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Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman Debate Julian Assange's Rape Charges

Noted feminists go head to head about how we should think about the allegations against the Wikileaks founder.

AMY GOODMAN: More details have emerged about the sex crime allegations that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces in Sweden. Assange was released on bail from a London prison Thursday, in now under house arrest at a country mansion. His next hearing, set for January 11th, will determine whether he’ll be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

On Friday, The Guardian newspaper obtained unauthorized access to a Swedish police report that provides the first complete account of the allegations against Assange. According to The Guardian, the allegations are based on a 10-day period in August when Assange was visiting Stockholm, during which he had sexual relations with two women that started out as consensual, but the women say they turned into assaults. The Guardian reports one woman told police that Assange pulled her clothes off and snapped her necklace. Then, she said, he held down her arms and legs and prevented her from grabbing a condom numerous times. After he let go and agreed to wear a condom, she claims, he did something to the condom to rip it. Assange denied the allegations, telling police he did not tear the condom and that the woman had allowed him to sleep in her bed for the following week. The other woman in the case told police Assange had sex with her while she was asleep, without using a condom.

On August 20th, the women went to Stockholm police. They had not decided whether to report Assange’s behavior as a crime, but the prosecutor on duty that night opened an investigation, issued an arrest warrant for Assange. Assange and his supporters have said the case against him is part of a wider conspiracy to discredit him because of his work with WikiLeaks.

Speaking to reporters outside his friend’s mansion in eastern England, where he must live while on bail, Assange said the allegations are part of a smear campaign.

JULIAN ASSANGE: This has been a very successful smear campaign so far, but I think its days are numbered, and people are starting to wonder, is what is claimed really true, and if it is true, where is the evidence? Why has no evidence been provided even to me and my defense attorneys?

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, the lawyer for the two women, Claes Borgström, has denied the allegations against Assange are part of a political conspiracy.

CLAES BORGSTRÖM: Well, I think it’s very, very unfortunate for my two clients that they were molested in some way or another by a person like Julian Assange, because what has happened afterwards is not that they will have a fair chance at this moment, because they are sort of being treated like the perpetrators themselves and they have—there is a conspiracy and all that nonsense. So it’s very, very unfortunate.

AMY GOODMAN: The case against Assange has sparked international controversy, as well as controversy within the feminist community. We’re joined by two women right now. Jaclyn Friedman is executive director of Women, Action, & the Media and the editor of the anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. She’s joining us from Boston. Naomi Wolf is a social critic, author of seven books, including The Beauty Myth, The End of America. She’s joining us here in New York.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Jaclyn Friedman, as this information comes out, why don’t you talk about your thoughts on the—we can’t even say charges against Julian Assange, because he has not yet been charged.

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