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A Nation of Cowards

It's a winter's day.

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It's a winter's day. Ironically (irony? where's the irony?) almost eleven years to the date when Julian Assange won his appeal to be let out on bail.

Julian's second visit to Sweden in 2010 was something of a second coming. Julian Assange, on 11 August 2010, was quite simply the biggest rockstar in the world. The Swedes love rockstars.

Three of Sweden's four national papers secured gigs where he would answer questions in a web chatbox in realtime. Those three papers were Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, and Dagens Nyheter. The odd man out was Expressen, Sweden's filthy evening tabloid. Now more irony: for it was the psychopaths at Expressen who finally did him in. For money and fame, with no regard for integrity. Their leading reporter, Niklas Svensson, by far the best paid reporter in the country, tried to muscle his way into the story, only later to be forced to repent.

Svensson had been sitting out in Harpsund, the summer residence of the PM, covering one of his meaningless assignments. Sitting beside him was freelance photographer Stefan Söderström, hired on to take pictures of the crayfish. Söderström got the call from Diamant Salihu, an immigrant reporter the tabloid somehow tolerated. He in turn got the call from someone else, exactly who isn't known to this day. That someone told Diamant that the police were hunting down Assange on the streets of Stockholm, on suspicion of double rape. Diamant's boss, Thomas Mattsson, wanted Stefan at the ready, for they'd absolutely love a photo of Assange being led away in handcuffs.

Niklas Svensson saw the SMS message on Stefan Söderström's phone, and rushed to his car to race back to his paper's offices in Marieberg, breaking every traffic rule along the way. Svensson muscled his way into Diamant Salihu's scoop, and Expressen finally published their story at 05:00 AM on the morning of Saturday 21 August 2010.

Niklas Svensson, Diamant Salihu, and a third Expressen reporter manned the Twitter accounts and tried to give the story legs. It took a long time. Five hours passed. They were still at it. Yet no one had picked it up. Up in the northern suburbs, Rick Falkvinge heard about it and quickly sent off a memo to the thousand or so closest associates in his Pirate Party. Falkvinge (Swedish for 'Falcon Wing', a name he legally made up because he was tired of his colleagues at Microsoft calling him by his real name every morning - 'good morning, DICK!') told the upper party echelon:

'If the media contact you, WE DON'T KNOW THE MAN.'

But no buzz at 10:00 AM? It was the middle of the night in the US. But in Sweden? It's Saturday! Nobody moves fast in Sweden. So the Expressen trio kept at it. It wasn't until several hours later that the international media caught on. A number of ugly tweets emerged. 'RAPIST ASSANGE TO BE APPREHENDED', and so forth. By mid-afternoon it was pandemonium. Yet the world had not yet seen the Wrath of WikiLeaks. For the monstrous Iraq War Logs and the Hillary Love Letters, aka Cablegate, were yet to come. As the intrigue surrounding Assange and WikiLeaks worsened, Assange and WikiLeaks dropped bombshell after bombshell, the one bigger than the other.

Looking at the live coverage in London today, one doesn't see many familiar faces. As with all great movements, WikiLeaks attracted its share of crazies. Perhaps more than the rest. Those who are so valiantly demonstrating today were nowhere to be seen ten years ago. And Swedes quickly lost interest in their rockstar, once his rockstar status was taken away.

The incongruousness of the current impasse requires more thought and reflection than Joe Blogs can accomplish. Here you have an Australian citizen, residing in the UK, actually a citizen of Ecuador as well, being deported to the US, and all because of nth wave feminist claims of 'rape' which involve a broken condom - with a girl who'd hunted him down and finally got him under the covers, and banged the living bejeesus out of him five times previously the same night. But they ran out of condoms. Or something. So it was rape.

Swedish expats wondered what had happened to the country they'd left behind. Certainly there are fringe elements in any society, but had Sweden's fringe gone completely bonkers and taken over the entire country? Rape? Rape by surprise? WTF were they talking about?

No one dared question it. No reporter in Sweden dared criticise it. They all knew they'd never be allowed to publish, and might lose their jobs. A nation of cowards.

Former PM Olof Palme once rescued a girl out of the eastern bloc on an issue of freedom of speech. Palme spoke truth to power. Swedes in general won't speak unless spoken to, and then only to say what they're expected to say. A nation of cowards.

An Australian to be extradited from the UK to the US to stand trial under US law. Who rules the world again?

Obama sent out the message in the summer of 2010. Do what you have to, justify it any way you fucking want, but grab the bastard. Obama had been embarrassed one time too many. The Collateral Murder video exposed Obama as a liar. It exposed the Washington Post as liars. They'd all said the Baghdad incident was no big deal and not at all what it was rumoured to be. The Collateral Murder video exposed them all. Not only the president of the United States, but also the egregious paper of legendary CIA spies Bradlee and Graham. There were two versions of the truth, one meant to be fed to the unwitting masses, and one that was the real truth. The people of the world had mostly forgot such a dichotomy could exist. Collateral Murder brought it all back home.

Paul Close of the Crown Prosecution Service wanted Sweden to hold things up. The grand jury in Alexandria were working overtime. Obama had a WikiLeaks task force doing the same. Paul Close knew the Swedish case against Assange would be laughed out of court if Sweden ever interrogated Assange on British soil. The UK needed Assange 'tied up' until the grand jury in Alexandria were ready. Don't you dare get cold feet on me now, wrote Paul Close to Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny.

Swedes love feeling good about themselves. Will Smith once visited a Stockholm cinema for the premiere of his movie. 'What do you think of Sweden', asked the suck-up reporter.

'Oh I LOVE Sweden!' said the professional Smith. 'I'm always happy to be back!'

The Swedes yucked it up.

Having Assange in Sweden when Assange is the world's biggest rockstar: that's good for Swedes too. That makes them look even better.

They didn't miss their chance when it came to Snowden either. They found some obscure organisation to give him some obscure award, found a festive location for the ceremony.

The thing was that both Sarah Harrison and Julian Assange were intimately involved in Snowden's rescue. So Sweden had to completely airbrush them out of the heroic narrative.

Snowden got his award - which, in the thinking of the Swedes, further elevated their status in the eyes of the world. Or so they thought.

Today is the Nobel Prize award ceremony. The envelopes are all empty, just like Sweden's national character.

A nation of cowards.

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