Julian Assange went to the Embassy of Ecuador in Knightsbridge, London today, to seek asylum. In a letter to their government, he said his home country of Australia has "effectively abandoned" him and is "ignoring the obligation to protect its citizen who is persecuted politically." He is being cut adrift, not only by Australia but by Britain, who have already made up their minds - it's time for him to go back to Sweden to face the music.
An acquaintance of Assange who met him and the two women in Sweden around the time of the alleged assaults, told The Guardian that his behaviour towards women would one day get him into trouble. Because of his celebrity, many women invited him into their beds and he was quick to accept. He warned Assange that it was not a good way to behave ethically, his weakness was - and still is - women. But modern women the world over, and particularly in Sweden, are smart enough to know that having unprotected sex is very dangerous.
Lawyer for the two Swedish women is Claes Borgstrom, well respected with many years experience. He says it is not a conspiracy to discredit Assange. "It has nothing whatever to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA and I regret very much that Mr Assange does not publicly say so himself which would put all the rumours to rest" he said. "These two women were molested by Mr Assange at two different times, independently of each other."
One of the women who met Assange at a lecture he gave in Stockholm in August, wanted to contact him after the alleged assault because she was worried about sexually transmitted infections. She contacted the second woman, who had helped organize the lecture, to see if she could help her find him. "When they spoke to each other, they realized they had been through something very similar so they went to police. That is not odd" he said.
But Julian Assange didn't like being told what to do and refused to take the test until it was too late, when all the Swedish clinics were closed for the weekend. "I don't like it when people are blackmailing me by threatening to go to the police" he said.
Borgstrom said the women were concerned about HIV and decided to go to police, to inform them of what happened and ask for advice. They were not sure whether they should make a police complaint but when they told the police officer what had occurred, she realized that what they were telling her was a crime, and reported it to the Public Prosecutor who decided to arrest Assange.
Two days later, a second Prosecutor judged that the evidence did not meet the criterion of a rape or sexual molestation charge and cancelled the arrest order. Borgstrom didn't agree and had the case re-opened. "I think that the Prosecutor who cancelled the arrest warrant did not study the case well enough" he said. Assange was at that time free to leave the country, it was only later when he was unwilling to return voluntarily for questioning, that the extradition process was put into place.
In Sweden, the charge of rape falls into three different categories - severe, standard and less severe. Assange's charge falls into the category of 'less severe' but still carries a maximum jail term of 4 years.
Borgstrom is adamant that Assange would receive a fair trial and said "The Swedish court system is one of the best and strongest in the world and the WikiLeaks affair will have no influence on the case if it goes to court."
Christine Assange said today that her son had shown clear thinking in seeking asylum in Ecuador. If they do not accept him she said other third-world governments, who have been affected by US greed and corruption, must come forward to offer protection.