WACA would like to thank the writers of Presstorm for covering the proceedings.
Presstorm is a group of writer-activitsts who cover various issues around the world. In addition to coverage of various news happenings around the world, we amplify voices for those who do not have a voice. The material contained on this website is meant for opinion & editorial purposes and is not intended to replace any press or media releases.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Julian Assange appeared in court today to fight extradition to Sweden. Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny (pronounced N-U as in Fur Elise) had initially issued the warrant so that Assange could be questioned regarding to allegations of sexual misconduct by two women named in Court as A and B.
Early this morning, journalists and reporters from all over Europe and other parts of the world were lined up and posed awaiting Julian’s arrival. As Julian arrived in a taxi, there were cheers from all around to show support for the founder of Wikileaks. He was dressed in a grey coat, suit, and tie and judging from the tweets this morning, he seemed relaxed, cheerful, and calm. He waved and smiled to everyone present before disappearing into the building.
Journalists and reporters had a difficult time getting into the hearing. Many stood in the queue outside of the courtroom tweeting updates from within. Attending also were supporters Jemima Khan, Bianca Jagger, and Tony Benn.
According to Marcus Edwards, a journalist from Channel4News reporting from inside the courtroom via his Twitter account:
“Clare Montgomery QC for the Crown says SOCA have certified the Swedish prosecutor is a person authorised to issue an arrest warrant.”
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is a government organization in the UK. On their webpage, they state:
SOCA tackles serious organised crime that affects the UK and our citizens. This includes Class A drugs, people smuggling and human trafficking, major gun crime, fraud, computer crime and money laundering
According to Anna Adams from BBC via her Twitter Account:
“Clare Montgomery QC rep Swedish authorities says rape is one of 32 offences that warrants extradition.”
While The Queens Council (QC) is referred in the hearing briefs and tweets from journalists covering the story, more information can be found at the Ministry of Justice Website.
Clare Montgomery referred by journalists is specialist in criminal law and has been appointed to the inaugural Serious Fraud Office QC list in 2009.
According to Anna Adams from inside the courtroom, there was a bit of legal wrangling about the legal definitions of various things:
“Legal wrangling about what constitutes warrant for extradition in EU.”
Channel 4 News tweeted that there was the issue of “double criminality” presented and stated that there was serious differences in the definition of rape between Sweden and the UK. The prosecution denies that there are differences and this issue was originally a part of the skeleton defense for Assange.
“Issue of “double criminality” – Assange team questions difference in “breadth” of definition of rape in Sweden compared to UK.”
“Assange: prosecution says there is no significant difference in definition of rape in Sweden to UK, a key part of skeleton defense.”
According to Andy Davies, another reporter from Channel4News from inside the courtroom, the prosecution is alleging that Assange used violence in order to force himself onto one of the women who have put forth this process:
“Swedish authorities allege Assange used violence to force himself on one of the complainants.”
Marcus Edwards tweets a message from the crown:
“Crown: No room for any doubt as to purpose of the warrant. That it is for the purpose of prosecution.”
“Crown: fact that questioning may be required does not undermine main purpose of warrant.”
Marcus Edwards also reported on twitter that there was a high pitched whistle coming from the Annex speaker system and that although it had died down after a while, it was still extremely hot – “like an oven.”
Anna Adams reported that the prosecution claimed no leaks to the press about the claims against Assange:
Prosecution says there have been no leaks to press about claims against Assange.
Marcus Edwards tweeted that according to the crown, Assange’s attorney Bjorn Hertig, from Sweden had access to the evidential material which will be given at tomorrow’s hearing.
Crown claims Bjorn Hertig, Swedish lawyer, has had access to evidential material. Mr Hertig will give evidence tmrw.
Anna Adams reports that the two women who came forth against Assange acted in sinister manners by re-deleting information from Twitter and colluding and surmises that there is no danger to a fair trial.
Prosecution denies complainants acted in sinister way re deleting info from Twitter & colluding. ‘No danger to fair trial.
Marcus Edwards tweeted that the crown has yet to determine if there is any real factual risk that Assange would be extradited from Sweden to the US and added that the UK would be asked before any such extradition took place.
He also includes in his tweets that the Crown sees the statement of Sweden providing no protection against human rights violations is unfounded. Geoffrey Robertson, Assange’s attorney stated that because Sweden’s rape cases are held in secrecy, there would be a greater chance of his rights being violated. In Sweden, all rape cases are held privately where no public or press are allowed.
Marcus Edwards: Crown: not been established yet that there is a real factual risk would be extradited to US from Sweden.
