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No Questioning Assange in the UK?
What do Marianne Ny and Carl Bildt know that they're not telling anyone?
STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Rixstep) — The government of Ecuador made a formal appeal to Sweden to interrogate Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. The appeal was turned down. This made news across the world - except in Sweden where there was a total media blackout.
The Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, owned by Norwegian Schibsted and formerly the political organ of the conservative party, finally broke the mysterious embargo, announcing that it was illegal for Sweden to interrogate Assange in London.
This tune had of course been heard many times before. Marianne Ny stated this to Time already in December 2010. Several local news sites in Sweden picked it up, then shortly afterwards the articles were either redacted or removed. Carl Bildt told Jennifer Robinson the same thing this past summer: that it was illegal to question Julian Assange in London. Yet never was there an explanation of how this could be illegal.
'He told me it's not allowed. And when I pointed out that Sweden had only recently done just that in a murder investigation in Serbia, he had no reply.' - Jennifer Robinson on her encounter with Carl Bildt in Almedalen
But the SvD piece cited above quoted someone from Marianne Ny's office. The statement appeared to be clearly made once again: it would be illegal for Sweden to question Julian Assange in London.
Olof Johnson decided to write to Fredrik Berg in Marianne Ny's office and ask what statute made the trip to London illegal. Olof received a reply inside half an hour.
From: Berg Fredrik
Date: 28 July 2012 16:21
To: Ivan Johnson
Subject: Illegal to question Assange in the UK
The headline 'Illegal to question Assange in the UK' was set by SvD. That is not a quote of mine. On the other hand, the prosecution authority earlier stated that the process must be carried out the formal way in accordance with the EAW once one has been submitted, at which point questioning on English (or Ecuadorean) soil is not applicable.
Berg claimed he himself did not set the headline for the article and had in fact not said it was 'illegal' to question Assange in London, only that it was not 'aktuellt', translated above as 'applicable'.
'Aktuellt' is a funny word in Swedish. It can mean so many different things. Tyda.se translates it as either 'current', 'working', 'topical', or 'up-to-date'.
One of Sweden's two big news shows is also called 'Aktuellt', and in this case the implication is 'current'.
Yet in Berg's reply to Olof Johnson, the meaning is more on the order of 'on the table', 'planned', 'being discussed'. What Berg's telling Olof is that they're not considering traveling to London - a far cry from the claims of Ny and Bildt that it's actually illegal. What Berg is also doing is being as evasive as possible - the word has so many disparate meanings, so when you don't want to actually explain something to someone, 'aktuellt' is your friend.
Which means things are back to Square One again. Marianne Ny had every opportunity to question Assange when he was still in Sweden. Not many people pause to ponder this, but Julian Assange was very intent on clearing his name as soon as possible, and for a very good reason: the case was distracting people from his work and potentially being used to smear him as well.
Julian's a busy man. We know precisely how busy he was in the autumn of 2010: the Iraq War Logs in October and the embassy cables in November. Those were huge projects with huge bodies of work that had to be coordinated, media partners brought in, and so forth. Yet he dragged his feet on leaving Sweden, on meeting people from Spiegel and the Italian media in Berlin, getting back to London and the Frontline Club, and finally assembling his own project team. He stayed around, despite this schedule, for five weeks whilst Björn Hurtig kept nagging Ny's assistant Erika Leijnefors for an appointment so Julian could give his side of the story. Ny rebuffed every effort and in fact told him on 15 September that he wouldn't be called for questioning in the foreseeable future and might as well leave the country.
Then a funny thing happened. Julian Assange finally got his kit together and headed for the Stockholm airport on Monday afternoon 27 September. He arrived at the airport at approximately 16:30 local time and took the direct flight to Berlin.
Yet we also know, thanks to the diligence of Flashback, that Marianne Ny issued an arrest warrant for Assange at 14:15 in the afternoon of the same day. This warrant was never acted on. Notice of the warrant was never sent to ports of exit. No one at the Stockholm airport knew of the warrant.
Yet someone was clearly on hand behind the Lufthansa counter to pilfer Julian's luggage when it was checked in. And a source from within Swedish intel had the following to say.
'Not to forget: according to my source 'R' (as in Rörby, Lövön) JA was being followed every minute of his visit in Sweden two years ago. By the security police SÄPO, by military intelligence MUST, and by FRA... And it was all signed off by 'Babyface Egg Cup' [Karl Rove] and our poor Swedish government.'
'But this sheds new light on a curious post from two years back', noted Flashback member 'trenterx'.
Trenterx's post cites an article at Expressen for Sunday 15 August 2010 and notes a few curious things. Namely that Expressen somehow assembled a copy of Assange's itinerary for the day before, the day of Assange's seminar. Some details in the itinerary are clearly wrong, others represent easily accessible knowledge, but a few fall beyond what can be obtained in that fashion.
|08:00 ||Visit news show TV4.|
|10:00||Prepare for seminar.|
|10:30||Interview with TT wire service.|
|11:00||Seminar and press conference.|
|15:00||Lunch at Bistro Bohème.|
|16:30||Accompany girl from seminar to Natural History Museum.|
The first three items on the list seem to be in error and can have come from an earlier list of scheduled activities. Mention of the seminar itself is not exactly a scoop.
