Naming Anna Ardin on Newsnight 183


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

.


183 thoughts on “Naming Anna Ardin on Newsnight

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  • Jon

    @Liz Morgan – I think you’ve judged Craig wrongly, but you are totally right to ask for a civil debate.

    @Passerby – please tone it right down, if only for the reason that you’re shooting yourself in the foot. I don’t recommend you go down an anti-feminist path either, since you’ll not do yourself any favours by appearing to be uncharitable towards alleged victims of sexual misdemeanour.

    For what it’s worth, we need to try to chart a path that acknowledges the right of the individual to bodily integrity (i.e. not to be sexually assaulted) as well as the right to avoid arbitrary imprisonment (i.e. for challenging imperialism). Liz/Passerby, isn’t this combination satisfied by insisting Swedish officials come to London? If they question Assange and then decide to press ahead with a charge, then he will have to consider his options, which will be extremely limited at that point.

    But until that point, people should be asking why the Swedes won’t come to London, and why the Swedes are still refusing to say why they won’t come to London. Ordinary folks should be asking these things even if they are opposed to Wikileaks on the grounds of national security, or if they are opposed to Assange on the grounds of feminism. Individuals of all political stripes should stick together on this one, since Assange won’t be the last person the US wish to have whisked away. The Natwest Three are still there.

  • David

    Phil,

    I should just like to object to your use of the term feminists. There are some real ones out there too, who are more alert to what is going on here, and would scream against the bastardization of the term rape by grunt journalists at the Guardian if it advanced their purpose. What is unfortunate perhaps is that they are not doing so, for the simple reason that at least this media spectacle is raising consciousness about the problem of rape.

    It’s just a little sad because, in the process, truth is wildly distorted, and human rights activists the world over will now think twice about what they publish.

    On the horizon is something much worse than Orwell could have imagined.

  • James

    Haven’t read the whole long comment thread here but,

    The problem is you believe a genuine judicial process is going on, and normal rules should be followed. I believe this is a stitch-up, there is no impartial process and we have to break normal rules to prevent an innocent man being framed.

    I’m sorry, that’s a disgusting thing to say. You don’t get to decide to ignore legal proceedings just because you personally believe an accused man to be innocent. He may well be, but that’s for a court to decide.

    I had no prior knowledge of Ardin before hearing that she had been named on Newsnight. I watched the ABC documentary, which seems to reach exactly the conclusions you’d expect it to when most of the contributions were from Assange’s lawyers. Ardin’s lawyer is perfectly justified to say that he will wait to put his defence before a court.

    All that said, if Ardin did choose to go to the press herself, then I see nothing wrong in you naming her. It seems odd that she would choose to do so, as all this public investigation into her past and private life is exactly the sort of thing that rape victims very reasonably are entitled to protection from.

  • Ziad

    Craig I thought it was disgraceful how you were treated on Newsnight. Other than the hypocritical feigned horror at the name revelation, you were constantly interrupted, talked over and ganged up on. I was truly incensed after watching it. The British press, across the board has acted shamefully and deliberately obfuscated the facts of the Assange case.

  • Clanger

    Tried putting a link to the Australian documentary on the Guerrdian CIF; moderated, and I didn’t use the words Israel or Zionist.

  • JonL

    Naming to women involved! Yea gods, I thought everyone knew their names within a week of the initial uproar…..we certainly did, as did most of our friends and we live 100 miles from the nearest civilisation……
    Pathetic, the whole tawdry affair – and that’s the governments involved, let alone the people…….

  • Sandi Dunn

    I made an official complaint to BBC about the obvious bias…

    Please everyone do it… it can be done fairly simply on line and you should get an emailed receipt including your complaint in words for the record – so it can be followed up.

