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Michael Laxer lives in Toronto where he runs a bookstore with his partner Natalie. Michael has a Degree in History from Glendon College of York University. He is a political activist, a two-time former candidate and former election organizer for the NDP, was a socialist candidate for Toronto City Council in 2010 and is on the executive of the newly formed Socialist Party of Ontario.

No exception for Assange: Rape apologetics and the left

| February 13, 2013

Fallen left heroes.

Their mythology is often the hardest to defeat.

Just the other night, Bill Maher, the libertarian who, due to his willingness to confront the "sacred cows" of the right, has become a seeming icon to many on the left, conducted a live TV interview with Julian Assange, safe as he is from serious accusations of rape, secure in the Ecuadorian embassy, and with millions of uncritical supporters around the world, including Maher.

Maher said "I hope you get out soon Julian," at the end of a discussion of  the apparent importance of Wikileaks, acting as if Assange was already in prison for his "political activities" as opposed to being in hiding in the U.K. to avoid charges of sexual assault in, and the likelihood of extradition to, Sweden.

And now Assange appears to be running for office in his native Australia. Some think he might win.

Assange has become another in a tragically long series of men, leaders within their own left groups or within their specific context, that the left has given a "pass" to on allegations of rape and misogynist violence, both ignoring the abuse of women and making it clear that this is seen to be subordinate to the "greater" importance of the fight against the "capitalist class" or "imperialism."

The appalling example of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the U.K. recently covering up the actions of its male "cult of personality" leader is a case study in how leftists are willing to sell out women who have been victimized by the left's internal misogyny. There is nothing new about this, and leftists have come blindly to the defense of rapists before, as they did in the case of Mark Curtis in the U.S. in the '80s, who everyone now acknowledges was obviously guilty. 

Despite this, but due to the persistence of patriarchal ideas within western socialist and left movements, yet again we are hearing the same falsehoods in defence of a man accused of serious crimes against women.

While the authors of the piece accept the important principle that people are innocent of all charges until proven guilty in a court of law, we also accept the equally important principle that men, no matter what other noble causes or actions they may have taken in the past or what ideology they represent, must answer to criminal accusations of sexual assault in these same courts. 

Normally, this is hardly a controversial position in the left. But, even now, many months later, and due to what can only be described as a convoluted series of falsehoods and half-baked conspiracy theories, there remains widespread support within the left for Assange. Even important leftist thinkers, like Noam Chomsky, usually immune to conspiracist ideas, have taken up Assange's cause and repeated the "arguments" of his sycophants, even though these are often demonstrably false.

Given how many sisters fought for generations to try to get society to take sexual violence seriously, and given that they have counted the left as their allies, this is simply not acceptable. 

For Assange's supporters, the charges must "really" be about Wikileaks. And after the two women filed complaints they were subject to horrendous attacks and demonization. Rumors soon began to circulate, without a shred of evidence, that this was a "honey trap" and that one of the women was a "CIA agent." For far too many on the left, a conspiracy theory trumps taking women's claims seriously.

As the evidence against the "conspiracy" theories swirling around Assange is very clear, it is to these that we will first turn.

Assange and the alleged "honey trap" 

There are several claims made by Assange’s uncritical supporters that are just outlandish.  For instance in a documentary for ABC Australia, “Sex Lies and Julian Assange,” Assange’s U.K. legal adviser Jennifer Robinson actually stated the following:

You only need to look at the way that Red Notices are used around the world. Red Notices are normally the preserve of terrorists and dictators. The president of Syria does not have a Red Notice alert. Gaddafi in Libya, at the same time Julian’s arrest warrant was issued, was not subject to a Red Notice but an Orange Notice. It was an incredibly… it was incredibly unusual that a red notice would be sought for an allegation of this kind.

This a flat-out lie. This “traffic light analogy," parroted repeatedly by Assange supporters, does not apply to Interpol notices. A Red Notice is not more severe than an Orange Notice.  Here is what the various ‘colors’ actually mean

Notice type:

Details:

Red Notice:

Requests (provisional) arrest of wanted persons, with a view to extradition. An Interpol Red Notice is "the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today". Interpol does not have the authority to issue arrest warrants in the formal sense of the word, as this is the domain of the sovereign member states.

Blue Notice:

Requests additional information about a person in relation to a crime.

Green Notice:

To provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries.

Yellow Notice:

Asks for help locating missing persons (usually minors) or identifying people who are unable to identify themselves.

Black Notice:

Seeks information on unidentified bodies.

Orange Notice:

Warns police and other international organizations about potential threats from disguised weapons, parcel bombs, or other dangerous materials.

Purple Notice:

To provide information on modus operandi, procedures, objects, devices and hiding places used by criminals.

