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"Is Assange the target of a U.S. smear campaign?"

Rape Claim Against Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Withdrawn

Julian Assange, the founder of the Wikileaks website, was at the centre of an extraordinary "dirty tricks" row today after the Swedish government issued and then withdrew an arrest warrant against him for rape.

By Marcus Oscarsson in Stockholm and Colin Freeman

August 21, 2010 "
The Telegraph" - - In a bizarre chain of events, prosecutors initially confirmed he was wanted for questioning about two accusations of rape and molestation following reports in Expressen, a tabloid newspaper. It was understood to have related to complaints brought by two women in Sweden, where the Australian-born internet activist has been staying for the last week.

But just hours, later, they announced that the warrant had been withdrawn, saying that the rape suspicion was unfounded.

Prior to the announcement of the withdrawal of the warrant, Mr Assange had already described the accusations as an attempt to smear him over his whistleblowing work, which has included releasing classified information about the Western military campaign in Afghanistan. The fact that the Swedish authorities have now dropped the warrant will no doubt add fuel to his claims.

The Swedish authorities had disclosed details of the warrant against Mr Assange after journalists attempted to follow up the initial reports in Expressen.

The complaints were said to have come from two Swedish women aged between 20 and 30, and relate to alleged incidents that occurred in a Stockholm apartment and in the city of Enköping outside Stockholm. Neither police nor the newspaper had named the complainants, but the prosecutor's office had issued what appeared to a forthright statement.

"We can confirm that he is wanted. He was charged last night - the allegation is suspected rape," Karin Rosander, director of communications at the national prosecutor's office, had said. Ms Rosander had also asked Mr Assange to come forward for questioning, saying there was a fear he would he would obstruct the probe by destroying evidence.

"The next step is that we interrogate him," she said. "Then we'll see what happens."

Mr Assange had been in Sweden for a press conference last week, where he announced that his whistleblower website was intending to publish further secret military documents on the war in Afghanistan.

As soon as he heard of the rape allegations, he issued a statement of denial. "Why these accusations are popping up right now is an interesting question. I have not been contacted by police. These allegations are false," he said.

Then, shortly after friends said he was preparing to attend a police station of his own accord, there was a further statement from the prosecutor's office saying that the matter had been dropped.

"I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape," chief prosecutor Eva Finne said, in announcing the withdrawal of the warrant. She did not address the status of the molestation case, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.

Supporters of Mr Assange believe that the complaints may have been made in a bid to discredit him. The Wikileaks Twitter page dismissed the assault claims, which first appeared in Sweden's Expressen newspaper, as "dirty tricks".

It said: "Expressen is a tabloid; No one here has been contacted by Swedish police. Needless to say this will prove hugely distracting."

Making false accusations of rape or molestation is a criminal offence punishable by jail in Sweden. Some sources in the Swedish media claimed that the two women did not actually report the case to the police, but that the prosecutor had taken it up anyway.

Mr Assange has close ties with Sweden, where WikiLeaks has said it keeps some of its servers. The purpose of his visit there was also to apply for a publishing certificate to make sure the website, which has servers in Sweden, can take full advantage of Swedish laws protecting whistle-blowers.

He also spoke at a seminar hosted by the Christian faction of the opposition Social Democratic party and announced he would write bimonthly columns for a left-wing Swedish newspaper.

US officials have called the Wikileaks disclosures, including more than 70,000 documents detailing the war in Afghanistan, as one of the biggest security breaches in American military history.

The Pentagon said this month it would be the "height of irresponsibility" if WikiLeaks went through with a new threat to publish outstanding documents it had on the Afghan war.

It wants the site to expunge all classified material from the Internet and return the material it had to the US government.

News of the warrant came as the Wall Street Journal reported that Pentagon lawyers have concluded that Wikileaks acted illegally in disclosing the military documents, and are now considering possible criminal charges.

Several officials told the newspaper that the Defence and Justice departments were now exploring legal options for prosecuting Mr Assange and others involved on grounds that they encouraged the theft of government property.

Prosecuting Wikileaks would be a complex procedure, however, and expose the Obama administration to accusations of trying to stifle legitimate journalism.

 

Wikileaks: 'Dirty tricks' in allegations against Assange

By Jonathan E. Skillings

August 21, 2010 "CNet News" - - - -
In a bizarre twist to the controversy enveloping the whistleblower site Wikileaks, media reports out of Sweden first had Wikileaks founder Julian Assange being hit with a rape charge--and then had Swedish prosecutors backtracking from those initial reports.

Initially, the Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that it had received confirmation late Friday of the rape complaint from the Stockholm prosecutor's office. The international press quickly picked up on the allegation.

But Saturday morning, CNN reported an about-face. Updating its story, under the headline "Is Assange the target of a U.S. smear campaign?" CNN cites Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne as saying in a blog post on the Swedish prosecutor's Web site that Assange "is not suspected of rape" and is no longer wanted.

The BBC wrote in its latest story that an arrest warrant had been canceled: "The Swedish Prosecution Authority website said the chief prosecutor had come to the decision that Mr Assange was not suspected of rape but did not give any further explanation."

Wikileaks had earlier characterized the allegation as a political maneuver intended to put it off-balance. The site is embroiled in an international uproar over its public posting of thousands of classified documents related to U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan.

