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Sweden: The Pretence

No reason to be proud anymore.

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Torbjörn Tännsjö, Stockholm professor in practical philosophy, is coming out with a new book, so it's no surprise he's taken to the nation's op-ed pages to pimp it.

'Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are the heroes of our times', he begins with great promise. 'But why can't that sink in?' he asks. 'Perhaps talk of heroic deeds seems a bit antiquated.'

Antiquated? Should Sarah Harrison feel antiquated? Should Julian and Edward too? Why?

Torbjörn Tännsjö is promoting his new book in the context of once again suggesting Sweden give Edward Snowden asylum. 'It's natural we demand Edward Snowden be given haven in our country', he writes almost convincingly. Then:

'The price for [Snowden] has been high. Ironically he is now prisoner in Russia. It is not acceptable that he remain there.'

Not acceptable to whom, Torbjörn?

A few facts. Only a few of many.

  • Edward Snowden is safer now than he could be anywhere else. Perhaps Torbjörn forgets the incident with the presidential jet of Evo Morales? Perhaps he forgets how each and every nation contacted by the US violated international law in trying to get at that jet, in denying the Bolivian president access to airspace? Perhaps he's not so updated on the groveling going on in the provinces of the vast US empire (800 bases in over 150 countries) known as the European Union? Edward Snowden's safe where is he is. The Russians aren't going to let anything happen to him.

  • Russians don't have it bad. In fact, in an era where black's become white and white black, Russia's today one of the better places to live (as long as you don't mind the cold). Their own economy is good, despite what the western MSM keep piling on. Compared to the west, the political system is liberatingly honest. But no, you won't read about that in the western MSM - they don't want you to know anything about that - and certainly not in Sweden.

  • Whatever: Sweden is not only a bad place for Snowden, it's possibly the worst. The Sweden of old would be one thing, despite wartime duplicity, but the Sweden of Rove's buddy Carl Bildt and the GOP's understudy Fredrik Reinfeldt is quite another, no matter that the country's now in the midst of a 'regime change'.

    Given the strong currents in the country today, Sweden would be downright dangerous for Snowden.

  • But the most important thing is yet ahead. For Torbjörn Tännsjö, Stockholm professor in practical philosophy, is not suggesting Snowden be offered asylum merely to pimp his book, come what may. The good professor knows he isn't thinking in terms of Snowden's best interests. For if he were, he'd understand the facts above. And he probably does. Torbjörn Tännsjö isn't suggesting asylum for Snowden for Snowden's sake - he's suggesting it for Sweden's sake.

Granting asylum to Snowden would sure make a lot of progressive Swedes feel proud of themselves. 'We have IKEA, we have Volvo and the world-famous meatball, we used to have beautiful blondes, and there once was a time when we weren't mindless superficial slaves to the US and 'PC' - and now we have a hero in our midst. Not a hero of our own making of course, but one we can borrow for a while. To put on our trophy shelf.'

Julian Assange once applied for residence in Sweden. Not asylum - just residence. He wanted to make Sweden the 'lighthouse' of a world gone dark. He wanted Sweden to be a beacon shining light into dark crannies of corruption.

Assange wasn't wanted for anything. He still isn't. And the irony of course - even though this is airbrushed out of Sweden's history for the moment - is that it's Julian Assange - and WikiLeaks and Sarah Harrison - who rescued Edward Snowden. Sarah - not someone from Sweden - put her life on the line for Snowden, and Julian Assange, sitting in his cubbyhole in Knightsbridge thanks to Swedish 'justice', outwitted the likes of Michael Hayden to help make that rescue work.

As Edward Snowden himself said, no one else in the entire world was going to come to his aid. Not Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian who profited immensely off him. Not Glenn Greenwald who did the same. Only WikiLeaks. And today that self-same Sarah Harrison, yes of WikiLeaks, has created and runs the Courage Foundation, to be ready to help future Snowdens, whenever and wherever they come along.

Sweden turned down Julian Assange's request for residence. The reason wasn't given at the time and still hasn't been given. Rejections are normally accompanied by an explanation, save in cases of 'national security' where, for example, the Swedish security police are involved. That seems to be the case here.

Julian Assange was arrested on very bizarre grounds on 20 August 2010. Almost five years ago. He was arrested in absentia. The country's sleaziest tabloid, with help from the country's sleaziest journalist, put a paper on the streets (but not online) with a full page headline that Assange was being 'hunted' on the streets of Stockholm for 'double rape'. That journalist needed the approval of his editor-in-chief, and he got it, despite it being considered highly unethical. The rationale? 'Julian Assange is well known.'

The scoop went on to be the biggest in the tabloid's history.

Julian Assange didn't know what had hit him. He rose that Saturday morning to put the finishing touches on his first biweekly column for rival tabloid Aftonbladet (who can at least publish the news) when he heard what had happened during the night. He scrambled to get a recommendation for a good lawyer. The name he was given is the country's most famous. And he was on his way to the police station when the word came out that it was all a 'false alarm': the very sharp Eva Finné looked at the case behind the warrant and concluded no rape or other crime had been committed, and rescinded the warrant. Julian Assange was now a free man, wanted only for questioning on a misdemeanour, a questioning that took place the same month.

Julian Assange was terrorised by the Swedish media. Out of the woodwork they came, some of them in the care of a website run by the misdemeanour complainant, publishing constantly modified screeds about how he was a bad man, he was bad to women, anything at all. The vitriol was unbounded and shameless, yet the girl's attorney, the most disreputable attorney ever in Sweden, throttled the media with scare stories about how his client was instead the one being maligned.