Interpol-United Nations Security Council Special Notice:

Issued for groups and individuals who are targets of UN sanctions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This was created in 2005 at the request of the UN Security Council through the adoption of resolution 1617 and implemented through the adoption of Interpol resolution AG-2005-RES-05.

In fact, of the more than 10,000 notices issued in 2011, 7,678 were Red Notices. Nor is it at all unheard of for Red Notices to be issued for rapists. A cursory look at the current Interpol database includes persons wanted for rape, as well as for theft, fraud, armed robbery, assault and drunk driving. Again, Red Notices are issued for any suspect who has left the country.    

There is also no basis to Assange’s own claim that Sweden is the “Saudi Arabia of feminism.” It is simply untrue that what Assange is accused of in Sweden would not constitute rape in the U.K. and it is unconscionable for any progressive-minded person to dismiss these charges on this basis. The City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled :

The framework list is ticked for rape. The defence accepts that normally the ticking of a framework list offence box on an EAW would require very little analysis by the court. However they then developed a sophisticated argument that the conduct alleged here would not amount to rape in most European countries. However, what is alleged here is that Mr Assange “deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state”. In this country that would amount to rape.

This was upheld by the High Court:

It is clear that the allegation is that he had sexual intercourse with her when she was not in a position to consent and so he could not have had any reasonable belief that she did.

Nor is it true that Assange is ‘merely’ wanted for questioning.  As David Allen Green points out:

Assange is not wanted merely for questioning.

He is wanted for arrest.

This arrest is for an alleged crime in Sweden as the procedural stage before charging (or “indictment”).  Indeed, to those who complain that Assange has not yet been charged, the answer is simple: he cannot actually be charged until he is arrested.

The oft-repeated claim by Bjorn Hurtig that Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny had given Assange permission to leave the country is false, as is the claim that Ny had refused to arrange for an interview with Assange. According to the court record :

The lawyer gave live evidence covering in some detail the attempts made to secure an interview with his client. On 15th September Ms Ny told him there were no “force measures” preventing Julian leaving the country, i.e. he was allowed to leave. He asked when his client would be interrogated but was told the officer she needed for the investigation was sick. He phoned his client to say he was free to leave the country to continue his work.

 As for the claim that Ny ‘refused’ to interview Assange:

In cross-examination the Swedish lawyer confirmed that paragraph 13 of his proof of evidence is wrong. The last five lines of paragraph 13 of his proof read: “in the following days [after 15th September] I telephoned [Ms Ny] a number of times to ask whether we could arrange a time for Mr. Assange’s interview but was never given an answer, leaving me with the impression that they may close the rape case without even bothering to interview him. On 27th September 2010, Mr Assange left Sweden.” He agreed that this was wrong. Ms Ny did contact him. A specific suggestion was put to him that on 22nd September he sent a text to the prosecutors saying “I have not talked to my client since I talked to you”. He checked his mobile phone and at first said he did not have the message as he does not keep them that far back. He was encouraged to check his inbox, and there was an adjournment for that purpose. He then confirmed that on 22nd September 2010 at 16.46 he has a message from Ms Ny saying: “Hello – it is possible to have an interview Tuesday”. Next there was a message saying: “Thanks for letting me know.  We will pursue Tuesday 28th at 1700”. He then accepted that there must have been a text from him. “You can interpret these text messages as saying that we had a phone call, but I can’t say if it was on 21st or 22nd”. He conceded that it is possible that Ms Ny told him on the 21st that she wanted to interview his client. She requested a date as soon as possible. He agrees that the following day, 22nd, she contacted him at least twice.

…Mr Hurtig was asked why he told [former Swedish judge] Brita Sundberg-Wietman that Ms Ny had made no effort  to interview his client. He denied saying that and said he has never met her…He agrees that where he had said in his statement (paragraph 51) that “I found it astonishing that Ms Ny, having allowed five weeks to elapse before she sought out interview”, then that is wrong. He had forgotten the messages referred to above. They must have slipped his mind.

Hurtig’s antics led the judge to rule that Hurtig made “a deliberate attempt to mislead the court” and in fact did mislead expert witnesses Brita Sundberg-Wietman and Sven Allam. Hurtig received a disciplinary warning from the Swedish Bar Association 

What of the claim that Sweden would extradite Assange to the U.S.? Isn’t it reasonable for the Swedish government to issue a guarantee before Assange is extradited to Sweden? Is their refusal to do so a sign of complicity with the U.S. government, and that the charges are ‘really’ about Wikileaks? It is our argument that such claims are absurd and would not be raised by progressives in any other context.

