What you get if you piss off the authorities

Julian Assange leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court, courtesy of the ABC:

When I first saw the image, small on the website, it looked like a crowd of supporters expressing outrage and pulling at the van. But no, it’s just the media and photographers trying to get a shot through the window so they can continue focusing on the man and not the content of the material his organisation has revealed.

Assange was not granted bail, which means he’s in prison for at least a week until the next hearing. But he’s hardly a flight risk – he’s known this was coming for weeks, and handed himself in.

Although the charges do look awfully like Sweden making it up as it goes along, one of the allegations (the sex while asleep one) could, if proven, constitute rape, but it’ll be one person’s word against another, and I don’t see how they could ever get “beyond reasonable doubt”. Which makes it fairly unjust that the process, if unfairly and capriciously applied – which, based on its conduct to this point, seems likely – could take Assange out of circulation for quite some time. Of course, given the timing, that would appear to be the point.

ELSEWHERE: The US embassy apparently didn’t like Kevin Rudd much. Well, there’s a point in his favour.

AND: Publishing Assange’s defence of the messenger in The Australian, the paper even editorialises that “The case has exposed the passivity of modern journalism.” (Although I suspect that’s more a pitch for the company’s upcoming paywall services.)

UPDATE 9/12: One of the US cables released by Wikileaks reveals a cover-up over a private firm employed by the US in Afghanistan providing underage male children for sex. The US knew about it and, instead of coming clean and punishing the perpetrators, tried to prevent journalists finding out about it. As in, a real scandal about something that’s been DONE (not politicians talking about each other) and precisely the sort of thing the media should be following up, hard.

UPDATE: Malcolm Turnbull writes a reasonable piece putting it in context (obligatory Labor bash notwithstanding).

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47 responses to “What you get if you piss off the authorities

  1. I suspect the MSM will now collectively decide that “the Wikileaks matter is settled” with his arrest and move on to the next bread-and-circus (even though the rape allegations and the cables are two separate issues). Instead of … continuing to go over the documents with a fine tooth comb to expose the crimes of our overlords. You know, doing their actual job.

  2. jordanrastrick

    Well, let’s see, SMH today has devoted… oh… It’s entire front page to the story of the latest leaked cable contents concerning Australia. So maybe the MSM/government conspiracy ain’t quite so cost as you think?

    And while I agree the cables have depicted some highly troubling and questionable things, I’d be interested if you could point to a single crime committed by our “overlords”, by whom I assume you mean Australian or possibly American politicians.

  3. The “US doesn’t like Rudd” stuff? They’re still obsessed with personalities, viewing everything through the soap opera prism.

    Sod it. I’m going to have to start going through them myself, when I get back from court.

  4. now imagine what happens to the people who have real dirt..

  5. Interesting, but not surprising, that Bolt spends a good part of his day attacking Assange for leaking the information, yet when he finds some of that same information suits his agenda (ie; Rudd’s a berk), he’s all over it like a cheap suit.

    What a faaaarkin hypocrit…

  6. jordanrastrick

    Jeremy, if you don’t appreciate the newsworthiness of U.S. attacks on what SB correctly identified in the other thread as Rudd’s flawed character – serious failings for a PM and now Foreign Minister, that directly impact on his role as our main diplomatic representative in important overseas negotiations on Free Trade agreements, Climate change accords, etc etc etc – then I’d like to know which of the revelations about Australia so far you think are more deserving of coverage.

    And to return to the substance of your original post, while I grant that there is a definite chance that the case against Assange is in part a C.I.A. stitch up, you seem pretty quick to discount the possiblity that he is, you know, a rapist and that the charges could hold up in court.

    In particular, you say

    but it’ll be one person’s word against another, and I don’t see how they could ever get “beyond reasonable doubt”.

    but surely any rape case in which the alleged victim does not end up physically injured is subject to the same problem?

    Of course there’s always the possibility that when he finally speaks to the Swedish authorities, Assange will freely confess to acts that he doesn’t consider rape but are classified as such under Swedish law. Such as continuing to have sex with someone after they explicitly withdraw their consent. Which you know, sounds quite rape-like to me.

    Anyway
    here are some feminists writing thoughtfully about this issue at some length.

  7. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “one of the allegations (the sex while asleep one) could, if proven, constitute rape, but it’ll be one person’s word against another, and I don’t see how they could ever get “beyond reasonable doubt”.”

    Funny how you so often take the line of not pre-judging the evidence, and leaving it to the judges who have all the facts before them rather than commenting based only on media reports. Yet not a word about the star-chamber proceedings faced by our soldiers at the hands of a deeply flawed system of ‘justice’. Funny that!

  8. Does anyone know what SB is talking about?

  9. Anyway, getting back to the subject of the post…

  10. Quadrant! For someone who’s so open-minded, you sure do reference a lot of conservative/right-wing websites, SB. Funny that!

  11. Are you joking SB?

    You really are desperate to talk about anything other than what’s being done to Julian Assange aren’t you?

    How pathetic.

  12. Splatterbottom

    Buns, I thought some drongo would come up with a vapid ad hom comment. Congratulations. By the way, what are the other sites?

  13. I don’t think it’s helpful to be pre-judging the chances of conviction in any case, least of all a rape case. Nor do I think saying “it’ll just be he-said she-said so it’s unjust” is helpful. It gives the impression that a woman who has no more evidence than her word (And sometimes that is the only evidence) shouldn’t proceed with a complaint, which is ludicrous.

    Nor do we actually know what evidence they have. I don’t know. You don’t know.

    As to the bail, it does seem heavy-handed, particularly since the Met and both the other M’s knew exactly where Assange has been staying, and how to contact him (They made an appointment for him to come in, for the love of). Then again, telling the Judge that he didn’t want to disclose where he was living seems a bit fool-hardy, too.

    At the end of the day, we don’t know, and bringing the accusers credibility into it makes hypocrites of quite a few people who would never countenance it if the accussed was an AFL or NRL footballer. The other thing to keep in mind is that they may not have had a choice in WHAT he was charged with. The SMH article taken from Reuters article (I’m at work so I can’t check) seems to indicate that they went the the police to get him to take an STD test, not accuse him or rape, and it’s gone from there.

    Again, we don’t know. We should just let justice be done.

  14. Suggesting you are a (not so secret) conservative is an ad hom now?

    Oooooooookay.

  15. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, I made a comment which pointed out that Jeremy’s comments took a different line on examining all the evidence before the court, and not rushing to conclusions on the basis of news reports, than he had expressed in other circumstances. Quite similar to the point Jordan made in fact. You are welcome to talk about that, but don’t seemed inclined to take on the issue.

    Instead you would rather suggest I am getting off topic than to address the issue I raised.

    Also, attacking the source rather than the argument is classic ad hom, which is what buns did.

  16. Where did buns attack the source SB? Are you simply referring to his use of an exclamation mark after the name ‘Quadrant’?

    As for the nonsense about the case against the soldiers being somehow relevant (and not a transparent distraction) well . . . LOL. You and Jordan are free to wallow in this irrelevancy all you like but you both know that the sexual molestation accusation is a total side-issue.

    BTW the on-line papers are now reporting that the US is trying hard to extradite Assange from Sweden to the US to face treason charges. But you’re right – a completely hollow accusation of double standards against Jeremy is what’s really important here. You’ve clearly got your eye on the ball.

  17. At a certain Qld blogger’s site (and I’m gagging while typing this) he linked to a pretty skanky story where a woman who turned up at work late and hungover revealed to colleagues that she believed she had been assaulted by two men forced into oral s*x the night before.

    The suspects were located by police and one of them had a voice recording (on his phone) of her giving pretty clear verbal consent. As I say, pretty skanky, but any of these stories could be totally one way or another.

  18. SB,

    To paraphrase some knob I read somewhere, perhaps you need to lighten up a bit and relax!

    Mondo, I made a comment which pointed out that Jeremy’s comments took a different line on examining all the evidence before the court, and not rushing to conclusions on the basis of news reports, than he had expressed in other circumstances. Quite similar to the point Jordan made in fact.

    OK, great, but what has the case of those 3 soldiers got to do with either (a) pre-judging evidence based on press reports, or (b) the Assange case? It does seem like you are just trying to thread-shit with a reference to something irrelevant.

    And I didn’t “attack” any sources. Unless calling a source “right wing” or “conservative” is an attack, which I don’t believe it is.

  19. “Anyway
    here are some feminists writing thoughtfully about this issue at some length.”

    She’s quite right, of course – but I don’t think anyone here would dispute that. (Just to check: everybody understands that if a person says no during sex and their partner continues, that’s rape, and if there’s an agreement to have sex with a condom and then the partner has sex without a condom, that’s rape – everybody grasps that, right?)

    Keri – I’m just saying that if the case is as flimsy as it appears (and how the Swedish authorities intend to get to “beyond reasonable doubt” I’d be very curious to hear, and the English court should be told) it is wrong for Assange to be stuck in jail being punished for something of which it looks unlikely he’ll be found guilty.

  20. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: “You and Jordan are free to wallow in this irrelevancy all you like but you both know that the sexual molestation accusation is a total side-issue.”

    In fact the sexual molestation charges are relevant to this thread as they were commented upon in the original post. You are fast becoming a one-eyed troll.

  21. You are fast becoming a one-eyed troll.

    I thought you were against ad hom attacks.

  22. IMAGINE! Andrew Bolt been charged for releasing the truth—–smirkey likes to pour scorn on Assange who’s truth does not suit this media pimp, sorry I mean Andrew Bolt’s political requirements. This Dutch-man does not like America to be shown in a bad light. Regards, Richard Ryan.

  23. Splatterbottom

    It wasn’t an ad hom attack. I wasn’t using the epithet as an argument to advance or justify a proposition. I made a correct and obvious point and then drew a logical conclusion from that.

    The relevant fact is that the focus of the original post on this thread was about Assange’s arrest and the charges brought against him. This is clearly not a “side issue”. If Mondo had a problem with discussing this issue at all, he should not have confined his attack to Jordan and me. Either way he was behaving like a troll.

  24. OK, but can you answer this question I posed earlier?

    but what has the case of those 3 soldiers got to do with either (a) pre-judging evidence based on press reports, or (b) the Assange case?

  25. Splatterbottom

    I was making a comparison with the outrage at Assange being charged, and the relative silence on the grossly unfair process afforded the Australian soldiers. The point was tangential to the discussion, more like an aside. I can see why you think it was off-topic, and on reflection my comment would have been better if I hadn’t included that sentence at all, but blog commenting is not a sport that allows much time for reflection.

  26. Given your background Jeremy, what do you think of the way that the Swedish prosecutors have handled this case?

    On the 23rd of August this year they issued an arrest warrant for Assange on charges of rape and molestation http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Assangearendet-kronologi1/ (all links in this section to the Swedish prosecutors website – you’ll need google translate!).

    They then promptly rescinded this decision and stated explicitly that Assange had no case to answer for regarding rape.

    http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Assangearendet-kronologi1/

    They then issued a subsequent press release stating that Assange was still under investigation for sexual assault.

    http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Uttalande-av-chefsaklagare-Eva-Finne/

    The Swedes again stated that Assange was not suspected of rape on the 25th of August.

    http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Beslut-i-Assangearendet-onsdag/

    One week after this decision, the complainants came forward with ‘new information’ and then appealed the prosecution’s decision not to proceed.

    http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Inget-beslut-om-overprovning-under-tisdagen/

    and

    http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Beslut-i-Assangearendet-uppdaterad/

    The Swedish prosecutors then issued a series of press releases over the coming weeks promising a decision on this appeal ‘soon’, but it wasn’t until the 18th of November, that they issued another arrest warrant this time for rape, sexual assault and coercion.

    http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Assange-begard-haktad-i-sin-franvaro/

    Close to three months after Assange was last told that he had no case to answer.