The cat and mouse game that followed (who's the cat and who's the mouse) between Assange and a new prosecutor, called in by this attorney, has now resulted, after a notable attempt to 'ambush' Assange, in a standoff at the Ecuador embassy in London. It's another country who gave Assange a haven. Not Sweden.

Ecuador doesn't have a special 'temporary surrender' agreement with the United States, an agreement that supersedes all other agreements. Ecuador never turned refugees over to the CIA, or let the CIA land at one of their airports, or helped the CIA with abductions to a country known to engage in torture. Sweden does. They still do.

Ecuador's representatives have been consistently supportive of Assange, unlike Sweden's who have lied and obfuscated and censored and twisted the truth at every turn. The Swedish high court recently upheld Assange's arrest in absentia, but they did admonish the prosecutor to get going with the case and get over to London if necessary. But that's two months ago and she's still done absolutely nothing.

The name of Julian Assange has been dragged in the Swedish dirt. Time and again, over and over again. Sweden's Pirate Party couldn't support him. Their Brussels staff knew one of the complainants and already decided he was guilty. Guilty of what? That didn't matter. A columnist said she'd never read the police reports, but didn't need to, as she already knew he was guilty.

Assange was ultimately accused of 'unlawful entry' for about five seconds of his life, where even noted reporters said the allegation was ridiculous. As regards the other case - the misdemeanour - all the prosecutor has is an unsubstantiated suspicion by the complainant that her condom broke on purpose. She saw nothing, knew nothing. She suspected.

And that was enough to get William Hague of the FCO to plan a storming of the Ecuador embassy to retrieve Torbjörn Tännsjö's hero. Storming that embassy would have brought down the whole house of cards that's made diplomacy work. Not even in World War II would anyone dare such at thing. But now they would - for a person only wanted for questioning in a case dealing with use or non-use of condoms.

No one reading the headlines on that Saturday 20 August 2010 understood that such things could be called 'rape'. The picture they were given by the Swedish media was that of a Doctor Jekyll - an incredibly brave and revered Doctor Jekyll - that had somehow metamorphosed into a fiendish Mr Hyde.

No one came forth to issue any similar complaints either. The famous WikiLeaker had once lived with Miss Egypt, and no complaints were heard there. On the contrary: Assange's reputation grew, and today he's adored by millions of women all over the world. How could this be? He's a hero according to Torbjörn Tännsjö, but wouldn't women feel apprehensive in his presence?

On the contrary: women who've been raped for real are amongst his most avid supporters, precisely because they know what rape really is, and because they know the whole case is simply an excuse for Sweden - the country Torbjörn Tännsjö thinks would be good for Edward Snowden - to try to grab Assange for their masters in the US.

Precisely as they did with Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery back in 2001. That extrajudicial act, planned so as to avoid interference by the Egyptians' lawyers and unwelcome insight by the media, was blamed by a Swedish minister for justice on the assassinated Anna Lindh - the same minister who later blankly denied there being any temporary surrender agreement between Sweden and the US. But as was later learned, he lied - he's the one who signed it.

The same minister who answered a summons to Washington to discuss a certain file-sharing site, and who upon his return set wheels in motion so a Stockholm prosecutor, who'd once researched the matter and concluded no crime was being committed, went ahead - with a little help from stateside friends of course - and prosecuted anyway.

The same minister who, upon losing office to the right-wing alliance in 2006, opened a new law firm with the same lawyer who'd resurrected the Assange case. Because, after all, Sweden is a small country, a lot smaller than most Swedes realise. That's why it's called the 'duckpond'. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out, and some ducks are more duck than others.

Edward Snowden got the Alternative Peace Prize recently. That's a Swedish award. Normally the ceremonies take place in the offices of the Swedish foreign ministry. But as Carl Bildt was running that ministry, and as Carl Bildt will let no one offend his masters in the US, the venue was no longer available. Bildt had also held a conference on Internet security without inviting even an Internet feed from Edward Snowden, without inviting anyone even remotely connected with WikiLeaks. Someone leaked a copy of the proposed guest list from Bildt's office, and people could see themselves what Bildt was up to. Jake Appelbaum rechristened Sweden's foreign minister 'Carl Motherfucking Bildt'.

Swedes would do better to worry about their own reputation and less about Edward Snowden's safety. Snowden's already been offered asylum in two other countries who are not masters of duplicity like Sweden and who don't serve masters in the US. Those countries, good intentions aside, can however be attacked by the CIA. It's another matter to get Langley assassins into Russia.

Ah what carefree innocent lives we live in Sweden! No news is good news, and no news is not at all suspicious! Tell us the price of fried chicken and a litre of milk and that's all we want. Save for Bingolotto. And the latest gossip and celebrity docudramas!

Save for all the carefully inculcated idolatry of the US. And this from a country and a people who use to be openly critical of anything, who used to question everything like Lena 'Curious' Nyman, a country who dared speak truth to power and condemn the war crimes of the US, even if it meant losing a US ambassador in the process.

The US ambassador in Sweden today is the son of 'Zbig', the war hawk who hates pacifists and Russians and who defined US global imperialist strategy - including the pivotal role of a Nazi-infested Ukraine - over twenty years ago. He and his son are of course good friends with that friendliest of US-friendly Swedes, Carl Bildt.

'Sweden has a proud tradition', writes Torbjörn Tännsjö in closing. Oh really? Where? What Sweden used to be is a thing of the past. Swedes have no reason to be proud anymore.

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