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…as no doubt the story of Julian Assange’s escapades in Sweden will be known once it inevitably makes its way into the hands of one of the goofier Hollywood directors – say Robert Zemeckis or Mel Brooks, or perhaps Stephen Herek of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It would do better in the hands of Andy Wachowski, where he might do for Julian Assange what he once did for Keanu Reeves.
Who could ask for a more beautiful set-up? It’s a story fit for a tabloid, yet it might be transformed into something an intellectual could read without embarrassment. This latest adventure is the stuff of pulp fiction, and chock full of Langley spies, computer hackers, crazy feminists, flatfooted cops and sleazy rags in the female kingdom of Sweden!
Julian Assange is a character that might have been ripped from the celluloid frames of the Matrix: flaxen and lanky, he moves through cyberspace like a superman. When, on those rare occasions that he does emerge into the real world, it is to perform Kung Fu exercises. He hardly ever eats or drinks. His corporeal body can normally be found sitting in front of a MacPro or two, while his digital alter ego commutes and computes, battling the odds and the system in fantastic virtual combat. Like Neo, he is a natural-born hacker who hacked just for the heck of it until he discovered the Matrix. He had hundreds of remarkable hacking achievements to his name when in 1992 he pleaded guilty to twenty-two of them. We like to think that someday, after he has passed on in the fullness of time, he will become a kind of guardian angel for hackers, or perhaps the Greek God of Cyberspace with His Golden Board, forever surfing the web.
His adventurous style and quick wit have earned him many Swedish fans, and so when Fate led him into the sun-drenched late summer of Sweden, Julian found himself dazzled by reddening apples, cooling lakes, and boisterous crayfish-parties. Captain Neo soon paid the price for letting down his guard! It was only a few days later that this unassuming computer geek awoke to discover his own face plastered across a tabloid’s front page, and the headlines screaming Arrest of Double Rapist Imminent! Imagine yourself on vacation, visiting friends, and finding yourself suddenly the object of a nationwide manhunt. Captain Neo felt the eerie presence of the Matrix, and he pinched himself to make sure he was still in the real world. The newspaper was still there on the table, and it told him – and all of Sweden – that two women had accused him of rape, and that the police were closing in.
No, Captain Neo did not passively wait for the police to come to his door. Captain Neo is no stranger to the tactics of the Matrix. Ever since Julian’s WikiLeaks website had published the Afghan War Diary (a huge pile of secret intelligence reports that reveal the dirty war the US is running against Afghanistan), Uncle Sam has been hunting for ways to have him carted off to Guantanamo. The Right Wing News site has, just below an icon of Sarah Palin, recommended a summary death sentence for our hero: “Can we have a CIA agent with a sniper rifle rattle a bullet around his skull the next time he appears in public as a warning? You bet we can — and we should. If that’s too garish for people, then the CIA can kill him and make it look like an accident. Either way, Julian Assange deserves to die.” Other right-wing American sites bristle with similar murderous commentary about our beleaguered computer programmer.
Captain Neo understands death squads. To forestall further threats, Assange publicly placed a huge, encrypted file onto the WikiLeaks site. This file contains all the most sensitive secret information he has in his possession. He called it Insurance, and thousands of activists all over the world await the password that will release this Pandora’s Box onto the heads of the US administration.
Instead, the Matrix plays dirty and lets loose a sex bomb upon our intrepid Neo. When you can’t contest the message, you smear the messenger. Sweden is tailor-made for sending a young man into a honey trap. Sweden has particularly thorny anti-rape legislation, where a conviction might be secured from something as thin as an anonymous accuser’s allegation.
In any case, our lucky Neo Julian Assange was only able to enjoy his fugitive-from-justice status for a few hours. By noon, the charges were already dropped, and he was free to be defamed from one end of Sweden to the other, not to mention the countless websites. It’s a simple system: the websites show the headlines, and the headlines report the web gossip. It’s Character Assassination 101, but why in Sweden of all places couldn’t the dirty tricks department make the accusations stick?
Swedish bloggers uncovered the full story in a few hours. The complaint was lodged by a radical feminist Anna Ardin, 30, a one-time intern in the Swedish Foreign Service. She’s spokeswoman for Broderskapsrörelsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden’s Social Democratic Party. She had invited Julian Assange to a crayfish party, and they had enjoyed some quality time together. When Ardin discovered that Julian shared a similar experience with a 20-year-old woman a day or two later, she obtained the younger woman’s cooperation in declaring before the police that changing partners in so rapid a manner constituted a sort of deceit. And deceit is a sort of rape. The prosecutor immediately issued an arrest warrant, and the press was duly notified. Once the facts were examined in the cold light of day, the charge of rape seemed ludicrous and was immediately dropped. In the meantime the younger woman, perhaps realizing how she had been used, withdrew her report, leaving the vengeful Anna Ardin standing alone.
However, before we absolve the Swedish police as unwitting, if zealous, dupes, please note that Swedish law strictly forbids police and prosecutors to release to the media the details of any rape-connected complaint. The Expressen had all the details of the case, including the names of the accused and the complainant, within a matter of minutes. Please note further that the right-wing tabloid Expressen belongs to the Bonnier family, the biggest media owners in Sweden, who are not only pro-American but very much pro-Israel, too. As you know, the pro-Israeli lobby is warmly supportive of America’s Middle Eastern wars, while Assange and his WikiLeaks have the potential to undermine America’s weakening support for the war.
Were the criminal reporters of the Expressen that good, or is it possible that Ms. Ardin willingly collaborated with the Expressen in targeting our plucky Neo? She interned for the editorial page ofGT , the Gothenberg edition of Expressen. f
Ardin has written and published on her blog a “revenge instruction”, describing how to commit a complete character assassination to legally destroy a person who “should be punished for what he did”. If the offence was of a sexual nature, the revenge also must also be sex-related, she wrote. Ardin was involved in Gender Studies in Uppsala University, in charge of gender equality in the Students’ Union, a junior inquisitor of sorts.
In other words, she was perfect for the job. In order to frame Julian in Singapore, they would have to fit him up with drugs. To frame Julian in England, they might have to report he had skinned and roasted cats or at least dumped a kitten in a trash bin. To hang a frame on Julian in Sweden only required reporting sex between consenting adults.
If the setup was so perfect, why did it fail? Overreach, as always. When Anna Ardin maneuvered the younger girl into assisting her in her revenge, she overreached herself. When the girl withdrew her report, Anna’s “deceit equals rape” accusation failed. However, this is just conjecture, and the true facts of the case lie deep in the vaults of the Expressen.
Hopefully it is all over, and our Neo will continue his perilous runs for the benefit of all civilization. And the Swedes? Perhaps now they will recognize that they went too far. “When the reporter from the Washington Post realized that I was not joking, (said a Swedish legal figure this week), that it does not need more than one woman’s word for the police to arrest a man and charge him with rape, he said: “But my God, are you completely crazy? It’s worse than Iraq of Saddam Hussein …”
Israel Shamir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org