    Should Assange have been entitled to rely on this decision? Well absent the discovery of new evidence, yes. He shouldn’t have to spend the rest of his life in a legal limbo and he ought to be entitled to have his reputation cleared if prosecutors have determined there’s no case to answer. Now, of course, prosecutors should be entitled to change their minds on a decision not to prosecute if there is new evidence relevant to the charge.

    But consider the current circumstances. What new evidence could there be in this case? Both charges are he said/she said situations. The prosecutor interviews the victims and then decides that there is insufficient evidence to press charges. After that decision is made, the complainants (who both freely admit to collaborating with each other and one of whom who harbours significant ill will towards Assange) come forward with ‘new’ evidence? And on that basis, and importantly, after months of media hype over the prospect of charges and criticism of the Swedes incompetence in issuing and rescinding charges, the prosecution changes its decision not to prosecute?

    You don’t need to believe in conspiracy theories to think that Assange has been treated appallingly here.

  27. Regarding the contents of the cables rather than the media circus around Assange – turns out Mark Arbib is a US informer, boy howdy!

  28. Even more seriously, the contents of a cable revealing that the US covered up allegations regarding a contractor providing underage boys to be raped by local leaders in Afghanistan (see update).

    Tim – I agree. It’s shabby. And if it happened here, you’d think that the fact that even the prosecutors thought the case was weak would be a very strong argument in favour of bail.

  29. In fact the sexual molestation charges are relevant to this thread as they were commented upon in the original post. You are fast becoming a one-eyed troll.

    And you, SB, are gleefully sticking your head up your own arse on this one.

    This is one of the most significant and important free speech issues to arise in recent memory. Nonetheless I can see further engagement with you is pointless as, for some reason, you are uninterested in anything other than the smears and distractions.

    For the others here who are interested in the clear abuse of the legal process ocurring right in front of our eyes, here’s Malcolm Turnbull talking some sense in the SMH today:

    It is hard to know what to say about the Swedish sexual assault charges, other than to observe that the facts so far outlined by the prosecution would constitute an unlikely basis for a prosecution in Australia.

    If only our Labor politicians had the guts to stand on principle, rather than on diplomatic convenience.

  30. Splatterbottom

    Mondo quoting Turnbull: “It is hard to know what to say about the Swedish sexual assault charges, other than to observe that the facts so far outlined by the prosecution would constitute an unlikely basis for a prosecution in Australia.”

    If that is what you think or believe you are a sick puppy indeed. See Keri’s comment above. In fact Australians have been convicted for sexual activity with people who are sleeping – there is no consent in such cases. Maybe you need to change your habits.

  31. Sorry – on reflection I don’t think I would categorise this as a ‘free speech’ issue. It goes much further than that as it is about the principle of how accountable our Governments should be to us, as the people who elect them, and what level of behaviour we will tolerate from them in their attempts to avoid this accountability.

    At the moment they’ve jailed a man on obviously trumped up sexual assault charges and are now trying to extradite him to the US (despite having no crime to charge him with) in an attempt to both intimidate the organisation he works for, and any others, from publishing government secrets. As an integral part of those accountability issues this is also a huge assault on the freedom of the press.

    The irony is that the US Government is using its effective ownership of much of the world’s press to obfuscate, smear and distract while they dismantle the very foundation of Press freedom: the ability to publish the truth no matter how inconvenient or embarrassing it is the the United States.

    Ahh the US media: utterly failing itself and its consumers since 2000.

  32. Maybe you need to change your habits.

    Oh lordy lord SB – now you’re implying that I’m a rapist?

    And you have gall to regularly admonish others for using ad-hom argument!! You’re a nasty piece of work when cornered, aren’t you?

  33. Splatterbottom

    C’mon Mondo, I only said ‘maybe’. Besides, you deserved that quip for your attempt to say that that form of rape isn’t illegal in Australia. Who knows what you get up to.

