A WORLD CLASS SCOOP IS BORN
(Original title: “Så föddes ett världsscoop”)
This article was originally published in Swedish on August 25 in the online edition of the Swedish magazine Resumé, owned by the Bonnier Group through Bonnier Tidskrifter. The Bonnier Group is a 200-year-old media company based in Stockholm, with operations in more than 20 countries, and one of Sweden’s largest media conglomerates. The article is available at the following URL: http://resume.se/nyheter/2010/08/25/sa-foddes-ett-varldsscoop/ though it is only viewable by subscribers to the magazine.
The Assange story is the largest scoop the tabloid Expressen has ever uncovered.
- Breaking news on CNN feels kind of big, says journalist Niklas Svensson.
But forget CIA, Pentagon and all talk of conspirations. The rape accusations are a mixture of one derailed night of love, Swedish sex crime law and messy handling by the prosecutor.
Resumé has gone through the relevant police files and talked to sources with a good insight into the two cases. Here is the short version:
A young woman in Enköping (a small town about 50 miles west of Stockholm, translator’s note), whom we will call Maria, saw Julian Assange on TV a couple of weeks ago and got curious about Wikileak. When she learned that he was going to hold a speech arranged by a group of Christian social democrats at LO-borgen (“the LO castle”, a building owned by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), a trade union organization with ties to the social democratic party, translator’s note) she signed up as a volunteer, took a leave from her job and went to listen to the speech.
• Saturday, August 14
Maria helps Julian Assange to buy the right computer cable before his presentation. She waits for him while the congregated journalists interview him and is afterwards invited to a late lunch. The two of them take the subway to Cosmonova (an IMAX cinema in Stockholm, translator’s note) and watch a movie. Julian is going to attend a crayfish party in the evening and Maria goes home after being promised she’ll get to meet him again.
• Sunday, August 15
Maria tries to call Mr. Assange, but his cellphone is turned off.
• Monday, August 16
Maria gets ahold of Mr. Assange after work, they meet at Munkbron (a public square in central Stockholm, translator’s note) and decide to go to Enköping.They have safe sex in her apartment.
• Tuesday, August 17
The two have unprotected sex in the morning. Mr. Assange delays a meeting at Aftonbladet (Sweden’s largest daily, translator’s note) and they go together to the train station. Maria pays for everything, since Mr. Assange says he doesn’t have any money. He promises to call her.
• Wednesday, August 18
Maria is worried she has contracted an STD, maybe even HIV, from Assange. She had previously demanded that he should use a condom, but she is upset that he did not on Tuesday morning. She gets in touch with a woman, whom we will call Hanna, who has taken part in arranging Julian Assange’s visit to Sweden and let him use her apartment. At this point Hanna tells Maria that Julian Assange had molested her (Hanna) on the day before he held a speech at LO-borgen (later to be classified by the Chief Prosecutor as a case of non-sexual molestation/harassment, translator’s note).
• Friday, August 20th
At around 2 pm Maria and Hanna enter the police station in Klara (in central Stockholm, translator’s note) and ask for advice on how to proceed. According to one source, Maria wants to ask if it is possible to force Julian Assange to go through an HIV test. The police at duty listens to them separately and files a report of rape.
She contacts the prosecutor who in turn issues an arrest warrant for Julian Assange. Maria is formally interrogated until 6.40 pm.
Expressen journalist Niklas Svensson is in Harpsund (the Swedish Prime Minister’s country residence outside of Stockholm, translator’s note) to cover the budget deliberations of Sweden’s ruling coalition when he gets tip-offed that Julian Assange has been arrested.
- I shifted my attention towards that case pretty quickly, so to speak. One and a half hour later I was back at my office. My colleague Diamant Salihu managed to get the prosecutor to confirm the case and I was working separately with my own sources.
• Saturday, August 21
At around 2 pm, Expressen’s journalists have finished the story which will shake life into news offices all over the Western world in a couple of hours.
The article is in the printed edition and on the net from 5 am. Niklas Svensson is satisfied:
- When I went home around 2.30 am I realized this would become one of the largest scoops we’ve ever had. The thing that surprises me the most is that it took such a long time before anybody else covered it.
- If it was Hanna who tipped me off? I can firmly deny that I have had any contact with her. We haven’t talked to each other at all.
The media hurricane struck the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office later during the day. The Prosecutor’s Office director of information Karin Rosander tries to explain the arrest warrant. At the same time, somebody in a top position in the office makes sure that the experienced Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné goes through the case. At 4.48 pm Eva Finné decides to cancel the arrest warrant. Julian Assange is no longer obliged to turn himself in, but if he gets in touch with the police he will be informed he is a suspect in two cases of non-sexual molestation/harassment (“ofredande”). (translator’s note: he is now only a suspect in one case)
• Tuesday, August 24
Maria has asked to have Claes Borgström represent her in the case of a trial.
Julian Assange has through a proxy denied doing anything criminal, but has hired Swedish lawyer Leif Silbersky to represent him.
Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné had at the time of publication not specified exactly what crimes Julian Assange stand accused of.
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THE 30-YEAR-OLD WOMAN: I WAS MOLESTED
(Original title: “30-åriga kvinnan: Jag utsattes för övergrepp”)
This article was published in the online edition of Aftonbladet (Sweden’s largest daily) on August 21. It was written by Jessica Balksjö. Most of it has already been quoted by a lot of English-language newspapers/websites.
Aftonbladet has talked to one of the women behind the rape accusations made against Julian Assange. When she got in touch with a woman who told her that Assange had raped her they both went to the police.
The woman is in her 30’s and now wants to tell her story in Aftonbladet to clarify what the accusations against Assange are and to correct some of the errors that were reported in the story published by tabloid Expressen this morning.
Julian Assange met both the women during his visit in Sweden. He was at first suspected of having raped one of them, but those suspicions were ruled out by Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné, while he is still suspected of molesting/harassing the other woman.
Considers herself to have been sexually molested
The woman and Assange met during his time in Stockholm and had not previously met him nor each other.
The 30-year-old tells us that she, for her part, considers herself to have been sexually abused, or molested, but not raped.
She was contacted by another woman in her 20’s who told her Julian Assange had carried out similar abuse to her, but worse.
Gave a detailed account
Out of consideration to the ongoing police investigation, the 30-year-old does not want to reveal any more details, but she says she has given a very detailed account to the police, as has the other woman.
- I immediately believed her story since I had had a similar experience to what she was telling me, the woman tells Aftonbladet.
The both women now decided to go together to the police station to tell them what had happened.
“I don’t feel threatened”
- It’s completely wrong that we are afraid of Assange and therefore unwilling to report him, he is not violent and I don’t feel threatened by him, the woman tells Aftonbladet.
In both cases, the sex had been consensual from the start but had eventually turned into abuse.
- The other woman wanted to report for rape. I told the police my story as a witness account to her story and to support her. We are completely behind the accuracy of the information we have given, she tells Aftonbladet.
“The accusations are not staged”
The woman dismiss the many conspiratorial theories that are currently flooding the net
- The accusations against Assange are of course not staged by neither the Pentagon or anybody else. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl is with a man with a twisted view of woman and a problem to accept a “no”.
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