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Case of Julian Assange: Sweden/hypocrisy of imperialism

The case of Julian Assange: Sweden and the hypocrisy of
imperialism
 http://www.marxist.com/case-of-assange-sweden-and-hypocrisy-of-imperialism.htm

The case of Julian Assange: Sweden and the hypocrisy of
imperialism

Written by Niklas Albin Svensson Friday, 21 September 2012

*The Swedish state has requested the extradition of Julian Assange to
Sweden to be questioned about rape allegations. This is portrayed by the
media as an attempt to "seek justice". But the extreme determination with
which they are pursuing the case indicates that there are other interests
at play than concern with justice. Contrary to the carefully cultivated
image of a neutral country, Sweden, in order to protect its own interest,
is deeply involved in the intrigues of US imperialism.*
The judicial saga

[image: Free Assange plackard outside Ecuadorian embassy in London. Photo:
Vertigogen]< http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/sweden/Free_Assange-Vertigogen.jpg>Free
Assange plackard outside Ecuadorian embassy in London. Photo:
Vertigogen< http://www.flickr.com/photos/vertigogen/>To
begin with, it might be worth restating some of the facts of the case,
as determined
by consent between the Swedish state and
Assange< http://www.scribd.com/doc/80912442/Agreed-Facts-Assange-Case>at
the time of his extradition hearing.

Julian Assange was in Sweden in August 2010 in order to give a lecture at
the Swedish Christian Social Democrat organisation (*Broderskap*). He was
staying in the flat of a Swedish member of this organisation. The two of
them had sex. He also met and had sex with another woman during his stay.
It is admitted that the sex was, at least in part, consensual.

A few days after he left the flat of the first woman, the two women walked
into a police station in Stockholm in order to attempt to force Julian
Assange to take an STD test, as the second woman says she was worried about
having had unprotected sex. The police woman, with whom they meet, decided
after hearing the story of the second woman that this was in fact a rape
allegation. *However, the second woman refused to sign the statement*.

Since rape in Sweden falls under public prosecution laws, the police and
the prosecution do not need the consent of the victim in order to conduct
an investigation. The duty prosecutor, without the consent of the alleged
"victim", decided to issue an arrest warrant for Julian Assange that very
evening. The next morning the news was immediately published in the Swedish
tabloid *Expressen*. How did they find out about it? We do not know.
Furthermore, why did the prosecutor, against established practice, decide
to confirm their story? We do not know that, either. Either way, the first
Assange himself found out about the allegations was when he read about them
in the newspapers.

The next thing we know, the charge of rape is dropped by the chief
prosecutor but some of the lesser charges remain, about which Assange is
interviewed on the 30th. Everything seems to indicate that the
investigation is about to be closed. Incidentally, at this time Assange
applies for *permanent leave to remain in Sweden*. This does not seem to be
the action of a man who is terrified of being found guilty of a serious
criminal charge.

The Swedish police gave Assange an undertaking that details of the case *would
not be disclosed to the media*. Yet three days later the transcript appears
in *Expressen*. Again the question arises: who provided the press with this
information? And although the prosecutor had decided that there were no
grounds to proceed with the allegation of rape, one day before the
publication of the story, a different chief prosecutor steps forward with a
decision to reopen the rape charges, after a complaint by the women's
lawyer on the 27th.

There then follows a period in which Assange attempts unsuccessfully to be
interviewed by the Swedish prosecution. *Assange gets confirmation from the
prosecutor on the 15 September that he is free to leave the country*. After
another unsuccessful attempt at getting a date for an interview shortly
after the 15th, Assange leaves the country on 27 September. The prosecutor
then issues an arrest warrant.

*Assange's leave to remain in Sweden was declined in mid-October.* After
yet another failure to agree on a date around this time, *Assange in
November offers an interview in Britain or a written statement to the
prosecution. *The prosecution declined. Instead on the 26th of November, a
European arrest warrant is issued. Also an Interpol Red Notice (request for
arrest) was issued on the 20th.

Assange has repeatedly offered to answer any questions in Britain or issue
a written statement to the prosecution. Such practices* *are* *both legal
and common in spite of the prosecutor attempting to pretend otherwise. *Why
have the Swedish authorities persistently refused this offer*?

