|Photo: Ali Bell|
By Ali Bell
I have been asked so many times by folk in New Zealand what Swedes make of the Assange case, I thought it would be clarifying to put it together in an article, but crystal clear it isn't. “The truth” might be out there but nowhere I can swear by.
So much of what is reported is speculation, rumour and online leaks, following it is like following a plot more convoluted than an episode of TV's Spooks, with just as many possible inside governmental plots and backstage international alliances, with attractive “stock characters” as sexy Swedish female patsies or (least likely) honeytrapping spies, and with secrecy in every phonecall nook and governmental-memo cranny.
Thrown in to boot – a momentous hot potato like Wikileaks but with a hard-to-warm-to protagonist, and on top of all this a sexual-crimes case that has us all gobsmacked (including at least one of the victims) and set it in one of the most socio-politically idealistic but judicially flawed countries in the Western world – it would be an enthralling TV show indeed. 24 (or in this case 23 months and counting) eat your heart out.
But it hasn't been 24 hours, and we are getting media fatigue – I know I am – from the case. How long can Assange hang out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after all?
No Swede I have talked to believes this rape/sex crimes charge comes from a genuine wish to clean up the world for women's sexual safety. (Rapes in Sweden can be as difficult as other Western countries to get a conviction for.)
Everyone mentions the timing of the charges as being far too convenient (in order to get Assange into custody here), and no-one doubts, erroneously or not, that the Swedes intend to hand him over to the Americans and that Assange has every reason to fear this.
It must be noted that the public prosecutor in charge of this case vehemently denies that this is Sweden's intention.
What we do know is there were leaks everywhere – and not just from Assange's condoms.