With regard to the guarantee, Glenn Greenwald demanded that Green retract his “clear and crucial falsehood” that the Government does not have a final say in the extradition process and thus can issue such a guarantee. In a critique of Greenwald, Stockholm University law professor Mark Klamberg  notes:

The problem is that Greenwald earlier and later in the same text argues for a sequence that would put the Government before the Supreme Court. In essence he is arguing that the Government should have the first and the last say with the Supreme Court in the middle. That would make the Supreme Court redundant which is contrary to the sequence that is provided for in the Extradition Act which I have tried to describe. It may also violate the principle of separation of powers. 

And Pal Wrange, also of the Stockholm University law faculty, points out , while it is true that the Government makes the final decision: 

Even if the Government has leeway under national law, it is bound by international law. Both the Swedish and the UK Governments have extradition agreements with the US, and these agreements provide that extradition shall take place, if the legal requirements are met. Hence, the Government could not provide a guarantee, without potentially violating an international obligation.

It is difficult, to put it mildly, to take the claims that Assange would simply be handed over to the U.S. seriously. Espionage is considered a political crime in Sweden and Swedish law as well as its extradition treaty with the U.S. prohibits extradition for political crimes.

Consider the case of Edward Lee Howard, a CIA agent who sold secrets to the Soviet Union, devastating U.S. operations in Moscow, and who was arrested for overstaying his visa in Sweden. The U.S. government requested Howard’s extradition, which Sweden refused. The prime minister of Sweden at the time was Carl Bildt, the current Foreign Affairs Minister who Assange supporters claim is a U.S. ‘lapdog’ who would immediately extradite Assange after “a single phone call” from the White House.

One final question that is never answered by Assange supporters: wouldn’t it have been far easier to extradite Assange to the U.S. from the U.K., which is much more of a ‘lapdog’ than Sweden? The U.K., unlike Sweden, does have an extradition treaty with the U.S. for espionage. Indeed, it would be much more difficult to extradite Assange from Sweden, as it would require the support of the governments of both Sweden and the U.K. Both are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights which forbids the extradition to countries where the accused could face the death penalty.  He cannot just simply be handed over to the U.S.

The left and rape culture

In August, 2012, during one of his regular broadcasts noted British leftist and Respect Party MP, George Galloway, when coming to Assange's defence stated:

Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100% true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don't constitute rape...At least not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it. And somebody has to say this.

Woman A met Julian Assange, invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner, went to bed with him, had consensual sex with him, claims that she woke up to him having sex with her again. This is something which can happen, you know. I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion....

Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you're already in the sex game with them. It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said: 'Do you mind if I do it again?.' It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.

While this is a particularly appalling example of a leftist man showing a total lack of understanding of what constitutes rape and of the terrible impact of sexual violence against women, what is equally notable is that, when the controversy that erupted around these disgraceful, misogynist comments had run its course, it was not Galloway that had been forced to resign in disgrace from his "leftist" party.

Rather it was its female leader, Salma Yaqoob who resigned. Resigned due to the fact that she had publicly criticized Galloway and, instead of rallying to her support, as they should of, the leadership of Respect stood by Galloway, their sole MP and their central male "cult of personality" figure.

This is both a telling and very sad statement about the left. It has, all too often, put blind support for its men and male leadership ahead of justice for women. It has accepted the false notion that, somehow, some systems and types of oppression take precedence over others; specifically over the oppression of women.

Galloway, by no means, is alone among the many leftists who have come Assange's defence. As noted earlier Noam Chomsky has, with idiotic and facile claims about Sweden's alleged lack of sovereignty. So has Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf, Michael Moore and altogether too many others.

This is a terrible error and it helps to reinforce the global culture of rape that the left has claimed to have traditionally opposed, as well as being yet another example of leftists making excuses and exceptions for one of their male leaders or heroes.

The left should not make an exception for Assange.  As David Allen Green puts it: 

Assange has challenged the arrest warrant in Sweden.  It was upheld. 

He then repeatedly challenged the European Arrest Warrant in the United Kingdom.  He lost at every stage, but each of his many legal arguments were heard and considered in extensive detail.

And in doing this, Assange had the assistance of first rate legal advice and advocacy from some of the UK's leading human rights lawyers, and he also had the benefit of having been granted bail in England in the meantime.  The extradition was fought by him all the way to the Supreme Court.  

Assange has been afforded more opportunities to challenge the warrant for his arrest than almost any other defendant in English legal history.  This is hardly "persecution" or a "witch-hunt".

Furthermore, as Rebecca Solnit recently wrote for Aljazeera:

We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this earth, though it's almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn't have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.

We cannot abandon our sisters on the supposed alter of class anymore, and we can no longer pretend that "other" oppressions somehow take precedence over the oppression of patriarchy. Nor can we continue to give precedence to male leaders over serious accusations of rape.