    I notice you cleverly used the quip as an opportunity not to address the real issue of your using Turnbull’s odious comment to bolster your position.

  34. No SB – no “C’mon”.

    You think it is funny to imply that I might be a rapist? Do you think it’s a clever argument to make? It’s not SB. It’s disgusting.

    You made no substantive point about Turnbull’s statement – you simply used it as an opportunity to make an appalling ad-hom accusation against me.

  35. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, now you are twisting in the wind. Turnbull’s statement was, for the reasons already noted, disgusting. Your use of it to bolster your position was equally disgusting, far more disgusting than anything I said.

    So just answer the question – is having sex without the consent of the other party, who happens to be asleep, rape?

  36. Get stuffed SB.

  37. Splatterbottom

    Just admit you were wrong, Mondo. Turnbull was not “talking some sense”, and neither were you.

    Telling me to get stuffed does not mask your arrogance or your inability to admit your error.

    I suspect that you merely acted in haste, and didn’t really consider Turnbull’s statement before endorsing it. Why don’t you just admit it and move on.

  38. I am uninterested in further engaging someone who thinks it is acceptable to use an implication that I am a rapist as part of their argument.

    Interpret that as you will SB.

  39. Splatterbottom

    If, as you have implied, sexual activity with a sleeping person is not rape, then how is it that I am accusing you of rape? My comment was merely a way of demonstrating the absurdity of your position.

  40. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, here is an example where both you and I admitted we were wrong. That didn’t hurt, now did it? C’mon, we all know you can do it again big fella! It pains us all to see you support Turnbull’s vile comment.

  41. Your implication that mondo might be a rapist is disgusting. Congratulations – you’ve pissed off some leftards. Fuck off, you useless troll.

  42. Bloody hell, this thread has got out of control. Sb, just withdraw that fairly feral insult and everyone pull back from the brink. Other than an apology from sb, no more of that argument. Back to the topic of the post.

  43. What were we talking about again?

  44. Splatterbottom

    For the sake of comity, I withdraw the remark and apologise to Mondo. Specifically I do not think Mondo is a rapist, and I did not mean to imply that he really was.

    Now back to the topic of the post. Jeremy said:

    Although the charges do look awfully like Sweden making it up as it goes along, one of the allegations (the sex while asleep one) could, if proven, constitute rape,

    On the other hand, Mondo, without knowing the full facts, suggested that such an action would not be prosecuted in Australia. All I can say is that I am stunned. Taking sexual advantage of someone while they sleep is a crime in Australia, and it is likely to be prosecuted. There is no logical basis for jumping to the conclusion that there is a want of evidence or even that the word of the victim alone should be disregarded as not being enough to justify prosecution. To do so is utterly despicable.

  45. Thank you for the apology SB.

    On the other hand, Mondo, without knowing the full facts, suggested that such an action would not be prosecuted in Australia.

    Well, that would be a great argument with the single exception that it is a total fabrication. I have made no such suggestion.

    Saying that prosecution in Australia would be unlikely based on what is currently known is very different to declaring that the allegations are false, that they would not be prosecuted in Australia or that, if true, they would not constitute the crime of rape. Those are all silly strawmen that you have created in your ongoing quest to pursue any distraction as long as it pulls discussion away from what is being done to Julian Assange.

    But you can play that game by yourself from now on SB. I don’t believe you’re focused on the real issues here.

  46. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: “I have made no such suggestion.”

    You quoted with approval the following statement: “the facts so far outlined by the prosecution would constitute an unlikely basis for a prosecution in Australia”

    One of the facts outlined is that a woman alleged that Assange had sex with her while she was asleep. That is a genuine (rather than unlikely) basis for prosecution.

    “it pulls discussion away from what is being done to Julian Assange.”

    The rape claims are exactly what is being done to Assange. The sad fact is that you wish, to trivialise the claims made by the victims. That is obscene.

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