Julian Assange visited Sweden in mid August. During his visit he had sexual encounters with some Swedish women. Encounters that led to Julian Assange being reported for having committed rape. Since then world media have reported on the story. What the media has avoided to report on is why Julian Assange came to Sweden in the first place and what his perception of Sweden was prior to the sex allegations.
Why did Julian Assange come to Sweden?
Wikileaks has released a number of documents and made some important revelations. The Afghan war reports and the releases of diplomatic cables are just examples. Wikileaks and Julian Assange have acquired a good reputation as a reliable source of information in a very short time. Many people in senior positions world-wide have been exposed. Wikileaks have made enemies.
In order for Wikileaks to continue to operate it is of paramount importance that all their documents are kept safe and that in no way the sources of these documents can be disclosed. The information Wikileaks has must be stored in the safest manner possible. Otherwise the whole Wikileaks operation is in jeopardy.
Wikileaks have for a long time noted that Sweden has very effective and strong press protection legislation. Laws that make it illegal to make investigations about the sources for media. On a visit to Sweden in late April 2010, Julian Assange, hinted that Wikileaks might want to operate from Sweden since Sweden has not only effective press protection legislation but also is independent in relation to the US. So Sweden was regarded as a safe place to operate Wikileaks from.
On August 11, Julian Assange came to Sweden to apply for residence- and work permits, help build up the Swedish section of Wikileaks and make arrangements so Wikileaks servers could be operated from safely. He had accepted an invitation to speak at a seminar arranged by “Broderskapsrörelsen”, (Brotherhood movement).
The visit was by all means a major success for Julian and Wikileaks. He visited newspapers and TV stations and was given a rock star’s welcome. He was on TV almost every night and a large number of very positive articles about Julian and Wikileaks appeared daily. Some newspaper arranged chats so readers could ask questions in real time. Julian told everybody that listened how important Sweden was for Wikileaks. In one article he was even described as a larger than life fairy-tale creature,
“Julian Assange is Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist moulded together into a single perfect popular cultural icon of our time.” To put it simple, Sweden was smitten with a Julian Assange/Wikileaks fever.
How come Julian was so well received in Sweden? Sweden has for a long time maintained the idea of neutrality and independence. The country was very late in joining the European Union and still haven’t joined NATO. Sweden has through the years been critical to the US and there is a general skeptical attitude towards the US. So when Julian is challenging the US it is easy to understand that he will be embraced by many people and organisations with a critical view on the US. Among many Swedes he was regarded as a hero.
What emerged during the visit was that in order for Wikileaks to benefit from Sweden’s press protections legislation and get the source protection needed Wikileaks had to acquire an “utgivningsbevis”, a publication certificate. That was no problem according to Julian, Wikileaks would apply for one.
On Saturday August 14 the now world famous seminar at the LO headquarters (Central Labour Union headquarter) took place. A number of important journalists were present and it was regarded as a success. The seminar was filmed and later shown on Swedish National TV. Later in the evening a crayfish party was organized for Julian.
On Sunday August 15 Julian met with the Pirate Party and made an agreement. The Pirate Party would support Wikileaks by offering bandwidth and hosting the Wikileaks servers free of charge. The contents of the agreement were described in a press release on August 17.
On August 18 Julian Assange applied for residence- and work permit.
Up until the 18th Julian’s visit to Sweden was by all means a great success. Good contacts, massive media support and an agreement regarding the servers. Everything looked wonderful. Sweden embraced the lanky white-haired Australian that stood up against the US and there were even suggestions that Julian should be awarded the Nobel peace price.
All was well until a devastating phone call. Sometime between August 18 and 20, two women connected with each other and compared notes on their sexual experiences with Julian Assange. When they found disturbing similarities the decided go to the police. On August 20 the women went to a police stations and made statements that resulted in an order of arrest for Julian Assange for committing rape and a few hours later world media was reporting the story.
Julian Assange’s quick turnaround
A couple of months after the rape allegations caught media attention Julian Assange is telling everybody that listens that Sweden is hell on earth and it reminds him of a banana-republic. He is convinced that the accusations against him are part of a world-wide “smear campaign” with the ultimate goal to send him to a US prison. How come Julian so quickly changed his view on Sweden?
Are Julians allegations of a “political conspiracy” against him true or are they just part of the most peculiar defense against rape charges?
Read the next part “Julian Assange’s encounter with the two females”.