Taken: Julian Assange arrested, denied bail on rape charges

Julian Assange is in custody, but not (directly) because of Wikileaks …

From The Guardian:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was today refused bail and remanded in custody until 14 December over claims he committed sex offences in Sweden.

Assange told City of Westminster magistrates court today that he intended to fight his extradition, setting up what could be a long legal battle.

The 39-year-old Australian turned himself in to Scotland Yard this morning to face a Swedish arrest warrant.

He was asked by the court whether he understood that he could consent to be extradited to Sweden, where he faces allegations of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion, involving two women.

Assange said: “I understand that and I do not consent.”

Assange denies the allegations, which stem from a visit to Sweden in August. He and his lawyers claim the accusations stem from a “dispute over consensual but unprotected sex”, and have said the case has taken on political overtones.

Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny has rejected those claims.

Journalist John Pilger, filmmaker Ken Loach, and socialite Jemima Khan were among six people in court willing to offer surety.

They all offered at least £20,000 each. An anonymous individual offered £60,000.

But District Judge Howard Riddle refused the WikiLeaks founder bail on the grounds that he had access to financial means and might fail to surrender.

The judge said these were “serious allegations against someone who has comparatively weak community ties in this country and the means and ability to abscond”.

But he rejected the prosecution claim that bail should be rejected on the grounds of Assange’s safety.

Assange appeared in court in blue suit with a white shirt. Asked to give an address he replied: “PO Box 4080.” When the question was asked again, he said: “Do you want it for correspondence or for some other reason?” Later the WikiLeaks founder, who was accompanied by officials from the Australian high commission, gave an address in his native Australia. …

Apparently, it’s highly unusual for no bail to be offered in a case like this. And it’s helpful to remember that the rape charges appear to be less horrible than they first appeared, stemming from Assange’s apparent penchant for consensual sex without a condom. And then there’s this:

One of the women that is accusing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sex crimes appears to have worked with a group that has connections to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

James D. Catlin, a lawyer who recently represented Assange, said the sex assault investigation into the WikiLeaks founder is based on claims he didn’t use condoms during sex with two Swedish women.

Swedish prosecutors told AOL News last week that Assange was not wanted for rape as has been reported, but for something called “sex by surprise” or “unexpected sex.”

One accuser, Anna Ardin, may have “ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups,” according to Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett, writing for CounterPunch.

While in Cuba, Ardin worked with the Las damas de blanco (the Ladies in White), a feminist anti-Castro group.

Professor Michael Seltzer pointed out that the group is led by Carlos Alberto Montaner who is reportedly connected to the CIA.

Shamir and Bennett also describe Ardin as a “leftist” who “published her anti-Castro diatribes (see here and here) in the Swedish-language publication Revista de Asignaturas Cubanas put out by Misceláneas de Cuba.”

Shamir and Bennett noted that Las damas de blanco is partially funded by the US government and also counts Luis Posada Carriles as a supporter.

A declassified 1976 document (.pdf) revealed Posada to be a CIA agent. He has been convicted of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of people.

The Guardian is liveblogging the events here.

Meanwhile, before he was taken into custody by Scotland Yard, Assange penned an op-ed in The Australian, in which he went after his many critics, and defended what Wikileaks has done:

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public. …

Assange describes how he came to his general distrust of government, and he also zeroes in on what he calls a double standard applied to Wikileaks versus more traditional news outlets. And he calls his enemies by name:

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

In his op-ed, Assange denies that his disclosures have harmed U.S., Australian or any other government’s national security, and he says statements by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates back him up. And he lists what he says are the key disclosures that have come about as a result of his organization’s no-holds-barred journalism, which other people have called espionage, or worse.

Read this: the dangerous Mr. Assange

Meanwhile, Assange has reportedly protected future disclosures by installing something like a “dead man’s switch” in the Wikileaks protocol, as he related to Guardian readers in a recent online chat:

He said: “The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically.

“Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? that depends on you.”

SecDef Gates applauded the arrest, and I’m sure Republicans will be lining up to call for him to be transferred to Gitmo. Here we go…

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3 Responses to Taken: Julian Assange arrested, denied bail on rape charges

  1. Susan S says:

    But he can be charged with something more serious as soon as Mitch McConnell changes U.S. law so he can be executed.

  2. Rupert says:

    Sarah Palin tweeted that he’s a terrorist, so what are we waiting for? We don’t even have to try him, we can assassinate him.

  3. Pingback: Taken: Julian Assange arrested, denied bail on rape charges | Western Outlaw

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