It seems the closer we come to people rising up en masse to demand Julian Assange’s freedom, the more desperate his detractors become.
This isn’t the first time I’ve debunked a Guardian smear piece on Julian Assange but it’s certainly the first time that I’ve been able to debunk literally every single written line – including the caption.
Everything in italics and quotation marks below is from this audacious piece of tripe: “Julian Assange Is Not Alone In Lack Of Empathy For Women” by Deborah Orr, in her weekly column in The Guardian.
The regular text is my response.
“Photo Caption: Assange’s position is that the charges have been trumped up, because he is viewed by the US establishment as a dangerous and powerful insurgent.”
That is not Assange’s position. Because there are no charges. As has been repeatedly pointed out to members of the mainstream press who, as demonstrated in this very instance, continue to this day to write about and report on charges that have never been laid and do not exist.
“Six years on from the leak of accounts by two women of allegations of sexual assault and rape, Julian Assange has released his own interview with Swedish prosecutors, offering an alternative narrative to that offered by one of the women.”
Actually, he is offering the same narrative that he has espoused all along. The contents of his statement entirely align with prior releases of documentation related to the case, dating back years.
Specifically, his statements in relation to his innocence, his asylum claim, the manhunt, the persecution of WikiLeaks and the grand jury, the denials of the women themselves that they had been raped and the contents of the text messages of the younger of the two women are all contained in Assange’s publically available and thoroughly annotated 2013 affidavit which can be read in full here.
It is only to journalists like Ms Orr who have clearly not done their homework on the background to this case that anything contained in the recent statement release comes as a surprise.
“Somehow he has managed to persuade himself that his testimony satisfies the questions, but all it really does is advertise that he is a man who appears to have little respect for boundaries and who, far from even beginning to recognise this in himself, casts himself wholly as a victim of the sexual machinations of others.”
Assange’s testimony satisfies beyond reasonable doubt that:
a) he is being and has been persecuted for his publishing and journalistic activities, by the highest echelons of international governments
b) he is not a rapist but was smeared as such
c) he has ample grounds for asylum, as was duly granted to him, and
d) his continued arbitrary detention is in violation of human rights, international law, and common decency
The ‘sexual machinations’ Ms Orr refers to are not of the women involved but in fact that of the police officers, politicians, bureaucrats and intelligence agencies involved in branding Assange a ‘rapist’ in order to serve their own political motives.
Indeed, GCHQ staff famously bragged about (and were reprimanded for) the Assange case having been a ‘fit-up’.
“Rather in the manner of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Assange portrays himself as someone who always relies on the comfort of strangers.”
Actually, he portrayed himself as someone forced by the circumstance of persecution and pursuit by intelligence agencies wielding vast state powers, into seeking refuge wherever able.
Ms Orr’s supposition that he “always” does so is entirely disingenuous. Denied access to his own funds and with a huge target on his back, Assange had little choice but to rely on the sympathy of others.
“His argument is that during his time in Sweden he was a marked man.”
It is ridiculous to depict this as ‘his argument‘ when the Pentagon’s own releases announced that there was a manhunt for him. Yet again Ms Orr attempts to lay the responsibility for the persecution at the feet of the persecuted. The correct way to frame the statement would simply be to state the undeniable: he was a marked man.
“He had to be careful where he stayed, in case his cohort of known supporters was being monitored, in order that they would lead the spies to Assange. I don’t dispute that this worry might have been real and important for Assange.”
Gracious of her to depict this as real and important, but Ms Orr still personifies this to Assange, intimating that there were alternative approaches when there clearly weren’t any available.
“Nevertheless, quite why the perfect answer was to stay at the homes of women who wanted to have sex with him is completely glossed over.”
In fact it is Ms Orr doing the glossing over, as it is clear from Assange’s statement that the arrangements were made on his behalf.
His release clearly states in point 70:
“My contacts in Sweden had arranged for me to stay in two safe houses during the few days I had intended to stay in Sweden. One of the safe houses belonged to a journalist who I knew and another to a Social Democrat party figure unknown to me who had lent her apartment while she was away, or so I had been told. However, because these two original safe houses arranged prior to my arrival became known very soon, I stayed in three additional safe houses between 11 and 20 August 2010.” – Julian Assange
A far cry from Ms Orr’s depiction, which continues:
“In fact, he said one of the women was so “very clear” that she wanted to have intercourse that he “felt concerned about the intensity of her interest”.”
This quote has been partially selected for convenience. The full context is that the woman:
“…made it very clear that she wanted to have sexual intercourse with me. I felt concerned about the intensity of [her] interest and I also deeply loved another woman, which played on my mind and left me emotionally distracted. [She] knew an unusual amount of detail about me and appeared annoyed with me when I was on my phone searching for news related to the US official government statements about me. I perceived she was irritated when I wasn’t giving her my full attention. I felt there was a risk my location would be revealed and that she might act unpredictably if she believed I was rejecting her.” – Julian Assange
What Assange is saying is that the situation was a double-edged sword. While much-needed temporary sanctuary and companionship was being offered, he also felt threatened by his physical safety being dependent upon the goodwill of his host.
“Now, plenty of people ignore “red flags” in the undertaking of sexual dalliances, as Assange apparently did.”
As above, his situation was more than merely the “undertaking” of a “sexual dalliance”, such as people who are not being hunted by the US Empire might indulge in or undertake. His overarching situation was downright precarious and dangerous.
What Assange is illustrating is that he felt that neither rejecting her nor staying with her guaranteed his personal safety. Both were fraught with risk.
“An emotionally healthy person would understand that this concern was something to be heeded, and that it was a situation to be avoided.”
This is a further display of blaming the persecuted rather than examining the circumstances of the persecution. Exactly how “emotionally healthy” is one supposed to be when one is being man-hunted by billion dollar international intelligence agencies? Would Ms Orr be “emotionally healthy” in such a position? Holding Assange’s decisions and mental state up against that of any random member of the public is disingenuous and misleading. It was an extreme situation and thus the status quo test constantly being applied by Ms Orr is irrelevant and a distraction.
“Assange did not choose to take that course.”
Assange chose to take the course that he felt was most likely to increase his physical safety at the time. God knows he was not looking ahead six years to what Ms Orr and her kind would think about it after the fact – he was too busy trying to stay alive in that week.
“This in itself suggests a man who does not shrink from entering into situations that some may view as exploitative.”
What it suggests is a man travelling a path with no map, that few have ever walked before him, surrounded by strangers and tenuous plans and promises that too often fell through, doing the best he could under the most direst of circumstance.
“Assange’s position is that the charges have been trumped up, because he is viewed by the US establishment as a dangerous and powerful insurgent.”
As per my response to the misleading caption; once again, this is not Assange’s position. Because, to this day, no charges have been laid.
“Yet even his own supposedly vindicatory evidence reflects wider sexually exploitative attitudes.”
What his evidence reflects is that:
a) he has never been charged with any crime, yet was branded a rapist, including in the very publication in which Ms Orr writes
b) he left Sweden after consulting with the prosecutor first and receiving advance permission to depart, yet was then deemed a fugitive regardless
c) the first prosecutor cancelled the investigation as it was deemed without merit, only to later on be reopened after political intervention
d) Assange has been trying to give his statement for six years but has until now been denied the opportunity to do so, and
e) a ton of other material factors, all of which are completely absent from the content of Ms Orr’s article, which instead focuses on supposition and the projection onto Assange of assumed motives imagined by Ms Orr, among various other disparagements
“It’s not a crime to be sexually exploitative, to have little regard for the emotions or the boundaries of others, or to decide to have sex with someone because you need a place to spend the night.”
There is no evidence whatsoever that Assange was any more sexually exploitative than those who complained about him; both of whom have said that they were not raped, one of whom has claimed the police manufactured the investigation in order to tarnish Assange and the other of whom supplied a broken condom which was found to contain no DNA of either party whatsoever and had discussed taking their stories to the tabloids within a matter of days. Despite this and to his credit, Assange himself still does not accuse either woman of sexual exploitation.
“Indeed, this sort of behaviour seems pretty widespread, and hardly particular to Assange. And that is the really depressing thing.”
And here is the crux. Ms Orr is now expanding the playing field beyond Assange, to the wider sexual practices of millions. Which means she is taking general attitudes that she already held about society at large which appear to have coloured her opinions relating to the Assange case.
“People in the public eye are far more likely to be exposed for indulging in this sort of behaviour.”
Absolutely. They are. Which is what infuriates rape victims and survivor advocates like myself. Where I hail from, New Zealand, 95% of rape survivors never see their rapists charged and 99% of rape survivors never see their rapists convicted. Why? Because police agencies and indeed intelligence services and the governments who fund them, only have a vested interest in pursuing ‘justice’ in the few, select cases where it is politically expedient to do so. Thus seeing a man whose ‘victims’ state empirically that they are not victims at all be persecuted for six years while the overwhelming majority of actual rapists walk free amongst us is extremely exasperating and disappointing. This is then exacerbated by callous media personalities who indulge in furthering that persecution of the innocent targets of these political machinations, in the name of protecting women. The irony is rife and it is frankly a sick, Orwellian joke.
