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Assange’s balcony scene

19 August 2012

Julian Assange appeared in public for the first time in two months this afternoon to make a statement about his continuing resistance to attempts to extradite him.

The Wikileaks founder made a number of claims and arguments which it’s useful to have a look at in further detail:

1. ‘If the UK did not throw away the Vienna conventions the other night, it was because the world was watching’.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has insisted that there are no plans to ‘storm’ the Ecuadorian embassy to arrest Assange. Either officers will attempt to arrest him when he leaves the building for Ecuador (although there is an interesting theory he may try to do this disguised in some sort of package, as diplomatic parcels cannot be examined by the police. Let’s see how well that one works out…), or the government will revoke the status of the embassy using the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, which will be a lengthy process subject to judicial review by Ecuador.

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2. He warned that the US could drag us all into a ‘dangerous and oppressive world in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution’.

This is an interesting warning to make from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, given the climate that country’s journalists find themselves working in.

3. The one thing Assange did not mention… the allegations against him.

Two women, who are understood to be supporters of Wikileaks, have made allegations against Assange which relate to incidents in Sweden in August 2010. The charges he is now wanted on are that Assange committed ‘unlawful coercion’ by holding the first complainant down with his body weight in a sexual manner; that he refused to wear a condom with the same woman when she had insisted he do so; that he ‘deliberately molested’ the same woman; and that he had sexual intercourse with the second complainant while she was asleep and when he was not wearing a condom.

But Assange’s speech didn’t actually mention Sweden: it focused on America, urging the US to drop its investigation into Wikileaks and highlighting the case of Bradley Manning, the private arrested in 2010 on suspicion of passing classified material to Assange.

He focused on the US because he fears he will be extradited from Sweden to face charges in an American court. There is currently no charge against Assange in the US, though. Sweden has already given assurances that its laws prevent it from extraditing someone to face a possible death penalty, which is something Assange and his supporters cite regularly.

P.S. It was, of course, a complete accident, that the Foreign Office website was running a feature about people falling off balconies right next to its Assange coverage…


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Show comments
  • Malfleur


    As a general comment on your written positions here,and in the context of the strange affair of the broken condom, I would say that a young, male Australian, whether well-known or not, who has been invited by a young lady, and gallantly agrees, to have sexual intercourse with her on the basis of an acquaintance of a couple of days should insist that she allow him to wear a condom – ESPECIALLY where the lady is not only Swedish but also a member of a social democratic party.

    Furthermore, experience suggests that in the process of sexual intercourse between man and woman, except where the participants have the most genteel upbringing, it is difficult for the male, when performing his duties in a considerate and effective manner, to avoid bringing the whole weight of his body to bear so as in effect to pin down the young woman, legs, arms and all for a shorter or longer period of time as discretion dictates. This has been known, outside England at least, to be not unwelcome to the pinned and should not therefore prima facie be considered a reason for criticism of the young man.

  • Richard Stanford Brown

    Fatuous or otherwise there is a moral obligation upon Julian Assange to answer the questions of the Swedish authorities. It is my understanding that he is requested to merely answer those questions and that he does not currently face charges, on that basis his offer to do so via video link should be perfectly acceptable. Given the unlawful and frankly abhorrent treatment by the USA of Bradley Manning, in addition to that nation’s government’s recent history of ‘Special Rendition’, the complicity of European nations in that unlawful practice, and the willingness of President Obama to assassinate via drone his own American citizens on foreign soil without any kind of trial or even charges, it seems to me that whatever personal judgement one choose to make of Assange’s character, that he has every right to protect himself against the aggressive, inhumane and wholly unlawful actions that the US government may take against him. Furthermore, need we be reminded, the alleged crimes Manning and Assange commited via the Wikileaks website was to expose the gross and irrefutable War Crimes of American soldiers, for this brave act they should both be commended. Certainly it is not these men, but rather the murderers of Reuters Journalist Namir Noor-Eld and others, who should be imprisoned and facing death penalties.

    • Fergus Pickering

      For the act to be brave, Assange should be prepared to suffer and perhaps to die for his beliefs. Whatever they are.

