Prosecutor fighting to extradite Assange 'has biased view of men'

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The Independent Online

The prosecutor seeking to have Julian Assange extradited to Sweden on sexual assault allegations is a "well-known radical feminist" with a "biased view" of men, a court heard yesterday.

The accusation against Marianne Ny was made by a retired Swedish appeal court judge, Brita Sundberg-Weitman, who was giving evidence at Mr Assange's extradition hearing at Belmarsh magistrates' court in London.

Mr Assange, 39, who founded WikiLeaks, is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of rape and other sexual offences said to have taken place in August last year. Ms Sundberg-Weitman said Ms Ny was mounting a "malicious" and "hostile" prosecution of Mr Assange.

Yesterday lawyers representing the Swedish authorities told the court that he will be charged if he is sent back to Sweden. Mr Assange's defence team had argued that the Swedish authorities merely wanted to question the Australian and that the European Arrest Warrant issued against him could not be executed for someone simply wanted for questioning.

The hearing, which is expected to conclude today, also heard about Mr Assange's alleged victims. One, the court heard, had deleted Twitter messages saying that she was enjoying Mr Assange's company. The tweets were posted after the alleged sexual assault.

But it was Ms Sundberg-Weitman's colourful description of Ms Ny which stood out among the legal complexities of extradition law.

The former judge, who has practiced law since 1958, told the court: "She [Ms Ny] has a rather biased view against men in her treatment of sex offences. [She] seems to take it for granted that everyone under prosecution is guilty. I think she is so preoccupied with the situation of battered women and raped women that she has lost her balance."

About Ms Ny's failure to interview Mr Assange before he left Sweden, five weeks after the allegations were made, she added: "It looks malicious. It would have been so simple to have him heard when he was in Sweden. And once he left Sweden it would have been so easy to have him questioned via telephone or video link."

Clare Montgomery, for the Swedish authorities, rejected the claims, saying that attempts to have Mr Assange questioned in Sweden had been thwarted by the WikiLeaks founder's lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, who said he was unable to reach his client.

Ms Montgomery also sought to quash the defence's claim that Mr Assange was wanted merely for questioning. She said: "In our submission there is no room for any doubt as to the purpose of the warrant, namely that it is for the purpose of prosecution.

"Mr Assange will be interrogated because interrogation is the necessary next step in the Swedish process. But that does not undermine or deny the stated purpose, that his presence in Sweden is that he is sought for the purpose of prosecution.

"The procedure in Sweden requires interrogation before the formal process of indictment can take place." Ms Montgomery also responded to the defence's claim that Mr Assange risks being extradited to the United States, where his organisation's leaking of diplomatic cables has made him a political target, if he is first taken to Sweden.

She said the UK, as the country which will decide whether Mr Assange should be sent back to Sweden, would also need to consent to his further extradition from Sweden.

Ms Montgomery said there were no human rights issues to stop the UK surrendering Mr Assange to the Swedish authorities.

But Geoffrey Robertson, QC, defending, said that as a rape suspect, the WikiLeaks founder was likely to be tried behind closed doors, as is normal practice in Swedish rape cases. He said this would amount to a "flagrant denial of justice".

The court, upon which journalists from across the globe had descended en masse, finally heard from Goran Rudling, a blogger and campaigner for changes to Swedish rape law.

Mr Rudling explained how he had found tweets from one of the alleged victims, Miss A, posted on 15 August – less than 24 hours after the alleged sexual assault. The messages, said to have been deleted on 20 August last year, the day both women made their allegation to police, revealed how she was enjoying Mr Assange's company.

One, sent at 2am, read: "Sitting outside... with the coolest and smartest people, that's amazing." It was said to refer to a party which Mr Assange and the alleged victim attended.

The court heard that the same woman also posted a seven-point plan for revenge on the internet. It suggested that if the revenge sought was against someone who "cheated or dumped you" then the revenge should be of a sexual nature. That, too, was later deleted.

The case continues.