To the protesters on the street outside the Royal Courts of Justice Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was in court yesterday because the American government is out to get him for exposing its secrets.
But inside the courtroom, not a word was said about the international storm created by the publication of classified documents on WikiLeaks. Instead, there were dry-as-dust arguments about the meaning of inter-governmental agreements on arrest warrants, interspersed with graphic details about sexual encounters that took place in Sweden last August.
Mr Assange is appealing against a decision to extradite him to Sweden to face questioning about alleged sexual assault and rape. His supporters suspect that the real motive behind the accusations is to trash his reputation as a prelude to handing him over to the US government.
Clare Montgomery QC told the court that two women have made genuine accusations of "non-consensual, coerced sex" against Mr Assange.
She quoted one, referred to in court as AA, as saying: "I didn't make a free choice because he had already really roughed me up by tearing my clothes off, and broken my necklace. I tried to put them on and I failed. He already lay on me and I felt I couldn't move my hands. He tried to put his penis into me when I didn't want him to, and I really felt that once he had put on the condom, I'd let him."
Ms Montgomery said this was "coercive, violent sex of the sort where the court would be entitled to infer there was no consent".
The woman had also alleged that Mr Assange had deliberately broken a condom before having sex with her. She claimed to have heard a "smacking sound" like the sound of "rubber being torn apart". "It is one thing to consent to unprotected sex and another thing to consent to protected sex," Ms Montgomery said.
She also argued that there was "absolutely clear" evidence behind an allegation that Mr Assange raped another woman, SW, who alleged that "she had been penetrated whilst asleep – furthermore being penetrated in a way which is absolutely clear she did not consent to, namely unprotected from disease or impregnation...
"He was already inside her, and she let him continue. She did not have the energy to tell him one more time to wear a condom. That is not free choice – it's submission," she said.
The hearing ended yesterday. The two judges reserved judgment.Reuse content