    Good luck Craig I have attempted to put a hyper link to your you tube speech on today’s CIF others go there as there seem to be a lot of Troll posters…

  • Stephen Cook

    “….Good luck Craig I have attempted to put a hyper link to your you tube speech on today’s CIF others go there as there seem to be a lot of Troll posters……”

    To be honest, the amount of concerted disionformatiom being pedalled on comments sections of the main newspapers and other high profile media outlets, it seems to me there are not just trolls out there, there are paid shills out in force as well.

  • John Storm

    I watched your session on the night of the broadcast Craig and I thought you came across as a real human being, in contradistinction to Essler who’s strings are clearly visible to those with real eyes (and ears).I seriously wonder who the hell Essler really works for? I believe Newsnight is nothing but a state sponsored sham of bias reporting.
    Although I think I am “pissing in the wind”, I have raised 2 complaints with the BBC over Newsnight’s handling of the Assange saga, and I have raised a freedom of information request with them asking for the guidance documents used to govern the standards of reporting and editorializing for the show and the BBC in general. I have had a reply to my first complaint, a fob-off as you might expect and a factually false fob-off at that. I am happy to post the complaints & replies here if they are of any interest? But I just wanted to let Craig know that we are not all afraid of the childish sycophantic bully’s sidekicks that patrol the playground of the BBC.

  • Tommy

    I for one salute you Craig. I find it bizarre the way the BBC deems the life and reputation of one person to be somehow worth less than the life and reputation of another just becuase the former is the accused and the latter is the accuser. Or is it simply because the former is an Australian and the BBC feels that it must kowtow to the Sweden the way the government does too?

    I echo Mike above: your opinions count in Australia too.

  • Jan

    Rupert Murdoch thinks he has the right to treat people with complete disrespect and an utter disregard of privacy. I did not think that I would see the day when Craig Murray decided that he had the right to behave in the same appalling manner. His performance on Newsnight was disgusting.

  • Cryptonym

    Dear Jan,

    “Rupert Murdoch thinks he has the right to treat people with complete disrespect and an utter disregard of privacy.”

    That is the least of Rupert Murdoch’s crimes, small scale, the man has been largely responsible for the undermining of our illusory democracy for almost half a century, has virtually had a rubber stamp seal of approval on who should govern this country, manipulated elections, practically dictated government policy and is still in the forefront of cheerleading for, fomenting and manufacturing consent for a series of wars which have killed millions and caused intolerable suffering to tens of millions.

    9 out of 10 human beings (I’ve asked them all) share your dislike for that Murdoch. Now having established your ‘right on’ and firm anti-establishment credentials (just lacking in a declared intent speed Thatcher into her grave in order to defecate thereon), I don’t see though how you get from that to suggesting that Craig Murray’s appalling treatment at the hands of a state run disinformation establishment, the Broken Broadcasting Corporation, in trying to establish the truths behind this Assange/Ardin/CIA matter makes him in anyway comparable with Murdoch. Your reasoning is disgustingly unsound. You disgust me.

  • Cryptonym

    The only thing left for the BBC to do is replace all programs with a record of the national anthem playing. It’s dead Jim. And good riddance. Thanks for the Goons and Just a Minute.

  • SCM

    I’ve read some horrible instances of unadulterated rape apologism and misogyny on the internet in my time, but have to say that this takes the absolute award.

    To raise a few points; I’m not going over the main points of the Newsnight fiasco again – other people have raised this in a better way that I could, and if people aren’t really understanding what was wrong about it, then I can’t add anything either. I will say however, that for man used to publicly documenting the vagaries and bias of the BBC over the years, it’s pretty disengenious to have the same person then appear on a BBC schedule and screach on about his treament so indignantly, as if genuinely expecting any other course of events; But then this doesn’t surprise me – I stopped reading this blog after getting sick to the stomach of reading about the hand-wringing of a Liberal Democrat, who – happy enough cheerleading for the coalition back in May 2010 – balked at the ebb of their ex-party’s influence, while people have died in this country as a direct result of government policy.

    To select a few more notable points…

    David…

    “I should just like to object to your use of the term feminists. There are some real ones out there too, who are more alert to what is going on here, and would scream against the bastardization of the term rape by grunt journalists at the Guardian if it advanced their purpose. What is unfortunate perhaps is that they are not doing so, for the simple reason that at least this media spectacle is raising consciousness about the problem of rape.”

    – Thank god (actually, thank feminism) that you don’t get to decide what feminism is; And if the day comes when any of you can actually find a real feminist who’ll go on record and tell you that the definition of rape as ‘non-censentual intercourse’ is a “bastardization of the term rape”, then let us all know so that I can pinch myself to make sure I haven’t been living in a fucking Victorian Novel all these years.

    “We still have a disgusting patriarchy, and nowhere is it more visible than this notion that woman are to be protected, but men needn’t be protected…”

    – Oh I dunno, I tend to think it’s visible, being patriarchy n’ all that, in every aspect of a hierarchical society and embedded in every aspect of our discourse in that society, none more so than in the fucking ridiculous notion of men being prima facie ‘oppressed’ (without additional factoring qualification) and the way in which discussions of female oppression inevitably get turned back round to talk about male disadvantage, without registering that patriarchal discourse always tries to re-center dialogue back on male experience. Which is pretty much what you’re doing here. I don’t know what your ‘Fathers 4 Justice’ histrionics are all about, but you’d probably be better off taking that baggage out of the equation when discussed feminism per se. It has nothing to do with your points.

    And speaking of which, Al…

    “Imagine a man having sex with a woman, bragging about his conquest to his mates, continuing to sleep with her for days, and only later complaining to the police about it because it turns out the woman also had sex with someone else. He wasn’t raped, he says, but she doesn’t really like condoms and persuaded him to go along: heat of the moment, etc. Our hero would struggle to be heard over the laughter. So much for equality.”

    – Excellent straw-example. ‘so much for equality’, you ask – yes, because if we’ve learned anything over the years, it must be that rape is definitely, definitely nothing to do with inequality – we could have total equality and it would still happen, women could set the terms for their consent to sexual intercourse, have their partner respect their wishes and understand the terms consent is given on, and *that it needs to be given* and we’d still have these ‘little misunderstandings’ happen (this is sarcasm btw, in case you didn’t get it, I know how differences in what words mean must flummox some of, what with ‘no’ and ‘yes’ and ‘consent’ and things like that). This is just plain fucking insulting, and bears absolutely no comparative resemblence to even the account put out by the defence.

    Oh yes, and finally, for those intellectually short-changed by misinformation,
    http://amiobjective.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/assange-case-quick-reference-with.html#!/2012/08/assange-case-quick-reference-with.html

    Fucking Sickening.

  • Jon

    Hi @SCM

    Yes, we do get some misogyny here – a small handful of contributors. We could strike them out, but then that would go against the freedom of speech we value here. Most commentators here condemn misogyny in all its forms.

    I agree that David doesn’t get to define “feminism”, and thankfully neither do you. There are plenty of different strands of thought in feminism, and – presumably within reasonable parameters! – we all get to define it, if we wish.

    Mine goes like this: a feminist defends the rights of women. Here, we have to balance the rights of women not to be sexually assaulted, against the rights of whistleblowers to expose (war) crimes against women. The inhuman machine of war affects women substantially, as you’ll know – as does the religious extremism (of all varieties) that it whips up.

    Liberals have, I think, shown that a path can be bridged between these competing interests, and in this case also, but sadly we hear from one or two who only want to see Assange suffer, his guilt already decided upon. That’s anti-feminist in my book, and – since it forms a direct attack on whistle-blowing, will ensure that the number of people [who] have died in this country as a direct result of government policy will just increase.

