December 27, 2010

December 27, 2010
Baby, It is Cold Outside

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I had a safe and great Christmas weekend. It is a very cold day here in south Florida.

Now I will not complain too much that we are having near freezing temperatures at night. Especially when you consider most of our country had snow in the past week and are having their high temperatures in the teen. But anytime the weather goes below 50 in south Florida, it seems like everyone starts to panic, pulling out their heavy winter clothing and the streets are empty.

But it is hot elsewhere. Especially for the CEO of WikiLeaks. I am sure you have heard about WikiLeaks and their founder Julian Assang.

New details of the Swedish sexual misconduct accusations against Julian Assange shed more light on the deepening and complex legal problems he faces over his conduct with two women during a short stretch in August.

Mr. Assange was released on bail in the U.K. last week following his December 7 arrest on a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden. Now, the WikiLeaks founder finds himself in the middle of a multifront legal battle stemming from two seemingly disparate events: WikiLeaks' release of thousands of classified U.S. documents, which has angered U.S. officials and sparked a broad U.S. federal investigation; and the sexual misconduct case in Sweden, where prosecutors want to extradite him to answer questions regarding accusations of rape and molestation by two women there.

Mr. Assange has denied the sex allegations, and his attorney, Mark Stephens, has suggested that the Swedish criminal case is a ruse to keep Mr. Assange in custody while U.S. prosecutors consider whether to bring a criminal case against him or WikiLeaks.

But as more details about Sweden's criminal case against Mr. Assange emerge, through interviews and the leaking of a Swedish police report to the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, the sexual-misconduct allegations have come into fuller view. Journal Community

Mr. Assange arrived in Sweden in mid-August saying that WikiLeaks was considering setting up shop there and taking advantage of the liberal whistle-blower protections afforded to the country's media outlets. Instead, the very liberal legal system he prized has tripped him up, in part because Sweden also has a wide definition of what constitutes a sex crime.

The episode began when Mr. Assange came to Stockholm at the invitation of Sweden's Christian Social Democrat party, which wanted him to give a speech about the role of information and reporting during wars, Peter Weiderud, head of the party, said in an interview in Stockholm, adding that he personally issued the invitation to Mr. Assange.

During his trip to Sweden, Mr. Assange stayed for some time at the home of a young woman who helped coordinate the event, according to her lawyer, Claes Borgstrom.

Named "Miss A" in court documents, the woman alleges that on the night of Aug. 13, Mr. Assange sexually molested and coerced her and had sex with her without a condom, despite knowing that she required one, a lawyer for Swedish prosecutors said in U.K. court this month.

The Guardian, citing the Swedish police report, said "Miss A" told police that Mr. Assange ripped off her clothes and snapped her necklace. Then, she said he held down her arms and legs and prevented her from grabbing a condom numerous times. Finally, after he let go and agreed to wear a condom, she claims he did something to the condom to rip it, the Guardian reported.

Separately, "Miss A" also alleges that on Aug. 18 Mr. Assange molested her. Mr. Assange has disputed the account "Miss A" gave to the police, according to the Guardian, and said he didn't notice a torn condom.

Another woman, named "Miss W" in court documents, contacted "Miss A" before the speech to ask whether she could attend, says Mr. Borgstrom, who is also her lawyer. The women did not know each other before the speech, he said.

On Mon. Aug. 16, after several encounters with supporters, Mr. Assange went to "Miss W's" flat outside of Stockholm, where she alleges that he had sex with her while she was asleep, without using a condom, despite knowing that she required one, according to Swedish prosecutors.

Afterwards, "Miss W" was worried about the unprotected sex and wanted Mr. Assange to get tested for HIV, says"Miss A" asked why she needed to reach Mr. Assange; when "Miss W" explained, "Miss A" told her "the same thing happened to me," their attorney says. According to the Guardian, "Miss A" and "Miss W," either directly or through the Swedish coordinator for WikiLeaks, asked Mr. Assange to be tested for HIV, but he refused. Mr. Assange's lawyer, Mr. Stephens, says his client did undergo a test but he doesn't know when.

On Aug. 20, the women went to Stockholm police. "They wanted advice," Mr. Borgstrom says. "They wanted to be sure they were not infected by HIV." The women hadn't decided whether to report Mr. Assange's behavior as a crime, Mr.Borgstrom says, but the prosecutor on duty that night opened an investigation and issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Assange.

Within hours, Stockholm's chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, reviewed the case and dropped the rape investigation, saying there was insufficient evidence to suggest rape. She kept open the molestation investigation concerning "Miss A," and on Aug. 30 Stockholm police interrogated Mr. Assange about that.

On Aug. 27, Mr. Borgstrom appealed Ms. Finne's decision to drop the rape investigation. His written appeal was forwarded to Sweden's chief prosecutoróMarianne Ny, director of public prosecutions. On Sept. 1, she reopened the rape investigation and expanded the molestation investigation. Swedish investigators then reinterviewed the two women, wanting to clarify their allegations before talking to Mr. Assange, according to Mr. Borgstrom. "They were too slow" getting to Mr. Assange, he said. On Sept. 27, Mr. Assange left Sweden, according to statements in U.K. court.

Mr. Assange refused to return to Stockholm for questioning in October, Mr. Borgstrom says. Mr. Assange has repeatedly said he waited in Sweden for five weeks after the allegations were made and then offered to speak with Swedish investigators by phone from London or in person there. Swedish prosecutors haven't commented on this. On Nov. 18, Ms. Ny ordered Mr. Assange detained and ultimately won an order from a Swedish court for his arrest.

It will be interesting to see how all of this turns out.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab