Retired Swedish district prosecutor Rolf Hillegren wrote a powerful op-ed for conservative daily SvD (Svenska Dagbladet) asking for the Assange case to be closed.
The original (in Swedish) can be found here:
Hillegren makes some valid points.
- The way Swedes conducted the case has brought shame on the country.
- The decision to close the case was well founded and was made by one of the country’s most respected prosecutors.
- The decision to reopen the case, following a petition by Claes Borgström (involved in the Quick scandal) was not well founded, and has caused the country great damage.
- Everyone can today read the case files. Anyone can see there’s no case there.
- When the case is too weak to stand on its own before interrogating the suspect, there’s no procedural justification in continuing. Thus the stalemate with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy is a chimera – the Swedish authorities don’t need his testimony.
- Sweden’s prosecutor-general can on his own initiative (ex officio) rescind the decision to reopen the investigation, rescind the arraignment ruling, and rescind the arrest warrant.
- If this had been about a man resident in Sweden, no major damage would have occurred. He’d have been questioned one more time and then the investigation would have been closed again.
- Julian Assange’s fear of surrender from Sweden to the US is tangible, but it doesn’t matter as it’s obvious Assange himself is convinced there is a real threat.
- Today the case is a circus with prestige featured in the main ring, with the prosecutor painting herself into a corner, and with her dragging down and shaming the country’s judicial system for over three years.
As those who’ve read the police files know, there is no case to bring to court. The one girl claims only that she wished she’d said ‘no’ to sex without a condom (but never actually said ‘no’ or the equivalent) and the other, who claimed Assange may have intentionally broken a condom during sex, later provided the police with false evidence, further corrupting the case.
Hillegren suggests the girls be given restitution so they can’t later complain they were ignored by the system; it remains to be seen how deep Sweden will have to dig into her coffers to bring up the money needed to compensate Julian Assange for his terrible ordeal.
SvD featured at least three other articles on Assange at the same time, some new and some updated to accompany the Hillegren op-ed. They also announced an online discussion for the following day at 10:00.
Strangely, they chose this over opening the Hillegren article for comments.
Some people have tried to judge the overall climate in Sweden based on the number of negative and positive comments, but the moderator Carina Stensson had the following to say.
We posted several hundred comments, but not all of them. On the other hand, I think the proportionality of opinions is well represented. Many were critical even of Assange and the suggestion the case be closed. Even if all comments can’t be posted, I try to bring in all the various opinions in a good way. I have no interest in misrepresenting what people think.
Carina Stensson, editor Brännpunkt
But Stensson did her part in the introduction to the discussion to skew things her own way.
Since 19 June 2012, WikiLeaks activist Julian Assange is at the Ecaudorean [sic] embassy in London, fleeing Swedish justice.
And one year ago she was interviewed by Dagens Media (Today’s Media) and had this to say.
If I could advise him, I’d tell him to come back and let himself be questioned. The risk of really being indicted is minimal. And then he’d perhaps clarify the issues with the Swedish judicial system. It might hurt a bit. His more creative variants of accusations and smears will be only ridiculous and won’t harm Swedish pride.
‘Another Swedish woman who hates the man Assange’, sighs ‘outoftheblue’ at Flashback. ‘And of course not a word about the threat of surrender to the US, or how imprudent it would be to abandon one’s asylum only to give one’s own version of events. There’s a linguistic rule somewhere that says you can’t speak openly about such things. Just ignore them and they no longer exist. Swedish journalism in a nutshell.’
‘It’s also interesting that she assesses the risk of indictment as small, when it was precisely the intent to indict that helped Marianne Ny get her way with the British courts. If the risk of indictment is so small, then the EAW (European Arrest Warrant) is unmotivated and belongs in a circular file.’
It’s also been suggested that the Reinfeldt government are using the Hillegren op-ed and the subsequent online discussion to survey the Swedish political climate, with the objective of trying to solve the Assange standoff in time to win the national elections in September.
Reinfeldt’s government are losing badly in the polls, with massive failures in the financial sector, healthcare, care for the elderly, the collapse of the Swedish educational system, and recently further embarrassments courtesy minister for justice Beatrice Ask, and they need something to win voters back again. (Former White House adviser Karl Rove is today adviser to Reinfeldt’s political party.)