While in my mountain redoubt this weekend I had the radio tuned to the news for some background noise and heard…announced as breaking news…that Julian Assange had been arrested in absentia by Swedish authorities for rape.
A source close to the case told the newspaper that two women in their twenties went to the police in Stockholm on Friday to speak about their recent encounters with Assange.
Now my first reaction was…’Huh…that timing is really convenient. I imagine there are a whole bunch of people at the Pentagon thrilled over this news.’ After all, the leak of 75,000ish classified documents have raised the ire of all sorts of people and just days ago the Swedish Pirate Party announced that they were going to host a number of Wikileaks servers.
It certainly wasn’t out of the realm of possibility, however. After all, Assange is a pretty strange guy and as Billy Joel said, there’s a stranger in all of us and you should never be surprised. Mrs. TwShiloh poo-poo’d the idea that the Swedish legal authorities were involved in any funny business, arguing that Sweden is pretty independent and beholden to no one.
I wasn’t so sure. After all, despite calls from at least one idiot, sending a hit team of CIA killers to rub him out probably wouldn’t do the image of the U.S. much good. In fact, if you could get a nation like Sweden to take Assange off the streets and discredit Wikileaks, that’s pretty much the best you could hope for. And a accusation of rape is just about the best way to destroy someone’s credibility with the exception of child molestation, I suppose. It’s one of those crimes that, often, even if you’re acquitted the very accusation leaves a hint of doubt.
But, any such set up would have to be pretty sophisticated, right? Because of the timing, the high profile Assange has had recently and the pissing contest with the DoD, this would be tailor made for conspiracy theories in just about any case in which you didn’t have video, DNA evidence and records of Julian twittering the rape while it was occurring.
So, I was quite surprised when just a few short hours later I heard that the Swedish prosecutors were dropping all charges with no further explanation. Now, the Swedish criminal justice system is strange bird but this seems very weird.
“I do not consider there to be any reason to suspect that he has committed rape,” chief prosecutor Eva Finné said in a statement explaining her decision.
Where are we now? Well, there’s little explanation from the Swedes but the small amount of information they have released does seem strange:
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said an “on-call” prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Assange late Friday only to see it revoked the next day by a higher-ranked prosecutor, who found no grounds to suspect him of rape.
I’m not sure how an ‘on-call’ prosecutor is different from a regular one other than they’re taking a phone call late at night or on the weekend. One assumes there isn’t a room full of idiot ‘on-call prosecutors’ and other really squared away ‘business hours prosecutors’, right? But let’s assume this is an inexperienced prosecutor. Don’t you think if they got a call about an accusation of someone with international name recognition they’d consult with someone, anyone before doing something like issuing an arrest warrant and a press release?
And so, now we have a scenario in which two women (who will probably never be identified I was wrong, someone’s already found one of the ladies’ blog posts – I’m not fluent in Swedish so I won’t comment on the English interpretations of their meanings but you can see discussion of them in this comment thread – some are saying this appears to be a case of a jealousy.) make an allegation against Assange on a weekend (when, the prosecutor’s office won’t be fully staffed) and the on-call prosecutor moves (apparently without consulting anyone) to issue a warrant and make a public announcement. I’m telling you, if this was in a Steig Larsson novel I’d criticize it for being too unbelievable.
Still, the sheer incompetence of it all does smack of some of the C.I.A.’s greatest hits.
So, what’s the result? Regardless of what actually happened last week with Assange, suspicion will surely fall upon the U.S. military-intelligence community. Be rest assured that now, more than ever, if Assange even stubs his toe it will be blamed on the U.S.