The timing of these events is of crucial importance. They coincided almost
exactly with the publishing of the first "Cablegate" documents on the 28th,
a date which was known in advance. Immediately, after the publication a
number of high profile politicians in the US started to demand *that
Assange be put on trial or even assassinated*. The extradition order
appears to have been rushed as it lacked the necessary information to be
legally valid in the UK.

If anyone doubts the deadly seriousness of these threats, they should
examine the case of Bradley Manning, the young American soldier, who is
alleged to have leaked US government cables to Wikileaks. He has been
imprisoned without trial and brutally tortured (see previous
article< link to www.marxist.com
also
*Bradley Manning's treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief
rules< link to www.guardian.co.uk
the Guardian, 12.03.12
*).

Assange had very good reason to fear what might happen to him once he was
extradited from the relative security he had found in Britain.
Nevertheless, he came out of hiding to face extradition proceedings in the
UK courts. He was granted bail. However, when it became clear that the
Swedish authorities were determined to push through the extradition, in a
desperate move he appealed for asylum in Ecuador. *He offered to go to
Sweden if he was granted a guarantee against extradition to the USA, which
the Swedish foreign minister refused to give*. The minister cites the
independence of the judiciary as a reason but he is well aware that any
extradition request from Sweden has to be approved by the
government< http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/1915/a/19747>
.

Assange was not offered an interview until the end of September, almost a
month after the rape charges were reopened. Throughout this whole period,
the Swedish prosecution service appeared indecisive and unwilling to
interview him. Then suddenly the whole thing becomes extremely urgent, so
much so as to merit the Interpol Red Notice issued on 20 November. It
should be stressed that Assange has never been found guilty of anything; *he
is still only wanted for questioning*. Yet for some reason, in spite of it
being legally fully possible, the Swedish prosecutor has refused to
interview Assange in Britain, or in the Ecuadorian Embassy, for that matter.

What is very strange is how the press is constantly kept well informed
throughout the investigation. It is unclear whether this is deliberate. Is
this simply the tabloids paying policemen and lawyers for information, as
they did in Britain on a regular basis? That is possible. Or is it a case
of deliberate leaks emanating from the prosecutor's office? Probably the
latter is the case. Either way, it hardly inspires confidence in the
possibility of Julian Assange receiving "justice".

The Swedish justice system does not come out of this looking good. It is
absolutely clear that the Swedish prosecutor is determined to get Assange
under lock and key, one way or the other. What is the reason for this
extreme determination? We cannot enter the workings of her brain, but this
much seems clear:* that the prosecutor is being driven by other
considerations than simply finding the truth*.
The gutter press

In the whole affair, the press, in particular *Expressen*, have played a
particularly pernicious role. The press has deliberately dragged the whole
affair into the gutter. Less than 24 hours after they had first been made, *
Expressen* immediately publicised the accusations for the world whole world
to see. This goes completely against Swedish journalistic tradition, where
suspects are generally kept anonymous. Not only this, but the prosecution
assisted them, first by unofficially leaking and then by officially
confirming his identity. Thereafter, the press has been kept mysteriously
very well informed.

Perhaps *Expressen* will cite "public interest" in their defence. "Public
interest" - that discredited formula used so often by Murdoch and other
scoundrels to justify their abuses - is in this case nothing more than the
defence of the interests of US imperialism. Does anybody believe that *
Expressen* is interested in finding out the truth? It is one of the worst
tabloids in Sweden, and has a history of manipulating sex stories to attack
the Left.

The present editor of this muck-raking rag made his name for bearing the
responsibility for a news bill (a daily advertising for the paper displayed
at all news agents) about the sex life of the then leader of the Left
Party, Gudrun Schyman. This news bill got the paper convicted for
defamation in the high court in
Sweden< http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/expressens-lopsedel-om-schyman-var-fortal/>.
This was at the beginning of a national campaign in the press against the
Left Party, which prepared the way for the right-wing alliance winning the
elections in 2006.

*Expressen*, furthermore, is part of the largest media monopoly in Sweden,
the Bonnier group, which is wholly owned by the Bonnier family. For a long
time it was carrying out a campaign against its main rival on the newspaper
market, the labour movement press, a campaign they won some time ago.