      • Richard Stanford Brown

        I don’t wish to be this man’s apologist, but he’s spent a couple of years being hounded by hostile journalists and is now effectively under house arrest, I wouldn’t fancy that myself. I believe he is against War Crimes being ignored because the people who committed them happen to be soldiers from a ‘good’ country.

        • Andy

          You seem to be doing rather well as ‘this man’s apologist’. I merely want the Law to takes its course. This matter was between Sweden and the United Kingdom. It does not involve the United States and this is a red herring.

          • Nicholas

            The law can take its course by the Swedish investigators (and they should NOT be prosecutors), coming to the UK and interviewing him. This used to be the case before our law was subverted by horrible Napoleonic practices of presumptions of guilt and the intimidatory prosecution fishing expeditions facilitated by the EAW. I don’t like Assange but he has played a blinder in exposing these stupid and unjust practices for what they are. And I expect there were lots of ordinary German people who, watching lorry loads of Jewish people being driven away were content for “the law to take its course”. And before you leap about foaming at the comparison that is just an observation that law is not always just but people like you are often the obstacle to making it so.

            • Andy

              Not so. You fail to understand the Swedish Legal System. Assange is wanted for arrest and thus for trial. You should read the Judgements in the High Court and Supreme Court which lays all this out for you.

              And do stop your stupid and absurd comparisons with Nazi Germany. It is f****** offensive and stupid. It also trivialises those millions who perished because of the Nazis and the ‘Fascist Left’. And actually it was because of people like you who wouldn’t respect the law and uphold the law that allowed Hitler to flourish and almost destroy civilisation. To Assange you are merely a useful idiot, and I think you will find he does have a case to answer, and answer it he eventually will.

  • Mike Towl

    The irony is, he’s safe as houses in the UK or Sweden. In Equador? That’s a different matter. How long would he last wandering the streets of Quito with the CIA after him. Silly boy.

    • Richard Stanford Brown

      I’m suspect that for those reasons that he is not planning to do so but rather hoping to sit things out in London.

  • Frank P

    Isabel read Melanie Phillips’ article about this issue in the Daily Mail today and pick up some tips about writing a column. The rest of your mourn what we lost when they stabbed Melanie in the back and fled in the face of Islam. And see my latest comment on the ‘other place’, on the subject of cowardice in the face of the enemy.

  • Framer

    I notice how the BBC’s Ecuador correspondent, Will Grant –
    he must have had a pretty work-free life up to now – never fails to bring up
    ‘colonialism’ when reporting on South American governments’ anti-British
    hostility. Apart from Guyana we never had a colony there. However his
    uncritical and repeated use of the word ‘Malvinas’ tells us all we need to

    Will Grant plainly went native during those long siestas. Julian Assad has no better defender and the UK government no greater antagonist.

  • Michael990

    It is amusing that the left wing ‘Independent’ has a piece mocking him headlined: “He tried to appear Churchillian, but ended up more John Inman-ian”. And I gather he never mentioned the rape accusation.

  • Radford_NG

    19 Aug. c.1135pm.BST……..US authorities should not have given Manning and thousands of other low grade personal access to vast amounts of confidential documents;some of which were sure to threaten the lives of innocent people if made known.It is the high officials who should be called to account,as Ministers would be in this country./=====/As for the sex allegations:these seem to be coming from the Swedish equivalents of Tracy Barlow[McDonald].

  • Radford_NG

    19 Aug. c.1135pm.BST……..US authorities should not have given Manning and thousands of other low grade personal access to vast amounts of confidential documents;some of which were sure to threaten the lives of innocent people if made known.It is the high officials who should be called to account,as Ministers would be in this country./=====/As for the sex allegations:these seem to be coming from the Swedish equivalents of Tracy Barlow[McDonald].

  • Andy

    Assange gave a very odd statement. Ranting at America was obviously what his new best friend required – decent copy and all that.

    But he is now painted into a corner. He cannot leave the Ecuador Embassy – not quite as grand as it sounds for I believe it is just a three bed flat ! He really should have done better research.