"We were warned to expect 'dirty tricks'. Now we have the first one," Wikileaks said via Twitter on Saturday, dismissing Expressen as a tabloid. "Needless to say this will prove hugely distracting."

In a blog post, Wikileaks expressed its full support for Assange and vowed not to succumb to the distraction: "While Julian is focusing on his defenses and clearing his name, WikiLeaks will be continuing its regular operations."

Those operations will likely include the further release of U.S. military dispatches. In late July, Wikileaks released more than 75,000 internal U.S. documents in what it calls an "Afghan War Diary." More recently, it has vowed to make public 15,000 additional documents in the coming weeks.

The U.S. government has condemned the action and called for the return of the classified documents, saying that the information they contain could put jeopardize missions and the lives of both U.S. soldiers and Afghan nationals.

Earlier this year, Wikileaks released a video titled "Collateral Murder" that shows a U.S. military helicopter in Iraq gunning down several journalists and civilians.

Wikileaks sees itself as potentially "at the heart of [a] global revolution" that brings about greater accountability by governments and other large institutions.

In case you missed it

Target: Scott Ritter:
The War Party Gets Ugly


January 22, 2003 "
AntiWar" - -Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector who quit in 1998 and now says the U.S. is intent on manufacturing phony "evidence" of arms violations as a pretext for war, is the victim of what may be the sleaziest set-up job in recent history, a smearing so foul that it makes the Clinton crowd look like a bunch of amateurs. The news that he may have been arrested, in June 2001, as the result of an internet sex sting, in which an undercover cop posing as a sixteen-year-old girl lured him into "sex chat" over the internet, came to light in a very strange way. A local newspaper, the Daily Gazette, of Schenectady, New York, was first to pick up the dirt, which apparently came to light when an assistant district attorney was fired for settling the case and not informing the D.A. According to the Gazette:

"Police and prosecutors have declined to discuss the case, which involved at least one class B misdemeanor, because it was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal and ordered sealed by a Colonie Town Court justice. The Daily Gazette's request for access to the arrest report was denied by the Colonie town attorney's office, which ruled disclosure was barred under the state Freedom of Information Law."

So the police just happened to conduct a "sex sting" operation against the one man who had exposed the lies of our war-mad rulers from the inside. On the eve of war, as hundreds of thousands protest in the streets, this staunch Republican and solid family man who has become one of the War Party's most formidable enemies is suddenly "exposed" as a child molester.

Since the court records have been sealed, and the case was merely "adjourned in contemplation of dismissal," the authorities will say nothing, at least in public. The entrapment was apparently so transparent, so obviously the clumsiest sort of Cointelpro-style operation badly bungled by our newly-empowered political police, that the charges were dropped to the legal equivalent of a traffic ticket. Could it be that the records were sealed not to protect Ritter, but to protect whomever tried to set him up?

Anybody who doesn't believe that Ritter was specifically targeted on account of his political activities needs to seek help: that sort of naivete can be terminal, and the patient probably shouldn't be trusted to cross the street unattended.

In the post-9/11 era of the "Patriot" Act and the Office of Total Information Awareness, what is happening to Ritter is meant as a warning to anyone who dares oppose this government. Former UN inspectors, it seems, are a special target. Remember that other inspector, Jack McGeorge, also an American, who was "outed" as being a member of a sado-masochistic "advocacy" organization? Just as our war birds were wailing in bitter disappointment that the inspections process would delay or maybe even derail the much anticipated bloodbath, suddenly one of the inspectors is "exposed" as a sadomasochist. The point was not to somehow prove that this made him unfit for the job, but simply to degrade him, to make the experience so painful that he would immediately withdraw – which is precisely what happened.

There's nothing at all fishy about a "sealed" court record leaked to reporters, complete with an alleged "mug shot" of Ritter broadcast on television and republished by MSNBC. It's all a coincidence that this comes out just as the war crisis reaches its climax – or anti-climax – and the administration is desperate to come up with a half-way convincing rationale for war. What are you – a conspiracy theorist? Everybody knows the U.S. government is inherently and constitutionally incapable of pulling off such a dirty rotten lowdown trick. After all, isn't that why they hate us – because we're so wonderfully "free"? Free to be spied on; free to be set-up and smeared if we defy the powers-that-be; "free" to be entrapped by cyber-cops who randomly chose the single most convincing opponent of the War Party to snare in a web of deception.

The reaction to this is really a sight to behold. The same "conservative" movement that reveled and rolled around in the muck of the Clinton years like a pig in a deluxe pen, luxuriating in the filth that bubbled up like a perpetual hot bath, is all abuzz. With all the defiant malignity of Lucianne Goldberg and her son, what's-his-name, rolling the latest Clintonian dirtball around on their tongues as if it were the last bon bon in the box, they are drooling over this one. (Look at bottom-feeder Jonah Goldberg lap it up.)

It's sickening, really, to even contemplate what is going on here, but we should look at this ugliness full in the face. Because in forcing ourselves to see it, we can see the War Party – the gang of lying, thieving, conniving thugs with delusions of grandeur who dominate this administration – in its essence.

Look on the face of evil, and, if you don't turn to stone, remember it well. Because this is what we're up against, in America: an evil that is almost demonic in its pure malevolence, a dark destructive spirit that feeds on pain and is animated by the will to crush its enemies underfoot. This is the face of an enemy that must be defeated.

– Justin Raimondo

   
 

 

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