Monthly Archives: August 2012


On Being Angry and Dangerous

I learn the interesting news that David Aaronovitch tweeted to Joan Smith and Jenny Jones that I am:

“an angry and dangerous man who could as easily be on the far right as the far left”.

I had no idea I was on the far left, though I suppose it is a matter of perspective, and from where Mr Aaronovitch stands I, and a great many others, look awfully far away to the left. I don’t believe you should bomb people for their own good, I don’t believe the people of Palestine should be crushed, I don’t believe the profit motive should dominate the NHS, I think utilities and railways were better in public ownership, I think education should be free. I guess that makes me Joseph Stalin.

But actually I am very flattered. Apparently I am not just angry – since the invasion of Iraq and the banker bailouts everybody should be angry – but “dangerous”. If I can be a danger to the interests represented by a Rupert Murdoch employee like Aaronovitch, I must have done something right in my life. I fear he sadly overrates me; but it does make me feel a little bit warmer, and hold my head that little bit higher.

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Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald has joined the Guardian from Salon. His first article is an absolute corker. I don’t think this means he has moved to London, (though I may be wrong) as it is part of the Guardian’s drive to get more online US readers. I expect it won’t be too long before Greenwald, like Seumas Milne, becomes the target of dreadful in-house backstabbing and Blairite attempts to oust him.

But wherever he writes, Greenwald is one of the few journalists really worth following.

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Doune The Rabbit Hole

From tomorrow I shall be at Duncarron Fort to help out (mostly behing the bar) at the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival of which Jamie is Director. I may give a talk at some stage in the Spoken Word programme about Adam Werritty, Anna Ardin and other neo-con agents. Or I may just hang out, serve pints and drink beer.

As you can see, the location is miles from anywhere and has no internet, or mobile phone signals either – what bliss! – so you may not hear from me for a while. Do not worry, I am probably not in a jet in an orange jumpsuit, despite my proximity to Prestwick. I hope to find a way of doing a few posts anyway. If you can come to the festival, do come and say hello.

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Banned Names

Not only have the BBC hierarchy ruled Anna Ardin’s name must not be mentioned. Also Irmeli Krans’ name is banned from the airwaves. And no, she’s not an alleged “victim” in the Assange case.

I put in an official request to the BBC for an explanation as to why it was OK for the BBC to use Nafissatou Diallo’s name but not Anna Ardin’s, in identical circumstances. I have not got an answer yet, but my request did result in a mole within the BBC telling me reporters had been banned from mentioning Irmeli Krans.

Anybody might think they were hiding something.

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The Pathetic Vapourings of the Establishment

A number of mainstream media attacks on me today. Astonishingly, not a single one admits that Anna Ardin gave media interviews accusing Assange and put her own name in the public domain. Despite the fact I spent most of yesterday being interviewed by journalists and repeating that point over and over again.

Anna Ardin herself went to the media, under her own name, as long as two years ago to publicise her allegations against Assange. From the New York Times, 25 August 2010:

Anna Ardin, 31, has told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that the complaints 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.”

So Ardin went very very public herself. 190,000 internet articles – a great many from major mainstream media – and 10 million mentions on twitter and two years later, I use her name on Newsnight and am attacked for “revealing it”.

Fortunately the public recognise a fake campaign of indignation when they see one. Where the mainstream media have online comment threads, they are overwhelmingly supportive of me. Even in the Daily Mail! They have a voting system on their comments and the results are very interesting.

The Headline of that piece is “Former Ambassador Sparks Anger”. It would better have been “Former Ambassador Sparks Overwhelming Agreement from our Readers”.

The Telegraph makes a claim that I was censured by the Swedish Prosecutor’s office, out of a statement in which they did not mention me at all. They rather make the perfectly reasonable point that they would prefer people, in general, not to name victims of crime. The Telegraph failed to ask the Swedish prosecutor what they thought of Anna Ardin having already named herself all over the Swedish media. They also failed to ask them why the Swedish Prosecutor’s office themselves two years ago leaked the allegations against Julian Assange to the Swedish media, and thus the world.