Assange, while not guilty of any crime yet, clearly and demonstrably should face trial in Sweden. And leftists should abandon the apologism for his alleged actions and those of other left wing men when they are accused of sexual crimes and remember that, yes, left-wing men do also commit rape and sexual violence, and no one, no matter what else they may have done, should be above answering for it.

For more information on the Assange case, we highly recommend the excellent website Wikiwatch (http://www.wikiwatch.org.uk/) as well as Green’s article “Legal Myths About the Assange Extradition” (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/08/legal-myths-about-assange-extradition) in The New Statesman. 

Matt Fodor is a Toronto based writer and academic. He is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at York University.

Michael Laxer is a political activist, a two-time former candidate and former election organizer for the NDP, was a socialist candidate for Toronto City Council in 2010 and is on the executive of the newly formed Socialist Party of Ontario.

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Comments

Really, what George Galloway says, or doesn't say, is irrelevant to the case.

Fodor-Laxer uses Galloway as one of many cherry-picked examples to smear all who seek justice for Assange.
They use peripheral opinions and adversarial lawyer advocacy as totalizing proof of of the "unconscionable left" in a sustained display of the logical fallacy of "proof by example":

    "I know that x, which is a member of group X, has the property P.
    Therefore, all other elements of X have the property P."

Another of many examples of this is the reference to the alleged "honey-trap" which presumes a  CIA, or some such, sting.
I certainly don't believe the alleged "honey trap"; the details of the case don't support it,  and I'd guess that only a small minority those who observe the  anti-Assange political distortions of the case believe it.
(Does comprehending the well-documented deceitful use of 911 by the US government for justifying the invasion of Iraq mean that you believe that the US perpetrated 911? Only in the minds of conspiracy theorists or, apparently, the totalizing mindset of Fodor-Laxer.)

When Fodor-Laxer put on their legal beany, they are even more egregiously misleading.
Depending almost entirely on the misdirections of anti-Assange lawyer/journalist David Allen ("Assange is a charleton") Green, they swallow and disgorge his deceptive cues:

Fodor-Laxer:

Quote:
It is simply untrue that what Assange is accused of in Sweden would not constitute rape in the U.K. and it is unconscionable for any progressive-minded person to dismiss these charges on this basis. The City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled :

   
Quote:
The framework list is ticked for rape. The defence accepts that normally the ticking of a framework list offence box on an EAW would require very little analysis by the court. However they then developed a sophisticated argument that the conduct alleged here would not amount to rape in most European countries. However, what is alleged here is that Mr Assange “deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state”. In this country that would amount to rape.


What Assange is "accused of in Sweden" is NOT what he is "alleged" to have done in the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) cited above. The Swedish Interpol EAW was substantially fabricated by the Swedish prosecution and differs markedly from the accusations in Sweden.
(Aside: The major, precedent-setting, change to English law vis a vis the EAW (not mentioned in the article)  is the 5 to 2 decision giving the Swedish prosecution the required UK status of "judicial authority" (heretofore only held by a judge in  the UK, not an avocate for one side)).
See Aussi Supreme Court advocate Kemp on it here: http://wlcentral.org/node/2630

If Fodor-Laxer had bothered to read the Supreme Court decision that they just cited, it would be clear, in multiple places, that the Court is ruling on the legality of the EAW and refers to the EAW's wording and NOT the "accusations in Sweden" which the Supreme Court notes are "not fairly and accurately described in the EAW".
 
Quote:
60. In respect of each offence, Mr Assange contended that the court should examine the underlying material from the prosecution file, even though the whole of the file had not been made available to Mr Assange's Swedish lawyer as under Swedish law it is only made fully available at a later stage. However what was provided contained the principal statements of the complainants and other material which made it obvious that the conduct of which he was accused was not fairly and accurately described in the EAW. The Prosecutor had told the Swedish Court that the further statements made by the complainants were materially the same.


http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html

Whether it is conscious dishonesty on the part of Fodor-Laxer or only lazyness in their brave pursuit of the "unconscionable left" only they can say. But I'm not holding my breath.

"It is clear that the allegation is that he had sexual intercourse with her when she was not in a position to consent and so he could not have had any reasonable belief that she did."

In fact she did consent.  Her response when she roused from a sleepy half aleep state was to ask what he was wearing.  He said you.  Her only response " I hope you don't have HIV"  He said no.  Consensual sex proceeded. 

""Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women  were true, 100% true, and even if a camera in the room captured them,  they don't constitute rape...At least not rape as anyone  with any sense can possibly recognise it. And somebody has to say this.

Woman  A met Julian Assange, invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner,  went to bed with him, had consensual sex with him, claims that she woke  up to him having sex with her again. This is something which can happen,  you know. I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each  insertion....

Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off  your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you're  already in the sex game with them. It might be really bad manners not to  have tapped her on the shoulder and said: 'Do you mind if I do it  again?.' It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but  whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all  meaning.""

I am a 66 year old unapologetic feminist and I agree absolutely with George.  Nothing described by either woman in their police statements describes anything unremarkable.  They described normal, somewhat mundan consensual sexual activity. I personally find it astonishing that others think differently.  Julian Assange's mistake was not to telephone second women SW in her time frame.  It is my opinion from reading her statement, she wanted to be his girlfriend and as it began to dawn on her that he did not feel the same she decided to chase him up via AA.  The shit then hit the fan for all three of them. 

 

 

 

 

Mike Laxer wrote:
But, even now, many months later, and due to what can only be described as a convoluted series of falsehoods and half-baked conspiracy theories, there remains widespread support within the left for Assange.

Whenever I read someone parroting American style language concerning "conspiracy theories", I know right away they are unpenitent apologists for a vicious empire.

1. There isn't any DNA evidence incriminating Assange, and

2. Several alleged 9/11 "masterminds" are there at Gitmo not because the U.S. Military dictatorship has any real incriminating evidence against them - it's because they have sweet nothing! That's how the American inquisition operates. The U.S. Government side admitted that Abu Zubaydah, the kingpin and lead stool pigeon at the heart of Uncle Sam's 9/11 ersatz genesis fable, is not now nor was he ever associated with the invisible army of darkness which never existed. 

"Conspiracy theory", Mr.l Laxer, is just code for the unspeakable truth.

 

 

This has to rank as one of the more misguided blog entries on Rabble since the NDP federal election campaign.

Disappointing article.

Rape apologetics exists on the left. That merits an article, a survey, an exposé, a condemnation.

Then there is the apparent quest of Julian Assange to avoid persecution by the U.S. for his actions, which he claims is the reason for his asylum. That merits separate and independent analysis.

By interweaving the two situations, and tarring Assange's refugee claim with the inexcusable statements of some of those who have spoken in his support, the authors here commit more than an error of logic (and yeah, it's a flagrant error of logic). They potentially undermine the very foundation of any refugee claim, by setting up an equivalency between the claimants' expressed fear of persecution and the charges laid (or sought to be laid) against them by the very state which they are fleeing.

I agree with the authors that there can't be a "hierarchy" here. But they seem to be establishing one of their own.

Refugee claims must be treated on their merit. If the claimant has a reasonable fear of persecution on a prohibited ground, then asylum must follow, at least until that reasonable fear has been allayed.

In Assange's case, I haven't seen any guarantees from Sweden or the U.S. In that context, what Galloway or Naomi Klein say, or the ugly goings on in the Socialist Workers' Party (whoever they are), really mustn't even be mentioned in an article about Assange. Otherwise, the charge of McCarthyism starts sounding less than histrionic.

Thank you for an excellent post, Matt and Michael.

I had heard about Galloway's disgusting comments at the time, but I hadn't heard about the woman within his party who stood up to his misogynist remarks being drummed out of the party.  No Respect.


Consenting to Fodor-Laxer's charmingly titled:
"No exception for Assange: Rape apologetics and the left"
requires a pre-judgement that not only rape happened when no assault charges have been laid, but that anyone who suggests that there is manifest anti-Assange politics distorting proceedings is a "rape apologist" and/or  a "conspiracy theorist".  Gee, who could object to that.

Viewing that vilification of "millions" along with Fodor-Laxer's pious get-out-of-smear-mode-free posturing makes a fulsome display:

Quote:
While the authors of the piece accept the important principle that people are innocent of all charges [what charges?] until proven guilty in a court of law, we also accept the equally important principle that men, no matter what other noble causes or actions they may have taken in the past or what ideology they represent, must answer to criminal accusations of sexual assault in these same courts....


 Glenn Greenwald: :
Quote:
The bizarre, unhealthy, blinding media contempt for Julian Assange:
It is possible to protect the rights of the complainants in Sweden and Assange's rights against political persecution, but a vindictive thirst for vengeance is preventing that
....
I have spoken to countless Assange defenders over the last couple of years and not a single one – literally not one – is dismissive of the need for those allegations in Sweden to be taken seriously and to be legally and fairly resolved. Typifying this view is Milne's column last night, which in the midst of scorning the attacks on Assange, embraced "the seriousness of the rape allegations made against Assange, for which he should clearly answer and, if charges are brought, stand trial."

That is the view of every Assange defender with a platform that I know of, including me (one can certainly find anonymous internet commenters, or the occasional named one, making actual, horrific rape apologist claims, but one can find stray advocates saying anything; imputing those views to Assange defenders generally would be like claiming that all Assange critics want to see him illegally shot in the head or encaged for life because some prominent American and other commentators have called for this)....


