As media outlets, pundits and blawgers eagerly await this Thursday’s pending bail appeal hearing in the English High Court concerning Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sort out what charges Assange is actually facing, as he seeks bail and fights extradition to Sweden.
When Assange appeared before a London court following his arrest on Tuesday, Gemma Lindfield, representing the Swedish authorities, told the judge that Assange was wanted in connection with four allegations made by two women.
She told the court the first complainant, identified only as Miss A, said she was victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of August 14 this year in Stockholm.
The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.
The second charge alleged Assange “sexually molested” Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her “express wish” one should be used.
The third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on August 18 “in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity”.
The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on August 17 without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.
According to the BBC News,
The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been granted bail in London on conditions including cash guarantees of £240,000.
But he will remain in prison pending an appeal against the bail decision lodged by Swedish prosecutors.
Mr Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexually assaulting two women earlier this year.
I have been unable to find any news articles or blawg posts citing an expert in Swedish criminal law, or providing an analysis of the charges against Assange based upon the Swedish Penal Code.[If any readers find one, please leave a comment with a link].
Until more information is revealed in the UK extradition proceedings, the best I can offer is an English translation of the Swedish Penal Code up to 1 May 1999 (by Norman Bishop). It appears that, subject to any subsequent amendments, the relevant statutory provisions for “Sexual Crimes” are as follows: Criminal code of the Kingdom of Sweden (English version)
On Sexual Crimes
A person who by violence or threat which involves, or appears to
the threatened person to involve an imminent danger, forces another person to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, that having regard to the nature of the violation and the circumstances in general, is comparable to enforced sexual intercourse, shall be sentenced for rape to imprisonment for at least two and at most six years. Causing helplessness or a similar state of incapacitation shall be regarded as equivalent to violence.
If having regard to the nature of the violence or the threat and
the circumstances in general, the crime is considered less serious, a sentence to imprisonment for at most four years shall be imposed.
If the crime is gross, a sentence to imprisonment for at least four
and at most ten years shall be imposed for gross rape. In assessing whether the crime is gross, special consideration shall be given to whether the violence involved a danger to life or whether the perpetrator caused serious injury or serious illness or, having regard to the method used or the victim’s youth or other circumstances, exhibited particular ruthlessness or brutality. (Law 1998:393)
A person who, under circumstances other than those defined in
Section 1, makes someone engage in a sexual act by unlawful
coercion shall be sentenced for sexual coercion to imprisonment for at most two years.
If the person who committed the act exhibited particular
ruthlessness or if the crime is otherwise considered gross, a sentence of at least six months and at most four years shall be imposed for gross sexual coercion. (Law 1992:147)
Ds 1999:36 25
A person who induces another person to engage in a sexual act by
gross abuse of his or her dependent state shall be sentenced for
sexual exploitation to imprisonment for at most two years. The
same shall apply to a person who engages in a sexual act with
another person by improperly taking advantage of the fact that the latter is helpless or in some other state of incapacitation or is
suffering from a mental disturbance.
If the accused has exhibited particular ruthlessness or if the
crime is otherwise to be considered gross, imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years shall be imposed for gross sexual exploitation. (Law 1998:393)
I have been unable to find any reference to “sex by surprise” or “sex without a condom” in any portions of the Swedish Penal Code. Notably absent, as well, is the term “consent”.
By contrast, according to the Statement from Director of Prosecution, Ms. Marianne Ny on the Åklagarmyndigheten (Swedish Prosecution Office) website,
At a hearing on Tuesday 14 December, Westminster Magistrates Court in London decided that Julian Assange should be granted bail. The decision was appealed by the British prosecutor.
– As I have already stated, I cannot at the moment provide information concerning the development of the matter, as it is handled by British authorities, says Director of Prosecution Ms Marianne Ny.
As soon as new information can be released, it will be published on the web site www.aklagare.se.
The Swedish Prosecution Office website also provides a link to the Extract from the Swedish Penal Code citing Chapter 6:1, 6:10, 4:4.
Chapter 6, section 10 deals with sexual molestation of a child under 15 and
“also applies to a person who exposes himself or herself to another person in a manner that is likely to cause discomfort, or who otherwise by word or deed molests a person in a way that is likely to violate that person’s sexual integrity.”
Chapter 4 Section 4 appears to be a general assault provision that encompasses “unlawful coercion”.