A British judge ruled this morning that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange must be extradited to Sweden to face questioning from prosecutors on allegations that he raped two women there last year. This ruling is likely to revive debates on the nature and merits of those allegations, a subject I’ve addressed at some length in this blog. Here’s a summary.
I first addressed the Assange rape allegations in an early-December post that attempted to separate out fact from fiction based on the limited information available at the time. In those posts I noted that “sex by surprise” isn’t a crime under Swedish law, and that Assange’s accusers alleged non-consensual acts which would, if proven, constitute sexual assault under any standard definition of the term. (In a follow-up post I addressed the question of his guilt or innocence, and the question of prosecutorial misconduct.)
In early January I discovered that one of Assange’s accusers had given an interview to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet last August — the only time either of the accusers has discussed the case at length in the press. I summarized that interview in this post, and later published its first-ever English-language translation.
Naomi Wolf has been one of Assange’s most prominent defenders, and she has consistently misrepresented the allegations against him. I first addressed those misrepresentations in this post about a Democracy Now television interview she gave in December. Later, I responded to Wolf’s argument that rape accusers’ names should be made public over their objections, addressed new oddities in an interview she gave on BBC radio, and fact-checked both a bizarre essay she wrote for Huffington Post in December and her later incomplete and dishonest “update” to that post.
I’ve also discussed the “honeypot” theory that Assange’s accusers were in the pay of the CIA or Karl Rove, and defended the journalistic practice of not naming rape accusers even when those names are readily available on the internet.
Oof. That’s a lot. By now some of you may be wondering why a blog called “Student Activism” has devoted so much energy to a story that’s not directly related to the campus. The short answer is that sexual assault policy is an important campus issue, and that I originally saw this case as a mechanism for addressing issues that have direct campus relevance. The slightly longer answer is that once I started writing about the case, I realized that there were a lot of misrepresentations and misunderstandings floating around, and didn’t want to let them stand unanswered when I could pitch in and help clear them up.