Tuesday, November 01, 2011

This is why

Why is Sweden so revengeful against Julian Assange? The Swedish vendetta can be simply explained by this press clip: 

Meaning: Wikileaks disclosed in front of the world 

a) the phony Swedish neutrality in the issues of foreign-policy and military-alliances, Sweden was in fact acting under NATO. b) some government officials acted in deals compromising the nation's political independence (according to Swedish law is only the Parliament - ergo not single government functionaries - empowered to make such agreements). Sweden was in fact receiving "instructions" in both intelligence-gathering issues [For sources, see Note 1] as well as in legislation initiatives by a foreign power. 

b) this servile attitude of some government officials  compromised the integrity of their own countrymen. All this was done in secrecy and deliberately hide from Parliament, [2], activity which besides was illegal. 

c) the fact that after the all affair was made public by the Wikileaks cables there was practically no reaction from politicians, journalists, or the general public about the exposures. Nothing at least that resulted in real questioning of the authorities involved. The same had happened regarding the public disclosure of the Swedish official collaboration in the secret CIA renditions-flight operations in Sweden [see interview bellow].  

This was a shame in it self, because under "normal" standards in all nations, the proposing of secret intelligence-collaboration deals to a foreign power behind the back of the constitutional authorities would have occasioned a government scandal, to say the least. 

It was then when the international criticism started to pour over Sweden. The international opinion was  astonished. The Washington Post noted, quoting a Parliament investigation, that no Swedish officials have been charged or disciplined although "being remarkably submissive to the American officials".[3]

The Swedish reaction

Swedish officials either failed to understand such criticism as an aggravating wrongdoing, or could not accept the criticism. They instead blamed Assange himself, as "the enemy" of Sweden. So he was portrayed in a series of documentary at the National Swedish Television and in the press. 

The Swedish National Television started the series by producing in April 2011 a documentary in its main channel (SvT-1) [4] which used the following text-presentation, also repeated in the programs announcements and trailer:

“How could the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange get the world to question Sweden's credibility”?

The main stream media followed, and journalists openly associated with the nominal accusers in the case Assange started the ad-hominem anti Assange Twitter-campaign "Talk about" [#Prataomdet]. The campaign was widely publicized, even internationally, starting by the Guardian. The campaign was also openly instigated by the plaintiffs' lawyer Claes Borgström in conjunction with public events organized by the radical-feminist movement [5]. For them, the "Assange Affair" had publicly been declared a "symbol" [6] in the political agenda towards a further radicalization of the rape-legislation. The organizers of the defamation Prataomdet-campaign were afterwards rewarded by both the government and the Swedish cultural establishment. 

As the vengeful anti-Assange campaign progressed in the Swedish media (some of these actions from the part of the media analysed in Swedish psychological warfare against Wikileaks and Assange), [7] all political parties - included the Pirate Party - [8] joined the populist occasion. Prime Minister Reindfeldt made himself a public intervention about the "legal process" on behalf of the plaintiffs. [9] This considering that Julian Assange has not been in trial, not yet been charged, nor his version heard in Sweden.

Summary of some known Wikileaks disclosures on Sweden

The exposures as such, contained in the Wikileaks cables, referred in the main 1) To an intelligence-gathering operation with regard to personal data of the Swedish people as requested by USA. Such collaboration program would require by law the approval of the Parliament. Remarkably, the Swedish officials themselves (not the USA officials, who instead wished a formal, legal agreement) proposed a formula for such collaboration devised to avoid the scrutinizing of the Parliament and the public. 2) To initiatives given to the Minister of Justice in order to introduce a series legislation aimed to protect commercial or corporate interests of the foreign country. 3) To initiatives or concrete pressures given upon the Minister of Justice for the introduction in Sweden of a legislation aimed the surveillance of the Internet traffic of the Swedish citizens . This legislation, known as the Surveillance Law (FRA-lagen) was eventually aprobed by the Parliament at the "government" initiative and after an intense debate. [10]

The above, as I anticipated in 2010, are the genuine political reasons for the Swedish punishment of Assange.

