Analysis: The Assange case in the context of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy for international trade gains

By Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, chair, Swedish Professors & Doctors for Human Rights – SWEDHR.

This is the first part of the series “Why Sweden’s violations against international law &  Assange’s human rights remain unabated after 6 years of his arbitrary detention?”

 

Introduction

A previous analysis concluded that Sweden most likely would persist in neither undertaking nor recognizing the international criticism for its rejection of the UN conclusion regarding the arbitrary detention of Mr Julian Assange [See UNGWAD full document in Appendix 1]. That is to say, it will not do so at least in the nearest future.

Further, the article hypothesizes that –in the eventuality of a positive intervention by the upcoming Trump administration regarding the case Assange – from the Swedish side the case will be likely used as a tool in a bargain including issues of economic interest, support by the US towards Swedish stances in the Security Council (as publicly anticipated by foreign minister Margot Wallström) [1] and other items already put forward by the letter of PM Stefan Löfven to President-elect Donald Trump. [2]

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Meanwhile, as the Trump’s team has not yet given a clear indication regarding a possible intervention in the case, –in either direction– the prospect of an indictment and consequently the risk of extradition of Julian Assange to the US remains incumbent. [3]

Ecuador’s prosecutor, Galo Chiriboga, said recently that the future of the case Assange is now only attributable to Swedish prosecutors. “I do not think there is a quick way out,” he added. [4] This article analyses these four main factors that would explain Sweden’s six-year breach of Human Rights and international law in the case Assange:

i) The case in the context of Sweden’s foreign policy and international trade; ii) The future of the Assange case in the context of Sweden’s current shift on national security issues; iii) The treatment of the Assange case against the backdrop of a prospective change in the political relations between the governments of Sweden and the US; iv) Issues of Swedish political idiosyncrasy affecting the affair Assange.

One main thesis put forward by the author has been that the “legal” aspects of the case have been from the beginning, six years ago, a simple make-believe; a baroque superstructure of nonsense in which the real political case has been encrusted. Unfortunately, a fixation on that artificial aspect of the case has driven attention away from the essential elements in the case, namely the political node; this might have resulted in the postponing of a political action in favour of a juridical or legal priority which in concrete has not given Julian Assange the freedom which –arbitrarily– Sweden has taken away from him.

This distinction is of vital importance when considering a possible solution for the case’s stalemate, and obtaining Julian Assange’s freedom (beginning with the recognition by Sweden and the UK of the UNWGAD ruling). [5] Additionally, one conclusion of this review is that a comprehensive solution leading to the freedom of Assange has to tackle with the UK requests and the US situation regarding the announced investigations against WikiLeaks (and Assange). [6] In other words, only a political solution seems viable as effective and realistic.

I argue the above, also based on an old Roman juridical principle, freely translated as, “A knot is unknotted in the same fashion it was knotted”. As the case was politically elaborated, it has to be politically dismissed. Others might argue with help of Alexander of Macedonia, for whom –according to the traditions around the Delphi Oracle–a most effective way of untying a knot is parting it with a falling sword. He did that eventually, the story goes. But he was already in political charge of a vast imperium. Politicians in charge obviously are entitled to do that…

I

The Assange case in the context of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy for international trade gains.

It is necessary to first refer briefly to the history of Sweden’s ‘soft’ trademark designs aimed to access international market for its exports. Historically considered, these trademarks have served also as a presentation of Sweden’s cultural sustainability, a country ‘guided by principles’, and hence a suitable country to do business with. After all, “soft” trademarks are per definition incontrovertible, and devised for all to be in agreement with.

