Sexual Assault Investigation into Julian Assange Dropped

by Sonia Hickey & Ugur Nedim

Swedish prosecutors have formally dropped their investigation into an allegation that Julian Assange sexually assaulted a woman in Stockholm ten years ago, conceding the evidence is too weak to support a prosecution.

The allegations

In 2010, Swedish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant against Mr Assange, based on allegations which arose when two women went to police after having sexual intercourse with him.

It has been reported that they asked police to track him Assange down, not because he did anything illegal to them but in order for him to provide a blood sample to ensure he did not have HIV/AIDS.

Police are said to have advised the women that Assange could not be forced to undergo such a test without criminal charges being brought against him, before advising them that the matter would be referred to a prosecutor – a referral which many believe occurred solely due to the fact Assange was wanted by the United States for leaking classified information, including those of atrocities committed by the US defence force.

The next day, Swedish prosecutor Eva Finné stated, “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” But another prosecutor, Karin Rosander, later sought an arrest warrant ostensibly to interview Assange about the matter.

The merit of the case against Assange has been called into question by a wide range of people; from journalists to documentary film maker Mike Moore, to feminist author Naomi Wolf.

The gist of their criticism was that the efforts to extradite Assange were not because he committed sexual assault, but in order to make it easier for the United States to get their hands on him.

Extradition proceedings

While Swedish prosecutors fought for extradition to Sweden, Mr Assange fought against them, seeing the proceedings as a way to ultimately have him extradited to the US to face espionage allegations.

Assange has always fiercely maintained his innocence, asserting the sexual intercourse with the Swedish women was consensual.

After the United Kingdom rejected his last appeal against extradition to Sweden in 2012, Mr Assange entered the Embassy of Ecuador, seeking political asylum.

Four years later, he provided a statement to Swedish authorities, rejecting the claim that he committed a sex crime.

Mr Assange’s statement outlined that he had travelled to Stockholm in August 2010 due to heightened concerns about US activities in the UK relating to the investigation of WikiLeaks.

He stated that while there, he met a woman who attended a speech he gave and who appeared to be romantically interested in him. She invited him to her home, and they had consensual sex and the next day enjoyed breakfast together.

Swedish case closed

Swedish authorities eventually dropped the case, only to re-open their investigations after Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy earlier this year.

Now, they have officially closed the case, which will be a relief for Assange who is yet to face the biggest legal challenge of his life.

Thrown out of embassy

Julian Assange spent almost seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy, but was thrown out in April by President Moreno and promptly arrested.

He is currently behind bars in south London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison. He’s facing up to 12 months inside for breach of bail. An extradition hearing is scheduled for 2 May 2020 to determine whether he will be handed over to US authorities and sent to that country.

The leaks

The leaked files included damning video of US forces killing civilians and journalists in a mistaken attack in Iraq, as well as thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that were highly critical of world leaders.

The US Government first accused Julian Assange of engaging in a conspiracy with former US defence force intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who has served seven years in a military prison for leaking classified data. The charges against Assange have a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Charges laid by the US Government

In May 2019, the US Justice Department added a further 17 charges, which go far beyond the original indictment, accusing him of conspiracy with Manning to obtain and disclose classified national defence documents. The charges come from the USA’s Espionage Act and mean that Julian Assange now faces a prison term of up to 170 years.

Australian Government has ‘washed it’s hands’ of Assange

As an Australian citizen, Assange is entitled to limited consular protection and some help navigating the legal process from the Australian government, by way of the Australian High Commission in London but many Australians already believe that the Federal Government has turned it’s back on Julian Assange and that his fate is now firmly in the hands of the British Government and will be decided next year.

Authors

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team.

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

Your Opinion Matters
Click here to comment on Facebook or leave a comment below