Analysis – Human rights of Julian Assange continuously Infringed by Swedish Institutions and Media

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publicerad 20 april 2015
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Julian Assange - Foto: Dartmouth Films

One amongst the endeavours of our organization Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) is the reporting and advocacy against “institutional assaults on the human rights of individuals who have denounced war crimes, or exposed serious infringements to the civil liberties of the population”. [1] SWDEHR’s Board did in February 2015 an exhaustively review of the case of Sweden VS. Julian Assange, upon denounces of transgressions on his human rights.

By Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, SWEDHR Chairman | Article previously published on | Text updated 10:41, April 20, 2015

We found the case to match the aforementioned inclusion criteria, based on the following:

a) The various exposures on war atrocities that Mr Assange has done through his organization WikiLeaks; [2]

b) The investigation initiated by the U.S. government on WikiLeaks in regards to unveiling of war-outrages events in Iraq and Afghanistan, [3];

c) The breaches on the principle of impartiality towards procedures in the legal system, done by the interferences of members of the Swedish government on the legal case, [4] and in detrimental of Mr Assange’s rights; and

d) The smear campaigns ad-hominem against Mr Assange performed by journalists employed by the two corporative monopoles governing Sweden’s main stream media – situation that has been called ‘Trial by media’ [5] [6] – and which have included the State-owned ‘public service’ outlets. [7]

One investigation I conducted already 2011, and that formed part of the documents presented to the London Court by lawyer Jennifer Robinson (of the defence team of Mr Assange), concluded that in a sample of media articles published by the four main Swedish newspapers (DN, SvD, Expressen and Aftonbladet; statistical analysis based in a consecutive sample of 103 articles corresponding to the total reports published in the month-period ending 17 February 2011), it was found an overrepresentation of media articles with a non-objective reporting (56 percent) on issues around the accusations or the Court proceedings in London and particularly with a negative content towards Julian Assange as a person.

A breakdown of this group showed that articles containing information mainly erroneous in content or deceiving in its formulation were 20 of the total articles in the sample. The articles omitting relevant information in the context of the article’s subject or with regard to the article’s heading – although such information was available or published by other media – was 36 percent of all articles.

Among the articles which referred Julian Assange’s personal character or clearly implied features of his personality (forty percent of total articles), far more articles (72 percent) did so by using hostile, detrimental or aggressive terms in contrast with articles using positive terms (28 percent). When comparing these variables, the statistical analysis showed a ratio of 0.38, pointing to a significant overrepresentation of negative assessments. [8]

This trial by the media, and also the unfortunate declarations of members of the government intervening in the legal case, [4] were mentioned by Judge Riddle in his verdict at the London Court. [9]

In the years supervened, these media attacks on Mr Assange have persisted. The examples are copious and I forward instead to the list in Reference and Notes down below. [10]


Recently, a group of journalists of one main Swedish daily, Aftonbladet, discussed in a panel at Aftonbladet-TV around current legal situations of the Assange case, amid a series of xenophobic or even racist formulations. [11]

Julian Assange diskuteras i Aftonbladet - Oj vilken vecka 27 mars 2015

Image above added by NewsVoice

Aftonbladet’s journalists Oisín Cantwell, Karin Magnusson. Lena Mellin , and Fredrik Virtanen. They laughed at Lena Melin’s racist comparison of Julian Assange’s “future” with that of miserable migrants from Romania, forced beggars at the streets of Sweden’s cities.

Journalist Oisín Cantwell opens by characterizing Assange’s legal defence from London as ”so weird, that it is not comparable with anything. In the first place, not all the lawyers are Swedish, but he has also a Spanish lawyer too [Baltazar Garzón]. Remember that [Garzón] tried to indict Pinochet and became world-famous for it. He has his fingers on this too, and it shown that he is a populist of a never-seen sorts”. [12]

What Cantwell fails to mention in this particular context is that the Swedish authorities in their case VS. Assange appointed precisely the lawyer that instead defended the murderous dictator Pinochet in that London trial, Ms Claire Montgomery. Montgomery had received a world reputation of her own when she declared publicly that “Torture is not international crime”. [13]

Neither recalls Cantwell that Garzón’s justified efforts in trying to indict Pinochet was also echoed by private initiatives in Sweden, (See my article in SvD “Pinochet måste tas inför rätta”), [14] but neglected by the government.