You may be surprised to know that I regard the Telegraph in general as one of the few places real journalism can still be found. I am therefore genuinely disappointed and surprised that they do not mention the key fact that Anna Ardin revealed herself in statements to the Swedish media, a point which I explained to their journalist repeatedly yesterday afternoon. They also say that I “alleged” that the BBC repeatedly named Ms Diallo, the accuser in the DSK rape case, while the case was still ongoing, as though there could be any doubt about the truth of the matter.

A couple of pieces from the blogosphere. My favourite piece is this very considered one from James Kelly, which makes some very valuable points.

But the all-time prize goes to Carl Gardner, former junior government lawyer and now the go to right wing “legal expert” brought out by the BBC and the Guardian. In his blog “Head of Legal” (Gardner has never been head of anything), Gardner argues that what I said was not illegal, but that we need a new law to stop me saying it!

Yes! Absolutely! What this country lacks is enough laws to stop people bloody well saying things! I feel Mr Gardner is going with the zeitgeist here.

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Nafissatou Diallo and Anna Ardin – Why Opposite BBC Policies?

The BBC repeatedly named Nafissatou Diallo, the alleged rape victim of Dominique Strauss Kahn, while the criminal investigation into the alleged rape was still in progress. Yet they have a policy that Anna Ardin, the accuser of Julian Assange, must not be named – or investigated.

Why the contradiction?

Nafissatou Diallo and Anna Ardin had both gone public and given statements to the media in support of their allegations.

From the New York Times, 25 August 2010:

Anna Ardin, 31, has told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that the complaints 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.”

There was no legal barrier to my mentioniong Anna Ardin last night; the case is no longer sub judice in the UK and there is no expectation of any legal proceedings here. Those are precisely the grounds on which the BBC mentioned Diallo very often. I did not see Oliver Kamm, Charles Crawford, Harry Cole, Charles Murray or any of the other far right commenters trolling about my “disgrace” last night, make a single protest at the naming of Diallo on scores of occasions by the BBC. Why their sudden new-found concern in the case of Assange?

Why the difference? Why is Ardin protected from scrutiny in the entire British mainstream media when Diallo was not, in precisely the same legal circumstances? Has Ardin been D-noticed in the UK when she is reported widely everywhere else in the world?

Anybody who still believes that the Assange allegations are a genuine criminal proceeding following due process, should think very hard indeed.

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Naming Anna Ardin on Newsnight

Anna Ardin herself went to the media, under her own name, as long as two years ago to publicise her allegations against Assange. From the New York Times, 25 August 2010:

Anna Ardin, 31, has told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that the complaints 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.”

The furore that I “revealed” her name on Newsnight is a pathetic spasm of false indignation by establishment supporters.

A google search on “Anna Ardin” reveals 193,000 articles, virtually all relating to her sexual allegation against Julian Assange. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week broadcast nationwide a documentary investigating Ms Ardin’s allegations and not only naming her repeatedly, but showing several photographs of her and Assange together; it is a documentary everybody interested should watch. Literally thousands of newspapers and magazines all over the world have named her, including the New York Times and the Times of India, aside from those near 200,000 internet entries. The Twittersphere numbers are astronomical.

Gavin Esler, Joan Smith and I all knew her name – what special rights do we three enjoy that entitle us to know that, but would intend to debar the viewers from knowing that? I am willing to bet that virtually all those tweeting and pretending outrage that I named Ms Ardin, already themselves knew her name. They just somehow think nobody else should be allowed to. There is virtually nobody in Sweden – which is after all where she lives – who does not know her name. It is a cause celebre there.

If what I did was illegal, as is being claimed, then somebody had better come and arrest me. As however there are no legal proceedings on this issue in the UK and no prospect of a prosecution here, I know of no lawful reason I should not have named her. I suspect that the number of Newsnight viewers who heard the name for the first time is very small indeed. It might, of course, give some a tool to research further for themselves the facts of the case. That would be very useful indeed.

As for the interview, I was sorry that Aaronovitch was not there (as I had been told he would be) as I might have been more robust – I felt rather constrained arguing with Joan Smith as I generally like and respect her. Strangely enough, as I did the interview I was much less worried about it than I was on subsequently hearing it, because I did not realise the extent my microphone had been turned down compared to Gavin’s and Joan’s when they were speaking across me – which was most of the time I was speaking. It would be interesting if someone with the patience could tot up how many seconds I had speaking with nobody speaking over me, compared to Joan.