    If he sets foot in the communal parts of the building that is British territory. He can’t be given diplomatic status as the FCO have to agree. So all he can do is sit there.

    And Sweden ? Well maybe, just maybe the reason he doesn’t want to go to Sweden and answer the questions is simply because he did abuse those women.

  • tanky

    someone explain to me why he chose the ecuadorian embassy?

  • james

    How many times do we have to go through this? Assamge.has.not.been.charged. The extradition request is for questioning onlt.

    • Nicholas

      “The extradition request is for questioning only” – oxymoron. You shouldn’t be able to deprive someone of liberty just to question them before it is established whether a crime has actually been committed. Although of course in the UK now the police do that all the time as a default response to any frivolous allegation which must make the malicious complainant rub his or her hands in glee. I dislike Assange but I dislike the erosion and undermining of English common law by bastard politicians and secret policemen even more.

      • ButcombeMan

        Correct. there is no need to have Assange or any suspect in custody for questioning about events to take place. It happens and is routine because the arrest process itself is intimidatory for most or all except the most confident suspects. Investigators LIKE the suspect to be at an intimidated disadvantage.

        In Assange’s case he has had so long to think about his responses and the circumstances and allegations so odd, that any interview is unlikely to make much progress towards a point where he could be charged with a reasonable prospect of a safe conviction,

        The Swedes should accept the offer to interview in the UK and stop playing games.

  • Wilhelm

    There is something slimey about him. Asange seems to stab everyone in the back.
    The tram lady Emma Watts should have seeked political asylum in the Ecuador embassy.

    • Kevin

      Emma West.

      • Frank P

        Perhaps if she had Sikhed political political asylum in the West rather than ‘seeked’ it, she would have been successful – watts up with that?

  • strapworld

    Hague has made the UK a laughing stock. This is the man who most people believe should be the next leader of the tories. God Help Us.

  • Curnonsky

    St. Julian the Martyr notably omitted thanking the unfortunate luvvies who stand to lose the bail money they put up on his behalf.

    Along with his general unconcern for human life (if American) he is said to eschew outmoded social customs such as bathing and deodorant; here’s hoping he has a long and exceptionally fragrant sojourn in the Ecuadorian embassy.

  • Rhys

    Or ‘ # ! No llores para mi’ Ecuador ! #

    It was the act of a political adolescent to threaten Ecuador with intrusion into its embassy.

    Even if Hague received legal advice that UK legislation ( passed to cope with the possible repetition of murder by persons shooting from an embassy window ) permitted the violation of the premises, he should have had the political nous to realize that in the case of legal small fry it would be wholly disproportionate to use that legislation.

    Even to make the threat has damaged the UK enormously, and already given Iran and other rogue states ammunition for future episodes where they wish to invade UK missions and harm UK diplomats.

    Hague has shown himself up as a total fool – and dangerous to the diplomats abroad who give the UK good service.

    Instead of ramping up the whole issue he should have indicated he was not at all bothered, and put up a junior minister to say ‘ Ecuadorian Embassy and and Assange – you poor things ! Enjoy one another’s company for as many years as you wish ! ‘

    By now Assange has served longer in a dark and dingy room than probably he would
    get in one of Sweden’s holiday camp prisons even if he was convicted – it’s pretty obvious he will have to come out sooner rather than later, hence the desperate attempt at seeking a figleaf of getting the Swedish Government to ‘guarantee’ they will never extradite him to the US.

    But this is something the Swedish Government cannot do, as it cannot predict in advance what its judicial system would make of any future request for extradition, which might or might not be forthcoming when he is over there.

    The UK and / or Swedish Governments would be mad to indulge this posturing ninny further, by cobbling together some ambiguous form of words which he will portray as the ‘guarantee’ he’s been seeking.

    But you have to admit the whole thing has become delicious. But what’s needed is for the whole media to stop purporting to take this fugitive from the law seriously.

    • Frank P

      A brilliant analysis, Sir, whoever you are.

  • dalai guevara

    Will Assange turn out to be the Aung San Suu Kyi of London? Why is Westminster complicit in giving him this opportunity?

