WikiLeaks' Julian Assange fights extradition
Wednesday 13 July 2011
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wanted to be the first to "impregnate virgins", according to allegations before the High Court today.
The accusation was referred to as Assange fought a legal battle to block his removal to Sweden where he is wanted to answer allegations of "raping" one woman and "sexually molesting and coercing" another.
Two judges reserved judgment at the end of a two-day hearing in London and will give their decision at a later date.
Lawyers for Assange, 40, challenged a ruling last February by District Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south London that he should be extradited to Sweden to face investigation.
Although not formally charged, the Australian computer expert is wanted to answer questions on three allegations of sexual assault and one of rape involving the women, referred to as AA and SW, in Stockholm last August.
Assange denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated, particularly after the WikiLeaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that rocked the US government.
Yesterday his lawyers argued that a European arrest warrant (EAW) was invalid because it contained an inaccurate account of what had occurred in Stockholm, and the women's own statements showed sex had taken place with their consent.
But today Clare Montgomery QC, appearing for the Swedish prosecuting authority, dismissed the Assange assertion.
Ms Montgomery said it was "perfectly plain" that the women had made allegations of "non-consensual, coerced sex" and had been "trapped into a position where they had no choice".
Ms Montgomery told Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley the evidence in the case of SW was "absolutely clear" that she had "been penetrated whilst asleep".
The fact that the woman may later have agreed to let Assange continue did not change the "initial" act.
"She may later have acquiesced," said Ms Montgomery. "That didn't make the initial penetration anything other than an act of rape."
SW later told a friend Assange had said he "wanted to impregnate women" and "preferred virgins because he would be the first to impregnate them".
She also told the friend she had been "shocked and paralysed" and had "not really understood at first what was happening", said Ms Montgomery.
SW's ex-boyfriend had told police that "this is a woman who never had unprotected sex".
Assange's lawyers argued sex with SW was consensual. She had become captivated with Assange when she saw a television interview with him. She had found out where he was speaking then attended the talk.
She had "helped" by buying a computer cable for Assange, attended an "intimate lunch" with him and Assange had flirted with her.
They went to SW's house for the first time on August 16 and had consensual sex three times over two days. She was woken from sleep by his fourth penetration and she let him continue, even though he was not wearing protection.
Afterwards she initiated jokes about her getting pregnant.
AA, who worked for the political group, said Assange could stay in her apartment in Stockholm.
She had "thrown a crayfish party" in Assange's honour and had sent an internet tweet saying "...with the world's coolest people, it's amazing..."
Assange's physical advances were "initially welcomed" but "then it felt awkward" since he was "rough and impatient", Assange's lawyers told judges.
She described one encounter by saying Assange "continued to have sex" and "she just wanted to get it over". Talking about another encounter, she described Assange's behaviour as "very strange".
The woman told police "Assange tried to make sexual advances towards her every day after that evening when they had sex"'. She had rejected Assange, which he "had accepted".
"Her words may indicate she was not particularly enjoying what was going on, but they certainly do not go anywhere near what we would regard in this country as lack of consent," said Ben Emmerson QC, for Assange.
In his closing submissions, Mr Emmerson referred specifically to AA's accusation of sexual molestation in which she alleges Assange lay next to her and pressed his penis against her.
Mr Emmerson said: "If a woman chooses to spend a night in a single bed with a man there is an inevitable risk she will come into contact with an erect penis at some time."
The QC argued the arrest warrant was flawed because it failed to provide "a fair, accurate and proper" description of the alleged sexual misconduct.
The extradition order was invalid because the allegations against Assange would not constitute sex crimes in English law.
"What (Swedish prosecutors) must prove beyond reasonable doubt is that if these circumstances as alleged had happened in London, would they have constituted offences?".
He added: "(There are) very serious questions on dual criminality in (three charges).
"(There are) very serious questions on whether what happened in charge four could have been recognisable as a charge in this (country)."
Assange, who is on bail and living near Diss, Norfolk, said nothing to journalists outside court as he left the hearing.
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