8 Dec 2016

Assange says texts show he is innocent of rape

7:47 am on 8 December 2016

Julian Assange has gone public for the first time with his version of events surrounding a rape allegation made against him, saying he is "entirely innocent" and text messages show "it is clearly consensual sex between adults".

The ABC obtained a copy of the statement the WikiLeaks founder gave prosecutors from his refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on 14 November.

The statement includes detailed accounts of what he calls consensual sex with the woman known as SW, claims he had consensual and enjoyable sex four or five times with SW, alleged specifics of text messages from SW and a virulent rejection of Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny's actions.

Julian Assange addresses media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London earlier this year

Julian Assange says he is innocent of rape. Photo: AFP

The questioning of Mr Assange in November was the latest move in a six-year saga that has seen Sweden issue an international arrest warrant and the WikiLeaks founder seeking political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy.

In the statement Mr Assange said he had been subjected to "six years of unlawful, politicised detention without charge", and documents selected extracts of his lawyers' notes of text messages sent by the two women at the centre of the allegations.

The 19-page statement also suggested Mr Assange may not have directly answered all of the questions asked by the Ecuadorian prosecutor, on behalf of the Swedish prosecutor.

A Swedish prosecutor and an Ecuadorian prosecutor were in the embassy for a day-and-a-half, but Mr Assange's own statement suggested when he was asked a question, he would likely refer the prosecutor to his statement.

"I want people to know the truth about how abusive this process has been," Mr Assange said in releasing the statement.

"Furthermore, in the past the prosecution has fed partial information to tabloids that politically oppose me.

"It is better that my statement, which I am happy with, and which makes it obvious to all that I am innocent, sees the light in full."

Mr Assange reiterated in his statement that he is "entirely innocent" of the one remaining allegation of rape and says text messages seen by his Swedish lawyers show that "it is clearly consensual sex between adults".

The ABC has not seen the text messages.

Mr Assange detailed notes taken by his lawyers at a Swedish police station after they were allowed to read text messages sent between SW and AA - the two women who made allegations against the WikiLeaks founder.

According to Mr Assange's statement the text messages included the following:

  • On 17 August, SW wrote "JA did not want to use a condom".
  • On 20 August, while at the police station, SW wrote that she "did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange" but that "the police were keen on getting their hands on him".
  • According to the statement she was "chocked (sic shocked) when they arrested him" because she "only wanted him to take [an STD test]".
  • On 21 August, SW wrote that she "did not want to accuse" Julian Assange "for anything" and that it was the "police who made up the charges (sic)"
  • On 23 August, SW wrote that it was the police, not herself, who started the whole thing.
  • On 26 August, AA wrote that they ought to sell their stories for money to a newspaper.
  • On 28 August, AA wrote that they had a contact on the biggest Swedish tabloid and SW wrote that their lawyer negotiated with the tabloid.

Mr Assange was accused of starting to have sex with SW while she was asleep. Under Swedish law this could constitute rape.

He said a text message sent by SW shows this did not happen.

According to his statement, SW said "I was half asleep".

The WikiLeaks founder said he has been denied permission to read all of the text messages.

In his statement, Mr Assange wondered whether the interview process was "simply a ruse to tick a box to ensure the technical possibility to indict me, irrespective of how I answer any questions".

Mr Assange pointed out that he has tried for six years to give a statement to the Swedish prosecutor via various means, including in Sweden before he left, in London via video link or in an embassy, or back in Sweden if he was given a guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US, where he fears being prosecuted on some form of espionage-related charge.

The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief said he did not believe Swedish prosecutor Ms Ny was "acting in good faith or with the objectivity and impartiality required of her office".

When contacted for comment, the Swedish Prosecutor's office told the ABC prosecutors could not provide information concerning the interview.

"As the investigation is ongoing, it is subject to confidentiality," a spokesperson said.

"This confidentiality also applies according to Ecuadorian legislation for the investigative measures conducted at the embassy."

Elisabeth Fritz, the Swedish lawyer who represents one of the women involved in the case, said Mr Assange "seems to be desperate".

"As soon as he has something to say, he calls on the media, and this time he conducts the investigation through the media," she said.

"The only thing I can say is that Assange has low credibility and we will prove [that during the] prosecution."

Ms Fritz said the ongoing investigation should be respected.

"I also expect that Assange stops violating my client in the media," she said.

"She has suffered enough."

On the first day of questioning in the Ecuadorian embassy, Mr Assange read from his 19-page statement, but it is unclear whether he subsequently answered any of the questions directly.

At the bottom of his statement he says:

"You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicised detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four-and-a-half years at this embassy.

"You should have asked me this question six years ago.

"Your actions in refusing to take my statement for the last six years have been found to be unlawful by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and by the Swedish Court of Appeal.

"You have been found to have subjected me to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. You have denied me effective legal representation in this process.

"Despite this, I feel compelled to cooperate even though you are not safeguarding my rights. I refer you to my statement where all these questions were answered."

This part of the statement suggests that if Mr Assange answered any questions at all he did so with this rote answer, a tactic which would have no doubt infuriated Ms Ny, who while not present during the questioning, has been leading the investigation for the past six years.

For some reason Mr Assange's Swedish lawyer Per Samuelsson was not allowed to be in the Ecuadorian embassy during the questioning.

When asked whether Mr Assange answered questions asked by the prosecutor or did he simply say 'I refer you to my statement?' Mr Samuelson responded, "He did both".


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