Weaponising Rape Myths And Consent In The Hunt For Julian Assange

Despite what you might read in the millions of stories written on Julian Assange’s alleged crimes against women, some of the people genuinely harmed by his arbitrary detention have been rape survivors. Dr Lissa Johnson explains.

By Dr Lissa Johnson

On Friday 13th September, a Westminster Magistrates court ruled that Julian Assange should remain in prison indefinitely, after his sentence of imprisonment came to an end on September 22nd. The judgement is the latest installment in a long campaign of judicial persecution, harassment and state-sanctioned abuse, as assessed by the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Nils Melzer.

The ruling, according to Wikileaks, violated due process on the simple grounds that the hearing was a non-public technical hearing which did not relate to bail. The judge, it seems, issued her decision pre-emptively, before even hearing any evidence from Julian Assange’s lawyers. When the court asked Julian Assange if he understood what was going on, he replied, “Not really”.

UK MP Chris Williamson tweeted, “Britain is increasingly behaving like a tin-pot dictatorship.”

This act of judicial overreach took place against a backdrop of reports from Julian Assange’s familyfriends, and the UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, backed by assessments from specialist medical and psychiatric experts, that Julian Assange’s health is deteriorating rapidly under maximum security lockdown in Belmarsh prison, such that he could die as a result. Julian Assange is emaciated, ill and traumatised, stripped of his legal and human rights while held in solitude, suffering the effects of years of arbitrary detention and psychological torture.

To add insult to injury, these abuses are being inflicted based on disingenuous legal concoctions surrounding the already disingenuous Swedish investigation that gave rise to his imprisonment. The bail infringement charge associated with the Swedish investigation, for which Julian Assange was initially imprisoned in Belmarsh, is itself illegal under international law. It was issued in the context of political asylum, which renders the bail infringement null and void.

In other words, the UK government has been locking Julian Assange up illegally. Which makes the recent decision to extend his incarceration even more alarming, in terms of its wider implications for the rule of law and the right to a fair trial.

Rather than take Julian Assange’s asylum into account, or describe the background to the disgraceful state of legal affairs imposed upon him, the Westminster judge instead cast Julian Assange’s history of political asylum as “absconding”. Such was her justification for condemning him to indefinite incarceration, with all the potentially lethal consequences that ongoing detention entails.

Either the judge doesn’t know the background to Julian Assange’s case, or she chose to ignore the fact that Julian did not ‘abscond’ from Sweden at any time. Julian Assange was granted permission to leave Sweden in 2010. He always offered to return if Sweden would guarantee protection from onward US extradition. Sweden always refused.

Professor Nils Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. (IMAGE: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

Like every turn in the Swedish investigation, this latest development is built upon years of misleading and counterfactual public narratives. It serves not only to help deliver Julian Assange into US hands, but to break him psychologically and physically and tar him with baseless smears, as Nils Melzer has detailed.

The truth is that Sweden has not even charged Julian Assange with anything from which he could abscond. The legal threat hanging over Julian Assange is, and has always been, US retribution for exposing state-corporate crime. Sweden can’t even make up its mind whether it has enough material to keep its investigation alive, after all these years.

Earlier this month, Sweden’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, announced that she had re-interviewed several witnesses from 2010. Why? Persson said that the interviews would help her “decide how to proceed with the case”. That is, whether to close it or whether to continue conducting further enquiries.

Nine years on, with the matter still in the initial investigation stage, prosecutors aren’t even sure whether they have grounds for further enquiries, let alone a case, doubling back to square one to start again, trying to scratch up reasons to persist.

Belmarsh Prison, in the United Kingdom, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is being held indefinitely in the Supermax section. (IMAGE: Anders Sandberg, Flickr)

This is the paper-thin legal pretext for locking Julian Assange in Belmarsh Supermax and torturing him within an inch of his life. It is as threadbare now as it has always been.

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(TLB) published this article from newmatilda.com

Additional articles about Julian Assange from The Liberty Beacon




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