To sum up, I was insufficiently assertive and allowed myself to be shouted down, than which I really should know better. But I did succeed in getting over the fact, with examples, that whistleblowers are routinely fitted up with unrelated charges. And all the manufactured fury at my naming Anna Ardin might well lead people to research her claims and behaviour, which would be a good thing. So I am reasonably relaxed.

UPDATE

I have just found the transcript of the Australian Broadcasting Company’s documentary on the Ardin claims against Assange. This is genuine and painstaking investigative journalism from the flagship and long-established “Four corners” programme and shows a glaring contrast between the British and Australian Broadcasting Company approach. The BBC won’t even allow you to mention Ardin’s name, let alone question her story or her motives. The ABC does a full investigation and comes up with some extremely important facts.

It is also interesting that ABC interview Ardin’s own lawyer, as well as Assange’s, and neither shows any concern at the repeated use of Ardin’s name in the interview, of a piece with the fact that it has frequently appeared in the Swedish media.

The documentary is entitled “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange.” This extract starts about twenty minutes in. Click on the title for the full thing. Another interviewee, politician Rick Falkvinge, is obviously extremely conscious of what he may and may not say legally while extradition proceedings are in train, but again appears to have no problem with the interviewer using Anna Ardin’s name.

What is such a big issue for the BBC, and the politically correct media twitterers of London, is apparently not an issue for those in Sweden most closely connected to the case.

ANDREW FOWLER: At the heart of the matter is whether the Swedish judicial authorities will treat him fairly. Certainly, events so far provide a disturbing picture of Swedish justice. Using facts agreed between the defence and prosecution and other verified information, we have pieced together what happened during those crucial three weeks in August.

On August 11th, 2010, Assange arrived in Sweden to attend a conference organised by the Swedish Brotherhood – a branch of the Social Democratic Party. He was offered Anna Ardin’s apartment while she was away, but Ardin returned home a day early on Friday the 13th. She invited Assange to stay the night, and they had sex. She would later tell police Assange had violently pinned her down and ignored her requests to use a condom. Assange denies this.

The following day, Assange addressed the conference with Ardin at his side. Later that afternoon Ardin organised the Swedish equivalent of a top-notch barbeque – a Crayfish Party. She posted a Twitter message. “Julian wants to go to a crayfish party. Anyone have a couple of available seats tonight or tomorrow?”

The crayfish party was held that night in a court yard off her apartment. It went on until the early hours of the morning. Ardin tweeted at 2am: “Sitting outdoors at 02:00 and hardly freezing with the world’s coolest, smartest people! It’s amazing!”

A guest at the party would later tell Swedish Police the event was a very hearty evening. When he offered to put Assange up at his apartment, Ardin replied, “He can stay with me.”

In the past 24 hours, Ardin had worked closely with Assange, had sex with him, organised a crayfish party on his behalf – and, according to one witness, turned down alternate accommodation for him. It is during this same period that police will later investigate whether Assange coerced and sexually molested Anna Ardin.

PER E. SAMUELSON: Well, if you send text messages like that, “I’ve just spent some time with the coolest people in the world”, the night after you then say you were raped – I mean you shouldn’t write such text messages if you had been raped by that person the night before.

ANDREW FOWLER: Your client described Julian Assange as a “cool man”. I think, one of the “coolest men in the world” that she’d had in her bed.

CLAES BORGSTROM: I will argue in court. I have of course arguments concerning exactly what you’re talking about now, but I will not tell any media of how I am going to represent the women in in court. I’m sorry.

ANDREW FOWLER: But can you see how that looks as though…

CLAES BORGSTROM: Yes, of course I can.

ANDREW FOWLER: …it’s a fit up. It looks as though they are in fact setting him up.

CLAES BORGSTROM: I’m quite aware of that.

ANDREW FOWLER: Sunday August 15th – the next day. Assange attended a dinner party at Stockholm’s Glenfiddich restaurant, organised by pirate party founder Rick Falkvinge.

RICK FALKVINGE: I think a lot of people at the… at the table had meatballs. I think Julian might have been one of them. Now, Swedish meatballs that, that’s a little bit like mum’s apple pie in Sweden – as in, you can call my wife ugly, you can kick my dog, but the instant you say something bad about my mother’s meatballs I’m going to take it personal.