Now, suddenly, this paper has become the "friend of women", a "champion of
women's rights". If the consequences were not so serious, it would be
laughable. This is the rank hypocrisy of the Swedish establishment. One
day, they attack women in public life on the most spurious grounds, the
next day they are the champions of "justice". But they are not the only
ones. Incredibly, there are some people on the Left who have swallowed
these lies without question.
Swedish "neutrality"

Julian Assange's opponents often cite Swedish neutrality as a guarantee for
Assange's safety in Sweden. As most intelligent people ought to know, there
is no such thing as neutrality. Neutrality is a carefully cultivated screen
for the real activities of the Swedish state.

[image: Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Clinton, US Secretary of
State, and Reinfeldt, Swedish Prime Minister, at a recent meeting in
Stockholm. Photo: US
Embassy]< link to www.marxist.com,
the Swedish Foreign Minister, Clinton, US Secretary of State, and
Reinfeldt, Swedish Prime Minister, at a recent meeting in Stockholm. Photo: US
Embassy Sweden < http://www.flickr.com/photos/usembsweden/>During the Cold
War the Swedish state attempted, particularly during the era of the Social
Democratic leader Olof Palme, to portray itself as a defender of the weak
against the superpowers. In reality, the Swedish military and secret
service were constantly co-operating with the US, something WikiLeaks has
revealed. The US ambassador to Sweden finds the image of neutrality useful.
He credits this image, for example, with Sweden's ability to provide the US
with intelligence on the Iranian nuclear programme.

From the point of view of the Swedish ruling class, its informal alliance
with the US is a necessity. For the last four hundred or so years Sweden
has fought Russia over the domination of the Baltic Sea. At the start of
the 18th century, Sweden dominated the Baltic Sea with colonies in Germany
and control of present-day Estonia, Latvia and Finland. However, after
that, until the early 19th century, Sweden was fighting a losing battle,
leading to the loss of one piece of territory on the eastern shores of the
Baltic Sea after another. This culminated in the loss of Finland in 1809.

During the Russian Revolution, the Swedes intervened on the side of the
counter-revolutionary Whites in what is known as the Finnish Civil War.
Again, during the Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, the Swedes backed Finland
against the Soviet Union, and later supported the Finnish-German alliance
against the Soviet Union. Throughout the Cold War, the Swedish military was
wholly geared towards facing the threat of an invasion of the Soviet Union.
No other threat was even considered.

Since the Swedish defence force was inadequate to face the Soviet Union on
its own, assistance from NATO (that is the US) would have been a necessity.
Still, its vicinity to the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries, as
well as domestic considerations, made a public alliance impossible.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Swedish imperialism had a new
chance. The weakness of Russian capitalism meant Russia could not maintain
its grip on the Baltic States. Instead Sweden, with its long historical
links to the region, stepped in. Today, around 50-75% of the banking sector
(depending on the country) in the Baltic States is controlled by Swedish
banks. To protect these interests, the Swedish state has been pushing for
expansion of the European Union into Eastern Europe. It has also expanded
its military co-operation with NATO (and the US) under the guise of
"Partnership for Peace" and formally abandoned its position of "neutrality
in case of war" in favour of not remaining passive "if an EU member state
is attacked" (Department of
Defence< http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/11431/a/122883>,
March 19, 2009).

As a further indication of its collaboration with US imperialism, the
Swedish government has participated in the war in Afghanistan and the
occupation of Iraq. All these things have converted a secret understanding
into an increasingly open one. Now, elements in the right-wing coalition
are arguing for Sweden to join NATO. The foreign minister himself presents
the main difference as being that "Sweden participates in much of the
concrete co-operation" but "does not have the kind of influence over
decision making that a formal membership would give."
(*Aftonbladet< http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article11350667.ab>
*, February 13, 2008). Clearly, Sweden has been rapidly moving towards an
increasingly open alliance with the USA.

In order to prove itself to the US, the Swedish government in 2001 helped
CIA agents kidnap two Egyptian
citizens< link to www.hrw.org
were claiming asylum in Sweden. This was one of the most scandalous
cases of "extraordinary rendition". At the same time, the Swedish
government, in a completely extra-judicial manner (no courts were involved
and there was no right of appeal), also froze the accounts of three Swedish
citizens < http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article10938190.ab> after they
had been put on the US terrorist list.

