While the White House and Pentagon worry over the coming disclosure of another 15,000 classified documents on Afghanistan by WikiLeaks, the organization’s leader Julian Assange finds himself swirling in accusations of sexual impropriety.
The Peace and Justice Resource Center has a special obligation to report this story fairly and accurately because thousands of people have signed the petition:
What is the truth behind the allegations? What effect will they have on WikiLeaks? Is this a “dirty tricks” effort by intelligence agencies to discredit, disrupt and destroy the whistleblower threat?
Here is the sequence of events:
- Expressen, which was first out with the information, phoned the prosecutor the evening of Friday, August 20, already knowing all the information about the alleged rape, who was involved, and places; as of Friday, August 27, the source of the newspaper’s information was not known;
- “No one has explained yet why a newspaper had access to the investigative materials in the same minute as the prosecutor had it,” a Swedish source tells the PJRC.
- The on-call prosecutor, Maria Haljebo-Kjellstrand, who received the media inquiry, says she only acknowledged that the investigation was about Assange. She says she revealed no other information and asked the evening paper not to print the news, according to DN.
- The rape allegation went around the world in the media and internet;
- On Saturday, August 21, Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné dropped the rape charge and, shortly after, terminated any suspicion of sexual assault (sexuellt ofredande); she authorized an interview/investigation into the charge of molestation;
- The lawyer for the two women, Claes Borgstrom, will appeal the prosecutor’s decision;
- Assange’s lawyer, Leif Silbersky, complained that, “my client has been stigmatized world-wide as a rapist, one of the worst of crimes [and] has been damaged enormously”;
- Both affected women deny giving the story to the media;
- Assange denied committing any crime, and said all his sexual relations always have been “fully consensual”;
- One of the women involved denied there has been any conspiracy by the police or CIA, but says Assange has a “distorted [warped]” view of women and “simply can’t take a no for an answer.” She added, “It is quite wrong that we should be afraid of Assange and therefore refuse to notify the authorities. He is not violent and I do not feel threatened by him.”
Here are some translated definitions in Swedish law:
- Molestation, harassment, covers a wide range of offensive behavior, commonly-understood as behavior intended to disturb or upset.
- Sexual molestation, harassment, is a molestation or a harassment with a sexual element involved. For example, to a flash, or to handle/paw are both sexual molestations (also referred to as sexual abuse). Sexual harassment is a persistent and unwanted sexual advance.
- Sexual assault, is associated with the crime of rape, and may cover assaults which may not be considered rape. Sexual assault is determined by the laws of jurisdiction where the assault takes place -- these vary considerably, and are influenced by local social and cultural attitudes. Understood as immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, sexual assault may include rape, forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration, forced sexual intercourse, inappropriate touching, forced kissing, sexual abuse, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.
In summary, the press initially reported that Assange was charged with rape. That charge, and that of sexual assault, were dismissed the following day, leaving a police investigation of molestation.
Whatever the truth in this case, readers also should understand that law enforcement agencies repeatedly have used dirty tricks involving sex in efforts to defame political opponents. A brief list of examples would include:
- “[Daniel] Ellsberg, according to Henry [Kissinger], had weird sexual habits [and] used drugs,” according to White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman. Richard Nixon ordered the burglary by White House “plumbers”, including CIA agents, of confidential medical files from the office of Ellsberg’s psychoanalyst, Dr. Robert Fielding, on Sept. 3, 1971. The purpose was to discredit Ellsberg as an anti-war spokesman according to White House aide Egil Krogh in a 1974 pleading in federal court. One of the objectives was for the CIA “to perform a covert psychological assessment/evaluation on Ellsberg.” They wanted information on his wife and children, according to historian Taylor Branch. (Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets, 2002, p. 445)
- It is well-known that the FBI attempted to “neutralize” Dr. Martin Luther King with illegal wiretaps which revealed extra-marital affairs. Tapes were sent to his wife at home and, in 1964, when King was receiving the Nobel Prize, the FBI sent him a surreptitious warning letter which concluded, "King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is ... You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation."
- In 1970, the FBI planted rumors with a Hollywood columnist alleging that the actress Jean Seberg was pregnant by a Black Panther. As an agent wrote on April 27,1970: "The possible publication of Seberg's plight could cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the general public." Seberg miscarried, and eventually took her life August 30, 1979.
Additional research by Eva Ehrstedt. Additional editing by Wesley Saver of the Peace and Justice Resource Center.