evidence is based upon facts supplied to her by the defence lawyers. Mr Hurtig denied telling her that Ms Ny had made no effort to interview his client. He has never met her. There is therefore no clear evidence as to the source of the information on which Brita Sundberg-Weitman formed her opinion. One probable explanation is that Mr Assange's London lawyers provided her with material they had in turn received from Mr Hurtig. However there are other explanations and the evidence is simply unclear on this point. Mr Alhem expressly made no judgement on Ms Ny. Mr Hurtig clearly does know the prosecutor personally. He has not directly accused her of lying, or of malicious intent, but has strongly criticised her judgement. However, insofar as there were significant differences between his evidence and her evidence on facts known to them both, he conceded in cross-examination that her evidence is substantially correct."

This is the same Hurtig who is making criticisms about Ny in the article above...
17:55 February 24, 2011 by Nemesis
Sounds like Assange needs a new Swedish lawyer.
18:56 February 24, 2011 by mibrooks27
Fair? Ha! Allowing Sweden's grubby little sociopath, Ny, to get her hands on Assange (or any other male) is as much a miscarriage of justice as allowing Hitler to decide the fate of Jews. The question that needs to be asked, given that Ny is a deranged male hating swine, what on earth is Sweden doing, allowing her to exercise *any* kind of power in their legal system? Sweden, the whore of the US, Wall Street's brothel, a nation of bedwetters, cowards, and morons that handed it's future off to a collection of 21st Century Nazis.
19:20 February 24, 2011 by dogfido
Of course Assange won't get a "fair" this whole thing is a set up by Karl Rove, the Wallenbergs, and Fredrik Reinfeldt. Google that and find out what is really going on!
19:25 February 24, 2011 by philster61
So he will get a fair trial in Sweden will he?

Yeah right. I'm the Pope

19:30 February 24, 2011 by mibrooks27
Wikileak's exposure that Gaddafi has more than $50 billion dollars in US banks and billions more in Sweden's banks, that the US and the U.K. and Sweden and France have sold him the arms he and the other Arab dictatorships use to murder their own people, the government's protection of the scum that compose these nation's elite, investor class, is the real reason for this decision.
19:43 February 24, 2011 by Zala Russe
I think everyone should read the full judgment.

The Catch-22 I find in this is that Assange IS being extradited for PROSECUTION. That is repeated at the core of Ny's EAW extradition request, Assange is named as a SUSPECT. The extradition request has been granted on the strength of the request i.e. not 'wanted for questioning BUT for prosecution'

According to Swedish law he CANNOT face prosecution until a Preliminary Hearing has been held, and he has been interviewed. However, this gross distortion of Swedish justice by Ny falls outside the actual remit of the English Court's consideration.

Two wrongs making a right.
19:47 February 24, 2011 by conboy
In a best case scenario it is a political show trial where Bildt and Rheineldt can win kudos with the Americans in a worst case scenario Assange will be harmed or handed over to the Americans - they run the Moderates after all!
20:16 February 24, 2011 by Nomark
I see lots of Ny-hating here yet nobody has responded to my post in which I quote from the judgement that the judge found attacks on Ny's credibility unconvincing. Unlike all of you he had actually cross-examined the critics and looked at their evidence base.