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/22/julian-assange-media...

The claims of anti-Assange Lawyer/journalist  David Allen Green,  including some regurgitated here, have been addressed both in Greenwald's column above, and many places elsewhere (I won't elucidate further unless particular specious points are insisted upon); these claims include Green's false central contention that the Swedish Government cannot legally make any guarantees that Assange won't be extradited to the US (or, alternatively,  deported to a country such as Australia that will.)

As for Fodor-Laxer's insistence that the France-based Interpol does not only reserve its "red notices" for "terrorists", I am happy to be able to concur on that point---though perhaps not with the same deferential awe for colour-coded authority: 
Quote:

Interpol faces legal threat for helping oppressive regimes hunt dissidents.
By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com
....
Jago Russell, the chief executive of Fair Trials International, highlighted that Interpol's
190 member states include "countries that routinely abuse their criminal justice
systems to persecute individuals."

Despite this, there is no independent court where someone can challenge a notice
and "no remedy for the damage that notices can cause," he said....



http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/01/23/10167327-interpol-faces-le...

I don't know how anyone can write about Julian Assange, dismissing his fears of extradition to the United States, without even mentioning the case of Bradley Manning. Manning is accused of having given secret documents to Wikileaks. The US regards him as a traitor and many prominent political and media figures there have called openly for his execution, just as they have for Assange to be declared a terrorist and assassinated. Manning has been tortured for months by the United States, while awaiting trial. And Assange (unlike Manning, a non-American) is regarded as an even bigger monster by the US security apparatus. 

If Obomba thought he could get away with drone strikes on the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange would be dead by now. The U.S. is counting on useful idiots like Fodor and Laxer to make their job of shutting down Wikileaks and killing Assange easier.

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff wrote:
Like women in Sweden and everywhere, we want rapists caught, charged and convicted. We have campaigned for that for more than 35 years, with limited success. We are even having to campaign to prevent rape victims being accused of making false allegations and imprisoned for it. Two women who reported visibly violent attacks by strangers were given two and three year prison sentences.

But does anyone really believe that extraditing Julian Assange will strengthen women against rape? And do those supporting his extradition to Sweden care if he is then extradited to the US and tortured for telling the public what we need to know about those who govern us?

Source: We are Women Against Rape, but we do not want Julian Assange extradited.

I agree with many of the comments about this article. But there are two things that strike me. First is how it completely ignores the tremendous and vigorous debate among feminists on the left about the charges against Assange and the possibility or likelihood that the issue is being manipulated by the US because of Assange's work and that of the organization Wikileaks. The discussion among leftist men is not nearly as important (or interesting) as the one among feminists in my view, yet Laxer and Fodor don't even acknowledge that it's taking place. Instead, they write as if this is only a discussion among rape apologists and "important leftist thinkers" such as Noam Chomsky. 

Secondly, Laxer and Fodor are entirely ahistorical. The US will use (and has used) every tool to gain its purpose and those on the left know that to be true. So why attack those who "...take the claims that Assange would simply be handed over to the U.S. seriously"? You can only take such a position if you completely ignore the entire period following World War II. It's not just McCarthyism - have these writers never heard of rendition? Guantanamo? Leonard Peltier? Etc. 

There are plenty of people who broadly support Julian Assange and his work, but who are neither hero worshipers nor sex offence apologists. Assange is right to seek sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden because there is a real likelihood that, once in Sweden, he would end up in the clutches of the CIA. It is also worthwhile looking at the evidence against Assange in Sweden (witness statements, circumstantial evidence, etc.), because if one does that, it become obvious that his guilt is unlikely and the decision of the Swedish prosecution to pursue the case is disingenuous.  

 

Accusing those on the left of "rape apologetics" for defending Assange from potential deportation to the US or at least questioning the conflicts of interest inherent in the position both the Swedish and US authorities smells of vile McCarthyism. This base accusation throws the entire intent of this article into question.

Further it does its own selective reading of the Assange case to arrive at maximum guilt and vilification, even so far as trusting institutions not often trusted by the Left to arrive at any kind of justice. This kind of opportunism reveals a very troubling alignment with the so-called Decent Left of the Eustonian variety. It is also totally unnecessary since the issue is not that Assange should go to Sweden, but that he be given the assurance that he will not be scooped up by the US.

Moreover, the Assange case doesn't need more nuclear strength screeds that smack of red baiting, especially when the Decent Left wants to erect strawmen to impugn the motivation and character of fellow Leftists who refuse to join the lynch mob atmosphere that wants sentence first, verdict afterwards.

Wow.  Attacks on the women who filed complaints against Assange from herewardpooley.  What a disgrace!  

