Making Sense of Assange, The Rape Allegations, And What Comes Next

There are a lot of rumors, myths and facts getting thrown back and forth right now about Julian Assange, his possible extradition, and the rape accusations (they are not technically "charges" against him, but they will become charges the second he is arrested. I may call them "charges" here even though they are not formal--so interpret them in the looser sense of the word.)

As of now, the diplomatic blustering continues. From the Guardian, the president of Ecuador (which has offered Assange asylum) claims that Assange's sex crimes would not be crimes in his country: 


Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, has said Julian Assange should respond to the sexual assault allegations made against him by two Swedish women, even though the case would not in his view constitute criminal behaviour in Latin America


"Despite the attitude of the United Kingdom, we as a country are obliged to act responsibly," he told a gathering of international press in Guayaquil. "As we have previously said, now that he has asylum, Mr Assange is entitled to remain in the embassy for as long as he wants."

He spelled out three possibilities for the standoff to be broken: for the UK to promise safe conduct to the airport without the threat of arrest; for Assange to leave asylum of his own accord; or for the government in Ecuador to change its mind, which he said would not happen.

That having been said, there are several very left-wing writers who think Assange should face the music. From the New Statesman's excellent legal explainer:

If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it may well be that the serious allegations of rape and sexual assault cannot be substantiated.  But that is entirely a matter for the Swedish investigators and for any Swedish court.  It is not an issue which can be dealt with by proxy in English litigation, and still less by heated internet exchanges.  In the event of an extradition request by the USA then Assange has the same rights under EU and ECHR law as he has in the United Kingdom, together with an additional safeguard of consent being required from both UK and Sweden.  It is difficult to see a sensible and well-based reason why Assange should not now go to Sweden.

Also worth a read is Laurie Peny's long piece at the Independent.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at August 22, 2012, 9:30am