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According to Melzer's article:

'Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence. True, soon after the United States had encouraged allies to find reasons to prosecute Assange, Swedish prosecution informed the tabloid press that he was suspected of having raped two women. Strangely, however, the women themselves never claimed to have been raped, nor did they intend to report a criminal offence. Go figure. Moreover, the forensic examination of a condom submitted as evidence, supposedly worn and torn during intercourse with Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever — neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure again. One woman even texted that she only wanted Assange to take an HIV test, but that the police were “keen on getting their hands on him”. Go figure, once more. Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show-trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian Embassy.' (19)

(19) htps://

In response 'more than 300 human rights lawyers and law professors from numerous countries' (20) published an open later, dated 1st July 2019, accusing his argument of being 'both legally absurd and harmful in relation to sexual violence.'  Melzer replied the following day (21) and subsequently received a 'dossier' from Anna Ardin calling for his resignation.

(20) Dietmar Pieper; 'Serious allegations Alleged Assange victim criticizes UN torture experts', Der Spiegel,

(21) Nils Melzer: Dismantling the Swedish 'rape' narrative against Julian Assange,

Unfortunately I haven't been able to get hold either of the Open Letter or Ardin's dossier and am relying on a short and I think pretty inadequate article in Der Spiegel and on Melzer's reply to the Open Letter. According to the Spiegel account of the dossier: 'So he blames the victims, writes the woman; it is "a classic patriarchal technique to define the conditions for how 'a real rape victim' should behave". She also accuses the lawyer of slandering her personally and of having partly spread untruths about the investigation, for example about Assange's willingness to testify about the incidents. This is "completely unacceptable, shocking and a reason to end his work at the UN".' 

Melzer touches on this only very lightly in the book (p.265): 'Particularly in the early stages of my investigation I was criticised by many who genuinely feared for the hard-fought gains of the women's rights movement. I was censured by long-time colleagues, lost a research assistant, and received letters of protest from women's rights organisations, lawyers, academics, and even one of the two Swedish women. I did my best to address these legitimate concerns, to clarify my position and to resolve misunderstandings. Most importantly, I made unequivocally clear that my criticism was in no way directed against the women or their rights and integrity, nor against the description of the alleged conduct as serious sexual offences, but solely against the authorities and their deliberate abuse of a legal process for the purposes of political persecution. In fact, I considered A. and S. to be victims of state instrumentalisation just as much as Assange himself.'

In fact, however, in the passage I've quoted above, he trashes the case that 'A' was trying to bring quite severely and in his reply to the Open Letter, he says: 'While I agree with the prosecution that AA’s allegations, if proven to be true, could amount to sexual assault other than rape, the fact that she submitted as evidence a condom, supposedly worn and torn during intercourse with Assange, which carried no DNA of either Assange or AA, seriously undermines her credibility.' He continues in the book to refer to her as 'A', even though, in January 2021, unmentioned by Melzer, she had published her own account of the affair - In the shadow of Julian Assange - under her own name. It was published in Swedish (Melzer, although himself Swiss, reads Swedish) and so far as I know it hasn't been translated. 

According to an account, sympathetic to her, in the Daily Beast: 'She readily admits to fancying the budding celebrity and even offering him her spare bedroom [most of the accounts I've seen say it was a one-room flat with only one bed, though there has been mention of a mattress on the floor - PB], and writes that she had considered sleeping with him, in part out of revenge on an ex-boyfriend. She recalled thinking at the time, “It might be a pretty fun thing, and no big deal to ‘score' with Julian Assange.’” The article continues: "Julian is in many ways a fantastic person," she told a top Swedish talk show while promoting her book over the weekend. "But the Julian who took part in the party is totally different from the one who humiliated and abused me the previous evening."'

The Daily Beast article is headlined 'I'm not a CIA agent. I'm a sexual abuse victim.' Under the circumstances the suspicion that Ardin was working for the US government comes naturally, the more so when we learn that in 2006 she visited Miami and Havana on a research project for Uppsala University investigating the role Cuban dissidents might play in the overthrow of Fidel Castro. (22) The US government wanted  Assange's reputation to be trashed and that's exactly what Anna Ardin managed to do - very successfully. Nonetheless I think her animus against Assange was sincere and personal. Quoting the Daily Beast again: '"Julian is definitely not a  monster'" she writes, "but he crossed my boundaries."' Boundaries obviously much more important than the release of 750,000 documents 'which included records about the deaths of nearly 20,000 people.'