Going back to December 2010:

"Australians rally in support of Assange in Sydney. Photo: AFP

Assange would have to be other than human not to be wondering how it had come to this. Having just begun the release of 250,000 diplomatic cables, the group's editor-in-chief nevertheless remained free of any criminal charge relating to them. Instead he was here, fighting extradition to Sweden, where he had once hoped to base WikiLeaks, accused of rape and sexual misconduct by two women he had met in the August holidays.

The facts of the case have become known by now. Assange had undertaken a speaking tour of Sweden, partly organised by a left Christian activist, Anna Ardin, an officer with the Social Democratic Party's ''Brotherhood'' faction.

Also attending was 26-year-old Sofia Wilen, who became an unofficial photographer of sorts.

Assange was staying with Ardin, then he was with Wilen, and then later in the week he went back to a crayfish party at Ardin's place, pausing only to text Wilen. Ardin later threw him out, and at the end of the week, the two women - who did not know each other - had compared notes and gone to Klara police station in Stockholm to inquire about forcing Assange to take an STI test. In the hands of the police, that became a rape and misconduct allegation, dropped and then reinstated within a week.

In court, the nature of those allegations was finally made clear. The Crown Prosecution Service presented the four Swedish Prosecution Service accusations: two were of a specific Swedish crime called ''ofredande'', or misconduct (misleadingly translated as molestation), one being that the defendant ''pushed his erect penis against the complainant's back, thus violating her sexual integrity'', the other for unsafe sex ''against the complainant's explicitly stated wish''. There is one charge of sexual assault, which alleges that Assange had sex with Wilen while she was asleep, and the most serious charge is that he held Ardin down with his body weight, forced her legs open, and had sex with her.

The last accusation would qualify as a reasonable rape charge anywhere, the ''morning glory'' almost nowhere; the other two depend on the detailed nature of the accusation, none of which has seen the light of day - the unsafe sex charge for example, does not allege non-consent, simply an earlier expression of opposition to the practice. Even with later consent, this can still count as a crime in Sweden.

By now, the whole story of the encounters - whose non-consensual nature Assange fiercely denies - was circulating around the world, throwing many people, especially those inspired by the WikiLeaks project, into confusion.

For 40 years, since the rise of second-wave feminism, it has been an article of progressive faith that a range of older habits of thought concerning rape should be junked. The character and history of the victim, behaviour after the event, the nature of the alleged attacker - all these were to be separated from an assessment of whether a crime had taken place. The social-psychological impossibility of fully lowering this curtain has always been lurking. In this case it has come to the fore.

Overwhelmingly this focused on Ardin, who became passionately interested in WikiLeaks, arranging several lectures for Assange and accommodation at her place. On August 10 she tweeted excitedly that her Christian activist group had invited Assange to Sweden and ''han kommer!'' - he will come. The next week, at that crayfish party, she tweeted, ''I'm with the coolest most exciting people in the world.''

That tweet, occurring three days after the alleged rape, would later be deleted from her Twitter feed, though it persisted in the Google cache, and was recirculated.

People I spoke to at Uppsala University, where I studied in 2007, and where Ardin was at one time the student union gender equality officer, largely knew her second-hand, describing her as well-known for extreme, mildly obsessive enthusiasms. None of that would mean anything, but Ardin had also annoyed many people by posting on her blog a seven-step guide to revenge on ex-lovers, which advocated ''the big lie'', and getting the law involved. Gender equality officer at Uppsala University is to Sweden what holding the Norm Smith Medal is to Melburnians: it's not something you traduce. The revenge guide also disappeared from her blog, and was retrieved from the Google cache.

Further difficulties are created by the interview that Ardin gave to Aftonbladet daily three days after the police were first contacted. Here she said, ''It is quite wrong that we were afraid of him. He is not violent and I do not feel threatened by him … [The] responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem with taking 'no' for an answer.''

Which still alleges sexual assault, but appears to contradict the outlining of the most serious rape charge. Rightly or wrongly, most prosecutors wouldn't proceed, as Stockholm prosecutor Eva Finne decided not to do - although she let accusations of ''ofredande'' stand.

But Sweden has an internally entrepreneurial public service culture, and Marianne Ny, a prosecutor attached to a special crime development unit in Gothenburg, on the other side of Sweden, took the case. She had been persuaded to by Claes Borgstrom, a member, like Ardin, of the Social Democratic Party - indeed, an ex-government minister, and gender equality ombudsman.

Ny proceeded with the case, the courts permitted Assange to come to London to work on the ''cablegate'' release, and Ny and Assange's lawyers differ over who made it impossible for an interview to take place, such that a European arrest warrant was finally issued.

