Julian Assange’s Swedish lawyer has delivered his strongest broadside yet against the prosecution of his client for r-pe and misconduct, telling an English newspaper that the case is based on lies and conscious connivance between the two women complainants.
The remarks are the strongest yet made by Bjorn Hurtig, one of Sweden’s most distinguished defence lawyers, and constitute a departure from the reserve that usually characterises Swedish legal process.
They come as Crikey exclusively reveals that one of Assange’s accusers has written of the need for revenge against former lovers, writing on a since-deleted blog post about revenge on cheating lovers that “Sometimes it is difficult to go on without some kind of payback”.
Hurtig pulled no punches in his statement to UK newspaper The Mail on Sunday:
“From what I have read, it is clear that the women are lying and that they had an agenda when they went to the police, which had nothing to do with a crime having taken place.
“It was, I believe, more about jealousy and disappointment on their part. I can prove that at least one of them had very big expectations for something to happen with Julian.”
Though still referred to in official documents as “A” and “S”, they were long since identified as Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen. Ardin, a press and political officer with the “Brotherhood” faction of the Swedish Social Democrats, organised a speaking engagement for Assange in Sweden — and may even have invited him to the country in early August.
Wilen is a photographer who attended the event organised by Ardin.
Both women had separate s-xual encounters with Assange in the week following the talk, given on August 14, at Swedish trade union headquarters. Assange was based at Ardin’s flat, but also stayed at Wilen’s.
The women were not known to each other until Wilen called Ardin to ascertain Assange’s whereabouts, after he failed to get in touch with her. Two days later they went to the police to inquire about the possibility of legally requiring Assange to take an STI test. A duty prosecutor decided to start a r-pe investigation, which was rescinded a day later by a higher prosecutor, and then re-instated by a specialist s-x crimes unit based in Gothenburg.
For months controversy has swirled around the issue of evidence in the case. After charges had been re-issued Ardin — or someone with access to her twitter feed — attempted to delete two tweets, which originated from the day after the night of the s-xual encounter on which her accusations were based. These recorded her trying to organise a visit to a “crayfish party” for herself and Assange. Crayfish parties are the Swedish equivalent of a barbecue, but more formal. Ardin eventually organised one herself. From it she tweeted “2am, sitting outside with the most exciting people in the world”. No other tweets were deleted, and the deleted tweets were eventually recovered from the Google cache by Swedish bloggers.
Also deleted and recovered was a “Seven-step revenge plan” posted by Ardin on her blog, a translation of a widely copied US posting. In the comments string Ardin said that revenge was sometimes necessary. A post by Sara Gunnerud on the Rebella feminist blog, which gave a version of events at variance with the prosecution case as subsequently expressed at Assange’s extradition bail hearing, was also deleted and recovered.
It is in the comments string of the seven-step revenge guide that Ardin aired her approval of revenge. Criticised by a commenter “Mik” for being obsessed with revenge, Ardin comments that she has no desire for revenge:
“Even though I right now have kind of a strong feeling of punching you in the face … Sometimes it is difficult to go on without some kind of payback. As a human being you should be able to understand that. In this case I was very upset with a former fiance who betrayed me for a long time. My revenge at that point consisted in posting this translation.”
The comments string, as with original posts, was recovered from the Google cache.
The deleted blog posts and tweets are now a matter of public record, but for months rumour has swirled around alleged SMS texts between Ardin and Wilen. There have been repeated allegations about these, such as James Catlin’s remarks in Crikey last week:
“The phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilén boasting of their respective conquests after the ‘crimes’.
“The exact content of Wilén’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors.”
However, though these SMSs have been referred to in rumour there is no public record of them, much less of their content. Allegations in Swedish s-x crime cases are sealed and it is a crime to refer to them publicly. It is not, however, a crime for Swedish police to leak details of such investigations (although it is for prosecutors to do so). Indeed Swedish police who leak details of criminal investigations come under the protection of public whistleblower laws.
Hurtig has argued that, were he allowed to speak of these matters, the extradition case would be over immediately.
“But at the moment I’m bound by the rules of the Swedish legal system, which say that the information can only be used as evidence in this country. For me to do otherwise would lead to me being disbarred.”
However, he did venture a startlingly direct interpretation of the women’s behaviour:
“It was, I think, more about jealousy and disappointment on their part. I can prove that at least one of them had high expectations that something big would happen between them and Julian.”
Assange returns to UK court on Tuesday December 14, as the next part of extradition hearings on a European arrest warrant to appear on preliminary charges concerning the event. He has not yet been fully charged with any crime in Swedish court, after four months of investigations. He has been in solitary confinement and special protection (as someone accused of s-x crimes) since bail was refused to him on December 7.