into rape claim against Julian Assange
A senior Swedish prosecutor reopened a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today, in the latest twist to a puzzling case in which prosecutors of different ranks have overruled each other.
Assange has denied the allegations and suggested they are part of a smear campaign by opponents of WikiLeaks – an online whistleblower that angered Washington by publishing thousands of leaked documents about US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan on 25 July.
The case was dismissed last week by Eva Finne, chief prosecutor in Stockholm, who overruled a lower-ranked prosecutor and said there was no reason to suspect that Assange, an Australian citizen, had raped a Swedish woman who had reported him to police.
The woman's lawyer appealed against the decision. Director of public prosecution Marianne Ny decided to reopen the case, saying new information had come in on Tuesday. "We went through all the case material again, including what came in, and that's when I made my decision," [to reopen the case] Ny told The Associated Press by phone. She declined to say what information she had received or whether Assange, who was questioned by investigators on Monday, would be arrested. An arrest warrant issued on 20 August was withdrawn within 24 hours.
Ny added that "it's not entirely uncommon" that such reversals take place in Sweden, in particular regarding allegations of sex crimes. She also decided that another complaint against Assange should be investigated on suspicion of "sexual coercion and sexual molestation". That overruled a previous decision to only investigate the case as "molestation," which is not a sex crime under Swedish law.
Investigators have not released details about either case, though a police report obtained by AP shows both women had met Assange in connection with a seminar he gave in Stockholm on 14 August. The report shows the women filed their complaints together six days later.
Assange is seeking legal protection for WikiLeaks in Sweden, one of the countries in which the group says it has servers. The Swedish Migration Board has confirmed that Assange has applied for a work and residence permit in the Scandinavian country.
"It appears to be highly irregular and some kind of legal circus," Assange told the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen.
"I was dumbfounded and concerned as to the integrity of the Swedish judicial process," he said when asked what his feelings were after the investigation was reopened. "I know what I have done with my life therefore I know that these accusations are baseless and disturbing," he said.
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said it backs Assange. "We hope that he will clear his name and meanwhile the WikiLeaks organisation is going on with its endeavours," Hrafnsson told AP.
WikiLeaks says it intends to publish 15,000 more Afghan war documents in the coming weeks, a disclosure that US officials say could endanger innocent people or confidential informants.
Claes Borgstrom, a lawyer who represents both women, welcomed the decision today: "This is a redress for my clients, I have to say, because they have been dragged through the mud on the internet, for having made things up or intending to frame Assange."
Borgstrom had previously dismissed rumours that the sex allegations were part of a conspiracy against Assange, saying: "There is not an ounce of truth in all this about Pentagon, or the CIA, or smear campaigns, nothing like it."
5th April 2010 10:44 EST WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff.
Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.
The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured.
After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own "Rules of Engagement".
Consequently, WikiLeaks has released the classified Rules of Engagement for 2006, 2007 and 2008, revealing these rules before, during, and after the killings.
WikiLeaks has released both the original 38 minutes video and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Subtitles have been added to both versions from the radio transmissions.
WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident.
WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work.