How the Guardian Stitched Up Julian Assange
The sex crime allegations against Assange back into the public consciousness after a lull since they were initially made in early August, 2010, then partly dropped, then reinstated at the end of August.
The week before Christmas 2010… Nick Davies had been the first Guardian journalist to contact Assange, “who had had sporadic contact with the paper” about the huge tranche of material that would generate the three separate logs.
He had also subsequently fallen out with Assange and ceased working with him, after accusing him of breaking deals on exclusivity with the paper. But it was Nick Davies who received the next Assange/Wikileaks bombshell: a copy of the long-form police report compiling interview write-ups and transcripts with Assange, the two women whose report generated the accusations, and a number of “witnesses” – people who were around Assange and the two women over the week of August 13-20, 2010, when the events on which the al- legations are based occurred.
Davies was the first non-Swedish journalist to get a hold of the report, copies of which had been circulating among vari- ous Stockholm insiders for a few weeks. Two different versions – one with 12 interviews and forensics, another with 11 interviews and no forensics – were circulating; Davies apparently obtained a copy of the latter version. The 28,000-word document then became the basis for a 2,000-word story – which itself became the basis for much of the discussion of the case in the English-speaking world.
The Guardian was happy to go along with Wikileaks’ idea of “scientific journalism,” whereby an article is linked to the document on which it is based; in this case they went old school, and there was no opportunity to check Davies’ work. Rundle continued on page 4 the endlessly fascinating founder of Wikileaks. Following the explosive revelations in the Afghan, Iraq and Cablegate releases, Assange was now in the spot- light for a different reason.
The Swedish prosecution service had issued an arrest warrant to call him back to the country for further questioning on four accusations of sex crimes (two of sexual assault, two of misdemeanor “annoyance”), this had become an Interpol red notice, and the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service were now acting on it, serving an extradition process. On December 7, Assange was denied bail. This was granted after two more hearings, with Assange electronically tagged and ordered to reside at the Norfolk mansion of Vaughan Smith, founder of the war correspondents’ Frontline Club.
The initial hearing had rocketed the sex crime allegations against Assange back into the public consciousness after a lull since they were initially made in early August, 2010, then partly dropped, then reinstated at the end of August. Debate about the matter still relied on scraps of disconnected information and hearsay, much of it aired on the Swedish libertar- ian site Flashback.org. Debate around the matter became subject to the Rashomon effect, of multiple accounts: Assange had torn a condom during sex, he had com- mitted sex by surprise, he hadn’t called someone back, one of the accusers was a CIA plant, and around and around it went.
Then, on December 17, the day after Assange was finally bailed … continue reading
Britain may take the opportunity to wash its hands of the politically thorny case of extraditing a publisher to the United States by sending him to Sweden instead, though Persson said Assange could not then be extradited to the U.S. from Sweden without Britain’s consent.