Sweden denies international pressure in arresting Wiki leaks founder
Swedish media and politicians have rejected speculation that political pressure from abroad was exerted on the country's justice system to secure Julian Assange's arrest and extradition.
Swedish media and politicians have rejected speculation that political pressure from abroad was exerted on the country's justice system to secure Julian Assange's arrest and extradition. Martin Valfridsson, a spokesman for the Swedish minister of justice, Beatrice Ask, said yesterday the suggestion was "completely wrong".
"As far as I know no such pressure has been put on Sweden," he said.
Jonas Björk, a correspondent with the TV4 channel, said the idea that the original rape allegations were a part of a conspiracy to attack the WikiLeaks founder stretched credibility.
"For it to have been a honey-trap operation would have been so complicated that I can't see how it could have been pulled off; if it was, then I tip my hat to the CIA," he said.
The second question of whether international pressure was applied to Sweden to demand an arrest was a less nonsensical hypothesis, he said, but, "I believe the politicians when they say they haven't had any pressure from abroad."
John Pilger's claim that Sweden "should be ashamed", in comments he made outside the extradition hearing in London on Tuesday, has triggered some annoyance. Oisin Cantwell, a columnist writing in Aftonbladet, a big circulation tabloid, was contemptuous of Assange's celebrity backers.
"How can John Pilger be so sure about the lack of fairness of the Swedish justice system without having any insights into the ongoing investigation?" The celebrity support for Assange was similar to the support offered by Hollywood stars to Roman Polanski when he was arrested last year, accused of raping a 13-year-old, he argued, and equally misplaced.
Britta Svensson writing in the liberal tabloid Expressen, dismissed the idea, circulating on the internet, that the Swedish law on rape was excessively strict. "There is no parliamentary Swedish party who thinks that the Swedish sex laws are too harsh," she wrote.
Groups supporting Wikileaks in Stockholm also rejected speculation that the case was politically motivated.
Rick Falkvinge, leader of Sweden's Pirate party, a fringe pro-freedom of speech and anti-copyright party, said: "In theory, if you wanted to strike back at WikiLeaks to discredit the organisation, this would be blueprint 1A, but I have not seen anything to indicate that this was politically motivated."
His organisation has been co-operating with WikiLeaks since August and has lent two of its 20 servers, which are located in a former nuclear bunker in Stockholm, to WikiLeaks, he said.
These came under attack on Monday, also bringing down his organisation's computer network.
Meanwhile Swedish experts in rape legislation denied international suggestions that the country's law was weighted against men.
Monica Burgman, professor in criminal law, said it was a myth. "Statistics show that Sweden has one of the worst prosecution rates on rape in Europe. Only around 10% of cases reported to the police go to trial; 90% are closed," she said.
Despite this, Sweden had the highest number of rapes reported to the police, per capita, in Europe. One way of interpreting this disparity was to look at Sweden's advanced sense of gender equality, she said.
"Swedish women will not accept being sexually mistreated by men, and they will report these men to the police, even though they know very well that there is a risk that they will be badly treated by the criminal justice system, and that the possibility that the case will go to trial is very, very low," she said.
The poor quality of initial police investigation often meant prosecutors had insufficient information and evidence to go ahead with a prosecution, obliging them to abandon the case, she said.
Even though number of reports of rape made to the police have increased by 100% over the past 15 years, the number going to trial had stayed the same, she said. "The proportion of cases going to trial has decreased a lot in the past 15 years," she said.
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion