Now Reading
Assange: Why I won't go to Sweden

From the archive: This story is more than 10 years old.

Assange: Why I won't go to Sweden

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gives his first broadcast interview since his release from prison.

  • Assange speaks to the BBC.
    BBCAssange speaks to the BBC.
  • Assange in 2009
    Peter Erichsen/New Media Days (Flickr)Assange in 2009

In his first full on-air interview since being released from a British jail, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has defended his decision not to return to Sweden for questioning over rape allegations.

Assange, speaking to the BBC, said legally he had "certain rights," and besides he did not need to be "at the beck and call of people making allegations."

Assange was speaking in an interview for the Today program, at the mansion in Norfolk outside of London, where he is staying under strict bail conditions.

The 39-year-old Australian suggested allegations by two women of sexual assault amounted to a "smear campaign," and said the case was politically motivated.

"I was [in Sweden] for some five weeks after these initial allegations were made. They were dropped within 24 hours of them first being made," he said. "The most senior prosecutor in Stockholm reviewed them and they were dropped. Then politician Claes Borgstrom became involved, other forces became involved and the case, the investigative part of the case, was taken up again. 

Assange said he believed the most probable explanation for the rape allegations was that two women "found out that they were mutual lovers of mine and they had unprotected sex and they got into a tizzy about whether there was a possibility of sexually transmitted diseases."

It was a "ridiculous thing to go to the police about," he added.

Of his accusers, he added: "I have also never criticized these women. We don't know precisely what pressures they have been under, exactly. There are powerful interests that have incentives to promote these smears. That doesn't mean that they got in there in the very beginning and fabricated them."

Asked about his seeming reluctance to acknowledge the seriousness of the rape charges, he said: "If they want to charge me, they can charge me. They have decided not to charge me."

He said prosecutors were free to travel to the United Kingdom to questions him, "or we can do a video link up, or they can accept a statement of mine. They have rejected all of that. And they have asked, as part of their application that, if I go to Sweden and am arrested, that I am to be held incommunicado. Entirely incommunicado. They have asked that my Swedish lawyer be gagged from talking about the evidence to the public."

He added: "I have an organization to run. I have my people to defend. There are other things at stake here… I have a serious brewing extradition case in relation to the United States. I have a serious organization to run. People affiliated with our organization have already been assassinated. My work is serious. I do not have to run off to random states simply because some prosecutor is abusing a process in those states."

WikiLeaks has released thousands of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables — a move that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said was "sabotaging peaceful relations" between countries.

 Assange insisted his aim was "to promote justice through the method of transparency."

Meantime, TechCrunch reports that Apple has removed controversial WikiLeaks software from iPhone App Store.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

— 30 —

Top headlines

Best in Internet Exploder