"[T]here is a well-orchestrated campaign of character assassination against Assange, including mischaracterizations of the sexual misconduct case brought against him by Swedish police. Assange has not formally been charged with a crime. The two women involved have not accused him of rape."Let's go through this sentence-by-sentence, because there's a lot of bullshit in there.
"[T]here is a well-orchestrated campaign of character assassination against Assange, including mischaracterizations of the sexual misconduct case brought against him by Swedish police."This is the only time Hedges mentions the allegations against Assange, in the context of discussing a "well-orchestrated campaign of character assassination" against his main man. In the interest of not mischaracterizing the case against Assange, what are the specific allegations against him? Two different women say he sexually abused them; that he engaged in non-consensual sex with them; that he was explicitly told to wear a condom but refused; that, in one case, he had unprotected sex with one of the woman who had insisted he wear a condom while she slept.
Though Hedges is concerned about mischaracterizations of the case, he doesn't note those details himself. Too messy.
"Assange has not formally been charged with a crime."Hedges, like most Americans, is ignorant of the Swedish legal system. He doesn't know how it works. Assange and his team at Wikileaks are aware of this and have thus included this line -- he hasn't even been charged with anything! -- in their core set of talking points. But it is actually pretty dumb. Why? Because in the Swedish legal system, one is not formally charged with a crime until one is arrested and about to go to trial. Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for "the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings" because Assange skipped out on the final interview that comes before that arrest. The prosecutor in the case says he will be immediately indicted and tried following this next interview, unless he says anything "which [undermines] my present view."
As The Guardian reported in 2010, "Assange himself told friends in London that he was supposed to return to Stockholm for a police interview . . . and that he had decided to stay away." Dude knew what he was doing.
"The two women involved have not accused him of rape."This is meaningless. What matters is that both of Assange's accusers say that their sexual encounters with him "started out as consensual but turned nonconsensual." There is a word for that, whether the two accusers -- who went to the police for a reason -- used that word themselves. Legally speaking, Assange is wanted on "two counts of sexual molestation, one count of unlawful coercion, and one count of rape."
I too once believed, reflexively, that there was something fishy about the charges against Assange; that they were part of an international campaign to defame him and ruin his organization, perhaps. But then I actually started looking at the case. And then I started wondering why Wikileaks was always going on about how sex-hating Swedish feminists had "redefined rape" to mean something crazy like "non-consensual sex." And then I came to the conclusion that it's actually Assange and the remnants of Wikileaks that are engaged in a serious disinformation campaign.
Chelsea Manning is the real hero. Let's talk about Chelsea Manning.