These are emblematic, non-controvertible mantras, aimed to easily find consensus or international sympathy. In reality, nevertheless, they are deprived of a consequent geopolitical behaviour. In modern times, the Swedish trademarks launched by the authorities abroad were, first the “neutrality” vow of the 60’s – 80’s, which was maintained until the Berlin Wall fall. [7]

Then it was followed by the “human rights” pretence of the 90’s, which ended with the catastrophe vote against Sweden in the UN in 2014, after irrecoverable prestige loses caused by the secret collaboration of the Swedish government with the CIA. [8]

Ultimately, the Swedish international mantra directed to the international market has been replaced with the ‘feminist’ characterization announced by the authorities. This aimed to be applied in all Swedish official activities and stances, particularly in foreign policy. We could hardly ignore this fact since is the Swedish government itself which have declared this fundamental aim in the leading statement “The feminist foreign policy of the government of Sweden” found in the government’s official web site:

”Jämställdhet mellan kvinnor och män utgör en grundläggande målsättning för svensk utrikespolitik. Uppfyllandet av kvinnors och flickors grundläggande mänskliga rättigheter utgör såväl en skyldighet inom ramen för internationella åtaganden som en förutsättning för att nå Sveriges bredare utrikespolitiska mål om fred, säkerhet och hållbar utveckling.” [9]

Any governmental initiative advocating societal changes in favour of gender equality and advancing women rights in all countries in the world is of course laudable. However, ethical problems may arise a) when the message is proven to lack consistency against the backdrop of the actual government’s behaviour (see below on current relationships between Sweden and Saudi Arabia); or b) when with the end of making such human-rights message louder in the international community, the government resort to anti human-rights means. As seen further below, this is what is happening with the further misusing of the arbitrarily-detention case of Mr Assange by the part of Sweden; a case that first had to be created, and then make it last for six years. Machiavelli would have been proud.

In a closer examination, the international use by the Swedish government of the feminist parlance shows having a target beyond the declared ideological concerns. It rather intends– through gaining support amid the legitimate and growing feminist movement of a number of developing countries – to influence the decision making in those countries towards the purchasing of Swedish industrial goods and services, and above all, adopting a stance to favour Swedish arms export.

As the feminist movement in those countries, and I say, fortunately, has been able to permeate across diverse sectors in society, this also includes members of the ruling elites intervening in the import decision-making. In the same fashion of the role played by the old Swedish “non alignment” and “neutrality” pseudo-doctrines amidst the constellation of “Third world countries” during the cold war (which, besides of benefiting the arms export industry signified huge contracts for Swedish companies), the new official “feminist” foreign policy serves a similar economic and commercial strategy.

Also, in the same way that the “principled stances” of “neutrality” and “non-alignment” proved in reality to be a deceptive geopolitical manoeuvre of the Swedish government to cover – as revealed by WikiLeaks – [10] a secret and growing collaboration with NATO, the new official “feminist” stance has rapidly demonstrated its inconsequence. A concrete proof of this is given by the multiple business initiatives –mainly weapons export– currently initiated by the Swedish government for instance with Saudi Arabia [11] and other countries [12] noteworthy for their anti-feminist and gender-discriminating policies.

(Besides the fact that some of those Arab tyrannies are known for an extreme unequal gender panorama, they are also countries actively participating in wars. Nevertheless the outcome is that such weapon exports are illegal, according to Swedish law. Furthermore, as this war activities mean the aerial bombing of populations, such as in Yemen, in which a third of the targets in the raids result being civilian ones, [13] Sweden’s weapon exports are more than unethical; such behaviour should be ascribed as war-crimes collaboration.)

Impact in the Assange case

Although the ‘Assange case’ has been used from the beginning as symbol of a ‘feminist’ stance in Sweden, mainly by right-wing sections of the movement, [14] not all active or prominent figures of the Swedish feminism movement have endorsed this campaign. There are notable examples, both internationally and in Sweden, of distinguished feminists that have instead supported the struggle of justice for Julian Assange. [15] [16] In this campaign, there is a consistent tendency, principally in the state-owned [17] and mainstream media, [18] to associate the case Assange with the feminist political struggle involved in the campaign to radicalize Swedish law criminalizing acts as offences, exactly of the kind that the Swedish police said (we make the distinction that it was the police and not the complainant) Julian Assange was suspected of having committed. [19] [See Note 19, on police’s railroading the complainants].

