Last week Crikey ran a piece by Melbourne barrister James D. Catlin, who acted for Julian Assange in London in October. We spoke this morning with Catlin, who told us the Swedish prosecution still hasn’t provided some of “the most powerful exculpatory evidence” in the case. Here’s the interview in full:
Let’s go over the specific charges: one count of r-pe, three of “harming s-xual integrity” What does the r-pe refer to specifically as you understand it?
I’m in the same position as you in so far as the prosecution has emerged with the [full charges] for the first time since the 19th of November and hadn’t given any detail from 20 August, 2010 to 18 November and then nothing since. I’m relying on The Guardian‘s coverage among others and as I’m not in London I’m not across what was said in court so I’m not really in a position to comment
What about “s-xual integrity” as it applies to Swedish law?
The s-xual integrity charges are not what I’m concerned about, which are much lesser crimes… It’s the charge of r-pe … the fact that the word ‘r-pe’ with all that entails is still being bandied about. The Swedes are tied to that charge because without it everyone would be wondering why they are seeking extradition.
If the Swedish prosecution is prepared to use that term, it should be used [in the true sense of the word], meaning s-x by force without the consent of the people involved. They must wear the consequences if the evidence turns out to be underwhelming.
What are your thoughts on the refusal to offer bail?
I can’t comment on that specifically but with regard to bail it’s a lie that [Assange] was ever a fugitive. He stayed in Sweden for several weeks after [the initial incident], he sought permission from the Swedish authorities to leave the country, gave them several weeks notice in fact, and told Sweden about his movements. The inference of being a fugitive is simply false. Also, rather than having access to a great deal of money as the Swedish lawyer said in court, the opposite is the case. A fund must be set up in Australia to assist him.
He went to London to work [he did not flee the country]. His lawyers have communicated with authorities the entire time and offered to co-operate but instead the Swedish prosecution had to have an exciting and flamboyant headline-grabbing arrest warrant. I’m not going to comment on motivations but I will comment on quality of process.
The notion that he refused to be photographed and needs to be extradited for that reason. There are hundreds of photos on the net. There is a YouTube clip of him speaking at an event in Sweden and one of the women is clearly present on the video. Why do they need a photo ?
Can you give us any details on Assange expanding his legal team, apart from Geoffrey Robertson. How big is the team; who is involved?
The illustrious Geoffrey Robertson QC is a specialist in this area … and he’ll have his own considerable resources, plus his instructing solicitor including their resources including another Australian, Rhodes Scholar, Jennifer Robinson… Mark Stephens is also a very capable and astute lawyer with an established reputation — Assange clearly has very high quality legal representation. But whether they can be used in Sweden is another matter.
I can tell you that the Swedish prosecution still hasn’t provided copies of those SMS texts that have been referred to [SMS messages and tweets by the women involved boasting of their respective conquests after the alleged crimes]. Those texts are some of the most powerful exculpatory evidence… In Australia prosecutors have a very grave duty to disclose such evidence to courts when seeking the grave exercise of a court’s power against an individual. Yet, in Sweden in this case, in the first hearings to obtain an arrest warrant, those texts were not submitted to the Swedish court, which is highly improper.