Like most governments, the Swedish Social Democratic one capitulated to the
so called "war on terror" cooked up by the reactionary Bush administration
after 9/11 to justify US military aggression all over the world. It may
have significance that the Minister of Justice at that time, Tomas
Bodström, is now a senior partner in the law firm that represent Assange's
alleged victims. Among the many hypocrites, he is one of the most blatant.
In spite of being responsible for repeated breaches of Swedish law,
Bodström dismisses Assange's doubts
< http://bodstromsamhallet.com/?p=632>about the Swedish justice system.

The present Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, is another new-found champion of
the cause of women. He has publicly opposed Assange and WikiLeaks and
criticised
Assange's Swedish
lawyer< http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/wikileaks-planerar-aktion-i-visby/>for
undermining faith in the Swedish justice system. Bildt claims
that Assange< link to www.metro.se
"living in a fantasy world". He has also refused to give any
guarantees
to Assange regarding extradition to the US.

Who is Carl Bildt? He was Prime Minister during the right-wing 1991-94
government in Sweden when he carried out a savage attack against the
Swedish welfare state. He is furthermore well known for sitting on the
board of Lundin Oil, a company that has been involved in war crimes in
Sudan (ECOS report< http://www.ecosonline.org/reports/2010/UNPAID_DEBT_textonlyweb.pdf>,
pdf, 2010). WikiLeaks claims to have documents proving that he was an
informant to the US. If that is true, it would hardly be surprising.

At the time of the Georgian war, Carl Bildt made a lot of noise about
intervention in the war. He asked why there was an intervention in
Yugoslavia but not in Georgia. He even likened the invasion to
Hitler's< http://carlbildt.wordpress.com/2008/08/09/djupt-illavarslande-ryska-motiv/>!
However, if the US was impotent to stop the Russian army, the Swedish was
even more so. But why the obsession with Georgia? Putin was drawing a line
in the sand with the war. After two colour "revolutions" in Eastern Europe,
the Russians wanted to show their neighbours that they were capable of
defending their interests in the region. Ukraine took due notice, and the
so called "Orange Revolution" has since been reversed. The Baltic States
have been warned and so have the Swedes.

In fact it isn't just the US that wound up with egg on their face in the
Cablegate scandal. There are numerous cables exposing the servile attitude
of the Swedish government and political parties to the US. Consider for
example how leading Social Democrats keep the US ambassador informed of
their negotiations with their coalition partners
(09STOCKHOLM707< http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09STOCKHOLM707.html>)
and how they are fighting opposition against the Afghanistan war within
their own party
(08STOCKHOLM695< http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/10/08STOCKHOLM695.html>
).

The revelation of the Swedish government's attitude to accepting Guantanamo
inmates is also embarrassing
(09STOCKHOLM677< http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09STOCKHOLM677.html>).
Another is the revelation of extensive informal intelligence co-operation
between the US and Sweden. The government's objection to formalising it is
that it is politically inopportune and could threaten the informal
arrangement (08STOCKHOLM748< http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/11/08STOCKHOLM748.html>
).

All this is more than sufficient proof that it isn't just the US that has a
grudge against WikiLeaks and its founder. The Swedish state has very good
reasons for persecuting Julian Assange - reasons that have nothing
whatsoever to do either with "justice" or "women's' rights".
The "independent" judiciary

Assange's opponents display a truly touching faith in the allegedly
independent character of Sweden's judiciary, which fits in very nicely with
their naive (and false) assumptions concerning Sweden's neutrality. Even
among people on the left, these things are routinely taken for granted. The
reality is quite different.

One of the scandals that is doing the rounds in the Swedish press at the
moment is that of a convicted serial killer, Thomas Quick. Quick has
confessed to committing 35 murders and he has been convicted of eight of
them. But now it turns out that he might not have been responsible for any
of them. The man suffers from a mental condition that makes him confess
compulsively to things he did not do.

How could this occur? Very simply, the Swedish police and prosecutors,
under pressure to get results, supplied him with the details which he then
used to make his "confessions". Not only does this scandal affect Thomas
Quick himself, but the families of some of his supposed victims have fought
for years for the police to find the real perpetrators (*Daily
Mail*< link to www.dailymail.co.uk,
16 August 2012). The capitalist police and judicial system does not deliver
justice, as the recent scandal in Britain over the Hillsborough affair
clearly shows.

