So Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has been accused of rape, then un-accused, and now re-accused. Also potentially involved: Swedish pirates, and the Pentagon. A little confused about what's going on here? Don't worry, we're here to help.
First things first:
Who is this guy?
Julian Assange is an enigmatic Australian "internet activist" and the public face of Wikileaks, the site famous for leaking the Afghan "War Logs," which showed the war in Afghanistan going worse than the US government officially admitted. Ways Assange is enigmatic include not calling himself the "founder" of Wikileaks (he says "some of the people in the initial founding group are refugees, refugees from China and other places"), refusing to confirm his age, and having a Wikipedia photo dated "in or before 2006" (so maybe he's looked this way since birth?).
What did he do?
In August, Assange was accused of rape and sexual molestation (which according to one translator could be "groping, shouting lewd things, [or] basically being a creep") for his actions with two women he met in Sweden. The women say they had consensual sex with Assange that "turned non-consensual" — the Swedish police haven't released all the details, but the charges may have to do with Assange agreeing to use a condom, and then reneging.
What was he doing in Sweden?
Great question! Assange, who says he is "living in airports these days," was in Sweden to talk to the (real name!) Swedish Pirate Party, which has now agreed to host Wikileaks's servers. If the pro-piracy party, which also runs file-sharing site Pirate Bay, gets a seat in the Swedish parliament, the servers will become impossible to legally shut down, giving Wikileaks a new level of protection.
Why does the case keep getting closed and reopened?
This is the most confusing part of the whole story. When Assange was initially indicted by a Swedish prosecutor, a higher-ranking official almost immediately reversed the accusation, "saying that there was no reason to suspect he had carried out the assault." At that time, Assange said (by telephone from "an undisclosed location," natch),
We were warned on the 11th [of August] by Australian intelligence that we should expect this sort of thing. We were warned about dirty tricks and specifically that they would be of a type like this. It is clearly a smear campaign
In another interview, he named the Pentagon as the source of the smears, implying that they were out to get him after the release of the War Logs. He added, "I have been warned of sex traps."
However, after an appeal by the alleged victims' lawyer, the rape case against Assange was reopened today. And Gawker's Adrian Chen dismisses the Pentagon story: "the only conspiracy was hatched by Julian Assange's wandering dick against his better judgment." He adds, "Julian Assange is a megalomaniacal prick, and he knew very well what he was up to. His Twitter-based conspiracy theories were — and always have been — a disingenuous ploy to drum up sympathy and dollars for Wikileaks."
So how did this case get so fucked up? Our guess: 1) Julian Assange is an astute media strategist with lots of loyal followers, and 2) the women he allegedly raped are in the unfortunate position of having consented to some form of sexual contact, which (unjustly) makes rape cases harder to prosecute. Put the two together, and you have a convoluted, reversal-plagued case that's nearly impossible to understand. But now you do!
Sweden To Reopen Rape Case Involving WikiLeaks Editor [CNN]
Sweden Reopens Wikileaks Founder Rape Investigation [BBC]
Julian Assange: Rape Allegations Part Of 'Smear Campaign' [Huffington Post]
Wikileaks Founder Accused Of Sexual Harassment (Updated) [Gawker]
Wikileaks Founder's Molestation Police Report Leaked: His Top-Secret Moves Revealed [Gawker]
Meet Wikileaks Founder's Alleged Sex Victim [Gawker]
Are Wikileaks Activists Finally Realizing Their Founder Is A Megalomaniac? [Gawker]
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange In Web Furore Over Swedish Rape Claim [Guardian]
'Pirate Party' To Host Wikileaks Servers [Newser]