Saturday 23 February 2019

Assange had 'coerced sex' with women, extradition appeal hears

John Aston and Brian Farmer in London

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces genuine accusations of "non-consensual, coerced sex", the High Court in London was told yesterday

Statements made by two women who accuse Assange of sexual misconduct -- one of whom said she was "roughed up" -- showed they did not freely consent, said a lawyer representing Swedish prosecutors.

Lawyers for Assange (40) are challenging a ruling by District Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south London that he should be extradited to Sweden to face investigation.

Although not charged, the Australian computer expert is wanted to answer questions on three allegations of sexual assault and one of rape involving the women, referred to as "AA" and "SW", in Stockholm last August.

Prosecution lawyer Clare Montgomery told Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley the women described circumstances "in which they did not freely consent without coercion" but agreed to sex because of physical force, or consented "already having been trapped into a position where they had no choice, and they submitted to Mr Assange's attentions".

They had "let him continue", said Ms Montgomery.

"This is non-consensual. It is coerced, and the words used -- 'I let him' -- means non-consent," she added. She referred to a statement made AA in which she said: "I didn't make a free choice. He had already roughed me up by tearing off my clothes and breaking my necklace."

Assange says the allegations against him are politically motivated, particularly after the WikiLeaks website published leaked diplomatic cables that rocked the US government.

On Tuesday, his lawyers argued that a European arrest warrant (EAW) was "invalid" because it contained an inaccurate account of what had occurred in Stockholm, and the women's own statements showed sex had taken place with their consent.

But Ms Montgomery said the woman (AA) had later made her feelings "crystal clear" to a friend, saying "what had happened had gone beyond the limit of what she consented to".


She said AA also complained that Assange had "broken a condom" and Ms Montgomery added: "The complaint is unprotected sexual intercourse where consent had only been given to protected intercourse."

On one night, AA had agreed to share a single bed with Assange but not to be sexually "touched", Ms Montgomery added.

Prosecutors alleged that the woman's "sexual integrity" had been "violated".

Ms Montgomery said evidence was "absolutely clear" in relation to the fourth charge -- an allegation that Assange raped a second woman, referred to in the hearing as SW."The evidence is absolutely clear that this complainant may be legitimately described as given evidence that she had been penetrated whilst asleep," said Ms Montgomery.

"Furthermore being penetrated in a way which is absolutely clear . . . she had not consented to, namely unprotected. It is doubly clear there is no consent."

Ms Montgomery said the fact that the woman may later have agreed to let Assange continue, but, "that didn't make the initial penetration anything other than an act of rape". Ms Montgomery said SW had later told a friend that Assange "had unprotected sex with her when she slept" and was "paralysed" by him.

The two judges deferred a decision on whether to allow his extradition until a later unspecified date.

Irish Independent

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