The Aftonbladet panel goes on advertising that the risk for an extradition of Assange to the U.S. practically does not exist. The chances for it being ”microscopic”, says Lena Mellin. And Cantwell adds that an extradition from Sweden to the U.S: would require such strong reasons, ”I don’t believe that Sweden does it”. The journalist also added that in Sweden it is the Supreme Court that decides those matters.

But Oisín Cantwell is wrong about those items.

  • For the first, he seems to ignore in the context the secret extraordinary renditions conducted by the Swedish secret services, in collaboration with the CIA, and authorized by the Swedish government. Most notably, the wide-known case of the refugees transported from Bromma airport in Stockholm to be tortured in Egypt. [15]
  • Secondly, it is not the Supreme Court that has the ultimate word on issues of extradition; it is the government. Hence, the decision is conclusively political and not purely juridical. [16]
  • Finally, data regarding the praxis of extraditions by Sweden to the U.S: reveal that during the last decenniums all of these requested for extradition has been granted by the Swedish government, in cases in which the individual in question has been localized in Swedish territory. [17]

In the same journalist-panel, Lena Mellin utters, and ”how shall [Assange] earn his living after he gets out from there”.

Oisín Cantwell replies:

”It’s over with him. Gone from Internet-generation, Jagger [?], rebel, exposes war crimes, whatever. He is just ridiculous”.

Lena Mellin rebuts: “Believable, he shall go to schooling himself by the Swedish migrants [beggars] from Romania”

“That’s a good advice”, says finally the moderator of the panel, Karin Magnusson, and everybody in the panel laugh mildly. [18]

In an article authored by journalist Torbjörn Sassersson in VoiceNews, are found further transcriptions from the referred Aftonbladet sending. For instance, Sassersson captured a sentenced uttered by Osín Catwell where he referred Julian Assange as to, “Criminals of this sort” (”brottslingar av det här slaget”). In another utterance, this time by journalist Fredrik Virtanen, he is reported saying, “He [Julian Assange], seems becoming more and more cracked”[Han verkar ju bli mer och mer havererad”]. [19]

DN. Suspected or charged of a crime?


The newest outbreak in this series of media flaws on Mr Assange, occurred on the 17 of April 2015, when the main Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) published the article by journalist Stefan Lisinski, “Assange: Yes to interrogation in London”. In Lisinski’s text reads the following statement:

“In Sweden, Julian Assange is charged for rape and other sexual crimes on two women” (“Julian Assange är i Sverige anklagad för våldtäkt och andra sexualbrott mot två kvinnor”). [20]

In Swedish, anklagad för brott is synonym of åtalad, whose meaning in English is charged. As evidenced in the table “Context sentences for ‘anklagad för brott’ in English” (image below), the proper translation into English of anklagad för brott, is charged with a crime. [21]


Besides the juridical meanings, in common Swedish language, “anklagad” is used as also used as synonym of “åtalad”, which means indicted. (See image below). [22]


A proper fashion in referring the juridical situation of Mr Julian Assange would have been instead using the terms misstänkt för (“suspected of”) instead of anklagad för. The juridical distinction between being misstänkt and being anklagad is also explained in multiple layman sites [23]. But as it was pointed out in a twitter by @SWEDHR, the distinction is done by the Swedish Penal Code and in a variety of documents published by the Swedish Prosecution Authority. We have reviewed, for instance, “Article 6 of the European Convention. The right to a fair trial, viewed from the prosecutor’s perspective”. [24]

Conclusion: The using of “anklagad” instead of “misstänkt” (charged instead of suspected) in the case of Mr Assange is in my view not only juridical inaccurate. By ascribing him a legal status which would correspond to subjects after being interrogated by a prosecutor, and only if reasons to impeach are found, this entails a breach of Mr Assange human rights, for it means that his right to a fair legal procedure is not being respected. In fact, Julian Assange has never been charged of any crime, either in Sweden or elsewhere.

Reasons for this apparently hostile behaviour?

The bearing of some Swedish journalists against Assange can be only partly explained by their political views, or the assignments of their employers. It has also to do with unambiguous political stances, such as motivated by a “pro-West” culture, or even in some cases a straightforward behaviour of submissiveness towards power – as I developed in “The ‘Duck Pond’ Theses. Explaining Swedish journalism and the anti-Assange smear campaign”. [6.4] 

But it also may have to do with concepts of of loyalty to Sweden as motherland, and possibly the all Assange/WikiLeaks affair in Sweden, as commented internationally, seen as a one cause of the deterioration of the Sweden’s international prestige. Thus, Assange becomes “the enemy”, or further more, as mentioned in the international press, “Sweden’s N° 1 Public Enemy”. Not that estrange as social phenomenon, considering that Prime Minister Reinfeldt publicly declared in 2011, “Assange has been damaging Sweden”. [25] I have discussed this issue of “loyalty” to some length in “The Swedish Media Paradox”, in my book Sweden VS: Assange. Human Rights Issues. [26]. 

