Swedish disregard for due process in the Assange case?

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Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy, and has been awarded asylum by his hosts, but apparently has no way of escaping the UK. The British government has threatened on extremely dodgy legal grounds to enter the Embassy to arrest him, in defiance of diplomatic convention and international law.

A Guardian article by Mark Weisbrot links to an affidavit by a Swedish prosecutor, Sven-Erik Alheim, that seems to cast some very interesting light on the whole case.

These are the points that leaped out for me. Perhaps others remember these details; I was not aware of them.

The first prosecutor who dealt with the case, Eva Finne, decided to drop the case, and it was reopened by Marianne Ny at the request of the claimant’s lawyer. This does not necessarily mean Assange is innocent of the charges made against him, but it does suggest that they were not completely compelling.

The first Swedish prosecutor broke Swedish law by making the case public.

  1. … confirmation of the identity of a suspect to the media, is in my view, complete against proper procedure and in violation of the Swedish law and rules regarding preliminary investigations. In accordance with Swedish secrecy and confidentiality laws, confidentiality applies to everything that occurs during a preliminary investigation… the prosecutor has not been disciplined.

The second prosecutor had nearly three weeks during which she could have interviewed Assange in Sweden, but declined to do so.

  1. … Prosecutor Ny declined the opportunity to interview Mr Assange after she took over the case on 1 September 2010, despite the fact that he remained in Sweden until 27 September 2010…

Best practice, says Alheim, would have been to interview Assange immediately while his memory of events was fresh. But best practice was ignored.

Finally, even after Assange had left Sweden, Ny did not have to immediately resort to a European arrest warrant to interview Assange, but could have made a request via a procedure called Mutual Legal Assistance. That she resorted immediately to seeking Assange’s arrest and extradition without first exhausting other options is, in Alheim’s opinion, a breach of the principle of proportionality.

About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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2 Responses to Swedish disregard for due process in the Assange case?

  1. Temolin says:

    Good post. What is striking is the discrepancy between the attention the Assange case has received and that received by most other cases of rape or sexual abuse. I have personal experience of this in Europe and the ineptitude and lack of action of the responsible authorities is powerful evidence that our society does not want to face up to the existence of these crimes let alone provide adequate information to the public or support for the victims. The preoccupation with the Assange case is the exception that proves the rule.
    Here in the UK we now have the Jimmy Saville case to remind us just how reluctant people are to come forward and report sexual abuse and a recent study has shown that as a result of altered public perception of police effectiveness due to past failures even fewer rape victims are now coming forward to report an attack.
    There is lot of work to be done in this area if we are to improve what currently passes for adequate. No prizes for guessing why the Assange case has received so much attention.

    • David says:

      Thanks.

      I think the issue of rape and abuse of women is, generally, a terrible and much-ignored injustice in all too many countries. I don’t for a moment believe Assange should automatically be excused scrutiny in this matter because of his other achievements (which I generally admire). But in this case there are too many peculiarities to think that this is simply a matter of a man being sought for questioning about alleged rape.

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