Marcus Edwards: Clare Montgomery also says UK would be asked for its permission were such an extradition request to be made.
Marcus Edwards: Crown: Suggestion Sweden to be regarded as a state which provides no protection against human rights violations is unfounded.
Anna Adams: Geoffrey Robertson QC: Assange can’t have fair trial in Sweden because no press and public access to rape trials there.
Anna Adams gives a more colorful tweet of Geoffrey Robertson’s response to denial of human rights, and Marcus Edwards recaps:
Anna Adams: Geoffrey Robertson QC defending Assange: ‘there is risk of flagrant denial of justice’ if Assange is tried for rape in Sweden.
Marcus Edwards: Robertson: Fact rape trials aren’t heard in public risks there being a ‘flagrant denial of justice’.
Marcus Edwards once again quotes Geoffrey Robertson with regard to any private hearing that would take place in Sweden:
Robertson: Given amount of vilification Mr. Assange has faced, it’s unfair he should be… ushered into a secret court.
Anna Adams recaps the issue nicely:
Defence: Sweden rape cases held behind closed doors. Assange cannot have fair trial if press & public denied access to court
Andy Davies tweets similar comments:
Assange legal team claim he would have trial in Sweden “behind closed doors” – a “violation of his rights”
Being labeled Sweden’s “Blackspot,” Anna Adams tweets the verbiage inside the courtroom:
Assange defence: Swedens blackspot – its the only place in EU where rape gets a secret trial. ‘no man should be tried in holes or corners’
Marcus Edwards tweets that Geoffrey Robertson thinks that some other “unfair” issues happening in this case is that Assange seems to be undergoing a “trial by media.” Robertson accuses a prosecutor of “unlawful behavior” by making it clearly known in the media that Julian Assange is being investigated.
Robertson: other unfairness, inc trial by media. Accuses a prosecutor of ‘unlawful behaviour’ in making it known Assange being investigated.
Anna Adams recaps and points out another interesting concept: How Assange is being vilified in the Swedish Media.
Def: Assange vilified in Swedish press & prosecution acted unlawfully revealing investigation. In UK they’d be jailed for contempt.
Marcus Edwards tweets that a Swedish Jury consists of a handful of people as stated by Robertson. He follows up with a tweet stating that in all rape cases, the bare essentials needed to convict someone of “rape” would be that the person accusing would have to state that they did not consent.
Robertson concludes by saying that nothing of the sort has come from these two women accusing Assange of sexual misconduct and/or rape.
Have learnt another thing about Swedish system. Robertson says ‘jury’ effectively made up of 1 judge and 3 laypersons.
He claims the laypersons (often political appointees) can outvote judge, are at risk of being influenced by media coverage
Robertson: It is fundamental [in a rape case] that a woman says she did not consent – there is no such allegation.
Andy Davies comments on whether a condom was used. Davies reports that Robertson stated Julian Assange did in fact wear a condom for the first complaintant and that there was no violence in that case.
Assange lawyer says first complainant asked JA to put condom on and he did – that no violence involved.
According to a tweet from Channel4News, Robertson stated that it was strange that Assange was not allowed to be interviewed over the phone or skype/videocalling but the two women who have pressed the issue were allowed such conveniences:
Robertson quips that it is strange a complainant was allowed to be interviewed over the phone, but not Assange.
There is, at this point, speculation on behalf of Sweden in the courtroom where the question is brought up of whether anything called “minor rape” can actually exist. Anna Adams tweets that Assange’s defense believes there to be no such thing.
Assange defence: it’s claimed this is a ‘minor rape’ there is no such thing.
Channel4News recaps and asserts what the defense thinks about “minor rape.”
“Minor rape” definition is a contradiction in terms, says Robertson QC – defending Julian Assange.
Anna Adams tweets a more concise statement coming from the defense stating that the definition of rape in the EU is defined by “forced via violence” or “without consent.” The defense remarks that because there was no forced violence and because neither women claimed to have denied consent to Mr. Assange, that the charges do not meet the EU’s standards for “rape.”
Assange def: Definition of rape in EU is ‘forced by violence’ or ‘without consent’ – these charges do not meet EU standards.
Marcus Edwards tweets that Robertson clearly states that it is un-natural to call this charge “rape” because it does not involve either force by violence nor did the two women state that they did not consent.
Robertson on ‘minor rape’: not natural to call an offence which doesn’t require force or lack of consent ‘rape’
Marcus Edwards goes on to tweet that Robertson invited the court to adknowledge the fact that this is not “rape” as defined by European Law. He continues tweeting that the court has already announced that the argument for rape was not something the Crown considered a strong argument.
