UK spooks' candid opinions of the Assange affair revealed

Julian Assange has presented a set of freedom-of-information data protection act liberated messages from GCHQ, the UK spy headquarters, concerning his own case. According to Assange, the messages reveal that UK spies believed that the Swedish rape inquiry against him was a "fit up" aimed at punishing him for his involvement in Wikileaks (many believe that the Swedish government would have aided in Assange's extradition to the USA, where there is a sealed Grand Jury indictment against him). He also revealed cables relating to the spies' candid opinion about his sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy:

A message from September 2012, read out by Assange, apparently says: "They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate..."

...A second instant message conversation from August last year between two unknown people saw them call Assange a fool for thinking Sweden would drop its attempt to extradite him.

The conversation, as read out by Assange, goes: "He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it? He's a fool… Yeah … A highly optimistic fool."

GCHQ acknowledges that the messages are real, but, "The disclosed material includes personal comments between some members of staff and do not reflect GCHQ's policies or views in any way."

Julian Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing Swedish extradition [Giles Tremlett and Ben Quinn/Guardian]


  1. It is so frustrating to me that, although there are many good reasons to believe this is what in America we call a set-up, any attempt to say so runs right into the wall of “protecting a rapist.” For the record, I oppose.rape.

    1. It doesn’t really have anything to do with “protecting a rapist” but making sure that every claim of rape is taken seriously and fully investigated, no matter what the status, or reputation of the alleged perpetrator is.

      1. If the swedes really wanted it taken seriously, they would guarantee that they wouldn’t extradite him to America.  He’s said that, with that guarantee, he would voluntarily go there to face charges.

        1. Furthermore, if he’s only wanted for questioning – why can’t the Swedes go to London to question him (again)?

          1. Because sovereign states generally don’t change their procedures at the convenience of people accused of violating the laws of said sovereign state. Were I a Swedish taxpayer I’d be deeply opposed to sending someone to Britain to question someone accused of breaking Swedish law because that person didn’t want to come to Sweden. 

          2.  But they have changed their procedures in this case. Notwithstanding the fact that Assange has already been questioned while he was in Sweden, Sweden does not usually (if ever?) seek extradition to question a suspect.

          3. This is a bit of a misunderstanding of Swedish law. He is as yet only wanted for questioning, but the prosecutor has most likely already reached the conclusion that she will press charges against Assange. The prosecutor doesn’t however want to do this until  after the questioning because once she do charges him with a crime then he gets acces to here evidence and for obvious reasons she wants to be able to question him before he knows exactly what she knows. Also swedish law more or less requiers that Assange is pressent when charges are presented to him, so even if she did question him in UK she would any way have to extradite him afterwards.

        2. According to Assange telling him that he will not be extradited for politician crimes is just not good enough. This it is just smoke and mirrors of man for unknown reason not wanting to face his accusers. If he had only stayed in Sweden this entire episode would be over.

          1. If only he had stayed in Sweden, he wouldn’t have stayed in Sweden. He would be at Guantanamo today.

          2.  Guantanamo Bay is in Cuba, and not in Sweden or under its jurisdiction. You need to learn your geography.

          3. Given that he’s been stuck in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for 11 months, I’m not sure that’s a valid point.

          4. It’s not an “unknown reason” at all.  It’s clearly known that Assange is reasonably concerned that Sweden will send him to the U.S. for prosecution.

          5. Assange specifically asked permission of the Swedish police to leave Sweden, and they said “Fine, no problem, no further questions.”  So, not exactly unreasonable of him.

            Assange is a vile man, but that doesn’t excuse America’s much viler behaviour in this.

          6. Why continue to gloss over facts? Yes, Assange was told he could leave Sweden, but that the investigation was on going.

            Before Julian Assange had left Sweden an interview was arranged for one week later. Upon investigating why Assange did not show up for that interview, it was learned that he had left Sweden the day before the interview day.

            Julian Assange left Sweden know that the investigation was still open, and might have known that there was an investigation that he was suppose to attend.

            The story sound more like a person with a bad legal team, or someone running away from being held accountable for their actions.

        3. He says that in the full knowledge that its legally impossible. A government can’t guarantee that an independent judiciary will come to a certain decision in a future legal case.

        4. The problem is that it the Swedish constitution doesn’t really allow that sort of promises.

          Extraditions to countries like US are handled first by the suprem court. If they say that he can be extradited then the government, that is the PM and the ministers, decide if he is going to be extradited. Now in theory the government could say that whatever the suprem court says we will not extradite him anyway. The problem here would be that it would, at least, be against the spirit of the constitutions separation of power, and possibly also against the letter of the constitution. In other words it is at least highly questionable and possibly illegal.

          Now the foreign minister has made i clear that at least he does think that it would be against the constitution, and since it would be his decision and his neck on the line, I would say that it explains why Sweden will not give this sort of guaranties.

    2. I know. If it is a set up, it’s so deliciously simple and effective. You’ve got to be impressed by the way that, despite being an obvious trick to play with clear evidence that the US wants to use it to extradite him to the US, Assange would need to spring the trap to prove his innocence (if he is/were in fact innocent). It’s serious enough that you will get called out for being soft on rape if you oppose his extradition, but ambiguous enough that plenty will argue about the definition of rape and complain about the double standards being displayed with regard to other rape cases. Still, being soft on other rapes is no reason to dismiss this particular case, so the argument will keep people occupied (and divided) for years.

      From the start, I think what most people could agree on is that we hoped there was nothing to these claims. There’s so much resting on this that it would be a huge own goal by Assange if it were true.

