An open letter to Sweden

Dear Sweden,

For decades your country has been respected worldwide as a place of tolerance, openness, fairness and equality, and proud independence. But in the last two years, this has changed and changed a great deal.

Human Rights activists and organisations are lining up to criticise Sweden. Your legal systems, the way that alleged victims are given a state-appointed målsägarbiträde, private hearings for sexual cases, the way that victims and the accused are interviewed and many other things are being said to be against liberal values, against freedom, and show that Sweden is nothing more than a puppet of the USA.  Only recently, Amnesty International joined in, demanding that Sweden give assurances that cannot be given.  Sweden has even been compared to Saudi Arabia for human rights.

That is quite shocking.

Were you aware of this?  Certainly, outside of Sweden this is obvious and the voices calling for Sweden to change (or ignore) your own laws and legal system are getting louder.  Suddenly Sweden is not a good place to go if you value freedom – and it is getting worse.

This is not simply a case of Swedish national pride being hurt; at the time of writing, Sweden is under a cyber attack by activists, protesting “the human rights violations” by Sweden.

But the more I learn about the Swedish process, the more I envy Sweden.  In England*, a person who makes a complaint to the police is often left alone to deal with the case.  The case may be dropped with no input from the victim, let alone a chance to appeal through överprövning av åklagarbeslut.  The victim may not be given any support at all, and they certainly won’t get a målsägarbiträde to help them.  Any court case will be heard in open court – in public, where anyone who wants to can sit in and listen to all the details.  The victim must also give evidence in open court, facing the accused – unless the court give them permission to sit behind a screen or use a video link.  A victim in England is very unlikely to even report a crime; perhaps partly because our process is so unfriendly and such a struggle to get through.

So the more I learn of the Swedish process, the more I think that the United Kingdom (and other countries) could also benefit from processes like these. Yet these are some of the very processes being widely discredited – and not just by individuals.  ABC Australia (Australia’s national television station) have done exactly this.  Due to such widespread bad information, big names such as  Michael Moore and Oliver Stone, and now Amnesty International, Peter Tatchell, Women Against Rape, and Slutwalk London have all declared open support for Julian Assange in his fight to stay away from Sweden.

The damage being done to Sweden’s reputation, the rights of victims, and to the chances of improving other systems is very real and it is getting worse.

How did this happen?  Wikileaks have 1.6 million followers, and were a trusted source of information in the past.  But they are now saying this sort of thing:

And that’s just recently.  The detailed attacks on Sweden go much, much deeper and much further (and include direct attacks on the two women in the Assange case).  Check justice4assange.com (an official wikileaks site) and see the article on Lay Judges.  It links heavily to Aftonbladet and rixstep, including to this article (the link is on “body language”) by Tony Olsson (yes that Tony Olsson, though note carefully how Rixstep describe him).

I know what you are thinking. “This is ludicrous and ridiculous! This is not something that anyone would take seriously for one single moment! Such claims are so easy to demolish!  It is nothing more than a conspiracy theory!” Yet a cyber attack along with ABC Australia and Amnesty International getting involved suggests it is being taken very seriously outside of Sweden.

The simple fact is that the conspiracy theory is made more believable by some things that the Swedish authorities have said.  They say they have not brought charges yet, when they mean that Assange is not yet åtalad.  In England a person could be said to be charged when they are misstänkt för brott.

The Swedish authorities keep saying that they are at the stage of “preliminary investigation” – a literal translation of the Swedish, we think.  In English, this clearly means that they do not yet have enough evidence to charge (or probably even arrest) somebody.  They are looking around, trying to find who is responsible for a crime (or even to see if there is a crime at all).

Would you support an extradition from Sweden for somebody who was not even misstänkt för brott, when the foreign authorities say he must be detained (perhaps indefinitely) so that he can be “questioned”?  Almost certainly not – but this is what we hear (in English) about Assange.  He has not been “charged” but he must come back to Sweden and go to prison until he is “questioned”, after which they will decide whether or not to “charge” him.  Human Rights organisations are very concerned – but many of their concerns come from the translations into English that are being used in the case; if one understands the process, it is not at all concerning.

The confusion is such that even the UK Supreme Court have stated that Julian Assange is not charged, appearing to contradict the English High Court (though really they do not disagree, if one reads very closely).

The Swedish government also refuses to guarantee  that they will not extradite Assange to the USA for espionage.  This is because:

  1. Such a decision would be for the Swedish courts, and (rightly) the government must not and cannot interfere either way.
  2. Sweden consider espionage a political crime and do not extradite for it.
  3. In addition, in Sweden, leaking is protected by law – it is not a crime so would not be extraditable either.

Yet time and again, the Swedish authorities say the first thing and not the other two.  When I asked why, a Swedish person said to me: “we could guarantee that we drive on the right hand side of the road, but why would we? Only an idiot would ask for such a guarantee!”

This may seem silly to people in Sweden, but in less civilised parts of the world, hacking government computers or leaking military secrets can be literally a matter of life and death for those who do it.  They are very serious crimes in England and the USA.  Espionage can be punishable by death in the USA,  hacking into a government computers counts as espionage, and England do extradite for this (within EU human rights legislation regarding the death penalty and other punishments, obviously) .  And some well-known politicians have even called for Assange to be killed.