  • John Storm

    I’m a fella and I frequently feel like I’ve been raped by the tax man, insurance companies, my local council, and the price of fuel for my car and the little gas fire in my lounge. That was deliberately provocative! But this is not about what constitutes rape! Despite Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark’s attempt to bring the debate around to that last night. This is about innocent until proven guilty and why it is acceptable to name the suspected rapist but not the suspected victim. In a fairer society, the names of both parties would probably be withheld until the jury has given its verdict. But all too often this is not what happens and it is especially not what happens when powerful authorities are bent on destroying the unwanted activities of those who believe that the only way to have a truly fair society is to have full disclosure with no contrived instruments of protection for the perpetrators of bad policy.
    In this instance, that bad policy is literally tearing the flesh of the living bodies of tiny innocent children in far off lands under cover of night and the operators of those flying machines of death have games controllers in their hands. “Wow dude, good shot” they cry with a slap on the operators back as the guts, blood, flesh and splintered bone of another innocent living baby get sprayed like a Christmas champagne celebration all over what must be the true spirit of humanity given the numbers of people willing to turn a blind eye. “Shouldn’t have brought children to a war zone” that pilot said after he strafed that van full of children who were just round the corner from their homes in their neighborhood with their relatives, trying to help a bunch of innocent un-armed men whose bodies had also just been ripped apart by an evil regime for nothing more than filming on their local streets. This we know because of Wikileaks and Bradley Edward Manning.
    The assault on Assange is clearly convenient for those who’s interests are not best served by disclosure of the truth. The sad fact is that the authorities can’t lose here because I would bet that the treatment of Mr Assange has already silenced many potential prominent conscientious objectors. “And Maggy, god bless Maggy, thinks it wouldn’t do for you, to know about the naughty things that grown up people do.” (Billy Bragg – spy catcher saga) ring any bells?
    Wake up, stand up and shout the truth, or get a knife and cleave the flesh from your children’s bones yourselves to see if you like what you are effectively sanctioning elsewhere when you support the UK / US establishments desire to prevent disclosures.

    Please, this is not man versus woman, this is soul versus evil!

  • SCM

    @Jon,

    “We could strike [misogynists] out, but then that would go against the freedom of speech we value here. Most commentators here condemn misogyny in all its forms.”

    – I’m saddened that you think this, you can’t value genuine freedom of speech and tolerate misogyny (where identified) anymore than you can tolerate freedom of speech and tolerate racism – because misogyny, like any other reductive patterning of oppression, thrives on dismissing, devaluing and misrepresenting the perspectives and reality of the people targeted by it. If you’re creating a space where this is tolerated, you can’t possibly talk about freedom of any kind for anybody.

    “I agree that David doesn’t get to define “feminism”, and thankfully neither do you. There are plenty of different strands of thought in feminism, and – presumably within reasonable parameters! – we all get to define it, if we wish.”

    – No, sorry you don’t. If I’m excused in making a reasonable presumption on the basis of screen-names and gender, ‘we’ don’t all get a say in defining it – a man can’t possibly define what feminism means (though he may define what he understands by the term); a man presuming to tell a woman what feminism means is exactly what I spoke about regarding masculine discourses above. There may be plenty of different strands, but there is a core, and that core is partly represented in my post above, which is generally accepted across the sphere of feminist thought.

    “Mine goes like this: a feminist defends the rights of women. Here, we have to balance the rights of women not to be sexually assaulted, against the rights of whistleblowers to expose (war) crimes against women. The inhuman machine of war affects women substantially, as you’ll know – as does the religious extremism (of all varieties) that it whips up.”

    – There’s no balance to be had, you can’t simultaneously defend the inviolable right to freedom from sexual assault while writing an apologism for sexual assault (for reference to this specific case, even the defence’s record of events constitutes the terms for non-consensual intercourse. In both countries involved this, according to law, constitutes the specific offence of Rape). And, unfortunately for your argument, the right to whistleblowing is not in question. I support the protection of both women and men against Sexual Assault. I support the right of citizens to expose information relating to injustice. I don’t support the rights of perpetrators of either to evade trail, investigation or prosecution.

