issued an arrest warrant, Assange has been under house arrest here for seven
months, staying at the country estate of one of his wealthy supporters. He celebrated his 40th birthday there this
week with "wikicupcakes" and a party for 100 friends, The Guardian reported this morning.
The court proceedings
have ranged from discussions of dry legal issues -- who has the authority to
issue a warrant? -- to what sounded like a script for an X-rated movie. The Guardian has been reporting the
hearing, which began yesterday, live.
more conciliatory approach than Assange's former lawyers, Assange's new lawyers
have conceded that the two Swedish women were reasonable in finding that his
conduct was "disrespectful, discourteous or even pushing at the boundaries
of what they felt comfortable with." His lawyer, Ben Emmerson, described
what happened with one of the women, identified in the Swedish complaint as AA.
She was a member of a group that had invited Assange to Sweden, and had said
that he could stay at her apartment. As transcribed on The Guardian's website, Emmerson said,
They lay down
in bed. AA was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her ... AA felt that
Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not
want since he was not wearing a condom ... She did not articulate this. Instead
she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to
avoid a penetration ... AA tried several times to reach for a condom, which
Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs
open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. AA says
that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom
and felt this could end badly.
on that there had been consent, because after AA told him that she wanted him
to use a condom, "Assange let go of AA's arms and put on a condom which AA
condom then broke or Assange pulled it off is a matter of dispute.
As for the
second woman, identified as SW, whom Assange had met at one of his talks in
Sweden, the allegation is that Assange penetrated her unprotected while she was
sleeping, which is rape under Swedish law.
argued that when SW awoke, she "let him continue."
for Sweden, Clare Montgomery, ridiculed this. Emmerson was "winding the
law of consent back to the 19th Century," she said. "At best, the
words 'I let him' amount to submission, not free consent." Furthermore,
she argued, while SW may have later acquiesced, "that didn't make the
initial penetration anything other than an act of rape."
Near the end
of today's hearing, the following exchange occurred between Assange's lawyer
and the judges, to laughter in the courtroom.
lying beside her in a single bed, my lord," Emmerson said, addressing the
justices as they are here. "Men will get erections involuntarily during a
night's sleep. In a single bed with a man there's a strong possibility she will
come into contact with an erect penis."
agree," said the justice. "The question is what he does with
graphic talk about sex by bewigged lawyers is somewhat of a sideshow. The
bewigged judges have to decide whether under the law what Assange is alleged to
have done is an offense for which he can be extradited, under European Union
and British law. The odds are that he will be.
Justice Thomas may have captured it best when he said this morning, "a huge amount
of time and publicity has been given [to this case] that is in no one's