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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Friday, December 10, 2010

A different view of Assange

This is worth reading to consider the other side of the story.


Russell Blackford said...

Once again, the main thing is that Assange should have the rule of law properly applied to him.

It would also be good to know exactly what the Swedish police want to charge him with, but that will eventually become publicly known.

For the record, I'm not going to join in the chorus of people saying that it's "not really rape" if a man "keeps going" after being told to stop. There seems to be a certain amount of misogyny around, or at least insensitivity to the interests of women. Whether it's the worst kind of rape, blah, blah, is more a matter for sentencing, and we're not currently talking about sentencing.

If you're told that consent is no longer given, you have to accept that "No" means "No." I've always taken it that acting otherwise should be a crime and that it is technically rape. If the law wants to call it by a different name and save "rape" for when no consent was ever given for penetration in the first place, that's an issue of classification and semantics, not an issue that continued sex, after consent is no longer given, should not be a crime. Why shouldn't it be? Isn't it something that it's rational for women to fear, and isn't it reasonable for the law to protect them, as far as practicable, from this particular feared thing? It may not be an easy crime to prove, if it's one person's word against the other's, and perhaps it shouldn't be, but that's not the issue here.

One thing that's new to me. The article claims that Assange has received consular assistance. It would be nice to know just what assistance he has received.

Brian said...

I agree mostly with the article, a few things I think are incorrect:

'(b) if Assange gets extradited to Sweden he’ll be handed over to the US; '

According to the Age, and other media I've read, this isn't considered absurd.


The author seems a bit cute in suggesting the US aren't interested getting Assange. If the US can drum up a charge, who doubts that the US can exert pressure on the UK or Sweden to hand him over? They have no dramas with extraordinary renditions. We've seen British and Australian nationals handed over to the US because they were 'terrorists' before. History would suggest it's not beyond absurd.

I think Assange should be tried in Sweden and the law should be obeyed. I don't think the woman are deliberately entrapping Assange, but why wouldn't the US or someone else with an axe to grind take advantage of the situation if they could?

I find it difficult to believe that any government plotting the downfall of WikiLeaks would be so stupid as to think that arresting one man would do that job.

Can't say I agree at all with this statement. It's classic politics, discredit the messenger, and dirt sticks to the message. Then if that works, you can continue to undermine wikileaks and people will tune out and view the organization negatively. I'm not saying it's gonna work, but the authors difficulty in believing seems naff. Political campaigns, like the recent Victorian election attack the leaders not the policies.

Robert said...

The problem with disconnecting the charges against Julian Assange from the leaks published by WikiLeaks is simply that the international pressure seems huge.

How many "third-degree rapists" (as I understand the charge for consensual sex becoming unconsensual part-way through is) get INTERPOL attention? The other Red Notices from INTERPOL that got their own press release this year are for the espionage team that assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, and for a a sex trafficker who sold underage girls. That is the category that Assange has been put into.

At the same time, WikiLeaks has been attacked, kicked off their server farm, had their bank accounts frozen, and been lambasted in the world media. To say that these are unconnected events is very disingenuous.

Russell Blackford said...

Sure, the coincidence looks suspicious. That's a reason to scrutinise the whole thing carefully and to be very concerned as to whether Assange gets treated properly in the criminal justice system - initially that of the UK.

Svlad Cjelli said...

Ă…klagarmyndigheten says Prosecutor Ny will issue a statement on Tuesday.

So far it's not clear what the charges are, but the "surprise sex" rumour is silly, whether it's true or not. I suspect it isn't. For starters, it's a jokular term.
As for the matter being only a common condom failure, it would be a ridiculous criminal charge if true, but I doubt that it is true for that same reason.
The charges will probably, almost certainly, be something else. Those sound too cutesy and dismissive.

Whether he's guilty or not is another issue, and harder to know anything about.

Ernst Hot said...

Of course he should be tried, what do people imagine the alternative is? affording legal immunity to anyone who has pissed off the US Government?

Christian Munthe said...

The charges have been clear for a long time: 1 count of rape, 2 counts of sexual assault and 1 count of unlawful coercion. The accusers are two young women who, at the time of the alleged actions, worked as volunteers for WikiLeaks in Sweden. One of these are currently being seriously slandered in the blog and forum world by people who seem to believe that criminal charge issues are settled in public debate.

This provides some clarification.

Russell Blackford said...

Chris, I've read that link, but it doesn't actually say what Assange is accused of.

Telling us that the crimes are classified in certain way, that it's one count of rape, one of unlawful coercion, etc., tells us almost nothing. Apart from the fact that the elements of those crimes vary between jurisdictions, they can be met in many different ways even within a jurisidiction.

I studied criminal law at the University of Melbourne, so I'm most familiar with British, Australian, and especially Victorian law. But I can tell you that, even within the one jurisdiction of Victoria, it means almost nothing to say that someone has been charged with "rape". That could cover a considerable range of types of circumstances. It looks as if Swedish law may be even more (perhaps much more, judging by the lawyer's words) complex.

Indeed, the lawyer for the two women specifically refuses to say what Assange is accused of, saying quite specifically that he doesn't want Assange to know what he's accused of before the police interview him.

Now, I don't think it's really the responsibility of the lawyer acting for the women to tell either the public or the accused. That is a job for the police. But at this stage we just don't know what Assange is accused of, and Assange doesn't know, either, and the lawyer for the women clearly tell us he doesn't want Assange to know at this stage.