  • Jon

    Hi @SCM,

    I’m not tolerating misogyny at all. In fact in the several years I’ve been on this blog, I’ve frequently spoken out against it; see here and here (search for “Jon” and my opponent “JimmyGiro”).

    If you’re creating a space where this is tolerated

    Again, competing values. Freedom of expression is also important, so I would rather let the misogynist have his say, and then to reason with him, rather than call for his deletion. (In fact, since I am a moderator, I could delete his remarks myself, but that poses an additional difficulty – one cannot moderate and debate at the same time. It’s a conflict of interest – if you’ve ever moderated an internet forum, you’ll know what I mean!).

    Furthermore, I think the automatic deletion of all discriminatory attitudes is running away from the problem – so to categorise it as toleration is way off the mark. But, for the record, we have deleted nasty comments here of all kinds, where the poster is just being offensive and will not enter debate (anti Jewish racism is probably the most common).

    a man can’t possibly define what feminism means … a man presuming to tell a woman what feminism means

    Yes, I’m a man – assumption permitted 🙂

    You’re falling into two classic traps here, which is (a) men cannot be feminists, and (b) all women are feminist. Any Gender Studies course these days – primarily attended and taught by feminist women – I think would gently put you right you on this point, since you are shooting the movement in the foot with a pretty big gun. Both assumptions are false, and (a) additionally is sexist as well, which isn’t a good position for an anti-sexist to take.*

    There’s no balance to be had

    Not even for the women suffering around the world as a direct result of the neocon policies challenged by Wikileaks?

    you can’t simultaneously defend the inviolable right to freedom from sexual assault while writing an apologism for sexual assault… I don’t support the rights of perpetrators of either to evade [trial], investigation or prosecution

    Here is the nub of our disagreement. I’ve been quite blue in the face, on this very board, saying that Assange should face the sexual misconduct accusations. I don’t know how I can put it plainer, but it is as if my writing doesn’t appear on your screen. I do think that the process should have the Swedish prosecutors come to London, and I don’t think that the likelihood of justice for the women involved is modified (either way) if the prosecutors were to do so. I am quite sure that there is past precedent for police teams travelling within Europe in relation to offences under a EAW.

    Now, if the Swedish team were to come to London, and then subsequently decide to prosecute and go to trial, then he would probably have little choice but to go. I imagine his legal team would try to obtain assurances that he would not subsequently be deported to the US, either from the UK or from Sweden (I am not sure under the EAW who gets to decide). Presumably if your only interest is justice for the alleged assault victims, you would agree with this strategy?

    * If I can’t persuade you on the Assange case, I would at least like to persuade you of this, as I think it is important. I’ve expounded on this view elsewhere, and I should be interested in your view upon it.

    Thanks!

  • Arnold Bocklin

    @Jon

    Stick to the facts

    I am sticking to the fact – the facts of how sexual predators are known to behave. If Assange has assaulted two women, you can be certain that he’s done the same to many more.

    The two Swedish women are to be commended for coming forward; Assange’s other victims however are likely to be more reticent. By naming one of the Swedes on TV, Craig has made it less likely that those earlier victims will volunteer themselves, less likely that they too will get the justice they deserve.

    if you don’t like Wikileaks

    I’m a big fan of wikileaks. Or, rather, I was a big fan of wikileaks, of the old wikileaks, the wikileaks that fought to bring justice to the weak by exposing the crimes of the powerful. I’m not so keen on this new version of wikileaks with the opposite values, the wikileaks that seeks to hide the truth behind a smokescreen of lies in order to let a criminal escape from justice…

  • Jon

    @Arnold:

    the facts of how sexual predators are known to behave…

    …in order to let a criminal escape from justice…

    You’re assuming he’s guilty even before he’s been charged or convicted? I see. I thought his opponents were positioning themselves as being in favour of fair trials?

    If Assange has assaulted two women, you can be certain that he’s done the same to many more.