This Ny-hating, JA-loving discussion is resembling something out of a church i.e. a faith-based thing in which reason and criticism are unwelcome.
20:52 February 24, 2011 by mibrooks27
Nomark - Excuse me! Ny, and this is a part of public records, was a past CIA employee! She worked for the US government AND has been in contact with the Obama White House, about turning Assange over to them! If you don't find THAT troubling, you are nuts. This is the same White House that ordered a CIA contract assassination team into Pakistan and, when the agent was caught, claimed he was a diplomate. This is an Administration that has assembled an alphabet soup of secret police and intelligence agencies that routinely denies American's the right to even leave the US, monitors private emails, has new laws that permit them to arrest and hold people without any cause other than the mere "suspicion" of "domestic terrorism" (e.g. someone critical of them). And never forgot that this Administration has protected and covered up the machinations of Wall Street banks that wrecked the economies of Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, etc., that looted Norway's retirement funds, that has manipulated the prices of food and fuel. In fact, the recent revolt in Egypt was almost entirely due to the loss of textile jobs and sky rocketing food and fuel prices. Those textile jobs was established as a carrot to get Egypt to sign onto the peace accords with Israel. Wall Street, finding they could get slave labor in China to do the work for even less ($0.97 an hour total labor cost) outsourced those jobs to China and, piling on, manipulated food prices to levels where people were literally starving to death. And they did this with the full knowledge and approval of the corrupt cockroaches in the White House. Now, Egypt (and Jordan) are going to abrogate those peace accords and we are going to have was in he Middle East, deaths, human misery on levels not imaginable. All because a few greedy dirtbags and their political toy poodles saw some quick money. Make no mistake about it, Ny and the clowns in the Swedish government are part and partial to this international scheme to silence Wikileaks. They are as much criminals as Obama or Bush or the Clintons or Gaddaffi or Mubarak or Hitler.
20:59 February 24, 2011 by Ivan Juric
I was in Sweden last year...I'm really glad I did not have sex with anyone there. Now I know alot of the men in Sweden have Thai wives....we (Australia) are becoming more of a Femo-nazi state also...with our Prime Minister who was not even elected by the majority and willingness to be complicit in Mr Assange demise....so much for freedom of speech...
23:05 February 24, 2011 by Sion1
Perhaps Mr. Assange did in fact rape someone in Sweden. But from my vantage point here in the US, it LOOKS as though the case against him is extremely weak. The Swedish judicial system is, I think, open to ridicule.
23:40 February 24, 2011 by Nilspet
If you want to chat with Assange, go to www.aftonbladet.se
00:05 February 25, 2011 by superturbo
Just extradite this Assranger now and get lousy story over with...
00:51 February 25, 2011 by muscle
I am bored. lets start the immigrants war.
02:02 February 25, 2011 by sgt_doom
I think the true question should be:

Why hasn't Carl Bildt been extradited to Sudan to stand trial for his responsibility in those thousands killed and massacred while he was a director with Lundin Petroleum???

03:14 February 25, 2011 by wishUlistenup
Fair! ???

This is just political conspiracy at top level! Makes me sick to my stomach!

Last week there was articles how they are manipulating and backdoor all the loop holes they can find to get him sent to the US!

They have already considered and decided that he is to get the death centence in the US.

This is all fabricated over FALSE sex allegations and FBI plants. "broken condoms" - "he assulted me". Gee whiz! There is no justice any more!

The suicide bomber in Stockholm was created by the US also to prove there are "threats" by the muslims. Thanks Obama! I wonder WHO should really be in jail?
05:42 February 25, 2011 by UScitizen
@ wishUlistenup

I hope your stomach feels better now. It's always good to vent. We all believe you and love you. Now put your straight jacket back on and go play nice with the other loonies.
05:56 February 25, 2011 by Nomark

JA's lawyers put up a number of people to discredit Ny. Upon examination of the "evidence" and cross examination of the critics, the arguments against Ny were found to be unconvincing. The whole process is a matter of public record.

Rant away against Ny all you want, its a free world. However, please don't pretend that you in any way have performed more a systematic and unbiased assessment of her than the UK judge. You haven't. None of you Ny-haters have.

Its all rather pathetic.
12:09 February 25, 2011 by mikewhite
Ny - wasn't she one of the Moomin characters; no, that was My ...
14:37 February 25, 2011 by Steve911

Regarding your comments on the JA extradition hearing yesterday:

The working assumption of the court from the start is that JA should be extradited. Which means JA has to prove everything beyond all reasonable doubt, all the prosecution have to do is sit back and look for holes in the defence.

The judge wasn't sympathetic to JA and even had him locked up for about 10 days in December.

The defence evidence was put under a microscope by the judge and he found that JA's Swedish lawyers evidence had some error, which undermined his credibility. The judge used this to undermine the evidence of 2 other Swedish defence witnesses.