Here follows an interview by the London-based Swedish journalist Karin Wasteson, explaining the rest, in summary 

by Marcello Ferrada-Noli
Med 1,2,3,4

Karin Wasteson is a Swedish journalist based in London.  She took contact with me recently while working with an article on the Swedish media reporting of the Assange case, for which she had interviewed several sources. 

These were her written questions, followed by my answers, in which I insert here some links for the readers of the Professors blog.

1. Why do you think there has been an overall negative reporting of the case by Swedish media?

There are two main reasons that might explain the negative reporting of the Assange case in Sweden, one is of a political nature and the other has to do with traditions of Swedish journalism.

A. The political aspects

In its turn, the political aspects determining or influencing the reporting appear being twofold:

On the one hand we have the change in the foreign policy and military-strategy main perspective of the Swedish government, namely, abandon of the neutrality-stand and identification with NATO and the geopolitical interests this organization represents. In this line, the government would demonstrate - as they have done in the Afghanistan and Libyan cases - that Sweden is a “loyal partner” and long away from the late Olof Palme’s policy of alignment with the Third World countries. 

It is worth to note that changes in those regards started already by the times of the former social democratic government of Göran Persson. This can be illustrated with secret agreements on cooperation with USA services which otherwise had became known through the rendition-flight episodes (political refuges in Sweden handed over in secret to the American services to be transported to interrogation centres elsewhere, as in the case of the Egyptians refugees). 

During these events, exposed to the pubic by a documentary in the private network TV4 (update: episode also commented in an editorial by DN 12/8 2011), the social democratic politician and former minister of Justice Thomas Bodström was signalled a main actor in the operation. Eventually an investigation on his role was held upon the Swedish Constitutional Committee – with no further consequences, useless to add.

Sweden's acting in the apprehension of a USA’s number-one enemy - as Julian Assange is characterized - might be a confirmation of the above.

For these ends, the government have naturally got the support of all the political parties favouring the NATO approach, including the “opposition” (mainly the social democratic party).

Although is natural and legitimate that a Swedish government - as the USA or any other sovereign country - decides the foreign policy they think it best would serve their national interests, the problem here is of another kind. It has to do with important decisions that have been adopted in secret by government officials and hidden to the Swedish Parliament and the public. It is about the transparency issue.
Yet another issue is whether that "double play" from the part of the Swedish government is really necessary in the interest of Sweden's foreign policy (DN-debatt 10/12 2009).
On the other hand, the government has also got the support of the leftist parties and organizations in their case against Assange. This through highlight the “pro-feminist” aspects of the case, all which has served as a symbol for the radical feminism in Sweden in their campaign for moving forwards an even more advanced legislation in the gender-perspective. Assange is presented as the ultimate male-in-power-perpetrator and sexual abuser of Swedish women-victims, a construction that would mirror the “patriarchal” structures of the power constellation in Sweden and elsewhere, according to the radical feminists. 
It is worth to mention that the Assange accusers, and notably members of the prosecution and police apparatus that have actively pursued or dealt with the Assange case are members of the same radical-feminist organizations or share their ideology.
In sum, the Swedish crusade against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has shown being compact and having the characteristic of a national cause.
The above have generated a strong populism-factor around the case, and hence also a profitable source for other political or cultural opportunists in the Swedish forum, in the blogosphere and others authors not previously known as embracing political correct positions. The critical voices on the Assange case in Sweden have became fewer, and had to pay a high price for their objective and ethical stand.

B.  The Swedish journalist traditions


As I have previously developed in Newsmill, the “duck-pond” phenomenon in the Swedish journalism consists partly (there are yet other principal factors explained in the article, such as hegemonic nationalistic ideology or media monopoly) in that Swedish journalists, generally referred, do not exercise critical analysis of the wrongdoings of corporate power or government, particularly in cases of “national emergencies”. In these cases, their role has basically been to repeat communiqués released by the authorities. International correspondents have previously observed this phenomenon during past “national crisis” or where the Swedish “prestige” has been in focus, such as the riots of Gothenburg or the alleged Soviet submarine-incursions in Swedish waters.