We invite the court to say this is not rape as it is accepted in European law.
Crown has already said they don’t think much of that argument…
Anna Adams tweets that Robertson had stated that Julian Assange was ready and willing to cooperate with Swedish Authorities so there is no reason that an extradition warrant should have been issued.
Def: Assange was ‘ready, willing & able to co-operate’ with Swedish authorities so there is no need for extradition warrant.
Marcus Edwards follows up tweeting that Robertson stated because of Assange’s cooperation with Swedish authorities already, that the extradition process is disproportionate adding that this is only the beginning and that more will come in a hearing tomorrow.
Robertson says disproportionate to use European Arrest Warrant as #Assange had agreed to be questioned.
I should say that we are just in the ‘opening’ section of the Crown and Defence cases. The detailed stuff comes later..
Anna Adams follows up and says that Robertson stated Julian Assange was available to Swedish Authorities on September 14 through 16 and again on October 10, 2010. He was apparently told no because a policeman was ill and it was a Sunday. Channel4News added that Assange offered to go to Swedish Embassy in London to be interviewed via Skype but was turned down according to Robertson.
Anna Adams: Def: Assange offered to be interrogated re rape claims on 14-16th sept & 10th oct but told no because policeman was ill & it was a Sunday.
Channel4News: Assange offered to go to Swedish embassy in London to be interviewed via Skype but this was turned down says Robertson
Marcus Edwards tweets the main points of the hearing for the defense are “unfair trial,” “double criminality,” “minor rape,” and “proportionality.”
He follows up with Robertson’s next defense regarding Ny’s authority to issue an arrest warrant via the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
Robertson: main arguments so far: Unfair trial, ‘double criminality’, ‘minor rape’, proportionality.
Detailed argument now about whether Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny is permitted to issue European Arrest Warrant.
Anna Adams tweeted a statement by Robertson about the EAW being too draconian therefore, a justification for his getting technical.
Geoffrey Robertson QC (for Assange) says European Arrest Warrant is too draconian so he will get technical
Marcus Edwards tweets Robertson saying that the authority should be coming from a single person in the prosecution, not an old prosecutor – namely Marianne Ny. Robertson then goes on to recite Hamlet.
Robertson: issuing authority in Sweden is a single person – the public prosecutor (i.e. prosecutor general) – not any old prosecutor.
In other words, not Marianne Ny, says Robertson. A technical point, but technical points are important, he observes.
Robertson is now quoting Hamlet: “We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us.” And equivocation undoes EAWs, he adds.
Channel4News Tweets a link as to how the Swedish Prosecution Works.
Details of how Swedish Prosecution Authority works here: http://www.aklagare.se/In-English/
In a quick turn of events on Twitter, Channel4News to the number one question, “Is Assange being wanted for questioning or prosecution?” Channel4News tweets :
Back to key question – Robertson asks is the warrant (EAW) being sought for Assange for questioning or for prosecution?
Anna Adams tweets Robertson stating a very important thing to think about. Swedish law states that a suspect must be shown all evidence and allowed to call witnesses before extradition warrants are issued, however, Assange was not given that ability.
Swedish law says suspect must be shown all evidence & allowed to call witnesses before extradition warrant issued. Assange not had that.
Channel4News tweets and states once again that Assange has already been interrogated, and upon the findings at that time, there were no charges sought.
Robertson underlines the fact: “Assange has already been interrogated” on these allegations – but wasn’t charged.
Marcus Edwards interrupts the flow of the court hearing coverage by giving a link to a promise for “tweeting in court allowed.”
Speaking of tweeting from court, the promised consultation on the issue has just been launched.
After a short 15 minute break, everyone filed back into the courtroom and Brita Sundberg, retired Swedish Judge, took the stand. She initially concluded that the Assange case sounded “peculiar.”
Channel4News starts off with the first tweet followed by Marcus Edwards and Anna Adams:
Channel4News: Retired Swedish judge Brita Sundberg giving evidence – she says she has so far found the Assange case “peculiar”
Anna Adams: Retired Swedish judge Brita Sundberg giving evidence – she says she has so far found the Assange case “peculiar”.
Marcus Edwards: We’re now hearing from former Swedish judge Brita Sundberg-Weitman. Says case has ‘peculiar’ from the start.
Marcus Edwards recaps a bit of the court room happenings and quotes Sundberg’s statement that Sweden is rather “hostile” about Assange. It being stated that there is a general attitude that even though Assange has not been convicted of any of these charges, people are taking for granted that he has in fact raped two women. Anna Adams tweets the same only adding that Sundberg sees this as being the mainstream media’s fault.