    At least you use the word “if” here. But, no, you can’t assume any such thing. You’re not even attempting a semblance of liberality and justice here. Again, a measure of guilt – including the numbers of crimes a person has carried out – must be determined by a fair and transparent judicial process. Not your “certainties”.

    I’m not so keen on this new version of wikileaks with the opposite values

    There is no “new Wikileaks” and your suggestion that Wikileaks itself is “hiding the truth” is nonsense. Certainly, if Assange were to be found guilty by a fair legal process, then I should think people would expect him to step down from Wikileaks, and the organisation would carry on, possibly with a new public representative.

    I’m interested in what @SCM says, since I think she is arguing from a feminist perspective, and although I think she gets the balance wrong, Assange supporters do need to answer the kinds of points she makes. She argues well and I am quite willing to believe she is genuine. You on the other hand make daft assertions about there being a “new Wikileaks” that is “a smokescreen of lies”. This is so baseless that even the Establishment right-wingers (Aaronovitch et al) wouldn’t try that in the MSM – which makes me wonder how much of a disinterested seeker of truth and justice you really are.

  • TheSentinel

    Craig, I applaud your stance and commend you for having the courage of your convictions. I too will also make a complaint about the manner in which you were treated on Newsnight. Next time though you’ll have to adopt a Galloway persona and demolish your opponents because Esler and Brown did not respect your gentlemanly demeanour.

    At least now Esler has shown his true colours – along with the rest of the British media establishment in their campaign of disinformation against Assange – a man who has not been charged or convicted of any crimes. Sensible people will now look elsewhere for their news content because the British media have demonstrated their disingenuousness for all to see.

  • Granny Graham

    I thought you did very well to maintain your composure, Craig. My impression watching the interview was that Joan Smith’s (and Esler’s) aggression and appeals to emotion were a cover for the fact that she wasn’t very informed about the case while you were.

    The program seemed more like a propagandistic stunt than journalism.

  • Clayton Wentworth

    The evil of it all defies description. It’s a total setup from start to finish against Julian. There’s not a sceric of truth in any of it – so obviously Julian isn’t going to even mention it during his balcony speech last Sunday.

    Appropriate action needs to be taken to have the Swedish authorities withdraw any reason to require Julian to return to Sweden – and state unequivocally that there was insufficient evidence to suggest any wrongdoing whatsoever by Julian – and as a consequence he is free to travel to Ecuador without let or hindrance by anyone – in Sweden – in Europe – or – in the U.K.

    For the authorities in the U.K. – or Sweden to pursue this matter further will only add additional substance to the crimes committed by the U.S. & U.K. governments and political leaders as referred to in – #[email protected] In 4 parts. View in HD.

  • Colin Davis

    I was prepared to think we had a polarising debate here, playing to deep seated ‘idealist’ versus’ realist’ attitudes towards whistle-blowing. I thought this showed itself in the way both sides to this debate refused to listen to one another’s points. But the deafness is becoming very one-sided, not to say very wilful, and I’m finding it hard now to say where it all comes from.

    Those opposed to Assange (I feel) thought they had him in a trap he couldn’t talk his way out of. His escape to the Ecuadorian embassy infuriated them, so there followed phase two, which involved journalists gloating over the fact he had made a prisoner of himself in the embassy. How long can it be, however, before it dawns on all disinterested parties that the sheer scale of the UK operation there – and its enormous cost – simply cannot be explained as a reaction to what even the Swedes call a ‘minor rape’ accusation.

    Craig, you are hugely experienced in international affairs, so tell me if by claiming we are obliged to honour the Swedish EAW (European Arrest Warrant) we haven’t already demonstrated a way out of the current impasse. We in the UK now want Julien Assange on charges of skipping bail, and this is second call to the Swedish rape charge. So can’t we propose, to Assange and Sweden, that Assange is returned to Sweden in response to their EAW, accompanied by an EAW from us in respect of the bail charges? That way, he would have to be returned to the UK by the Swedes, after they had finished with him, and that obligation would take priority over any demands from the USA for his extradition from Sweden on other counts – wouldn’t it?

