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Bianca Jagger begins: "I was surprised to read the article, '10 Days in Sweden: The Full Allegations Against Julian Assange' because I hold the Guardian in high esteem and I cannot fathom why such a credible publication would publish a prejudiced and unfair article."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a news conference in London, 10/10/10. (photo: Luke Macgregor/Reuters)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a news conference in London, 10/10/10. (photo: Luke Macgregor/Reuters)



Trial by Newspaper

By Bianca Jagger, Reader Supported News

23 December 10



Petition in Support of Julian Assange

Also See:
WikiLeaks' Twitter Page: http://twitter.com/wikileaks
WikiLeaks' Support Page: http://wikileaks.ch/support.html
Lieberman Attacks New York Times Over WikiLeaks Documents: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-joe-lieberman-new-york-times-investigated


What was missing in "10 Days in Sweden: The Full Allegations Against Julian Assange"(the Guardian, Nick Davies, 17 December 2010):

was surprised to read the article, "10 Days in Sweden: The Full Allegations Against Julian Assange" because I hold the Guardian in high esteem and I cannot fathom why such a credible publication would publish a prejudiced and unfair article. I object to the Guardian's decision to publish selective passages from the Swedish police report, whilst omitting exculpatory evidence contained in the document.

Julian Assange has the right to a fair and impartial trial in a court of justice; instead, in denial of due process, he is being subjected to a 'trial by newspapers,' in an effort to discredit him. This tactic is not new. As Justice Felix Frankfurter said in 1961, 'inflammatory' news stories that prejudice justice are 'too often' published. For those that remember Daniel Ellsberg's leak of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 to The New York Times, this seems to be a case of history repeating itself. Like Assange, who has been hailed a 'terrorist' by US Attorney General Eric Holder, Ellsberg was subjected to a malicious media campaign, in which he was branded 'the most dangerous man in the world.'

It is deplorable the Swedish police files have been given unlawfully to the Guardian and other newspapers. By whom I wonder? We have the right to know who is behind this obvious effort to conduct a smear campaign. According to Assange's legal team there is a lot of exonerating evidence in the police file, and material which they supplied to the Guardian, including a copy of the chronology of events, and the press statement of the initial chief prosecutor Eva Finne. This important evidence was omitted from the article. The statement by Ms. Finne, "The decision which up to this point has been established is that Assange is not suspected of rape and he is therefore no longer wanted for arrest," is nowhere to be found.

I am aware that Assange's legal team failed to respond to the Guardian on time when invited to publish a response to the article prior to its publication. However, the point here is not about the defense. The issue is the choices the Guardian made when presenting the facts contained in the police dossier, and the overriding duty of any credible news publication to present a fair rendition of events, particularly when due process is at stake.

There is information in the public domain, including Tweets, SMS messages and statements to friends, from the two complainants. Although there are vague references to this correspondence, the content is conspicuously absent from the narrative the Guardian has woven.

If the media insists in engaging in this reprehensible method of publicly trying Julian Assange, the least they could do is publish an accurate account. The Guardian has reversed the presumption of innocence by only publishing allegations against him, and not his account of events or the mitigating evidence in the police dossier. Although the article alludes to his objections to the allegations, his account, contained in the police file, is not directly quoted.

From a molehill, a mighty mountain of innuendos has been made to cast Julian Assange as some kind of rapist. I refuse to be drawn into passing judgment on the case, however, we should all remember, Assange is innocent until proven guilty.

I condemn and abhor rape and as an advocate of women rights, I will denounce any man who forces his sexual attention on women. I have found the sequence of events in the case against Assange, disturbing to say the least. At the end of the day, the issue here is justice and due process for all. Denying justice for men will not achieve justice for women.

Assange has been criticized for not being willing to return to Sweden to prove his innocence. It is hardly surprising he has reservations, given Sweden's human rights record. Anyone acquainted with it will remember the cases of Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad Alzery, two Egyptian asylum seekers who were, according to Redress, 'removed from Sweden to Egypt by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency in cooperation with the Swedish authorities and outside of any legal process,' on charges of terrorism in 2001. The deportation was carried out by American and Egyptian personnel on Swedish ground, with Swedish servicemen as passive onlookers.

