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Assange and allies claim vast conspiracy as extradition fight hits home stretch

Two women in Sweden allege they were sexually assaulted by Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder. Assange and many supporters say they're part of a vast conspiracy against him.

By Staff correspondent / June 1, 2012

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange put a banner up bearing an image of him on a British Union flag before the verdict was given in his extradition case at the Supreme Court in London, Wednesday, May 30.

Matt Dunham/AP

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Two women have alleged that Julian Assange, the founder of the Wikileaks website, sexually assaulted them in Sweden. Mr. Assange and his supporters insist the allegations are the result of a combination of two women scorned seeking revenge and a Swedish state that is secretly conniving with the US to extradite the former hacker to the US to face charges related to his release of hundreds of thousands of US military and State Department documents two years ago.

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Now Assange's nearly two-year fight against extradition to Sweden for questioning over the allegations is heading to the end game. A final decision will be made within two weeks.

The claims of the two women are complicated by the fact that both say they had previously had consensual sex with Assange. One of the two women has told Swedish investigators that she was coerced to have sex with Assange, and that he carried on without using a condom, despite her insistence that he use one. The other said he initiated sex with her while she was asleep, and without consent being given.

Could the pair be lying? That's certainly a possibility. But the insistence of Assange and his supporters that they are definitely lying, that there is no reason to take their accusations seriously, may speak to a siege mentality and, frankly, a disregard for how much difficulty women face in getting authorities to take their accusations of assault and sexual harassment seriously, particularly when their accusations are directed at powerful public figures.

The public position of Wikileaks has been that there's a secret deal between Sweden and the US to ship the Australian to American custody as soon as possible. The evidence presented? None. It's possible that the US has sought a sealed indictment of Assange, but it's also possible that it hasn't. And why Sweden? Unclear.

As British legal analyst Carl Gardner told the Monitor's Ben Arnoldy, under European law the UK would retain an effective veto over a Swedish extradition attempt. In other words, both Sweden and the UK would have to agree to the extradition. It would have been simpler to make the request while he's in the UK, with only one country in the mix. 

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