    Surely that would protect Assange from the onward extradition he fears? And would allow both Sweden and the UK to do what they claim is their duty? We would also, as a kind of a bonus, gain some insight into whether the Swedish rape charges were a set-up or not. But, of course, I may totally misunderstand the system…

  • Jon

    @Colin:

    So can’t we propose, to Assange and Sweden, that Assange is returned to Sweden in response to their EAW, accompanied by an EAW from us in respect of the bail charges? That way, he would have to be returned to the UK by the Swedes, after they had finished with him, and that obligation would take priority over any demands from the USA for his extradition from Sweden on other counts – wouldn’t it?

    Interesting, but I think you over-estimate the honesty and fair-play of the British Establishment. They have little interest in protecting Assange, and much to lose if they anger the Americans; if the US gets him via Sweden, the UK will look relatively blameless whilst having quietly assisted the American extradition deliberately. For the most part, the UK doesn’t care how much the policing around the Embassy costs, since Assange is a valuable asset wanted by our transatlantic ally.

  • Colin Davis

    John, thanks so much for replying. I think you are probably right, which is why I try, in all the ways I can think of, to propose it to them via public forums – if only because that way the ‘establishment’ would have to explain why they refuse to consider a reasonable way forward.

    It’s one thing saying our law or Swedish law doesn’t allow such and such, but this proposal is to use the EAW device (that they say can’t be messed with) right back at them, so they can’t say it’s impossible. I’m not skilled in PR, alas, but I’m trying my best.

  • Arnold Bocklin

    @Jon:

    You’re assuming he’s guilty even before he’s been charged or convicted?

    True, he hasn’t yet been convicted. But ask yourself this: would an innocent man act as Assange has acted? Would an innocent man go to such deranged extremes to avoid a trial? Would an innocent man manufacture such preposterous smokescreen of lies about a “threat” from the US? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

    his opponents

    I’m not an Assange opponent, I’d call myself a supporter. But if you support someone, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily support all their stupid, selfish actions; sometimes tough love is required.

    Assange is actively harming himself and wikileaks with his nonsensical behaviour. The best thing for himself and for wikileaks would be for him to walk out of the embassy right now, go to Sweden, go on trial and serve his time.

    There is no “new Wikileaks”

    If you can’t see the enormous, gaping discontinuity between wikileaks past activities and it’s present ones, then… The phrase “wilful blindness” comes to mind.

  • Jon

    @Arnold:

    would an innocent man act as Assange has acted?

    When pushed to the extremes, yes. I believe he has been pushed there. (Aside, I think it is evident he has a number of character flaws, and isn’t as good at dealing with the cynical media as he thinks. I don’t know whether fleeing bail was the best strategic decision, but as Craig says, it is Assange’s life, and therefore his decision).

    The best thing for himself and for wikileaks would be for him to walk out of the embassy right now, go to Sweden, go on trial and serve his time [my emphasis].

    This is why I suspect you’re not here in good faith – you openly and repeatedly declare his guilt before a trial that you find so thoroughly just. I’m not sure your determination of Assange’s guilt is at all compatible with declaring yourself a supporter of Wikileaks, since I’d imagine all supporters of Wikileaks would be pretty strong on the legal principle of the presumption of innocence.

    If you can’t see the enormous, gaping discontinuity between wikileaks past activities and it’s present ones

    No, I can’t, but do explain it to me. For what it’s worth, the current drama is between Assange, the US, the UK, and Sweden, and specifically not Wikileaks. Wikileaks isn’t on trial here, and I am sure it would continue *if* Assange can no longer continue as the public face of the project.

  • Jon

    @SCM – any response? I should be genuinely interested in your reply, since feminism is something upon which I am trying to shape my perspectives.

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