But no one outside a small circle knew where the lunch would be held. And two of the reporters were very cautious in speaking with 'outsiders'.
'And so he says, yes we're going to go eat lunch and so he asks if I have any suggestions where to go. Then it's suggested we go to, uh, or I suggest we can go to Bistro Bohème.'
Finally, it was only one of the reporters who knew where Julian was heading after the lunch. He knew this because he'd accompanied Julian to Hötorget along with Sofia Wilén, as they still needed electronic accessories from a shop located there.
The reporter told Julian he had to be going, as he was helping his parents move furniture. He asked if Julian wanted to accompany him. Sofia Wilén tugged at Julian's arm at the same time, proposing he instead accompany her to her place of work - they could catch a documentary movie together. Tough choice for Julian: either move furniture or sit and enjoy a movie.
'So she keeps Julian there and asks if he'd like to go and see where she works...'
But no one outside of those three knew anything of the sort, the reporter hadn't even known where Sofia worked, and nobody at the luncheon even knew her.
And yet Expressen somehow got all those details to publish by the following day. This strongly indicates two things.
- The source 'R' was correct.
- There's a high level intel leak to Expressen.
Julian Assange was tracked all the way to the Arlanda airport on 27 September. His luggage was confiscated from behind the Lufthansa counter when he checked in. There was an arrest warrant issued two hours earlier, but he was allowed to leave the country anyway, and Marianne Ny's website never accounted for her activities in September 2010, much less on 27 September, and in the end scrubbed away all remaining details prior to December. It was only when a member of Flashback contacted her office that the details of this arrest warrant became known.
But the rabbit hole might go deeper still, according to 'trenterx' who studied the temporary surrender agreement between Sweden and the US - the one former minister for justice (and legal partner of Claes Borgström) Thomas Bodström himself signed and then claimed did not exist.
1. In emergency cases, either state may request a suspect or convict be provisionally detained. A request for provisional detainment shall be made through diplomatic channels or directly between the US department of justice and the Swedish foreign office, and Interpol may also be used.
2. The request shall provide a description of the person, place of residence if known, a short summary of the facts in the case including, if possible, the time and place of the crime, details of the ruling to issue a warrant or court verdict in accordance with Article XI...
3. Once the request has been received, the state receiving the request shall apply appropriate measures to secure the detention of the person in question. The state applying for the detention shall be informed immediately.
'There is a sealed indictment against Julian Assange since the winter 2010/2011, issued by a grand jury in Virginia. So is it possible that Sweden's foreign office (with Carl Bildt as their boss) would have, according to the procedure described above, been given information about this indictment?' asks 'trenterx'. 'And in such case: is point 3 above applicable?'
Trenterx now replies to his own post, noting that a mere four days after the Swedish high court ruling on the EAW, the government of the US sent a letter to Julian Assange.
Last week the US government notified Assange that he has been treading very close to criminality. In a [Sunday] Nov 28 letter to him and his attorney, Jennifer Robinson of London, the State Department warned it was illegal for the classified material to have been provided to Assange and that 'as long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing'.
By 7 December, two journalists suspect a formal request from the US for Julian Assange could be imminent.
Obama administration officials are considering filing an extradition request with Sweden to have WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange face criminal charges, possibly for espionage.
'The consensus in this thread has been that no request was ever sent', notes Trenterx. 'Maybe not. But what's the likelihood that such a request sent from the US to the Swedish foreign office, during the winter of 2010/2011, can be kept secret in Sweden for 18 months? It can have been a formal written request or an informal spoken one.'
Either way, it would have gone to the man Jennifer Robinson spoke with in Almedalen - Carl Bildt.
So No Questioning?
Back to the matter of questioning Julian Assange in London. For after Ivan Johnson's correspondence with Marianne Ny's office became known and turned into an outcry, SvD's reporter went back into his article to change a few things around.
The original headline was unequivocal: Against the law to question Assange in the UK (Olagligt förhöra Assange i UK). SvD reporter Filip Norman changed the headline to: No Interrogation of Assange in London (Inga förhör med Assange i London).
Then he added this gem at the bottom as a footnote.
'Footnote: This article has been somewhat 'reformulated' because information obtained from the prosecution authority concerning the legality of interrogations abroad, the basis of the original article, has been shown to be false.'
The Swedish prosecution authority, in the person of Marianne Ny who spoke with Time in this matter, along with the country's foreign office, in the person of minister for foreign affairs Carl Bildt, who spoke with Jennifer Robinson this past summer, have not been truthful. Julian Assange has repeatedly asked to be questioned in the Swedish embassy in London, via video link, all in accordance with the EU agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance. The British courts have wondered the same thing, as have news organisations around the world. And the pat Swedish answer has been that it's 'illegal'.
That pat answer has now been shown to be a lie. So the next question is 'why did the Swedes lie?' And 'trenterx' and the others at Flashback think they might have the answer.