A discrete number of Swedish journalists serving in main media outlets are also connected with Swedish military intelligence agencies. [27] In its turn, it is widely known that Swedish intelligence services are, according to dispatches from Swedish media, under intense collaboration with U.S. agencies. [28] Also in this regards, the Swedish military establishment has put forward the thesis that the WikileLeaks endeavours are damaging the interests of Western powers, including those of Sweden, and to the point to publicly declare that Assange is threaten Sweden by means of blackmail. [29] Mike Winnerstig, a high-ranked official (Deputy Director of Research) at the Swedish Defence Research Agency – institution under the Swedish Ministry of Defence – declared in the Swedish Television’s news program Aktuellt:

“WikiLeaks had from the beginning an agenda to nail principally the U.S. and its allies in different scenarios”. And he also said that Julian Assange “ägnar sig till utpressning, helt enkelt” (“simply, Assange is doing blackmail”). These sentences must however be understood in the context of the full interview at the program, which transcription is linked here. [29]

Another aspect that might fell into the anti-Assange animosity among publicist circles is precisely the independent publicist character of WikiLeaks, outlet viewed as uncontrolled and effective concurrent. [30] In the context of the nowadays importance of social media channels for news distribution, is worth to mention that while WikiLeaks on Twitter (@wikileaks) has over two and a half million followers (2,55 M), the main Swedish media outlets do not reach more than, respectively, Dagens Nyheter (@dn) 96,9 K followers; Svenska Dagbladet (@svd) 101 K; Swedish State Television (@svt) 26,8 K; Aftonbladet (@Aftonbladet) 53 K; Expressen (@Expressen) 83,9 K; and State-owned Radio Sweden (@radiosweden) 10,2 K followers.

In the view of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, the case has had a markedly political content, being this factor prominent behind the breaches by Sweden of Julian Assange’s human rights all along this process. The disregard Mr Assange’s right to political asylum, or the reasons Sweden had for immobilizing WikiLeaks by stalling the case in London are some illustrations. We shall be commenting on these issues in a coming text.

By Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Chairman, Swedish Doctors for Human Rights


[1] Wikipedia, “Swedish Doctors for Human Rights”. Retrieved 17 April 2015

[2.1] Wikipedia, “The Iraq War documents leak”. Retrieved 3 April 2015

[2.2] Wikipedia, “The Afghan War documents leak”. Retrieved 3 April 2015

[3] Wikipedia, “Information published by WikiLeaks“. Retrieved 17 April 2015

[4.1.] Marcello ferrada de Noli, “Open Letter To The Prosecutor-General Of Sweden” of 4 February 2014. Published in Sweden VS Assange – Human Rights Issues. Libertarian Books, Sweden, 2014. Pages 106-108. Excerpts:

“On 11 February 2011, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt stated in the DN and Aftonbladet newspapers, that Julian Assange had been indicted. He then went on to take a position that was biased in favour of the complainants in the case.  Not only was this political interference in an ongoing case, but also it was based on untruths; Julian Assange has not been charged.

The statement by the Prime Minister was:

“We have an independent judiciary which also in this case acted according to Swedish law. One has even public-indicted Julian Assange on allegations of rape”. And, “I can only regret that the rights and position of women weigh so lightly when it comes to this type of questions compared to other types of theories brought forward.”

[4.2] On 15 August 2012, Göran Haglund, Swedish Minister of Social Affairs, told the Expressen newspaper:

“Assange is a very coward person that does not dare to confront the charges against him”.  And he added, “If he did the things he is accused of, I think one can call him a lowlife. He seems to be a miserable wretch.”

