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Julian Assange prisoner of circumstance

Translated from the Swedish original by Henrik Alexandersson.

The WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief is sitting where he’s sitting, at the Ecuador embassy in London. Are there possibly forces that want him to remain there – to minimise his visibility and to disrupt WikiLeaks operations?

Assange is afraid that if he’s sent to Sweden, where the prosecutor wants to interrogate him, he’ll be sent to the US on that country’s exclusive ‘temporary surrender’ agreement. (This is a risk he already runs in the UK if the Swedish warrant’s withdrawn, so the logic doesn’t seem crystal clear.)

But Assange’s worries – that the US will try to get him – do have substance. It’s been shown that a preliminary process has been underway for a long time, long before US authorities wanted to admit. And we have to keep in mind that the whistleblower Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years prison for leaking information to WikiLeaks.

But the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny obstinately refuses to travel to London to conduct an interrogation with Assange. Such an interrogation would in all likelihood be the end of this extremely thin sex crime case, according to the preliminary investigation.

Marianne Ny speculates that Assange perhaps doesn’t want to answer her questions. (But it must be pointed out that the European Convention gives everyone the right to refuse to answer questions in all circumstances in criminal investigations and trials.) Marianne Ny also claims that Assange perhaps won’t go along with DNA swabbing. But this is pure speculation. And it feels rather unreal, as Assange wants to be interrogated in London in order to sort the matter out and get the European Arrest Warrant withdrawn.

[It should also be pointed out that Assange’s DNA is already on file with British police as of December 2010. Marianne Ny knows she needs only contact them. This in turn makes her claim in this regard even more disingenuous.]

The question asked more and more often is whether Sweden and Marianne Ny are trying to keep Julian Assange in that no man’s land in London in order to disrupt the work of WikiLeaks. Or if they’re informally cooperating with someone else who does, and for the same reason.

That question is justified. This is a high profile case of geopolitical significance. Prosecutors and police often travel abroad to conduct interrogations. So it wouldn’t be in any way unusual if it were to take place here. But Marianne Ny refuses.

What makes the Assange case so special is that he is actually not treated as other suspects – and it’s obviously because of who he is.

We must not forget that one high level prosecutor already closed the investigation – that is, before Marianne Ny came along to breathe new life into it.

And at the time, and whilst still in Sweden, Assange cooperated voluntarily with the police for interrogation.

Assange was told by Marianne Ny that it was OK to leave the country. He’d already left the country by the time Marianne Ny told his lawyer she wanted him back for questioning. Assange left the country completely openly, was not stopped at exit. This happened with intrigue whatsoever, and using ordinary means of transport.

Assange even offered (before entering Ecuador’s embassy) to be questioned at the Swedish embassy in London. And he is willing to be interrogated where he is today. All that’s stopping this is Marianne Ny’s prestige, obstinacy, and unwillingness.

During this process, Marianne Ny capitalised on Assange’s fear of being surrendered to the US to force him into a corner where she could use the European Arrest Warrant to limit his mobility and visibility, as well as WikiLeaks operations.

No matter if it was planned like this or it just turned out like this: this development is highly unfortunate, and in many ways.

One can in this context note that the same international organisations that have criticised Sweden for the country’s inhumanely long pre-trial detention times have even complained to the United Nations about Sweden’s treatment of Assange.

Without getting into conspiracy theories, it’s today established that the US, only a few days before the Swedish case against Assange began, actually pressured countries with a military presence in Afghanistan (and this includes ‘neutral’ Sweden) to bring criminal charges against Julian Assange (for something, for anything). Perhaps it’s only coincidence, but then it’s very interesting coincidence, in many ways.

How the country’s new red-green government will treat the matter is still not known, but it’s not a particularly bold guess that they’ll cuddle cosily in the US corner.

This sinister farce has to end.