Will Sweden Drop the Case Against Assange?
Most well-informed people know that Julian Assange never had a case to answer in Sweden. In fact he has already cooperated fully with Swedish authorities and been released with no action against him. It was only when Claes Borgström, a politician and lawyer with close ties to the United States, set about getting the case reopened, that the problems started for the Wikileaks founder. News Junkie Post has covered Wikileaks and Assange from the outset. Now, at long last, there are developments in the debacle that may soon result in his release and freedom to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy where he sought refuge when it became clear what the motives were.
For the first time, a Swedish newspaper SvD (Svenska Dagbladet) has published a highly critical article, by former prosecution lawyer Rolf Hillegren, calling for Sweden to drop all charges because they are an embarrassment to the country. This comes while Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s standing in the opinion polls is at an all-time low due to a failing economy, problems with healthcare, and problems with care for the elderly among other concerns. With elections due in September, there are those who believe this article is aimed at getting the prime minister, minister for justice, and prosecutor general off the hook before the electoral fishing season starts in earnest. Reinfeldt is advised by George W. Bush’s former adviser Karl Rove.
In his article, Hillegren notes that the Assange debacle has been a disaster for Sweden’s reputation for justice and for its previously acceptable standing in world opinion. The only way out, as he sees it, is to drop all charges against Assange, and while this may be a sour apple, would not be nearly as sour as proceeding with a case of apples riddled with maggots. From the start, it has been clear that the prosecution Borgström was trying to bring was so flimsy it would not stand up in a gentle breeze, let alone in court. Borgström is already notorious for the handling of the Thomas Quick affair, and as News Junkie Post pointed out, is in partnership with former Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström who was complicit in the illegal rendition, at the behest of the US, of Egyptian nationals Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, who faced torture and abuse in the American “war-on-terror” rendition program.
Claes Borgström is not alone among the prosecution team in being close to prime minister Reinfeldt. Another of the prosecutors is Elisabeth Massi Fritz. As well as representing one of the plaintiffs, she has represented at least one member of the prime minister’s family. While there is nothing basically wrong in this, it begs the following question: what does somebody who represents one of the richest families in the country have to gain in representing an ordinary young woman with a United Kingdom arts degree in photography? Elisabeth Massi Fritz has been making political comments about Julian Assange – remember, Assange has not been charged with a crime – on her website and in newspapers denigrating his character. In consequence, she has been reported to the Swedish Bar Association.
Marianne Ny (pronounced Knee) was the prosecutor who opposed Assange’s appeal against extradition in the UK. The appeal was presided over by Justice Phillips, who very shortly afterwards retired, then jetted off to take up an extremely lucrative legal post in Qatar, where slavery is still commonplace. Hillegren believes the embarrassment to the UK government will be as cogent a force as in Sweden but is nevertheless a necessity. Why now, after more than three years, has the Swedish press allowed an article like that of Hillegren’s to be published? The Swedish mainstream media is owned by a few wealthy power-mongers and the government has the last say in Sweden as it does in the US and UK.
Eventually the truth will emerge. Hillegren believes that the women in the case should be paid by the Swedish state as though they had won a case against Assange because they have been injured by the injustice of it all. This is one of the few flaws in the argument in which he previously states that Assange has no case to answer. If the women were paid damages, it would look like Assange had been guilty. Many people who have followed this case believe that the women might well have been informed that there was a lot of money in it for them if they successfully pursued a charge of rape. This would convince such people that the women had been bribed with a payment for damages that would be no more than hush money. In truth, if the charges are dropped, the women should be paid nothing and should be grateful that prosecutions have not been brought against them for making false representations.