(Source, “Hägglund om asyl för Assange: “Fegis“. Expressen, 15 August 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2015. )

[4.3] M. Ferrada de Noli, “Swedish government using media to interfere in the legal process against Julian Assange“. The Professors’ Blog, 27 January 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[5] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange? The Professors’ Blogg, 20 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[6.1] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Trial by Media fortsätter. The Professors’ Blogg, 4 February 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2015

[6.2] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Journalister till tjänst i krigföringen mot Assange, och mot hederlig journalistik”. The Professors’ Blogg, 17 February 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[6.3] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “Om de upprepade anklagelserna mot Assange av svenska journalister”. The Professors’ Blogg, 17 February 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[6.4] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “The ‘Duck Pond’ Theses. Explaining Swedish journalism and the anti-Assange smear campaign”. The Professors’ Blogg, 1 December 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[7.1] “Rigged documentary on Julian Assange in the Swedish National Television. PART 1: The Political Agenda”. The Professors’ Blogg, 15 April 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[7.2] Rigged documentary on Julian Assange in the Swedish National Television. Contents & Links to Parts I – V. The Professors’ Blogg, 14 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011.

[8] Rixstep News, “Assange & Sweden: Witness Statement of Professor Ferrada-Noli”. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2015.,00.shtml

[9] In the chapter “Summary of the facts found” of the Court verdict of 24 February 2011, Judge Howard Riddle concludes unequivocally in item 19 (page 10), among other:

“There has been considerable adverse publicity in Sweden for Mr Assange, in the popular press.”

This corresponds to a conclusion contained in my witness statement that Assange’s lawyers presented at the court. I had written concretely that my analysis pointed “to a significant over-representation of negative assessments” about Assange in Swedish media articles.

See “Court Veredict, City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court (Sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court). The judicial authority in Sweden -v-Julian Paul Assange. Findings of facts and reasons”. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

Even the Swedish main newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, in an article authored by journalist Karin Thurfjell 24 February 2011 acknowledges that Judge Riddle concluded on the verdict issued 24 February 2011 that “there is a significant negative publicity about Assange in Sweden.

In: Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “Assangefallet visar att Karl Marx hade rätt”. Newsmill, 28 February 2011. Republished in The Professors’ Blogg, 28 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[10] Examples of media attacks on Assange:

Svenska dagbladet, a main Swedish newspaper, illustrated its 17 Feb 2011  article “Idyllic picture of Sweden is darkened” with a montage showing the notorious criminal Göran Lindberg — a world-reviled, convicted serial rapist (including the rape of a 14-year old child) – portrayed together with Julian Assange and his lawyer Mark Stephens. A conspicuous columnist of the newspaper Aftonbladet refers 13 Feb 2011 to Julian Assange as “a paranoid idiot who refuses come to Sweden to confront trial”.  The competitor newspaper, Expressen, describes 13 Feb 2011 in its cultural page “the sexual pleasure of Mr Assange is just an inescapable element for his severe compulsive needs that are beyond. . .”

[11] Aftonbladet-TV. “Vägrar att förutse hemska attacken.” Aftonbladet Morgon Säsong 9, avsnitt 11 publicerat: 27 mars 2015 12:11. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[12] “Det är så konstigt, så at det liknar inte till [något]. För det första det är inte alls svenska advokater, utan han har en spansk advokat också [Baltazar Garzón], och vi minns at han försökt att åtala Pinochet och blev världsberömd för det. Han [Garzon] är insyltad I det här också, och det visat sig at han är en populist av inget skådats slag”. Oisín Cantwel in the above-referred Aftonbladet journalist panel.

[13] AP, “Pinochet lawyers say torture isn’t international crime”. 26 January 1999. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[14] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “Pinochet måste ställas inför rätta”. SvD-Brännpunkt, 6 November 2008. 

[15] Torbjörn Sassersson, “Lena Mellin, Oisín Cantwell, Fredrik Virtanen mobbar Assange och romer – Och förlorar all respekt”., 29 March 2015.

[16] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “It is up to the Swedish Government, Not to the “Swedish Legal System”, to comply on pressures to extradite Assange. Part II of the series The Seven Pillars of Deception“. The Professors’ Blog, 22 January 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 

[17] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “AP journalist report from Sweden misleading on Assange extradition case”. Second-Opinion, 7 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[18] Swedish transcription:

Lena Mellin – ”Hur skall han försörja sig när han ska komma ut därifrån”

Oisín Catwell – ”Han är kört, gått från internetgenerationen, Jagger, rebell, avslöjar krigsförbrytelser, whatever- Så är han är bara löjeväckande.”

Lena Mellin – ”Tror han ska gå till skolan hos svenska romerna”.

Karin Magnusson – “Bra tips”

[Alla skrattar].

