Discourteous and disrespectful, but not rape: the Assange defence

Julian Assange's sexual behaviour was "disrespectful, discourteous and pushing the boundaries" – but not rape, the WikiLeaks founder's legal team insists, in a change of strategy they hope will save him from extradition to Sweden.

Mr Assange and his new lawyers arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in London to appeal against the decision to extradite him to Sweden, where he is alleged to have raped one woman and molested another.

Ben Emmerson QC, acting for Mr Assange, did not paint his client in a favourable light as he described how Mr Assange's sexual encounters with the two women had been consensual.

In previous hearings Mr Assange's legal teams have focused on concerns that if their client is extradited to Sweden, he may then be extradited to the US and face charges over his release of confidential documents, which he claims could see him face the death penalty.

Mr Emmerson told Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ousely that he was not challenging the fact that the two women "found Mr Assange's sexual behaviour in these encounters disreputable, discourteous, disturbing or even pushing towards the boundaries of what they were comfortable with".

But the sexual activities that occurred had taken place with consent and, unlike in Sweden, could not be criminalised in the English jurisdiction, argued Mr Emmerson.

On 13 August last year, Mr Assange was a guest at the Stockholm studio apartment of the first lady, known as AA, where the two had sex. Mr Emmerson told the court how AA had initially welcomed Mr Assange's sexual advances after they had been out for dinner one evening, but was concerned he did not want to wear a condom.

Eventually Mr Assange consented to wear one, but it broke, which AA maintains Mr Assange did on purpose, though this is not supported by forensic analysis.

Even were he to have done so, which Mr Assange maintains he did not, Mr Emmerson argued it would not constitute a crime under English law.

"Even if it had been a complete and deliberate deception," Mr Emmerson said, "It would not be a crime in this jurisdiction."

In the second case, Mr Assange was a guest in the apartment, and bed, of a second woman, known as SW. SW says she was awoken by Mr Assange having sex with her, without a condom, a situation she had sought to prevent before the pair had fallen asleep some hours previously.

She asked Mr Assange if he was wearing protection, he replied that he wasn't, yet the two continued. "She may not have enjoyed the experience, but she clearly consented to it," Mr Emmerson said.

Mr Assange has always maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated, and are a consequence of his having leaked thousands of confidential US diplomatic documents, through the WikiLeaks site.

Today the court will hear from barristers acting for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, after which the judges will consider their verdict.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'