LONDON—News stories about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange having been accused of rape have been circulating on the internet for more than a month, but a report on AOL News indicates that the Swedes may be guilty of "over-charging" Assange, and that the true "crime" is "sex by surprise," which carries a penalty of ... $715.
"Whatever 'sex by surprise' is, it's only a offense in Sweden—not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza," said Assange's London attorney, Mark Stephens, shortly after Sweden's Supreme Court refused to quash an arrest order issued against Assange. "I feel as if I'm in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls. The prosecutor has not asked to see Julian, never asked to interview him, and he hasn't been charged with anything. He's been told he's wanted for questioning, but he doesn't know the nature of the allegations against him."
According to an article in the Daily Mail (UK), the charges against Assange stem from two sexual encounters with Swedish women—one a "blond academic and member of the Social Democratic Party who's known for her radical feminist views"; the other an "art photographer," both of whom attended a weekend seminar sponsored by the Social Democratic Party.
Assange reported stayed at the blond academic woman's apartment while attending the seminar, and during sexual intercourse, Assange's condom broke. The woman was said to be unhappy about this, but the pair attended the seminar the next day, and nothing appeared to be wrong between them.
The other encounter occurred two days later, when the photographer, who'd met Assange at the seminar and gone to lunch with him, paid for a train ticket for Assange to rendezvous with her at her apartment, 40 miles outside of Stockholm. The woman was apparently upset that Assange spent more time with his computer than with her during the train ride, but the pair nonetheless had sex several times, and during at least one of those encounters Assange did not use a condom.
Two days later, according to reports in a Swedish newspaper, the academic had a conversation with the photographer, during which each learned that Assange had had sex with the other, and the photographer expressed worry that she had had unprotected sex and told the academic that she wanted to report the incident to the police.
As a result of police interviews with the women on August 20, the on-call prosecutor, Marie Kjellstrand, decided to issue an arrest warrant on charges of rape and molestation—a decision that was overruled the following day by Kjellstrand's boss, Eva Finne, who told the press that she had not seen any evidence for rape allegations.
Then, for some reason, about ten days later, yet another prosecutor, Marianne Ny, reopened the investigation, allegedly based on new information about the case, and on November 18, Swedish judicial officials approved a request from Ny that Assange be detained for questioning regarding the alleged sex crimes. In response, Interpol issued a "red notice" on November 30—essentially a warrant indicating the person should be arrested with a view toward extradition.
How much the warrant and "red notice" had to do with Assange's posting on Wikileaks some 250,000 diplomatic cables and memos generated by U.S. ambasssadors and others is unclear, but at least one conservative commentator on Townhall.com has called for Assange's asassination, and several more have been outraged including, most recently, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who declared that, "The leaks have done major damage," and called for Assange to be charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.
Perhaps more damaging than the Wikileaks revelations that have been reported in the mainstream press, however, was one "confidential" cable dated April 17, 2009—less than three months after President Obama took office—charging that the U.S. wanted to stop Spain's National Court from issuing indictments against "former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon's former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel" for war crimes under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.
The indictments, urged by the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners and supported by human rights groups the world over, caused U.S. embassy officials in Spain, as well as (Republican) U.S. Sens. Judd Gregg and Mel Martinez, to contact Spanish prosecutors and judges in an attempt to get the indictments quashed.
They succeeded. On April 16, 2009, "Attorney General Conde-Pumpido publicly declared that he would not support the criminal complaint, calling it 'fraudulent' and political. If the Bush officials had acted criminally, he said, then a case should be filed in the United States," and in June of 2009, the Spanish Parliament passed a new law narrowing the use of "universal jurisdiction," which would make it more difficult for Spanish courts to indict foreign nationals.
When the indictments were last seen last spring, a Spanish judge "asked the parties behind the complaint to explain why the investigation should continue," and although several briefs were filed in response, many noting the Obama administration's failure to file its own charges against administration officials, no further action has been taken... except, of course, the revival of the rape charges against the guy who revealed it all, Julian Assange.