  2. You know, there’s nothing here that’s mutually exclusive. He’s probably a rapist. The fact that the swedish government actually seems to care is probably due to international pressure resulting from the release of those diplomatic cables. That’s pretty rage-inducing on its own, but only because rape allegations should be taken that seriously. Wanting him to be able to shake off rape allegations just because he’s an important man politically IS basically the same old rape culture shit. 

    If he’d been accused of like, embezzlement or a hit-and-run, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Everyone would be like, “yup, that’s a serious crime that should be prosecuted, and yup, the fervor with which the government wants to see it prosecuted is probably related to the other stuff. But he’s still probably an asshole.”

      1. Oh. Those two ladies. OK, Never mind.

        That really is the best basis for making policy, after all.

        1. You mean the opinions of people?  Is there any other basis for making policy?

          I notice you haven’t said anything that would render this particular opinion less credible.

    1.  He’s probably a lot of things. Like, oh say, a deserving recipient of due process.

    2. Using dubious rape charges as a way to get rid of political adversaries reeks of some serious rape culture shit to me as well.

  3. So…what exactly does a couple of British spies pontificating on the validity of the crime have to do with the alleged crime itself? Is Assange really implying that we are to consider these messages as proof enough of his innocence? Because some spies are skeptical?

    1.  A. Assange is only wanted for questioning.
      B. The Swedish police already questioned him – and let him go.
      C. Of course it is a fit up.

      1.  More fallacies.
        A. In open court it was argued and the judges were convinced that Assange is wanted for prosecution.

        B. Agreed by his lawyers that Assange was allow to leave Sweden, but informed that the investigation was on going. Assange left Sweden one day before an interview that was agreed upon the previous week, a fact that his laws agreed on.

        C. With all the misinformation it could be a duck, but seems more like grasping at straws by Assange.

        1.  I’ll be unhappy to say “told you so” when Assange is never prosecuted in Sweden for anything and promptly extradited to the US for the crime of journalism.

          1. The crime of journalism.

            This is something I never understood about this story. He just indiscriminately dumped information into the public realm. Other people then committed journalism upon that information, but he didn’t. 

            To the extent he doesn’t seem to have exercised any judgment or discretion at all, this was not journalism. He is neither Woodward nor Bernstein in this instance.

          2.  The prize juries for the Martha Gellhorn and Walkley Awards for journalism disagree with you.

          3. Many people who have made a political judgment about Assange do. I just don’t see how they’re getting there without saying “Yay! We like what he did” and leaving everything else behind.

            He seems to me to be a much more complex person to deal with. He seems to have done some things that have been of service to the world, but also done them in the least-responsible way possible. Similarly, he seems to be a reprehensible person. So, now that the leaks are in the wild and cannot be contained, do we really still need the deeply flawed messenger?

          4. I think you have a higher mountain to climb before that. Specifically recognizing that Assange is accused of serious crimes.

        2.  Not a single one of those would qualify as a “fallacy”.  lafave may be factually incorrect or eliding relevant information (I make no judgment either way) but “fallacy” means something other than merely being wrong or evasive.

    2. Also, worth pointing out I think, that the same conversation that the spooks were having is happening right here on these boards, and probably in many other places too. 

    3. Is Assange really implying that we are to consider these messages as proof enough of his innocence? Because some spies are skeptical?

      No, not unless we are to practice obtuse oversimplification of things.

  4. Anything other than he is a political prisoner is just noise. The corrupt governments mean to silence him. If the public had any balls they would march him out of there. 

    1. If the governments were 1/3 as corrupt as you say he’d have died long ago.

      Also, he’s not a prisoner. If he wanted to take the moral stand that become a prisoner entails he’s got plenty of countries willing to give him a shot at it. He doesn’t seem to want to. Letter from a Birmingham Jail has a different ring than Email from the Lounge in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

      1.  You’re all over this one.

        While the comment to which you are responding is obviously fact-free propaganda and you’re technically correct that Assange is not a prisoner I can’t help but notice that it didn’t bother to quantify “corruption” and so your 1/3rd comment makes no sense.  The guys in Guantanamo didn’t die long ago but I can’t help but think their continued incarceration has something to do with the concept of corruption.

  5. Set-up or not – it’s definitely quite convenient for the US government that the press is now talking about  Julian Assange and what a douchebag he is instead of war crimes and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    What are the murders of hundreds of (brown skinned) civilians in comparison to a saucy cock-and-bull story with a white haired villain?

    1. Not to mention the economy corrupted by regulation-free, computerised financial speculation, and the revolving doors of corruption between government, regulators, and commercial finance which has resulted in crashing the global economy and allowing Greek children being the first kids in Europe to be sorting through the garbage cans for food, while their moms jump out the 4th floor window.

  6. The US really got caught with it’s pants down this time and when they bent over to pull them up, Assange kicked them in the ass. In front of the entire Internet. There is no way that America nor any of it’s cloak n’ dagger agencies is every going to forgive him for it.

    He’s the new Bin Laden, the new Emmanuel Goldstein for people to scream their 10 minutes of hate at every morning.

  7. A US spook who has a similar opinion:
    Private intelligence company Stratfor’s Chris Farnham sent an email to the firm’s CEO, entitled “Assange is off the hook”:
    “(A) close family friend in Sweden who knows the girl that is pressing charges tells me that there is absolutely nothing behind it other than prosecutors that are looking to make a name for themselves. My friend speaks rather disparagingly about the girl who is claiming molestation. 
    I also think the whole rape thing is incorrect for if I remember correctly rape was never the charge.”–ruin-his-life-give-him-7-12-for-conspiracy-2012-2#ixzz2Tu45v2Wk

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