ANDREW FOWLER: Also at the dinner was Anna Ardin.

(to Rick Falkvinge) So, just to get this straight: Julian Assange arrived with Anna Ardin and he left with Anna Ardin.

RICK FALKVINGE: Yep.

ANDREW FOWLER: What was their behaviour like towards each other?

RICK FALKVINGE: Well, I was discussing mainly with Julian and the… again I can’t go into too much detail here, but it was at least a very professional dinner. There were two high level organisations, both intent on changing the world behaving professionally.

ANDREW FOWLER: The fact that Anna Ardin accompanied Julian Assange through this dinner and left with him – what does that say to you?

RICK FALKVINGE: Well that’s going into speculating on merits of extradition, and I can’t really do that. I think that be… you’re presenting an objective fact, as did I, and if people want to read something into that that’s obviously ripe for doing so, but I can’t spell it out.

ANDREW FOWLER: Four Corners has obtained a photograph, lodged with police investigators, from that evening. Anna Ardin is on the left. Afterwards, Assange would again spend the night at her apartment.

The following day, August the 16th, Assange had sex with Sophia Wilen at her apartment. According to police records, Ardin was aware that he had slept with Sophia. A witness told police he contacted Anna Ardin looking for Assange. She texted back: “He’s not here. He’s planned to have sex with the cashmere girl every evening, but not made it. Maybe he finally found time yesterday?” That same day, the witness asked Ardin, “Is it cool he’s living there? Do you want, like, for me to fix something else?” According to the witness she replied: “He doesn’t, like, sleep at nights so that’s a bit difficult. So he has a bit of difficulty taking care of his hygiene. But it’s ok if he lives with me, it’s no problem.”

Three days later on August 20th, Wilen, accompanied by Ardin went to the Klara police station in central Stockholm to seek advice about whether Assange could be forced to take an STD test. Ardin had gone along primarily to support Wilen. Sometime during Wilen’s questioning the police announced to Ardin and Wilen that Assange was to be arrested and questioned about possible rape and molestation. Wilen became so distraught she refused to give any more testimony and refused to sign what had been taken down.

JENNIFER ROBINSON: The circumstances leading up to the issue of the arrest warrant gave cause for grave concern for Julian about the procedures that were adopted in the investigation. We have to remember that when the announcement was put out that he would be subject to a warrant, one of the complainants was upset by that, and later said that she felt railroaded by the police.

KARIN ROSANDER, SWEDISH PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE: Well what happened is what was that the duty prosecutor got a phone call from the police and the duty prosecutor decided that he should be arrested.

ANDREW FOWLER: And what happened?

KARIN ROSANDER: He was arrested in his absence, but he… they never got in… got in contact with him so, but he was arrested in his absence. It’s a technical… technical thing in Sweden, Swedish law, yeah.

ANDREW FOWLER: The Prosecutor’s Office might not have contacted Assange but within hours they let the whole of Sweden know what was going on – leaking to the Expressen Tabloid the statements of Ardin and Wilen. The newspaper front page read: “Assange hunted for rape in Sweden”.

JENNIFER ROBINSON: Julian wakes up the following morning to read the newspapers to hear that he’s wanted for double rape and he’s absolutely shocked.

THOMAS MATTSSON: Two of our reporters had information about Julian Assange, and we also had a confirmation from the prosecutor which confirmed on record that there was a police investigation against Julian Assange.

ANDREW FOWLER: It was now the case took a strange twist. Within 24 hours, a more senior prosecutor dismissed the rape allegations, leaving only the lesser accusation of molestation. Assange willingly went to the police on August 30th and made a statement.

During the interview he expressed his fears that anything he said would end up in the tabloid newspaper Expressen. The interviewing police officer said: “I’m not going to leak anything.” The interview was leaked.

PER E. SAMUELSON: Why did you leak his name to a tabloid paper? How… how can you drop the case and reopen the case and how can you… how can you not say that he waited for five weeks in Sweden voluntarily to participate in the investigation? Why do you have to arrest him? Why do you have to keep him in handcuffs? Why can’t you conduct this in a proper manner? The rest of the world sees it, but Sweden unfortunately doesn’t.

