Yesterday the Guardian published a piece I wrote criticising SlutWalk London’s decision to issue a statement opposing the extradition of Julian Assange. It was explicitly not intended to rehash the legal issues; nevertheless, anything mentioning Assange tends to bring out the amateur lawyer in everyone. The piece originally contained this phrase:
rape charges in Sweden
At some point yesterday, this was amended to:
rape allegations in Sweden
A correction note was added, saying that Assange has not been charged. Had I been able to revise the text myself at this stage, my preferred formulation would have been neither of these, but instead this:
rape allegations in Sweden (allegations that the England and Wales High Court has said “there can be no doubt” he would have been charged with already in the UK)
I very much regret not including the quote from the High Court judgement in the piece, because as it stands, it does not accurately reflect the progression of the case.
Through multiple appeals, the allegations against Assange have been found to be serious and substantial enough to support extradition. To say “there are no charges”, as Assange supporters repeatedly do, is a strict translation of Swedish legal terms that misrepresents the nature of the case to anyone whose understanding of the law is based on the England and Wales system.
Those who know what they think about the Assange case are unlikely to be swayed by any commentators at this stage – which is why it’s so extraordinary that SlutWalk London chose to take sides on such a poisonous issue. However, I’m sorry that my piece has now contributed to that misrepresentation.