  • Archimedes

    I wonder if he could, perhaps, be a candidate for MarsOne? In fact why send the entire WikiLeaks team up there, with the promise that they could then broadcast directly…followed by an unfortunate and unforeseeable (missile tracking system went haywire) satellite failure, of course.

  • Klint

    Am I just too cynical for believing the sexual allegations made against him are absolute horsehit? Perhaps we’ll never know as, at this rate, he’ll never be allowed to talk about it with the Swedish authorities.

    • Nicholas

      No. In Euroworld the fear authorities have of being accused by the strident feminist lobby of not responding seriously enough to allegations of rape, “regretful sex” and leering inappropriately mean that every frivolous and malicious complaint must be pursued. Not enough convictions don’t you know, never mind inconvenient things like evidence and justice.

      • Adrian Drummond

        No, Klint, I think you are quite correct. He’s said that he’s happy to speak to the Swedish prosecutors in London or via video link.

        And Nicholas.. Yep, I think you’re right too. If it’s any consolation I believe there is a growing understanding now amongst young guys on the internet blogs who are waking up to women playing the rape card when things don’t go their way. It’s becoming more and more frequent and can really screw up an innocent guy’s life. It’s really stupid of these women because it muddies the water with the genuine rape cases.Feminism has a great deal to answer for.

        • tele_machus

          I am flabbergasted that sane middle England can condone a psychopath who credibly assaulted defenceless women who were under his spell
          I hold no truck with feminism but will not condone serial abuse of women

          • Adrian Drummond

            You are euphemistically and typically referred to around the world as a “White-knight male.” I suggest that you as a male – in the true sense of the word – wake-up and smell the coffee. Women are not always sugar and spice and all things nice. You are only flabbergasted because you don’t understand their true nature.

            • Austin Barry

              I rarely, if ever, side with the views of Teleman, but he may be right in this instance. My flabber has often been gasted by the machinations of women, but I suspect that this albino montebank is not quite what he seems, and his magician-like distraction polemics are really a fugitive attempt to avoid the illegalities of a hypocritical and rampant Priapus.

              • sarah

                Rape victims are so manipulative. They go around forcing themselves under men and putting condom boxes just out of reach.

                I’ll tell you how evil and manipulative women are: they even get men to rape them when they’re asleep, you can’t even trust them when they’re unconscious.

          • Ostrich (occasionally)

            “will not condone serial abuse of women”

            Nor do i, but until this proceeds beyond allegations, and we start to hear “evidence” in the media, I’m not going to get excited about it.

        • Fergus Pickering

          How do you know this. That he is innocent, I mean? Did you have the same belief about Strauss-Kahn? Playing the rape card? Young guys on the internet might consider their own behaviour. Perhaps they should screw each other more often if they really can’t keep it inside their pants..

    • Sarah

      It’s not cynicism, it’s sexism. You’re one of the “it’s not proper rape” brigade. And him below is one of the “rape is a feminist conspiracy to trap men” brigade.

      Though to be fair, men are always good sports when they come into my clinic and I reuse needles from the sharps bin instead of clean ones while my mate holds them down.

      • Archimedes

        Sarah, you need a man in your life…

        • sarah

          Yes because being shagged good and proper that would stop me hating rape-apologists wouldn’t it.

          Did you get that line of reasoning from the, It’s Not Proper Rape Brigade’s monthly newsletter: “Hints and Tips on how much can you rape a woman before it counts”

          • Archimedes

            Well…that and cooking the occasional meal once the breadwinner gets home from work, you know? A spot of dusting probably wouldn’t do you any harm either…

            • sarah

              And that is relevant to this conversation how precisely? I thought we were talking about the merits of trivialising rape, not dusting. If you’re going to be a misogynist, at least have the courage of your convictions and do it, don’t pretend you’re just having a larf about something completely different.

              You thought that getting shagged would stop women caring so much about rape. You were wrong. Weren’t you. Step up, be a man, admit you’re a nasty creep and be done with it.

              • Archimedes

                I thought we were stereotyping, no?