In 2005, in Agiza v. Sweden (Communication No. 233/2003), the UN Committee against Torture found that Sweden had violated the Convention against Torture. The following year, in Mohammed Alzery v. Sweden (Communication No. 1416/2005), the UN Human Rights Committee found Sweden to have violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Alzery was released without charge after two years in prison however, 'he continues to suffer physically and psychologically as a result of his torture and ill-treatment.' Agiza was sentenced to 15 years in prison in a military tribunal. The process was not fair, and there is doubt as to the men's guilt.

Redress has stated:

Mr. Agiza and Mr. Alzery remain at a real risk of torture and ill-treatment as a result of Sweden's violations of the Convention against Torture. These cases epitomise the recent attempts by states to circumvent the absolute principle of non-refoulement enshrined in the CAT in the name of counterterrorism.

Given this precedent, one can appreciate why Julian Assange is apprehensive about being extradited to Sweden. In the Today Show on December 21st, Assange revealed that Sweden has requested that if he returns and is arrested, he is to be held incommunicado, and his Swedish lawyer is to be given a gag order.

Having grown up under a dictatorship in Nicaragua, I am very sensitive to any attempts to weaken our democracy. Although I do not agree with everything WikiLeaks has done, I feel compelled to defend freedom of speech, freedom of the press and due process. I was in court last week, not, as has been reported to pledge surety for Assange's bail, but to voice my support for the founder of WikiLeaks, because I suspect that what is on trial here is not Julian Assange's alleged sexual misconduct, but freedom of speech guaranteed in Art 19 of The Universal declaration of Human Rights, The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Art 10 of The European Convention on Human Rights. This trial has far reaching implications for all of us who believe in the core values of our democratic system. I fear that Mr. Assange is being punished for releasing information, which reveals the misuse of power by the US and other governments. He is on trial for holding governments to account.

It is my hope that justice will be served in the British judicial system. In the meantime, I hope readers will have the insight to suspend judgment until all evidence is available. Julian Assange is innocent until proven guilty.

I am pleased to learn that the Guardian will be publishing an interview with Julian Assange.

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Comments  

 
+24 # Ed McC 2010-12-24 00:03
Any thinking person who has respect for the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty, will agree that Mr. Assange deserves the benefit of the doubt and at the very least an unbiased report of both sides of the issue.

I feel that these trumped up charges have been instigated by either the CIA or other US government officials to cover up their own shameful performance and incompetence. the American people have a right to know exactly what our leaders are up to. We have no Monarchy in this country, but it remains to be seen whether this "democracy" will become a total dictatorship of a group of paranoid elected officials who cover up misdeeds by predecessors (i.e. Bush/Cheney cabal) and consider themselves above the constitution. The laws they are promulgating are eliminating all of our protections, so people should DEMAND to know the truth behind all of their shenanigans.
 
 
-41 # David Green 2010-12-24 00:34
Bianca, How can you complain about the Guardian publishing files when this is exactly what Assange and Wikileaks has done ? A taste of his own medicine perhaps?
 
 
+24 # Ken Hall 2010-12-24 03:48
The difference is that Wikileaks is in the process of publishing all materials, rather than cherry-picked versions that point information in a preconceived direction.
 
 
+8 # Merschrod 2010-12-24 07:36
Has Wikileaks released edited cables with a slant inserted by wikileaks?
 
 
+16 # donna P 2010-12-24 08:49
Hardly a taste of his own medicine. Thats the problem with thinking like that, you put these war crimes and proof of them on the same level as a media slam job. He is a hero and many of us love it!! Tough for you
 
 
+1 # fred dodsworth 2010-12-27 02:33
Quoting David Green:
Bianca, How can you complain about the Guardian publishing files when this is exactly what Assange and Wikileaks has done ? A taste of his own medicine perhaps?