“Of course they defend themselves – and when they do so, they tend to feel they are being held to a different standard to others, and an unfair one.”
In this case it is worse. Assange is being held to the standards of others who have never been man-hunted by the US Empire, then what scraps of his experiences filter through to the public realm are then obsessively analysed by writers like Ms Orr who have also never been man-hunted by the US Empire.
“Often, a high-profile individual who has been implicated in a sexual scandal will attract many sympathisers, who understand that the behaviour of their hero is not so very unusual, and therefore believe there is nothing wrong with it. That’s depressing too – there is something wrong with it.”
To the contrary, other than solidarity from close friends and family, these people usually end up universally loathed. In the cases of Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Bill Cosby, these men were protected for decades by the very establishment that they served. It took decades for their victims to raise awareness of what happened to them yet once they finally managed to achieve mainstream awareness, their attackers became reviled, etched in history as the monsters they are. The very speed and ferocity with which the Swedish (and other) governments targeted and persecuted Assange speaks volumes. Were he an actual everyday common rapist it is more likely than not that the police would have taken little to no action. Were he a high society predator, it would have taken decades for the public to become aware of it. But because he is neither, and is in fact a target of Empire, he was smeared internationally by the entire world’s media within 24 hours of the allegations and six years later is still fighting for the most basic acknowledgements of the facts – such as that he has still never been charged with any crime, which Ms Orr fails to mention even once in her entire piece.
“Interpersonal exploitation – emotional, sexual or physically violent – is a blight on human relations and on human psychological health, for perpetrators as well as victims. It corrupts the social bonds that are so important to a decent society or culture.”
Absolutely. Which is why it is such a powerful tool for governments and spies when wanting to destroy the reputation of an adversary, or in this case, of a journalist and publisher who is standing in ideological opposition to their corruption and war crimes.
His testimony in aggregate details gross violation after violation of his rights. It details the negligence and maliciousness of the prosecutor, Marianne Ny, up to and including her acting in violation of Swedish law. It also displays the complete disregard for international law and disrespect for the institutions of international governance such as the United Nations, which was established by the very countries who are persecuting him. None of this is mentioned in Ms Orr’s article.
“Any person who gives himself (or herself) leave to behave in such a way is unlikely to understand quite where other lines should be drawn. And in those circumstances, it might be possible for such a person to fail to comprehend his behaviour as sexual assault or rape.”
When the alleged victims themselves deny that they are victims, what else is left? Apparently, six years of hit pieces in publications like The Guardian.
“His insight into and ability to understand his behaviour, its impact on others, and the ways in which others might experience or interpret it, is severely impaired.”
It seems that in fact Ms Orr and journalists like her are struggling with understanding the impact of their constant slew of attacks on Assange. Nor do they seem to understand the way others might interpret them. If they did have insight into this as well as to the profound importance of his contributions to journalism despite all he has been put through, they might not be so mystified at why he continues to enjoy the support he does.
“Assange’s leaked document illustrates a lack of empathy for the women he slept with.”
This is purely down to the interpretation of the reader. The leak of the allegations against Assange, prior to him even having been interviewed or made any statement, or to any charges being laid, certainly illustrated a lack of empathy for him as well as a desecration of the presumption of innocence and of Assange’s legal and human rights.
“It’s understandable if not admirable that he shouldn’t be spending much time considering the feelings of two women who have brought him so much trouble.”
The use of the word ‘admirable’ is strange in this context. There are many things about Assange that are admirable, none the least the way he has coped with such extreme prejudice, malignance and persecution over the last six years.
“But his testimony shows that he most certainly wasn’t spending much time considering their feelings long before events took the course they did.”
His testimony states of the woman involved:
“During that night and again in the morning we had consensual sexual intercourse on four or five occasions. Her words, her expressions and her physical reactions made it clear to me that she encouraged and enjoyed our interactions… In the morning she went out to pick up breakfast for us. After enjoying breakfast together, I left her home on good terms.” — Julian Assange
In light of the women stating plainly that they have not been raped, it seems the media who continue to portray them as rape victims, and Assange as being charged when he has not been, are the ones not “spending much time considering their feelings.”
“This may not be a crime.”
The original prosecutor determined that no crime had been committed. The only crimes appear to be those manufactured by malicious entities and the intense and concerted pressure applied by mainstream media outlets like The Guardian.
“The courts or prosecuting authorities will pronounce on that. But it is an attitude of mind that is pretty abject, very destructive and horribly widespread.”
Unfortunately, so is the attitudes of the vast majority of the journalists who have been cashing in on this story for more than half a decade.
Written by Suzie Dawson
Official Website: Suzi3d.com
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