So What Sexual Crimes Has Julian Assange Been Charged With Exactly?

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.

The European Arrest Warrant issued against Mr. Assange by the Swedish Prosecutor’s office has not been posted online, albeit the Swedish Wire reports,

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)

Chapter 6
On Sexual Crimes
Section 1
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)
Section 2
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

Section 3
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”.

6 Responses to “So What Sexual Crimes Has Julian Assange Been Charged With Exactly?”

  1. Tweets that mention So What Sexual Crimes Has Julian Assange Been Charged With Exactly? « The Trial Warrior Blog -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kat Koinis, Antonin I. Pribetic. Antonin I. Pribetic said: So What Sexual Crimes Has Julian Assange Been Charged With Exactly?: http://wp.me/pCh12-9j [...]

  2. Sapna Law Says:

    Section 3
    “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.”

    Miss W has a case – having sex with a sleeping woman (with or without a condom) would qualify under Section 3. I think that takes care of the “sex by surprise” as you put it. (I’m assuming that when you say “sex by surprise” you’re referring to Miss W’s allegation.)

    As for the “sex without a condom” references, I suspect either they are red herrings to distract from what really happened, or the current Swedish Penal Code considers unprotected sex against your partner’s wish when determining sexual assault. Miss A’s allegations, as reported, are vague, but it is possible to make arguments under Section 1 and Section 2 especially when you consider “violence”, “threat”, “causing helplessness” and “unlawful coercion”.

    What is interesting is the absence of the concept of “consent”, though the Code does dance around the issue by mentioning incapacitation, mental deficiency and “unlawful coercion” however that is interpreted in Swedish law. In the 10 years since that translation, it is possible that the concept has been added in a more robust fashion.

    Given that the only known English version of the Swedish Penal Code is over 10 years old, any sort of legal analysis of the allegations as reported (most likely incompletely, and with vital facts missing) is futile.

  3. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Thanks for your comment and analysis. Not only are vital facts missing, so too is either a rationale (or rationalization) for issuing a European Arrest Warrant in these circumstances. One would think that the CPS prosecutor, Gemma Lindfield, who juniored on the Rwandan genocide extradition, has more pressing matters to attend to; perhaps systematic gang rapes in Rwanda and Congo and elsewhere where the perpetrators remain free without charges.

  4. Sapna Law Says:

    And I just read the link to the extract from the Swedish Penal Code. I see they have elaborated on “incapacitation” to include sleep, drunkenness etc. etc.

    I’d be interested in a better explanation of “violating someone’s sexual integrity.”

    Chapter 4 Section 4 seems to be the requirements for “unlawful coercion” which requires the victim being compelled to do something against his or her will by assault, threat of criminal act, or force. Arguably, Assange compelled Miss A to have sex without against a condom against her will, most likely through force (possibly connected to her first allegation where he held her down with his body weight in a sexual manner).

  5. Sapna Law Says:

    Can’t comment on the procedural aspects of this case, I admit those are your forte and I will defer to your opinion on whether the warrant was issued properly and through the right authority. However, from your comment it would seem that till the Rwandan and Congolese gang-rapists were charged, tried and convicted, one shouldn’t worry themselves with charging and convicting rapists in Europe who decide to skip the country? (Of course, I know you’re pointing to a possible conspiracy theory whereby trumped up charges are being used against a founder of a website that has got all govermnents squirming in their seats, but if you put that aside for a bit…)

    Also, I’ll admit I haven’t been following this matter much, but did read up on it a little more after I posted here (really should have read up on it before I posted, but oh well). And I see now what you mean by “sex by surprise.”

    I also read that what seems to be at issue is not only that the condom broke during sex (oops “sex by surprise!”), but that consent was withdrawn when Miss A realized this, and Asssange continued to have sex with her, holding her down forcefully. Of course allegedly. And if true, that’s considered rape in Sweden. And of course there’s that little matter of allegedly having sex with a sleeping woman. Which whichever way you look at it, is rape.

  6. irene Says:

    Thank you this is a well thought out post just wish to thank you for such insight on the matter all had great things to say on the topic interesting work indeed well done.I.Carlson BC.

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