Sundberg-Weitman: Atmosphere in Sweden ‘rather hostile’ and ‘most people take it for granted that [#Assange] has raped two women.
Retired Swedish judge Brita Sundberg says most people in Sweden take it for granted Assange raped two women. Mass media perpetuated this.
Marcus Edwards continues tweeting about what Sundberg has stated in court. Sundberg has stated that Marianne Ny has a bias view of men and stated that it would have been easy to speak to Assange while he was in Sweden or while he was in the UK via phone or videolink. Anna Adams reports that Sundberg defined Marianne Ny as being malicious toward Assange and reinforced her view on Ny’s bias against men.
Marcus Edwards: Sundberg-Weitman: Prosecutor Marianne Ny has a ‘rather biased view of men’.
Marcus Edwards: Sundberg-Weitman: would have been easy to have spoken to him in Sweden or when in the UK. Possible to use phone/videolink.
Anna Adams: Marianne Ny (Swedish prosecution) is described as biased & against men. Her attitude has been ‘malicious’ towards Assange, says Sundberg.
Upon being questioned by Robertson, according to Marcus Edward’s tweets, Sundberg was asked if Ny simply wanted to get Assange to sweden to arrest him regardless of what he said during quesitoning, Sundberg replied, “Yes.” Channel4News also added in a tweet some more statements made by Sundberg saying that perhaps Ny wanted to get him to Sweden so that he could suffer in order to get him “softer” and also adding that Sundberg admitted that authority must never use more harsh means than that which is necessary. Sundberg concluded by stating “that principle is being disrespected here.”
Marcus Edwards: Robertson: “What she [Ny] wants to do is to get him to Sweden to arrest him, no matter what he says…” Sundberg: “Yes.
Channel4News: Sundberg said she believed that Ny wanted to get hold of Assange “maybe to let him suffer… so he gets softer”.
Channel4News: Sundberg: Authority must never use more harsh means than is necessary. It’s obvious this principle is being disrespected here.
Anna Adams included a summary of Sundberg’s final statements on the stand before lunch. Sundberg had stated that no more harm could have been done to Assange because now he is known across the world as a rapist without ever having been charged.
Can’t imagine how more harm could have been done to Assange. He’s known across world as a rapist without ever being charged, Sundberg says.
Marcus Edwards tweeted that Sundberg had admitted that she’d never seen a rape case in Sweden in a public court.
Sundberg-Weitman: says she can’t remember a rape trial not being held behind closed doors. Breaking for lunch now.
At this point, the court broke for lunch, but was soon back with Sundberg back on the stand for cross-examination by Clare Montgomery QC.
Marcus Edwards tweeted that the hearing continued in a some-what “prickly” tone. Montgomery began questioning Sundberg’s knowledge of the “facts” versus things that she’s been “told.” Montgomery, according to Channel4News insisted that Sundberg produce facts.
Marcus Edwards: Already, this is somewhat prickly. Montgomery asking Sundberg-Weitman what she knows as opposed to what she’s been told.
Channel4News:Tense cross-examination of Brita Sundberg – Clare Montgomery QC insisting she needs to provide “facts” to match earlier statements.
As the hearing progressed, the tension rose and Marcus Edwards reported that wireless networks were down for a time. He stated that it was clear, Sundberg does not have a very high opinion of the criminal justice system in Sweden, even though most lawyers from Sweden will assert that Sweden has the best system in the world. Sundberg stated that sometimes you can be blind to what you have at home.
Marcus Edwards: Wireless network appears to have gone down. Sundberg-Weitman appears not have v high opinion of crim justice system in Sweden.
Sundberg-Weitman: ‘Almost all Swedish lawyers wd say it’s the best system in the world… but you can be blind to what you have at home’.
Marcus Edwards retweeted Channel4News on a question that Montgomery had asked Sundberg, “Hypothetically, is Ms. Ny entitled to issue a EAW if there is a prosecution?” Sundberg replied by saying, “Yes.” At this point, language barriers made things difficult and Anna Adams does her best to relay messages. Marcus Edwards confirms that there is confusion about what is being said.
Channel4News RT @c4marcus Montgomery QC: Hypothetically, is Ms Ny entitled to issue a EAW if there is a prosecution? Sundberg: Yes
Anna Adams: Torturous exchange between Assange’s witness Brita Sundberg & prosecution. Difficult when English not first language in court.
Marcus Edwards: The problem with this exchange is that I’m not totally sure what has been agreed with or conceded.
Anna Adams tweets that Sundberg had stated the concern that Assange was in Sweden for five weeks without being questioned by prosecutors, and that should never have happened.
Court heart Assange was in Sweden for 5 weeks & wasn’t questioned by prosecutors. This shouldn’t have happened, says witness
Channel4News tweeted the little facts that were being relayed due to the language barrier. One thing was certain and that was Sundberg admitting that her impression of Ny came from media interviews and not from “facts.”
Sundberg conceded her “impression” of Ny came from media interviews etc & not from “facts”. More language barrier difficulties…
As Sundberg stepped down from the stand, another witness was called. Legal activist and blogger Goran Rudling, took the stand stating that the current law in Sweden does not offer enough protection for women. Marcus Edwards and Anna Adams give a little synopsis in tweets of Mr. Rudling.
Marcus Edwards: Goran Rudling now takes the stand. He’s a legal activist. Says current law in Sweden doesn’t offer enough protection for woman.
Anna Adams: Assange’s 2nd witness is Goran Rundung. He’s a blogger & campaigner on rape laws. His mother was raped & feels strongly about consent laws.
Marcus Edwards tweets that Mr. Rudling states Miss A had deleted a couple of tweets showing that after the alleged sexual misconduct, she was appearing happy to be in Julian Assange’s company. Anna Adams tweets that Mr. Rudling stated that he was concerned with Miss A’s story.
Marcus Edwards: He told police that Miss A had erased Tweets at time she’d reported crime to police, which showed she was happy with #Assange’s company.
Anna Adams: Witness says Ms A’s story concerned him. She deleted previous Tweets about Assange after she alleged rape
Channel4News tweeted the exact tweet that Miss A had deleted from her account. The tweet stated:
He says Miss A on 14 Aug tweeted: “Sitting outside at 2am with coolest & smartest people, that’s amazing” Tweet later deleted, he says.
Marcus Edwards responded to another twitter user giving the documents of Mr. Rudling’s testimony upon being questioned about Mr. Rudling.
Anna Adams tweets that the court heard Miss A’s story and was shown how Miss A deleted three tweets concerning her and Mr. Assange’s company together after the allegations were put forth.
Court heard Ms A’s story about Assange was not consistent with her Tweets. She deleted 3 Tweets about being with Assange in Aug
Marcus Edwards tweets that Mr. Rudling had made it clear that he is not a fan of Wikileaks or Julian Assange.
Rudling has made clear he’s not a supporter of Wikileaks or Assange.
Anna Adams tweets another statement made by Rudling depicting another of the deleted tweets from Miss A which state that she was throwing a crayfish party for Assange. The tweet was again, after the allegations were made.
Ms A deleted Tweet of Aug 14th: “Julian would like to go to Crayfish party. Anyone got seats?”. She deleted it later,court heard.
Marcus Edwards tweets that Mr. Rudling is now being questioned about Miss A’s blog post entitled, “7 Steps for Revenge,” which was also deleted in haste from her blog and outlined in more detail on another site. He reports that Mr. Rudling was being asked to translate the article for the court.
Rudling being asked about Miss A’s blog post in which she’s said to have written about ‘7 steps for revenge’ against unfaithful men.
Rudling is translating the seven steps for revenge.
Anna Adams tweeted the specific dates of when Miss A deleted the blog entry for revenge in 7 steps.
Ms A, who’s accused Assange of rape, posted a ‘7 step revenge programme’ online after she met him. She deleted it Jan 2010.
Marcus Edwards tweeted the Mr. Rudling had stated the Swedish Prosecutor failed to take or video the alleged victims statements, and only included a summary. He includes in another tweet that due to the language barrier, Swedes cannot distinguish between “want” and “consent.”
Rudling claims police failed to tape or video record interviews with alleged victims. Only made a summary.
Rudling highlighting Swedish language difficulties – says confusion btwn consenting to something and wanting something.
Anna Adams tweets the prosecution’s statement that nobody knows why she deleted the tweets and gave a remark that Miss A simply wanted anonymity.
Assange prosecution: We don’t know why she erased the Tweets though. She wanted anonymity.
Marcus Edwards follows that sentiment up tweeting that it was to avoid media attention.
Prosecutor says we don’t know why Miss A deleted her Tweets. She’d messaged Rudling to say it was to try to avoid media attention.
According to Anna Adams, The Assange Extradition Hearing will continue tomorrow in London at 10:30 after another hearing is heard by the court.
Assange witnesses arriving from Sweden tomorrow. Court resumes at 10.30am after judge hears another extradition case – Shrien Dewani. Busy.
Presstorm will continue the live blog into tomorrow and will again summarize the events.