                My original comment was in reference to your anecdote about needles. As for getting shagged, I’m afraid I don’t really give a shit about your personal life: I was merely suggesting you meet some real men, and you might discover that not all men are rapists.

                Now: piss off.

              • Nicholas

                Your arguments degenerate into nasty personal abuse and your misandry is self-evident. We must not trivialise rape but it is perfectly acceptable for Sarah to trivialise injecting an innocent man with a dirty needle. Hmm.

      • Nicholas

        I’m not in any “brigade” but you seem to be. You have just demonstrated the malevolence of the female of the species whether joking or not. If you really have a clinic you should be ashamed of yourself and struck off. If a man in the medical profession had said something like that about women we would never hear the last of it.

        • sarah

          “malevolence of the female of the species”

          Err. This from the man who said (and I quote)
          ” “regretful sex” and leering inappropriately mean that every
          frivolous and malicious complaint must be pursued. Not enough
          convictions don’t you know, never mind inconvenient things like evidence
          and justice. ”

          I think you’ll find that the quote and problem above is caused by the malevolence of the male of the species. But way to go with blaming the victim, good effort!

          • Andy

            I do not know the exact details of what Assange did or did not do while he was in Sweden. That is, in my view, a matter for the Swedish Legal System. And the European Arrest Warrant is valid and correctly drawn, so he should be sent to Sweden.

            The women who made the complains have been maligned and disparaged (see the comments here) in a disgraceful way. They might very well be utter liars, I don’t know and nor do you nor does anyone else who posts here, but they are entitled to Justice, to face Assange across an open court and accuse him.

            • Nicholas

              And Assange is entitled to justice and protection against malicious or frivolous allegations too.

          • Nicholas

            I am not blaming the “victim” because the existence of a “victim” (in this case) has not been established at law. The trouble with people like you is that in order to advance your agenda you conflate “complainant” with “victim” and “accused” with “offender”. This has the effect of undermining both the language and the law. It used to be that each case was tried on its own merits but now women like you want this whole subject to become a generalised witch hunt where all women complainants are “victims” and all accused men are “offenders”. You seem incapable of seeing the subjectivity and the bigotry in this which is why the highly politicised police eager to appease the strident feminist lobby invent terms like “regretful sex”. Post coital regret does not lie excusively with the female of the species.

            You are just a misandrist – it is obvious from all your comments – which disqualifies you from holding any kind of balanced view about this. In fact women like you who emote about these issues from a misandrist perspective are a threat to good law and justice.

        • Lucy

          It’s revealing that you think it is malevolent to inject a man with a re-used needle against his will, but agree that ejaculating into a woman against hers is trivial horsesh*t.

          The risks of disease are the same in each case, the trauma would be the same, if not worse in the second case, the risk of pregnancy is added in the second case. It’s a very serious and dangerous type of assault, though not illegal in this country.

          I find men who defend or trivialise these allegations, and rape in general are unnerving individuals. I certainly wouldn’t want any daughter of mine to be around them; if they don’t recognise boundaries of consent then they are likely to cross them.

          That rape is over-reported is a myth, it is a heavily under-reported crime. The number of false accusations is grossly exaggerated by the media, and in fact is no higher than for any other form of crime.

          • Nicholas

            Nice try at misrepresenting me. I think you will find the question of consent is disputed in the Assange case whereas “Sarah” made her intent quite clear.

            “That rape is over-reported is a myth, it is a heavily under-reported crime. The number of false accusations is grossly exaggerated by the media, and in fact is no higher than for any other form of crime.”

            And you know this how? If it is unreported how do you precisely gauge this? At least have the honesty to admit this is about an agenda – not justice. If it is exaggerated by the media then it is exaggerated also by women like you – with an axe to grind.

  • Damon

    If a suspiciously Assange-shaped parcel is taken out of the Ecuadorian embassy, we could perhaps arrange for it to be stored for a few weeks, even if we are not allowed to open it?

    But, as someone said on Twitter, we missed a trick today. Some well-placed loud speakers could have drowned out whatever the alleged sex offender was trying to say.

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