2. Do you think it has altered the judiciary process of the case in Sweden and Britain?
Yes, indeed.

3. Have you analysed British and foreign media as well?
I have not conducted such analyses myself, but others have done that, for instance regarding the biased reporting of the Guardian. Guardian had to recognize in a given moment it had censorship against references to articles published in Professors blog on the case Assange. These have been articles also authored by Naomi Wolf or Andrew Craig, not only those of my own.

4. Are you disappointed by the biased Swedish press, or was this to be expected?

I would have expected some repetition of the cultural and political nationalistic phenomena mentioned above, but not to the solid extend in which this have now shown in the Swedish case against Assange.  For reasons I have otherwise a high identification with Swedish societal and cultural values, of course I feel disappointed, as very many other academics around the world regarding the Swedish managing of this case. And the attacks of the media have been such biased and also at times detrimental not only through vulgar personal attacks to Julian Assange but also to the few that have dared to criticize the main stream in the reporting of the case.

5. Do you think Assange can expect a fair trial in Sweden if he is extradited?
No, sadly. Both the PM and high officials in the juridical system have already profiled the case with their public declarations. Yet, the main reasons behind are partly the national or strategic interests in play – as explained introductorily – and partly the trial by the media, which have been exercised against Assange in Sweden. Further, as it has been demonstrated in the juridical tradition of Sweden, women accusing men can get along with hard sentences against the men even without the need of presenting evidence, as it is in most of the western countries. 
One of these cases was the sentence to prison against the Chilean political refugee Tito Beltran [11] – also a worldwide celebrity as opera tenor - accused of rape on the basis of a Swedish woman's declaration made nine years after the episode in reference. No evidence was needed. The lawyer of the woman-accuser who obtained the sentence was the social democratic politician and former minister of Justice Thomas Bodström, mentioned above. This politician is the partner of the law-firm Bodström & Borgström that nominally pursue the case against Julian Assange.

And above all, because it has became a matter of prestige. This, I would say, is a sacred item in Sweden!

Svenska dagbladet, a main Swedish newspaper, illustrated its 17 Feb 2011  article Idyllic picture of Sweden is darkened” with a montage showing the notorious criminal Göran Lindberg -- a world-reviled, convicted serial rapist (including the rape of a 14-year old child) – portrayed together with Julian Assange and his lawyer Mark Stephens. A conspicuous columnist of the newspaper Aftonbladet refers 13 Feb 2011 to Julian Assange as “a paranoid idiot who refuses come to Sweden to confront trial”.  The competitor newspaper, Expressen, describes 13 Feb 2011 in its cultural page “the sexual pleasure of Mr Assange is just an inescapable element for his severe compulsive needs that are beyond. . . (text from Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange?)


[1]  In fact, those “informal” agreements have placed the Swedish security and military intelligence so heavily under the control and command of the Americans, that, as reported by the newspaper Expressen 7/12 2010 referring to the years ensuing 2003,  Sweden Intelligence officers  got the impression that they were working under direct orders of the CIA ( “Under de kommande åren förändrades svensk underrättelse-och säkerhetstjänst på ett sådant sätt att enskilda tjänstemän uppfattade det som att de arbetade på direkt beställning av CIA”) Source: Mike Ölander. ”CIA krävde att Sverige skulle utöka samarbetet” Expressen 6/12 2010

[2] "Sverige lämnar information till USA utan att riksdagen får veta". Article in Rapport, National Swedish Televison, SVT, 5 December 2010

[3] The full quote from the Washington Post reads: "Although the parliamentary investigator concluded that the Swedish security police deserved 'extremely grave criticism' for losing control of the operation and for being 'remarkably submissive to the American officials,' no Swedish officials have been charged or disciplined.". In Craig Whitlock's article "New Swedish Documents Illuminate CIA Action", The Washington Post, 21 May 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/20/AR2005052001605.html 

[4] M Ferrada-Noli, "Rigged documentary on Julian Assange in the Swedish National Television. PART 1: The Political Agenda". The Professors blogg, 15 April 2011

[5] M Ferrada-Noli, Julian Assange declared "symbolic issue" by Swedish radical-feminists. The Professors blogg, 30 Septembre 2011

[6] Id.