It is worth mentioning in this background that the case, which originally has been closed by Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné, [20] was reopened thanks to actions deployed by a constellation of prominent and less-prominent members of the political movement working to broaden the definition of sexual offences, including the former Gender Ombudsman Claes Bodström. [21]

The radical legislation of sexual offences in Sweden is in its turn the only emblematic item that Swedish feminism can present in the international arena as a benchmark of Sweden’s development in this front. Other classical issues, such as equal pay or absolute gender-indiscriminate environments have unfortunately not been achieved in Sweden. In other words, the exporting endeavour of Sweden in this area is more a matter of principles and rhetoric, rather than corresponding to a standard achieved by other countries, for instance Norway.

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The implication of the above in future developments in the Assange case is packaged in a paradox. On the one hand, the ’hard line’ demonstrating against Assange is a unique opportunity to show abroad the radical legislation established in Sweden, meaning, to show what the government ponders as the cornerstone of Sweden’s feminism. On the other hand, it is the celebrity of Assange and WikiLeaks that provide the Foreign Ministry of Sweden with a free ride for their boosting. As long as the Swedish government will be able to profit from this ‘arrangement’ – no matter the injustice and the breaches to Assange human rights– they will use it.

At the same time, facts show that a primary interest of the Swedish government is the promotion of exports ‘made in Sweden’, mainly related to the arms industry. The emblematic “neutrality” mantra is now obsolete and absolutely deprived of credibility, on the cause of Sweden’s now open hostility against Russia and its progressive alignment with NATO [see below]. The replacement of “neutrality” and “non-alignment” by “feminist” represents however a serious shift in Sweden, beyond the rhetoric.

[This article series continues in Part II, “Six years arbitrary detention of Assange in the context of Sweden’s military strategy]

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Notes and References

[1] Hanna Jakobson, Wallströms oro för Trumps kvinnosyn. Expressen, 10 November 2016.

[2] PM Stefan Löfven’s letter to Donald Trump was censored by the government. However, the newspaper Expressen obtained this copy:

brev-till-trump-fra%cc%8an-pm-lo%cc%88fven-expressen

[3] M Ferrada de Noli, Analysis: Trump, WikiLeaks, Assange and Sweden. The Indicter magazine, 21 November 2016.

[4] Andrew Blake, U.N. panel upholds decision on Julian Assange’s arbitrary detainment. The Washington Times, 30 November 2016.

[7] The neutrality slogan has been found in clear contradiction by the covert behaviour of Swedish authorities partly in domestic matters, but above all in concrete activities pertaining national security. For instance, it has been revealed that Sweden, historically, was never “neutral” –not regarding Nazi Germany, nor afterwards regarding NATO– or referring to any geopolitical interest opposed to Russia.

[8] The Swedish security police was eventually acting under CIA command in Swedish territory, during the extraordinary renditions that transported political refugees in Sweden from Stockholm airports to torture centres elsewhere. For these deeds, Sweden was sanctioned by the United Nations for serious violations on the Absolute Ban on Torture – See: Human Rights Watch, “Sweden Violated Torture Ban in CIA Rendition“. 10 November 2006.

[9] The government of Sweden, statements, The feminist foreign policy of the government of Sweden [Swedish] “En feministisk utrikespolitik”. Regeringskansliet, retrieved 4 December 2016.

[10] From The Daily Telegraph, 15 Dec 2010:

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[11] M Ferrada de Noli, Sweden’s unethical – and unlawful ­­– arms deals with ISIS-backing Saudis. The Indicter magazine, 22 October 2016.

[12] M Ferrada de Noli, How Sweden will help bombing Yemen exporting weapons to UAE. The Indicter magazine, 1 November 2016.

[13] Ewen MacAskill & Paul Torpey, “One in three Saudi air raids on Yemen hit civilian sites, data shows“. The Guardian, 16 September 2016.

[14] M. Ferrada de Noli, Assange case, a symbol for Swedish right-wing “radical-feminism”. The Professors’ Blog, 30 September 2011.