Let us cite another, even more relevant case. During protests in Gothenburg
in 2001 the police acted in an extremely heavy-handed manner against the
protesters. In order to justify their heavy-handedness, they allowed the
anarchist Black Block to burn and loot the main shopping street in
Gothenburg. The mass media seized the moment and a massive campaign against
the protesters ensued, including interventions from local and national
politicians.

In the end 79 protesters were charged with various crimes relating to the
protests; 70 of them were convicted. During the protests, the police
managed to shoot and almost kill a protester. The protester who got shot
was sentenced to eight months in prison. The police officer, who fired live
ammunition into a demonstration, was freed, as were his colleagues who
fabricated evidence for the trial. This was documented by the journalist
Erik Wijk in his book *Orätt* ("injustice").

What does this mean? It means that the Swedish justice system does not
differ in any way from that of other capitalist countries. There is nothing
independent or just about the Swedish judiciary. It is tied, like the
Swedish politicians, by a thousand threads to the ruling class and its
interests. The Capitalist state is in the last analysis not there to bring
justice to crime victims but to defend the interests of the ruling class.
The long arm of Imperialism

That the US has taken an interest in this case from the very beginning is a
barely veiled secret. A lot of noise has been made, however, about the lack
of extradition requests from the US. This should not surprise us. The US
diplomats and politicians are well versed in the art of war, and not just
the open kind. The present mess with the Swedish court system suits them
just fine. Although some impatient types on the Republican right, like Sarah
Palin< http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/29/sarah-palin-obama-wikileaks_n_789438.html>,
are demanding immediate action, the more intelligent ones are happy to let
the Swedish case run its course.

The attitude of the Obama administration ought to be clear from the
statements from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said that WikiLeaks
was not just an "attack on America" but on the "whole international
community", they "tear at the fabric" of "responsible government".
Translated into plain English, that means: it threatens the interests not
just of the capitalist class in the US but of the whole world - it
threatens to destroy people's faith in the system as a whole.

She furthermore announced that the US government was taking "aggressive
steps" against those that did the leaking
(NPR< link to www.npr.org,
November 29 2010). President Obama himself, probably preferring not to get
too involved, settled for calling the WikiLeaks actions
"deplorable"< link to www.reuters.com.
But US Vice-President Joe Biden
argued< link to www.huffingtonpost.com
Assange is closer to a "high-tech terrorist" than a journalist and
that they are looking into what can be done to stop this kind of thing. By
equating the actions of Assange with terrorism, Washington is attempting to
justify treating him in the same way that it treats everybody it regards as
a terrorist. The mere use of this epithet is supposed to justify kidnapping
("rendition"), imprisonment without trial, torture and assassination.

In case somone was unclear about their intentions, the US administration in
July this year made a number of statements. The Democrat head of the Senate
Intelligence Committee called for Assange to be prosecuted and a Justice
Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, said that "there continues to be an
investigation into the WikiLeaks matter" (*Sydney Morning
Herald*< link to www.smh.com.au,
July 2 2012). Still, in order not to give WikiLeaks too much ammunition,
they deny any interest in the extradition proceedings relating to Sweden.
The message is clear: "you carry on... . When you are done with him, we'll
take over".

The Swedish case has a number of advantages. Most importantly, it aims to
blacken the name of Assange and by association, WikiLeaks. This character
assassination will weaken resistance to a future extradition request to the
US. Who wants to defend a rapist? Secondly, once he is in custody, and he
is unlikely at this point to be given bail in Sweden, he cannot apply for
asylum in Ecuador or any other place.

This is why the US are happy to bide their time while the Swedish
government does the dirty work on their behalf. In the meantime, a grand
jury appears to be preparing the case against Assange. This interpretation
of US actions is incidentally shared by Stratfor
(1057220< link to wikileaks.org,
1056763< link to wikileaks.org)
a global security company who have strong links to US intelligence, and
whose internal emails were released by WikiLeaks. It does not seem likely
that the actual accusations were the result of a conspiracy, but they were
extremely useful for the USA.
Imperialism and women's rights

It should come as no surprise to people on the left that imperialism uses
the issue of women in order to justify their actions. Ever since the days
of the British Empire "protecting women" has been one of the favourite
justifications for imperialist intervention. The British used it to justify
their interventions both in Egypt and in India. This did not stop the very
same ruling class from opposing suffrage and equal rights for women in
Britain, or in their colonies for that matter.