ANDREW FOWLER: It is perhaps understandable that Assange had doubts he would receive fair treatment from the Swedish authorities. On September 15th, the prosecutor told Assange he was permitted to leave Sweden. Assange, back in England, would later offer to return within a month. The Swedish Authorities said too late – a second warrant had already been issued for his arrest.

ANDREW FOWLER: He says that he left the country and then was prepared to come back at any time. Is that your understanding?

CLAES BORGSTROM: I don’t believe that.

ANDREW FOWLER: He says that he was prepared to come back in October but the prosecutor wanted him back earlier.

CLAES BORGSTROM: I don’t know. I don’t believe he wanted to he was he wanted to come freely back to Sweden. I don’t think so.

ANDREW FOWLER: Can you understand that the Australian people may not understand how somebody can be accused in their absence when they haven’t even been interviewed, then have that rape case dropped, the arrest warrant removed and then have it re-instituted, all in the space of a few days?

KARIN ROSANDER: Yeah I can very well understand the confusion and, and, I… that is very difficult to understand, well, exactly how it works.

ANDREW FOWLER: Well you call it confusing, it’s… it may be slightly more than that.

KARIN ROSANDER: Well that’s the way it works here in Sweden so, well… but I can understand the confusion, definitely

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Rusbridger’s Lies are Sacred and Neo-Con Comment is Free

Today’s Guardian editorial quotes directly from my speech at the Ecuadorean Embassy, in a sneering way:

their remarks concerned western Europe’s “neocon juntas”

The Guardian editorial makes the direct claim that I, and the other speakers, omitted all mention of the sexual allegations against Julian Assange in Sweden. That is a direct lie by the Guardian. In fact over half my speech – 23 sentences to be precise – were dedicated to the allegations against Assange and putting them in the context of the irrefutable evidence of the serial use of such allegations against various whistleblowers, including myself, in order to damage their reputation and brand them as criminals unconnected to whistleblowing.

Despite quoting my speech in its editorial, and mentioning it three times in its liveblog of the rally, the Guardian at no stage made any attempt to indicate the gist of what I actually said. Even the New York Times, without giving any of my explanation, at least got the point when it reported that:

a former British diplomat, Craig Murray, asserted that Mr. Assange had been “fitted up with criminal offenses” as a pretext

Of course the Guardian did not overlook what the NYT picked up. You could not overlook all 23 sentences of it. But simply the Guardian wished to run an editorial arguing that the Swedish allegations had been completely ignored. The facts did not suit Rusbridger’s comment. So Rusbridger’s comment remained free and lies were sacred.

The Guardian’s shrill and vitriolic campaign against Assange is extraordinary in its ferocity, persistence and pointless repetition.. The sad truth is that its origins lie in the frustration of the Guardian’s hopes to make a great deal of cash from involvement in Assange’s putative memoirs. That such a once great paper should fall sway to such a mean-minded little neo-con lickspittle as Rusbridger and his Blair supporting coterie is a great tragedy.

This is what, contrary to Rusbridger’s lies, I actually said:

Anybody with time and patience might like to keep posting links to it under the Guardian editorial once they open comments on it tomorrow morning.

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Ecuadorean Embassy Speech

I spent today inside the Ecuadorian Embassy with Julian Assange, who I am happy to say is both physically and mentally on very good form. I was sitting in the room behind him in a very comfortable leather armchair whilst he made his balcony speech, and I must say I thought the text of it was excellent.

I spoke immediately before Julian, from outside the Embassy. This was my own effort, which I hope provided some valuable context to the persecution of Assange.

I could not help but be struck by the ridiculously excessive police presence – hundreds and hundreds of policemen everywhere. I don’t think that the concept of freedom of information can be killed off by the extreme intimidation of a single man, but by Heavens, Hague and Cameron are going to try.

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America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally

UPDATE

100,000 HITS IN 100 MINUTES CRASHED THE SITE. WE DON’T KNOW YET IF GENUINE INTEREST OR DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACK. OUR BRILLIANT WEBHOSTS HAVE QUADRUPLED THE RESOURCE, BUT IF YOU CAN HELP TAKE THE STRAIN BY REPOSTING I WOULD BE VERY GRATEFUL.

I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.

The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter
them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises
of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.
3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of
transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.

The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.

The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.

I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.

There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.

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