Sex, Leaks, and Swedish Law

The uproar over Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange has all but obscured a crucial fact: he is wanted in Sweden to face allegations unrelated to WikiLeaks. And, while Sweden has an unrivaled reputation for protecting freedom of speech and human rights, Ecuador fails to make the grade.

STOCKHOLM – Ecuador’s decision to grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in order to protect him from extradition to Sweden, has raised difficult questions, particularly for the United Kingdom, on whose territory the Ecuadoran embassy, where Assange remains, is located. But British Foreign Secretary William Hague has been clear: “It is important to understand that this is not about Mr. Assange’s activities at WikiLeaks or the attitude of the United States of America. [Assange] is wanted in Sweden to answer allegations of serious sexual offenses.”

But the allegations against Assange – the rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion of two women – seem to have been forgotten by most people, including Ecuador’s government. In fact, Swedish authorities’ extradition request has nothing to do with Assange’s involvement in WikiLeaks.

Before Assange began to use WikiLeaks to divert attention from his personal legal problems, Swedish public opinion toward the whistleblowing Web site was favorable. Indeed, it could be said that WikiLeaks was revered in Sweden’s media.

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