The Bible bashing, "pro-life" Neo-Cons in the USA, who oppose the right of
women to dispose of their own bodies and resort to terrorist tactics
against abortion clinics, nevertheless felt compelled to "protect" the
women of Afghanistan against the Taliban. They would like us to forget the
fact that the US governments for years were funding, arming and advising
these same Muslim fundamentalists, when they attempted to drown the Saur
Revolution in Afghanistan in blood. At that time, of course, they were
"freedom fighters". We are also expected to ignore the fact that the US
government for years has been backing one of the most reactionary regimes
in the Middle East, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where women's rights are
completely denied.

Liberal, democratic, pacifist Sweden, by the way, also has a long-term
military co-operation with Saudi Arabia, which provides it with weapons
contracts worth something like £1.2bn. Recently it was revealed that not
only does Sweden export weapons to the Saudis, but the Swedish authorities
have helped the regime build a new advanced armaments'
factory< http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=1650&artikel=5000203>.
The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, has defended the
relationship< link to www.svd.se,
describing the country as a "family business" with which it is important to
keep good relations. It's about "Swedish jobs" he says, but what he really
means is that it's about the profits of the armaments industry. All this in
spite of the fact that exports to countries that violate human rights is
supposed to be illegal in Sweden. This same Carl Bildt is one of those
leading the chorus against Assange under the banner of "justice" and
"women's rights". What rank hypocrisy!
The "right to justice"

But "what about the women?" some would object. What about* their* right to
justice? Isn't all the talk of imperialism just a smokescreen for Assange
trying to escape justice? We do not know what occurred between Assange and
the two women. We may never know. We are not under any obligation to vouch
for the personal morality of Julian Assange. Nor do we have to accept, as
some of Assange's defenders do, that it is all the result of a big
conspiracy cooked up in Washington. What we do know, and there can be no
doubt about this, is that the real motive for the persecution of Assange is
the interests of US imperialism. The charge of rape has been deliberately
dragged in to muddy the waters and conceal the real issues.

Women's organisations in Sweden have sarcastically remarked that Assange
might as well travel to Sweden as it is practically impossible to be
convicted of rape anyway in Sweden (No need to worry, Julian
Assange< http://debatt.svt.se/2012/05/30/du-behover-inte-oroa-dig-julian-assange/>,
SVT Debatt). Indeed, the conviction rate for rape in Sweden is extremely
low, as it is in most countries. Only around 3% of all reported cases of
rape end in a conviction. One gets the feeling that some feminists feel
that if Assange gets convicted, it will be a "victory" for women. That
somehow the conviction of Assange, even during these circumstances, would
be one step forward for equality. This would send the message that rapists
can't get away with it. That is the most generous interpretation of what
they are saying.

[image: Free Manning plackard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Photo: Vertigogen]< http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/sweden/Free_Manning-Vertigogen.jpg>Free
Manning plackard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Photo:
Vertigogen< http://www.flickr.com/photos/vertigogen/>The
cause of women would not be advanced one millimetre by Assange being
brought to "justice", because there is no way justice can be served in this
case. Let us spell it out clearly: *There is no way that Assange will get a
fair trial in Sweden*. In the first place, any trial will be prejudiced by
the press coverage of the case. *Julian Assange has already been tried by
the public media and he has been found guilty*. Second, and most
importantly, *the Swedish state has a direct interest in his conviction*.
Even if he doesn't get convicted, he can be kept under lock and key long
enough to prepare the grounds for his extradition to the USA, which is the
real goal.

Nor has all this been in the interests of the two women, who have seen
their personal lives dragged out for public scrutiny, thanks largely to the
tabloids. Whatever the results of the judicial process, they will
henceforth be known as the women who accused Assange of rape. Even if they,
at some point, had wanted to pull out and withdraw their accusations, it is
out of their hands. From the moment the Swedish state decided the case was
one of rape, the state became the accuser. No matter what the outcome, the
two women's lives will have been irreparably harmed. But that is what least
of all interests the Swedish state or its American masters.