The real difference is Mr Assange is a private citizen engaged in a journalistic endeavor, the CIA and the US State Department are corrupt organizations typically engaged in immoral and illegal acts. When WikiLeaks releases the Bank Bailout emails we'll see that our money was spent paying off banksters not bailing out our banking system. The public deserves to know the detail of our corrupt institutions, the public does not need to know the private sexual behaviors of any person, public or private.
 
 
-1 # Steve Horneffer 2010-12-27 15:55
Quoting David Green:
Bianca, How can you complain about the Guardian publishing files when this is exactly what Assange and Wikileaks has done ? A taste of his own medicine perhaps?

'Exactly'?I guess he missed the part about selective publishing, leaving out the exculpatory part of the story. This is the first I've heard of Assange or Wikileaks redacting potions of a story.
 
 
+14 # Mitchell Jon MacKay 2010-12-24 02:25
Ms. Jagger's account appears fair and equilateral, articulate and perspicacious. Charges of sexual impropriety against Mr. Assange seem beyond the scope of law, at least as "leaked". The real trial, if there be one, is freedom of speech and press.
 
 
+3 # Bernard 2010-12-24 02:50
David, your star is showing...
 
 
+13 # maddy 2010-12-24 03:04
It's the sins of government that created the need for Wikileaks. It seems most fall on the United States since it is the Lieberman, Rove type that want to stop him at any cost. Is there perhaps something in the wing concerning 9/11??? One day all who have bashed Muslims like was done to the Jews in 1930 Germany will find out it was maybe others who are guilty.
 
 
+3 # donna P 2010-12-24 08:52
That is exactly what I am thinking! Would that explain the constant manipulation of facts?
 
 
+7 # Johnny Elton 2010-12-24 04:54
Bianca I agree completely with your assesment of what is and has happened to Julian Assange. What we have is a creeping cancer that is turning our country and the world toward Facism. Pretty soon we'll be required to wear brown shirts.
 
 
+7 # Magginkat 2010-12-24 05:39
I have read several commentaries which claim that Karl Rove is probably the vermin behind this vile persecution.... .that he is a close friend of the president of Sweden. Nothing sruprises me concerning that nasty excuse for a human being. I would support water boarding for him!
 
 
+2 # carioca 2010-12-24 06:46
Bianca:

Bien dicho mi amor.

Muy bien dicho.
 
 
+21 # rom120 2010-12-24 08:39
The Swedes keep saying the issue with Assange is NOT POLITICALLY motivated.
O yeah? All one needs to know is that Karl Roves and the Swedish prime minister are VERY CLOSE FRIENDS.
 
 
+8 # giraffe 2010-12-24 16:33
Rove is not only behind this (as indicated by the above) but he is manipulating the GOP and he is the one who should be on trial for the lies he creates and passes through the Palin, "W", Cheney, Rush (etc) types --- surely his Hitler-type effect on the USA has implemented the corruption that exists in the government.

However, FAUX should be classified as a comedic show -- because they do NOT give news without a spin (oh yeah that's what the accusations about WikiLeaks is about) - except Assange's WikiLeaks has printed the documents (and has not spun the content.) Where's the United States Supreme Court on this issue? They were right there to allow BIG $$ to determine our elected officials.

As citizens -- what can we do because I'm ready to "do"
 
 
+8 # liz arnone 2010-12-25 12:18
There is a saying, "when you don't like the message, shoot the messenger". That's what's happening here. It's terribly disheartening that more people are not enraged at the atrocities which have been committed by our governments and demand accountability, but instead are attacking the messenger. No wonder the planet is such a mess.
I urge all thinking and inquiring minds to keep the momentum going.
 
 
+2 # bookzen 2010-12-26 00:33
That such flagrant injustice, reported by the media in a manner that sucks in the public to be arguing the right or wrong of it, is incredibly distressing. No case has been made against Mr. Assange. If a crime had been committed he would be charged. What we have here is backyard gossip. I enthusiasticall y support Bianca Jagger's position.
Justice departments in Sweden, England and especially the U.S. should be ashamed of themselves.
 
 
0 # Chicodoodoo 2010-12-28 15:05
The bigger picture is that injustice is now the status quo. No one is surprised when the righteous are crushed. We are only surprised when justice is done, because it so rarely happens.
 

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