[15] Naomi Wolf, “Sweden’s Serial Negligence in Prosecuting Rape Further Highlights the Politics Behind Julian”, 15 April 2011.

[16] Helene Bergman, A Swedish Feminist’s Perspective On Swedish State “Feminism”. The Professors’ Blog, 14 June 2014.

[17] Particularly programs aired by the Swedish Radio.

[18] M. Ferrada de Noli, “The Trial by The Media“. In: “Sweden vs. Assange. Human Rights Issues & Political Background”. Libertarian Books, 2nd ed., 2016. Pags. 110 – 165.

Alsp published in the Professors’ Blog:

M. Ferrada de Noli, a) “Swedish government using media to interfere in the legal process against Julian Assange“. The Professors’ Blog, 27 January 2012; b) Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange? The Professors’ Blog, 20 February 2011; c) Trial by Media fortsätter. The Professors’ Blog, 4 February 2013;Journalister till tjänst i krigföringen mot Assange, och mot hederlig journalistik”; d) The Professors’ Blog, 17 February 2012; “Om de upprepade anklagelserna mot Assange av svenska journalister”. The Professors’ Blog, 17 February 2012; e) “The ‘Duck Pond’ Theses. Explaining Swedish journalism and the anti-Assange smear campaign”. The Professors’ Blog, 1 December 2011; f) “Rigged documentary on Julian Assange in the Swedish National Television. PART 1: The Political Agenda”. The Professors’ Blog, 15 April 2011; g) Rigged documentary on Julian Assange in the Swedish National Television. Contents & Links to Parts I – V. The Professors’ Blog, 14 April 2011.

[19] M. Ferrada de Noli, Mr. Julian Assange has never been charged of any crime. The powers behind the hunt of WikiLeaks. The Indicter, 17 September 2016. Excerpt:

“It has been reported that the the characterization on “rape” – as was presented in the arresting warrant against Julian Assange– was not made by the women but instead it was a creation from the part of the police. Now, according the transcription of the press conference of prosecutor Marianne Ny, she herself confirmed that so was the case, meaning: it is the Swedish state which is after to prosecute Julian Assange, regardless that ‘women complainants’ had never reported to have experienced the perpetration of a crime in those terms as it comes from purely from the prosecutor’s will. This is the transcription in regards to that item:

“Question: Who actually has made this accusation? Because the alleged victim said the police had railroaded her, didn’t sign the police statement and in fact the first prosecutor on the case dropped it saying that no crime had been committed? That was the prosecutor of Stockholm, and then you took it up again.

Marianne Ny: But I am her superior, in fact, I am the Senior Prosecutor. I can in fact reverse the decision of one of my subordinates. I came to the conclusion that her decision in fact was erroneous. When it comes to the question of who made the accusation, I have already said this, rape is subject to obligatory prosecution in Sweden. You don’t need a complainant to sign a complaint or make a charge. If rape comes to the knowledge of the police authorities in Sweden, they are obliged to prosecute, that means they are obliged to refer the case to a prosecutor, a prosecutor has to look into it, and then it follows the normal course of law.”

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The author:

Prof-Marcello-Ferrada-de-Noli-4-Jan-2016-no-glasses-redc-Hanna-to-The_Indicter-644x634Professor Dr med Marcello Ferrada de Noli is the founder and chairman of Swedish Professors and Doctors for Human Rights and editor-in-chief of The Indicter. Also publisher of The Professors’ Blog, and CEO of Libertarian Books – Sweden. Author of “Sweden VS. Assange – Human Rights Issues.” His op-ed articles have been published in Dagens Nyheter (DN), Svenska Dagbladet (Svd), Aftonbladet, Västerbotten Kuriren, Dagens Medicin,  Läkartidningen and other Swedish media. He also has had exclusive interviews in DN, Expressen, SvD and Aftonbladet, and in Swedish TV channels (Svt 2, TV4, TV5) as well as international TV and media.

Reachable via email at editors@theindicter.com, chair@swedhr.org

Follow the professor on Twitter at @Professorsblogg