A winter morning
in backwoods Scandinavia and the chime of a church bell drifts across
the snowbound town of Enkoping. Does it also toll for WikiLeaks
founder Julian Assange?
small industrial centre, 40 miles west of Stockholm, remains best-known
– if known at all – as the birthplace of the adjustable
But if extradition
proceedings involving Britain are successful, it could soon be rather
more celebrated – by the U.S. government at least – as
the place where Mr Assange made a catastrophic error.
Here, in a
first-floor flat in a dreary apartment block, the mastermind behind
the leak of more than 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables
this month slept with a female admirer whom he had just met at a
seminar. She subsequently made a complaint to police.
As a result,
Assange, believed to be in hiding in England, faces a criminal prosecution
and possibly jail. Last night, a European Arrest Warrant was given
by Interpol to Scotland Yard.
police want to question him regarding the possible rape of a woman
and separate allegations from another Swedish admirer, with whom
he was having a concurrent fling. But there remains a huge question
mark over the evidence. Many people believe that the 39-year-old
Australian-born whistleblower is the victim of a U.S. government
dirty tricks campaign.
that the whole squalid affair is a sexfalla, which translates loosely
from the Swedish as a ‘honeytrap’.
One thing is
clear, though: Sweden’s complex rape laws are central to the
Using a number
of sources including leaked police interviews, we can begin to piece
together the sequence of events which led to Assange’s liberty
being threatened by Stockholm police rather than Washington, where
already one U.S. politician has called on him to executed for ‘spying’.
The story began
on August 11 this year, when Assange arrived in Stockholm.
He had been
invited to be the key speaker at a seminar on ‘war and the
role of the media’, organised by the centre-Left Brotherhood
His point of
contact was a female party official, whom we shall refer to as Sarah
(her identity must be protected because of the ongoing legal proceedings).
blonde, Sarah was already a well-known ‘radical feminist’.
In her 30s, she had travelled the world following various fashionable
While a research
assistant at a local university she had not only been the protegee
of a militant feminist academic, but held the post of ‘campus
sexual equity officer’. Fighting male discrimination in all
forms, including sexual harassment, was her forte.
Sarah and Assange
had never met. But in a series of internet and telephone conversations,
they agreed that during his visit he could stay at her small apartment
in central Stockholm. She said she would be away from the city until
the day of the seminar itself.
over the next few days – while casting an extraordinary light
on the values of the two women involved – suggests that even
if the WikiLeaks founder is innocent of any charges, he is certainly
a man of strong sexual appetites who is not averse to exploiting
stay was always going to be a very social affair, mingling with
like-minded and undoubtedly admiring people.
he held court at the Beirut Cafe in Stockholm, dining with fellow
‘open government’ campaigners and an American journalist.
afternoon, Sarah returned to Stockholm, 24 hours earlier than planned.
In an interview
she later gave to police, she is reported to have said: ‘He
(Assange) was there when I came home. We talked a little and decided
that he could stay.’
The pair went
out for dinner together at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards they
returned to her flat and had sex. What is not disputed by either
of them is that
a condom broke – an event which, as we shall see, would later
take on great significance.
At the time,
however, the pair continued to be friendly enough the next day,
a Saturday, with Sarah even throwing a party for him at her home
in the evening.
That same day,
Assange attended his seminar at the Swedish trade union HQ. In the
front row of the audience, dressed in an eye-catching pink jumper
– you can see her on a YouTube internet clip recorded at the
time – was a pretty twentysomething whom we shall call Jessica.
She was the woman – who two sources this week told me is a
council employee – from Enkoping.