The judge wasn't prepared to look at anything other than the words written on the EAW to answer the question of whether JA was wanted for questioning or prosecution.

Regarding your support for the fragrant Ms Ny; the fact is she didn't have the guts to come to London to give evidence before the Judge and in fact her written statement for the court was regarded as hearsay and the judge said he would give it little weight, which rather weakens your argument that she was correct on all points.

What you have failed to take into account is that most Swedes, including the eminent Brita Sundberg-Weitman know from common knowledge that Ms Ny is a man hating radical feminist with an extremist political agenda. Unfortunately common knowledge and common sense are often not given much weight in court.
17:59 February 25, 2011 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
What I want to know is what is going to happen to Assange's Swedish lawyer who, under oath, delibrately tried to mislead the court.
20:03 February 25, 2011 by Steve911

He does not have any standing as a lawyer in a British court, so he would only be considered a witness. The judge didn't allege contempt of court, so I doubt if he will have any problems in the UK. He did make a quick exit from court so I guess he is not taking any chances.

I don't know if he will have any trouble in Sweden with the bar, perhaps you can tell me?

He effectively lost the case for JA, so I doubt if he is pleased.
20:07 February 25, 2011 by Nomark

As I remarked on a previous thread, the critics, as nominated by JA himself, simply couldn't substantiate their allegations against Ny. This is a matter of court record. Repeating allegations and smears against this woman doesn't change this.

That she didn't come to London is neither here nor there. Is it even common for someone of her rank to come in person to such a hearing ? You don't know her reasons for staying yet still you call her gutless. This is strange. Perhaps you should broaden your perspective a little. In fact, in her absence it should have been even easier to discredit her since she wasn't available to reply to any specific points raised. Nevertheless, even then the evidence against her was found to be lacking.

Pumping out more hot air and spleen doesn't change the fact that in the one rigorous examination of the allegations against her which has taken place, JA and lawyers could not muster any convincing evidence. If you feel otherwise then refer to the court records (not only the allegations but also the counter arguments).
04:42 February 28, 2011 by emfrodo
the actions of sweden in the assange case amount to political repression. that such nonsense is considered actionable is beyond belief in the first case anyway. that this is being used in this fashion, is reprehensible. it reminds me of smear campaigns conducted by intelligence organizations in the old apartheid regime of south africa or east germany during their heyday. to suggest that there is no political component associated with this leaves this writer at a loss for words as to how ridiculous such a claim is. the nation of sweden should be ashamed, that i as an american say this beggars reality all things considered. what assange has done has taken great courage, what 2 swedish women have done and what the swedish government has allowed and furthers being done, is shameful, shame on you, i no longer will purchase anything swedish.
19:16 February 28, 2011 by ThisIsGettingRidiculous
@ Nomark 17.28

I'm not having a rant at Ny - I'm sure she does her job in the way she sees best - but I think Justice Riddle may have been a bit unfair on Hurtig. Have you read any of the tweeted transcripts from the courtroom? Not Esther Haddley, hers were very piecemeal (and a bit biased - she's a Guardian reporter, remember). Frederico Cocco did the ones that were most nearly verbatim. You have to remember Hurtig was giving testimony in Swedish, being cross-examined in English by Clare Montgomery. Secondly, the confusion concerned texts from Marianne Ny on the 21 and 22 September only, when she requested a meeting on 28 Sept. Hurtig also testified about phone calls with Ny's deputy on 15 Sept confirming Assange could leave Sweden. Assange is notoriously difficult to get hold of - everyone, even the Guardian, says so. Hurtig says he heard from Assange on the 30th - he had his bags stolen at a Germany airport. He'd left Sweden on the 27 Sept and said he'd be back in Sweden on 9 Oct, fix a meeting for then. Justice Riddle left all these details out in his judgment.
09:26 March 3, 2011 by wishUlistenup

oh well, it's easy to figure out who you are working for, if you are not sitting in a library in jail!

hey - when you have tim, watch these movies and find out what is really going on behind your back!

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