So the rest of the world clearly does need to know that Sweden drive on the right.  To us, this is completely alien.

We are asking for your help, Sweden. We need get the accurate truth out to the world. Urge your government and the prosecuting authorities to clarify the situation in terms that English people will understand.  Go looking for the news stories on the internet; they are not difficult to find: comment on them, and write to the editors of the publications.  If Twitter or reddit is your thing, then the bad information is easy to find – so please help to get the facts out.  We already have a big list of the most common misconceptions, and if you click on the index at the top, it will take you directly to the point in question (for example on questioning).

If you spot any errors on our site, please let us know.  The first step in any discussion is to get the facts correct.  Only then can a discussion be useful.  Once the facts are better known, we can let the discussion lead us where it may.

But the place to start is to get the facts discussed, not the myths.  And to do that, we need your help in defeating the already widespread disinformation which is out there.  Let’s put Sweden back on her feet and away from the firing line of Human Rights organisations.

Yours,

Wikiwatch

this post was inspired by the work of Goran Rudling.
* Note that while part of the United Kingdom, England and Wales have a separate legal system to Scotland and Northern Ireland; hence I use “England” where appropriate.  The UK Supreme Court is for all the UK, but operates under English law for English cases, Scottish law for Scottish cases etc.

12 Responses to An open letter to Sweden

  1. Christoffer says:

    Why should I, as a Swede, care? I’ve never really understood that part.

    • A Wild Beaver says:

      Why should I, as a man, care what a woman wants? I’ve never really understood that part.

      • Christoffer says:

        Sorry, but I disagree with that myself, but I suppose you are entitled to your opinion. Don’t really see how it’s related to my question.

        • A Wild Beaver says:

          But that doesn’t answer the question, does it? Again, why should I, as a man, care what a woman wants?

          The question is not “does one agree?”, it is “why?” A justification, a cause, a principle, a philosophy, at least a feeling. Perhaps yours is, “if the matter involves another, even if that person is a woman, that person should have a say in the matter.” Let’s suppose that is your answer. Now, you say that Sweden should not care about any law but its own, and should not care about any security but its own, and should not even care to inform any other about the what and the why of its actions.

          At least a good husband will inform his wife as to what he plans on doing and why. Perhaps that’s what is called for here in this open letter. Just to treat the rest of the world with the respect of a nice 1950s husband. She will have no say in the matter, of course, but at least she’ll have a moment to bask in awe of your God-given superior wisdom.

          @>-,——-
          Here’s a rose, which always seems to help the medicine go down. Raise your eyebrows with an air of commiseration.

  2. Simon says:

    I do not want to take part in this matter, but what i read (on svt.se, a tax funded television/radio operator) Assange said that he was willing to be questioned on either telephone, live chat or video conversation. Just wanted to clarify the fact that he isn’t against being questioned.

    • Objectiviser says:

      Thank you for your reply, Simon. Mr Assange left Sweden the day before he was due to attend an interview, and cancelled a trip scheduled for early October (nobody knows why).

      He has offered to be questioned – with conditions, such as it must be in England, and the prosecution reveal all the evidence they have in advance of any questioning. This is not a reasonable request to make, since the evidence should only be disclosed in full if the matter goes to trial.

      The prosecutor has been criticised for not using Mutual Assistance, and this may be valid – it depends on what stage the process has reached. Goran Rudling, for instance, is of the opinion that Assange must now enter a plea at a final interview: this can only be done in Sweden.

      The Swedish authorities have not been very clear on this, and we are asking them to clarify just this point.

      • Julian Assange (mod: this is believed to be fake) says:

        I think you will find that I have already been interviewed by Swedish authorities and given them a lengthy witness statement. It’s available in various places. Why are you reluctant to reveal this fact?

        • Objectiviser says:

          Reasons for suspecting this is not from Julian Assange:

          1) The email address given @wikileaks.org bounced; we therefore cannot confirm

          2) The post appears to come from a domestic UK ISP in the North of England; Mr Assange is currently in an embassy in London. The IP is not an obvious TOR exit node or other proxy.

        • Objectiviser says:

          Fake or not, this is a good (if not entirely accurate) point. Assange has been interviewed once in Sweden, but this is only mentioned in passing here on this site.

          Much more attention is give to the fact that a second interview was arranged (as per normal process) and that Assange has avoided it ever since.

          However, he has not been interviewed on the rape charge according to his own lawyer at the time.

          The evidence of that lawyer is of course very questionable, but that passage is widely quoted by Wikileaks and their supporters (despite the evidence having been totally discredited).

          We haven’t focussed on the first interview much at all because it wasn’t a common misconception. If we find it being used a great deal, we will happily make a common misconception post on this very topic.

  3. pro2rat says:

    Danke for all the great work you are doing cutting through these foul clouds of obfuscation emanating from Camp Assange. THANK YOU!

    • A Wild Beaver says:

      Wikiwatch, you may not be aware that above Twitter account is frequently full of threats of violence against heads of state, discussion of “assassin markets” and suggestions of other depravity.

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