Then we have the question of women's liberation. Does anyone actually think
that convicting Assange for rape would improve the situation for women? Or
the corollary, does anyone think that this case will make rape more
acceptable? It is enough to ask the question to get the answer.

The Swedish authorities and the US might be very happy to imprison this
particular man for rape as part of their campaign against WikiLeaks but
that would hardly solve the problem of the thousands of other victims of
domestic or sexual violence. It will not provide them with secure shelters
or a means of earning their living without an abusive partner. Nor will it
do anything to solve the causes of violence against women, which is
fundamentally the economic inequality between men and women. In the end,
there is no justice to be had under an inherently unjust society.
Playing into the hands of imperialism

The extradition of Julian Assange would be a victory for imperialism. It
would contribute nothing to the cause of women's liberation.

Imperialism is the most reactionary and criminal agency on the planet. It
was responsible for promoting Muslim fundamentalism in the past, and still
backs reactionary regimes like Saudi Arabia, which is guilty of the most
ruthless oppression of women. The imperialists can scarcely believe their
good luck that people who call themselves progressives and left wingers
have so eagerly jumped on the anti-Assange bandwagon. In so doing they are
doing imperialism a great service. We do not question their good
intentions, of course. We merely point out that the way to a very warm
place is paved with good intentions. Every left-winger who supports the
call for Assange to stand trial is objectively serving the cause of
reaction.

Divide and rule is a very old tactic of imperialism, and this is indeed
perhaps one of the most divisive questions on the Left. Clinton, Hague and
Bildt are delighted to welcome this muddying of the waters. The more the
rape allegations can circulate in the press, the more thoroughly Assange
and WikiLeaks will be discredited. In this way the imperialists can rid
themselves of someone who, by exposing their crimes before the public
opinion of the world, caused them severe damage and consequently did an
important service to the cause of world socialism. Yet some "Lefts" are
blind to all of this. And there are none so blind as those who will not see.

It is not an accident that one vocal proponent of extradition is Nick
Cohen< link to www.guardian.co.uk.
Writing in The Observer, this ex-Left made a name for himself for
supporting the Iraq war, all in the name of "democracy", of course. He
probably also defends the occupation of Afghanistan on the grounds that it
"liberates women". Lately he has found it useful to criticise the Left for
insufficiently opposing Muslim Fundamentalism - that is, he criticises the
Left for showing insufficient subservience to the interests of US
imperialism. In spite of all the revelations of WikiLeaks and the history
of the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, he still claims
that the First Amendment of the US constitution will protect Assange!

Cohen also feels the need to point to the fate of Bradley Manning, not in
order to demand that the US release him, but in order to blacken the name
of Assange. This is another useful story that has been spun in the press.
Why isn't Assange helping Manning? Why doesn't he give him legal support?
Such arguments are simply designed to blacken Assange's name. The fact is
that WikiLeaks and Assange constantly refer to Manning's case, calling for
his release. This is more than one can say of Assange's critics who would
much prefer to call for Assange to be extradited than Manning to be
released from torture in US prisons.

Some, including Assange himself, have raised the question of a guarantee.
If Sweden only issued a guarantee not to extradite him to the US, Assange
could stand trial. Such a guarantee would be worthless. Let Assange rot in
prison for a year or so, preferably after being convicted of rape. After
that, someone might forget the guarantee. Or, Assange might find a couple
of CIA agents waiting for him when he is on leave from prison, then on a
plane to Guantanamo. The Swedish government will shed crocodile tears and
protest indignantly against such an "infringement", and then the matter
will be forgotten. Either way, there are no guarantees.

*In the end, the discussion over Assange's extradition boils down to a
question of whose side you are on. Are you going to cave in to the
pressures of bourgeois public opinion, brought to you by the Murdochs and
the Bonniers of this world? Or are you going to take a stance against the
secret diplomacy of the imperialists, their lies and hypocrisy? For us, the
choice is clear.*

- *End to the persecution of WikiLeaks! Release Manning and Assange.*
- *No more secret diplomacy! Let the governments of this world conduct
their business in full openness. Let the peoples of the world decide for
themselves what they think about the actions of the politicians that are
supposed to represent them.*
- *Down with the media monopolies! Put the servile press under the
control of the trade unions and the journalists. Let them report the truth
and not the lies of imperialism.*