[7] M Ferrada-Noli, Swedsih psychological warfare against Wikileaks and Assange. The Professors blogg, 25 October 2011

[8] M Ferrada-Noli, "Have Swedish Pirates Betrayed Assange?". The Professors blogg, 6 March 2011

[9]   M Ferrada-Noli, "Matching critic on Reinfeldt's involvement in the Assange case", The Professors blogg, 11 February 2011

[10]  M Ferrada-Noli, "Sweden. The Surveillance Law (FRA) debate. The Professors blogg, 22 September 2008

[11]  The verdict stated: "According to this court, we found the plaintiff's story credible and that fully meets the requirements to form the basis for a conviction".
The lawyer defending the plaintiff was the social democratic politician and former minister of Justice Thomas Bodström. The "evidence" mentioned later in the verdict against Beltrán referred to declarations of two friends of the plaintiff which would "have heard" an account from the part of the plaintiff after the alleged happenings. Also in this case, it was not the plaintiff who have made a complaint to the police against Beltrán. It was another woman (Monica Dahlström-Lannes, known in Sweden as activist and campaigner  concerning sexual-offence cases) who after her own private investigations and interviews on the case filed the complaint to the police - nine years after!

Dahlström-Lannes was a board-member of the same organization, ECPAC, in which  the social democratic politician and former minister of Justice Thomas Bodström was also a board-member. However, Bodström denied in the court hearings that he knew Dahlström-Lannes.

At a later stage, journalist Karin Wasteson send to me the draft of her text in which she had summarized my statements. The text here below, added a minor update:
"Professor Marcello Ferrada-Noli provided a witness statement to the first court hearing. He has conducted an independent study of the media coverage of the Assange case and analysed all articles in Swedish from 11 January to 11 February 2011. According to his study, 56 per cent of the articles contained negative reporting. 38 per cent was about Julian Assange as a person.

He says: “In Sweden journalists follow a tradition of not questioning official policies, particularly on foreign-affairs issues. The mainstream media side with the government without being critical. As a results, most journalist-reporting in Sweden on those issues appear just politically correct or very naïve.”

Ferrada-Noli says: “Journalism is supposed to be a critical source of information of what the government is doing. It is supposed to observe, criticize and scrutinize power. This has not been done in this case because a constellation of political factors”, he says.  His thesis being that the Swedish case against Assange is politically motivated and has primarily to do with Sweden’s new alignment in the geopolitical scenario and he Swedish main-stream media is constrained because of ownership interests. Another political factor influencing the media reporting of the case, he says, is that “it has being used by the radical feminist movement flagging a further legislation on rape.”

He continues: “It's a Kamikaze attitude, and this is only hurting Sweden in the end. What happened with Assange was that the eyes of the world was turned to Sweden and everyone saw the flaws of the legal process regarding rape in this country.”

Other articles on the affair Assange in the Professors blogg


1 comment:

herr_nilzzon said...

It would be very explanatory, to put all those other small details of this 'whitch hunt' against Julian Assange.

As been published above:
- Former minister of justice is Thomas Bodström. He owns his lawfirm alongside Claes Borgström, the legal representative for the women accusing mr Assange of rape.

- The women are both active in the same party, the social democratic party, as Bodström.

- Both women claim to be feminists, but all facts point to both of them actively seeking out mr. Assanges company to have sex with him. There is after all no reason to have him "sleep over" in the same bed unless you have other intentions. Still both of them choose to accuse him of rape... but not immediately afterwards. First they meet to get their stories straight.

- Then we have all this strange handling of this by the authorney. First he was accused, then not, and then again. (Anyone who is vaguely analytical can guess that a few phonecalls where made from the Socialdemocrats to "Åklagarmyndigheten" who handles the case - since Bodström have his connections and the socialdemocraticparty want to get avenged).

- Beside this, it must also be considered that Sweden have a very harsh law regarding sexually related crimes, and is just perfect for a 'honey-trap'-vendetta.

Good Job with the blogg post!