[19] Torbjörn Sassersson, “Lena Mellin, Oisín Cantwell, Fredrik Virtanen mobbar Assange och romer – Och förlorar all respekt”., 29 March 2015.

[20] Stefan Lisinski, “Ja från Assange till Londonförhör” (“Assange: Yes to interrogation in London”). DN, 18 April 2015. Page

[21] Table “Context sentences for ‘anklagad för brott’ in English”. In Dictionary, online. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[22] Image based on a screenshot from Retrieved 17 April 2017.

[23] For instance, we may find a more simple or pedagogical explanation on the difference made by the Swedish legal system between misstänkt (suspected), and anklagad (charged), in the article “What is a suspect” (Vad är en misstänkt?). There it is summarized: “If a suspect is formally (taken) to court, he or she becomes charged” (“Om en misstänkt formellt inför rätta, han eller hon blir anklagad”). In “Vad är en misstänkt?” Published by Kunskap. Retrieved 17 April 2015

[24] Åklagarmyndigheten, “Artikel 6 i Europakonventionen. Rätten till en rättvis rättegång ur ett praktiskt åklagarperspektiv” (“Article 6 of the European Convention. The right to a fair trial, viewed from the prosecutor’s perspective”).

RättsPM 2012:5 Utvecklingscentrum Malmö. Februari 2012.

[25] Daily Mail. “Julian Assange made ‘public enemy number one’ by Swedish PM, court told as mother demands help from Australian ministers”. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2017.

[26] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “The Swedish Media Paradox”. In Sweden VS: Assange. Human Rights Issues. Ed. Libertarian Books, Sweden, 2014. 

[27] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “MSM Journalists Trained by Swedish Military Intelligence”. The Professors’ Blog, 11 June 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[28.1] Mike Ölander. “CIA demanded that Sweden would expand cooperation” [“CIA krävde att Sverige skulle utöka samarbetet”]. Expressen, 6 December 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[28.2] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “Who is behind the “people’s Intelligence apparatus”? On the Swedish collaboration with US/NATO spying“. The Professors’ Blog, 12 December 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 

[29] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “Plan Z: the latest national chauvinist campaign anti-WIkiLeaks in the Swedish media . Saving Minister Bildt?” The Professors’ Blog, 2 March 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2015.

[30] Marcello Ferrada de Noli, “Journalistic Jealousy’ Or Politics, Or

Both?” In Sweden VS: Assange. Human Rights Issues. Ed. Libertarian Books, Sweden, 2014. Chapter, pages 88-98.

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  • Åtalet mot Assange är det enda målet som aldrig skulle komma upp i en rättssal. Även ett lösskägg sittande fast i brevlådan skulle se märkligt ut. Vem kan inte föreställa sig Åklagare Ny i en rättssal med en kondom i handen, som saknar både den anklagades och kärandens DNA? Gummilik bevisföring har onekligen tagits till en helt Ny nivå.. Å andra sidan sa de lagkunniga advokaterna ju att terrorlagarna såg ut som gummiparagrafer. Vem som helst kunde bevisas vara terrorist och om Ny vill bevisa hur det kan te sig inom rättens tjocka väggar, så varsågod..

    Vi har fått en egen Faux-news group att vakta den politiska hönsgården i att stärka omänskliga rättigheter.. Media presstitutes går på cybergatan, milkystreet(?) och försöker organisera sitt eget parlament. En pöbel.. Krigsförbrytarnas och folkmördarnas fri och rättigheter utövas och utökas under dyster flagg. Vi i väst bombade Syrien. Is och Israel har inte oväntat samma fiende.. Lika barn leka bäst. Vi i väst bombade Libyen och se hur fritt det är nu.. Vi är bombade om vi tror att krigsförbrytelser inte begicks i Afghanistan eller Irak.

    Us förlorade Vietnamkriget med bilderna och rubrikerna från sin egen verksamhet. De har sannerligen ansträngt sig sedan dess för att inget ska komma ut.. De sista vittnena, hjälparbetarna, läkarna, sköterskorna utan gränser, de civila har IS sett till att hålla borta från krigsskådeplatserna som inte tål ljus.. Libyens befolkning skulle tydligen straffas för att de hörde till ett fredligt land. Syriens likaså. Det är lite Hiroshima, Nagasaki över freden. Den spränger sinnet, begreppet och förståndet..

    Omänskliga rättigheter har fått en agenda. Det är bara stämpeln som fattas, så kan alla vara med..

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