Courtroom Conflict: Julian Assange’s Prosecutor Accused of Anti-Men Bias

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stands with his lawyer Jennifer Robinson in front of Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London

REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The extradition hearings in London Monday of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange drips with intrigue: a mysterious Australian hacker accused of sex crimes by two Swedish women. Now add this to the mix: Monday, a retired female judge accused the female Swedish prosecutor attempting to extradite AssangeĀ  of having a “biased view” against men.

As part of the two-day hearing to determine whether Assange should be taken to Sweden to face sex-crimes charges, retired Swedish appeal court judge Brita Sundberg-Weitman launched an outspoken attack on Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny. Sundberg-Weitman was flown to London by Assange’s legal team to give evidence supporting their argument that Assange’s extradition would be a “flagrant denial of justice”.

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They got their money’s worth, as Sundberg-Weitman a published academic and associate professor at Stockholm University, accused Ny of having a “rather biased view against men,” according to an account by Britain’s Press Assocation.

She said, “She seems to take it for granted that everybody under prosecution is guilty. I think she is so preoccupied with the situation of battered women and raped women that she has lost balance.”

As TIME reported in December, Sweden is in the middle of a crisis of confidence when it comes to its handling of sex crimes. Despite its high levels of gender equality in the workplace and political sphere, the country has by the far the highest level of reported rape in Europe and one of the lowest conviction rates, a fact that has led to criticism from Amnesty International and the UN. That criticism, in turn, has led to soul-searching in the Swedish criminal justice system as to whether Swedish police and prosecutors are failing vulnerable women.

It is this internal national debate, presumably, to which Sundberg-Weitman refers, although it later emerged that Sundberg-Weitman had never met Ny and was basing her judgement on what she had read in Swedish newspapers and on television. In any case, Sundberg-Weitman’s testimony was part of a wider effort by Assange’s lawyers to argue that extradition would breach his human rights and that Assange risks being taken against his will to the United States and executed. But a barrister representing the Swedish authorities said the fears are unfounded, and the proper legal process is being followed.

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