After spending the last four years holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, new SMS reports have been released that indicate Julian Assange may have been framed by Swedish police officials.
An arrest warrant for Julian Assange was first issued by the Swedish Prosecutor's Office on August 20, 2010, on allegations of sexual assault and rape. The following day, the warrant was withdrawn, and Eva Finne, the chief prosecutor, expressed her belief that the rape accusation was without merit.
"I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape."
However, on August 31, 2010, Julian Assange was questioned by police and informed of the allegations against him. Assange denied the accusations, but the next day, the rape case was reopened by Swedish Director of Prosecution Marianne Nye.
After Assange's Swedish residency request was denied in October 2010, the WikiLeaks founder left Sweden only to be ordered to return one month later for questioning. Instead, Assange offered to appear at the Swedish embassy in London. Swedish police responded by issuing an international arrest warrant.
Assange turned himself in to British police in early December 2010, where he appeared before a Westminster judge and was released on bail. In February of 2011, a British court ruled that Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden. Assange appealed that ruling, but it was upheld by the High Court in November 2011. Assange was then granted the right to petition the U.K. Supreme Court, but in May of 2012, the extradition ruling was again upheld. In August of 2012, Julian Assange was granted political asylum in Ecuador's London embassy over concerns that his human rights would be violated if extradited.
Earlier this year, a United Nations panel found that Julian Assange was being arbitrarily detained and called for the Swedish extradition request to be immediately dropped.
WikiLeaks editor Julian #Assange has been detained for six years without charge as of 7 December 2016 https://t.co/7D5Y9sJD0x#6YearsTooLongpic.twitter.com/51amxBDBz6
— WikiLeaks Task Force (@WLTaskForce) December 7, 2016
In November, Julian Assange was formally questioned for the first time regarding the rape accusation. Under an agreement made in August, Swedish prosecutors prepared the questions posed to Assange by an Ecuadorian prosecutor. Early this morning, after a full six years of being detained without charges, Julian Assange released his full testimony from that interview.
Assange releases full testimony in Swedish 'sex case': https://t.co/gifUGH5o2wPDF: https://t.co/q3Pzze6b1lHTML: https://t.co/UvmGW97cYm
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 7, 2016
Claiming full innocence, Assange linked the timing of the rape accusations with the Pentagon's attempts to track him down during that time period.
"During the height of the Pentagon's conflict with me the following month, the allegation was resurrected by the current prosecutor, Marianne Ny. It was immediately seized on to extinguish my freedom of movement and harm my reputation."
Included in the transcript are text messages allegedly sent from Assange's accuser, "SW," to her friends during the time period in question. These text messages, if legitimate, do appear to prove that Julian Assange was framed by the police.
"On 20 August 'SW', while at the police station, wrote that she 'did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange' but that 'the police were keen on getting their hands on him' (14:26); and that she was 'chocked (sic shocked) when they arrested him' because she 'only wanted him to take a test' (17:06)."
Another text message claimed that the police had invented the charges against Assange.
"On 21 August 'SW' wrote that she 'did not want to accuse' Julian Assange 'for anything', (07:27); and that it was the 'police who made up the charges (sic)' (22:25)."
Evidence of a third text message further supports the claim that Assange had been framed.
"On 23 August 'SW' wrote that it was the police, not herself, who started the whole thing (16:02)."
New SMS records show Assange was framed by police in 1st sex case: https://t.co/MqwZAvH0va and in 2nd case: https://t.co/OPCFRveUqM pic.twitter.com/SdI7rY0Cdp
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 7, 2016
Regardless of whether Julian Assange was framed, rape and sexual assault accusations should always be taken seriously. With that said, the case against Assange was shaky from the start, and the resources spent on this matter may provide further insight as to whether the sexual assault allegations against him are actually just a cover for political persecution.
WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson called out the U.K. government for spending over £10,000 a day on policing costs associated with the ongoing attempts to arrest and extradite Assange.
"It is embarrassing to see the UK government spending more on surveillance and detaining an uncharged political refugee than on its investigation into the Iraq war, which killed hundreds of thousands."
The timing of the allegations against Assange does coincide with the Pentagon's attempts to locate him. This, of course, doesn't prove that Assange was framed, but it does add motive. According to an article published in June of 2010 by the Daily Beast, investigators were convinced that Assange might leak classified State Department documents.
"American officials said Pentagon investigators are convinced that Assange is in possession of at least some classified State Department cables leaked by a 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist, Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, who is now in custody in Kuwait."
Later that year, WikiLeaks published the State Department cables, along with thousands of leaked military reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, and sent governments around the world into panic.
Assange has claimed that his refusal to travel to Sweden is based on his fear of being extradited to the United States.
[Featured Image by Frank Augstein/AP Images]