(22) See eg Tim Elfrink: 'Anna Ardin, Swede Accusing WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange of Assault, Probably Didn't Work For the CIA In Miami', Miami New Times, 20th December, 2010,

None of that reflects very favourably on a woman who is a deacon, ordained in 2019, in the Swedish 'Equmenia Church' (formed in 2011 from a union of the Swedish Baptist Society, Methodist Church in Sweden and Swedish Mission Church) and author of a treatise - Political and prophetic diakonia - in which she declares that 'she wants to see a church that stands on the side of the oppressed.' (23)

(23) Swedish Wikipedia articles on the Equmenia church and Anna Ardin.

There is, however, possibly, a serious issue at stake in all this which I think Melzer may have missed. According to the account by Geoffrey Robinson: 'Sweden has three classes of rape: extreme, serious and minor. Assange was charged with "minor rape" - a contradiction in terms, but that is what the Swedes actually call the allegation against him. It amounted to having consensual sex without a condom, the use of which had been an implied condition of the consent.' (24) The allegation against Assange falls into a grey area in which the sex was certainly consensual but something happened which one of the partners didn't like. The more serious accusation concerns SW. This was that Assange had entered her not wearing a condom when she was half asleep. As we've seen, she went to the police not to accuse him of rape but because after a testy exchange on the telephone (Assange was in the middle of delicate business in the wake of the release of the Afghan logs) she wanted to be sure that he would be examined for any possibility of AIDS (in all the accounts I've read of these much commented events I've never actually found if he did have such an examination).. The policewoman who received it, a friend of Anna Ardin's as it happens, recorded it against her will as an accusation of rape.

(24) Geoffrey Robertson: Rather his own man, p.348.

Anna Ardin had had difficulty persuading Assange to wear a condom. When she heard SW's story and found a torn condom in her room she suspected that the same thing might have happened to her. The torn condom in the end proved to be useless as evidence since it didn't carry any trace of his DNA, but she still brought three charges of what might be called bullying behaviour on his part. The statute of limitations on these ran out in 2015 so by the time Melzer appeared on the scene, Ardin was theoretically out of it. But she, unlike SW, was ideologically motivated.

The first Swedish prosecutor to examine SW's case - Eva Finné - declared that there was no case to answer. But there were still the three lesser accusations brought by Ardin. Assange presented himself for interrogation to the Swedish police on 30th August. According to Melzer (p.151): 'Now that Assange had denied the allegations made against him, and since no investigative measures could realistically prove those allegations beyond reasonable doubt, the time has come for the Swedish Prosecution Authority to also close the case of A. - due to lack of evidence and based on the presumption of innocence.'

But that, it seems to me, was, from the Swedish feminist point of view, the point at issue. Famously, cases of sexual misconduct are very difficult to prosecute. There is rarely anything that could be presented as evidence (a torn condom for example). It is the word of the person who claims to be a victim against the person they say is a perpetrator. But if there is a 'presumption of innocence' then the advantage is always with the 'perpetrator'.

Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli, however, tells us, in his book Sweden vs Assange (p.173):

'I found the following “guidelines” contained in a verdict by Stockholm’s Court of Appeal regarding a rape trial. The passage summarizes the praxis used by the Swedish courts for, on subjective grounds, taking the side of the women accusers. Or in other words, what is in principle regarded as “sufficient” in the Swedish courts for sentencing a man to jail in such trials: basically the woman’s version:

'“Criteria for judgement: In the absence of direct witness testimony or forensic/technical evidence, however a thoroughly credible testimony on the part of the accuser, in conjunction with what is otherwise presented before the court, can be sufficient for a conviction.” [19]

'And in “what otherwise is presented before the court” it includes at the highest degree the eventual “expert testimony”, e.g. psychiatric assessments of the accuser, performed also in Sweden by radical-feminist gynaecologists which otherwise have publicly declared they fight in their (public service) jobs for an increase of rape-convictions.'

De Noli himself is very hostile to this as a criterion for judgment and he writes interestingly on the rise and influence of feminism and in particular of its theological dimension. Those of us whose memories go back that far will think of Sweden and Denmark in the 1960s as the very citadels of free love and promiscuous sex. There is an interesting book, once, apparently, available on Kindle, but I haven't been able to get hold of a copy, called A Brief history of Swedish sex: how the nation that gave us free love redefined rape and declared war on Julian Assange by Oscar Swartz. De Noli tells the story, with a particular emphasis on the coming together of the Social Democratic Party and a particularly virulent anti-male variety of feminism willing to argue its case on theological grounds. In a sense one can see in Ardin's willingness to have casual sex with someone she doesn't know, together with her sense of outrage when the casual sex goes wrong (an occupational hazard, I would have thought) a combination of the two images of Sweden - sexually free and sexually repressive.

But the problem - presumption of innocence vs credibility of the accuser as primary criterion in the absence of hard evidence - is a real one. Melzer may be wrong to imply, as he does throughout, that participation in the US conspiracy against Assange was the only motive for the strange behaviour of the Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny.