Condomgate: Assange's Rape Charges May Hinge On Whether Sex Was Unprotected

As government officials around the world decry Julian Assange's Wikileaks, the story around his Swedish sex charges gets increasingly murky. He was accused of rape by two women during a conference last August, and is wanted by the Swedish government for “rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.” But as new reports emerge, spouting his alleged crimes “sex by surprise,” it's unclear whether, under Sweden's sex laws, his accusation refers to forcible rape, or sex without a condom––and whether that's a crime if the woman does not consent to unprotected sex.

The press is, almost across the board, parroting the statement of an Australian lawyer he retained in October, which sarcastically dismisses the women's claims and accuses Swedish lawmakers of becoming a laughingstock.

Apparently having consensual sex in Sweden without a condom is punishable by a term of imprisonment of a minimum of two years for rape. That is the basis for a reinstitution of rape charges against WikiLeaks figurehead Julian Assange that is destined to make Sweden and its justice system the laughing stock of the world and dramatically damage its reputation as a model of modernity.

Sweden’s Public Prosecutor’s Office was embarrassed in August this year when it leaked to the media that it was seeking to arrest Assange for rape, then on the same day withdrew the arrest warrant because in its own words there was “no evidence”. The damage to Assange’s reputation is incalculable. More than three quarters of internet references to his name refer to rape. Now, three months on and three prosecutors later, the Swedes seem to be clear on their basis to proceed. Consensual sex that started out with a condom ended up without one, ergo, the sex was not consensual.

Whether or not the condom laws are obscure, the fact remains that when the condom broke, the second accuser says she told him to stop, and he did not. That's a pretty clear statement for a court case in most countries. AOL:

The woman and Assange also reportedly had sex. According to the Daily Mail account, Assange did not use a condom at least one time during their sexual activity. The New York Times today quoted accounts given by the women to police and friends as saying Assange "did not comply with her appeals to stop when (the condom) was no longer in use."

Presumed to be currently residing in Southeastern England, the Brits can't arrest him despite an Interpol warrant, apparently because the Swedish arrest warrants are too confusing/vague to be considered valid. But the fact is, Assange is accused and wanted by the Swedish government. This is completely different from being wanted for Wikileaks, and having seen tendrils of misogyny creep in to the arguments of those defending him for leaking the cables, it's very important to separate the two. The case was opened in August, but by conflating his Swedish warrant with Cablegate, one risks being dismissive of the women––who should not be vilified for speaking up no matter the implications.

Still, conspiracy theories abound.

True, one of Assange's accusers sounds tailor-made for those who think Assange is being set up in Sweden by dark CIA-backed operatives who want him smeared or silenced for his document dumping with WikiLeaks. She's a 31-year-old blond academic and member of the Social Democratic Party who's known for her radical feminist views, once wrote a treatise on how to take revenge against men and was once thrown out of Cuba for subversive activities.

But others say Assange, who denies any wrongdoing and says the sex was consensual, may have just run afoul of Sweden's unusual rape laws, which are considered pro-feminist because of the consideration given issues of consent when it comes to sexual activity -- including even the issue of whether a condom was used.

In fact, the current prosecutor, Marianne Ny, who re-opened the case against Assange, has been active in the proposed reforms of Swedish rape laws that would, if passed, involve an investigation of whether an imbalance in power between two people could void one person's insistence that the sex was consensual.

But back in August, Assange's first accuser told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that her claims were “not orchestrated by the Pentagon” but prompted by “a man who has a twisted attitude toward women and a problem taking no for an answer.”

For the full story, go to AOL.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at December 6, 2010, 6:37am

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