By the time that came around, the scepticism directed at Ardin and Wilen was no longer confined to the masculinist world of hacking. The event was provoking a full-scale debate within feminism. Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, wrote a satirical piece asking Interpol to arrest every jerk boyfriend she'd ever had, and Naomi Klein remarked that rape accusations were being used in the same way as women's rights were used to power the Afghan war, while the Swedish group Women Against Rape questioned why this case was getting such fast-track attention.

That contradiction was brought to the fore by the suspicion that a right-wing Swedish government, desirous of ending its decades-long neutrality policy, was using the case to detain Assange long enough for extradition to be served. The timing of the warrants - matching key moments in the ''cablegate'' releases, and the involvement of heavy hitters such as Borgstrom in the mix - suggest to many that the women's inquiries, which were never made as charges, have been taken over. Borgstrom told reporters asking about this that the women ''aren't jurists. They don't know what rape is.''

Given that Ardin has written a gender equality manual that is still on the Uppsala University website, one has some doubts. Is it possible that the women are being strong-armed into continuing the case? Ardin's recent tweets include expressions of support for WikiLeaks in its battles with PayPal etc, suggesting she's no Hedda Gabler. But they also have a reference to Bjasta, a town that celebrated a boy who'd raped two local girls who were then shunned.

Wilen has disappeared from sight completely. And conspiracy theories flourish on the wilder shores of the Baltic. Did Ardin charge a student with sexual discrimination for ''not looking at me'' while she was giving a lecture? Should we pay attention to her background among right-wing Cuban exiles, her stint in Washington, DC, the military side of her family, her cousin Mattias being a very senior liaison officer between NATO and Swedish forces in Afghanistan?

What of Assange? If we don't assess him as any less likely to force sex, by virtue of his leftish politics, do we have the right to go the other way and ponder the deep strain of masculism that runs through his blog/manifesto IQ.ORG - where he effectively dismisses the possibility of women being capable of performing the sort of maths necessary for WikiLeaks-level hacking? We don't know. We're still holding our breath, waiting to see what is said in that faux Scandinavian court next week, while day by day the remorseless drip of cables changes the state, the public and information in the 21st century."

Don't forget Tommy Sheridan, who scuttled the SSP with his misogyny, entitlement and rockstar arrogance. Not a rapist, but tried to browbeat leading women in the party to perjury to save his skin.

And Marc Curtis was actually convicted of assaulting a 15-year-old girl. She was Black, by the way (mentioning this because Curtis was accusing the courts of racist justice as he was involved in unionizing Central American workers).

That said, while I don't buy the stuff poo-pooing Swedish sexual assault laws, I do think Sweden should provide assurance that Assange won't be deported to the US. Too many in the military-industrial complex want his hide.

Knowing the history of those in power and how they treat any kind of threat this writer is very naive, sorry to say.  Assange does not have a chance.  The VP of the US actually pretended to eye him up holding a rifle.  Who has a chance when that kind of thing happens.  The Swedes have been know to capitulate and they have, even though they are thought of as progressive they are also survivors and will obey the big guns.  Assange is exactly where the U.S. wants him - in a little cubicle for all to see not in a burned out cabin burned to a crisp so no one can tell what really happened.

I agree with the commenter before me. And with Judith Orr (http://goo.gl/RFVsq): "[W]e can't allow the British state to enforce extradition and hand a victory for the US. ... [T]he investigation could continue with the Swedish authorities questioning Assange in Britain or making a commitment not to extradite him. We cannot oppose imperialism if we discard women's rights along the way." And with Tom Walker (http://goo.gl/qgff8): "The rape accusations should never be trivialised or brushed aside. But if the Swedish authorities were serious about investigating them, they would guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to the US. That could clear the way for him to face his accusers."

Too shrill and one sided to be taken seriously. I do not think Assange can get a fair trial  in Sweden under the circumstances and he has entirely legitimate concerns that he might end up in an American prison or in a prison elsewhere as a consequence of US pressure. (That would sound like a conspiracy theory to Laxer. No doubt he is in denial about the many renditions that the US engineered.) Sweden has moved dramatically to the right in recent decades and is very cozy with the US. In Assange's position, even if I were innocent of the charges, I would not surrender myself. Assange would not be the first in recent years to be entrapped as a consequence of an engineered sexual peccadillo that was intended to neutralize someone who was becoming very troublesome. Laxer says he has not already convicted Assange but read what he has written and you can only conclude that he has and not only that he trashes anyone who has doubts about Assange's chances of getting a fair trial in Sweden as a defender of a rapist. This is not the case. I would favour a trial in any jurisdiction where I was confident that the US  could not influence the verdict or extradict him for unrelated charges. Just based on what the victims of the alleged rapes said and did subsequent to the incidents I would say that it is far from clear that rapes occurred--never mind what Assange or his lawyers say.

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