Publish in Special Reports - Monday, August 27, 2012
Wikileaks founder wanted to move to Sweden two years but now is fighting extradition to the country over rape accusations. (Photo: Espen Moe)
Julian Assange interviewed Rafael Correa in his program on Russia Today on April 17, 2012. (Photo: Ecuador's Presidency)
Some key facts about Julian Assange, Sweden and Ecuador.
BY LATINVEX STAFF
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is wanted in Sweden on rape charges. He lost an appeal to be extradited to Sweden from the United Kingdom on May 30, 2012. On June 19, he sought political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. It was formally granted on August 16. Assange has stated that he fears he will be extradited to the United States once he is in Sweden. Latinvex hereby provides some key facts surrounding the case.
MOVING TO SWEDEN
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange planned to move to Sweden two years ago because of the country’s laws protecting whistle-blowers, according to the BBC.
He applied for a residency there on August 18, 2010. It was denied October 18 after he was accused of raping two Swedish women during his trip to Stockholm in August.
In the case of the first woman - who helped Assange arrange his visit to Sweden - he is alleged to have held her arms down physically and spread her legs during what Assange says was consensual sex in her apartment, where he was staying, according to Reuters.
With the second woman, he is alleged to have had sex with her while she was asleep and without wearing a condom after consensual sex with a condom, according to copies of the police questioning of the witnesses, of which Reuters has a copy…. The prosecutor's office has sought Assange for questioning over suspected rape to a less severe degree, unlawful coercion and two cases of sexual molestation. The rape allegation is the most serious and if proven in court could lead to up to four years in jail.
"The crimes that Assange is accused of, they would not be crimes in 90 to 95 percent of the planet," Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told the Sunday Times.
Sweden ranks first of 66 nations worldwide when it comes to fundamental legal rights, according to the Rule of Law Index 2011 from the World Justice Project. The index does not include Ecuador.
PRESS FREEDOM: SWEDEN AND ECUADOR
Sweden ranks 12th out of 179 countries on the Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders, the France-based organization defending freedom of expression worldwide. Ecuador ranks 104th.
HUMAN RIGHTS: SWEDEN AND ECUADOR
Freedom House classifies Sweden as “Free” with a perfect score of 1 in political rights and civil liberties.
Ecuador is classified as “Partly Free” with a score of 3 on political rights and civil liberties.
ASSANGE AND RUSSIA
Assange has a program on Russia Today called the Julian Assange Show. Russia Today is owned by state news agency Novosti. Russia Today Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan says the station was born out of the desire to present an "unbiased" portrait of Russia, according to CBC. Reporters without Borders ranks Russia 142nd place out of 179 countries on its press freedom index. Russia is classified as “Not Free” by Freedom House, with a score of 6 in political rights and 5 in civil liberties.
EXTRADITION TO US?
Anne Ramberg, secretary general of the Swedish Bar Association, an organization of practicing lawyers, said Sweden could not send someone to the United States if that person faced the death penalty or if the request was for a crime deemed to be a political crime, according to Reuters.
Despite claims by Julian Assange that Washington is plotting to extradite and execute him, U.S. and European government sources say the United States has issued no criminal charges against the Wikileaks founder and has launched no attempt to extradite him, Reuters reports.