In February this year, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s Prime Minister, caused quite in stir with the following statement:
“- Det är beklagligt. Vi har ett självständigt rättsväsende som i det här fallet dessutom agerat på svensk lagstiftning. Man har till allmänt åtal instämt Julian Assange för anklagelser om våldtäkt.
- Jag kan bara beklaga att kvinnors rätt och ställning väger så lätt när det gäller den här typen av frågor jämfört med andra typer av teorier som förs fram. Jag kan bara försvara det faktum som alla i Sverige känner till, nämligen att vi har ett självständigt, ickestyrt rättsväsende.”
-It is regrettable. We have an independent system of justice which, in this case, has also acted according to Swedish law. One has to public prosecution called upon* Julian Assange for allegations regarding rape.
-I can only regret that women’s rights and position weigh so lightly when it comes to this type of questions compared to other types of theories brought forward. I can only defend the fact which everybody in Sweden is aware of, i.e., that we have an independent system of justice.”
(* see translator’s note at the end of this blog entry.)
Screendump from an article containing the statement as published in DN can be found below. Please note the date and time of publication: early afternoon, February 11, 2011. According to the article, the citation is from an interview which took place on February 8, 2011, i.e., the second day of the Belmarsh extradition hearing.
It is highly probable that Reinfeldt regrets this statement. First, because it contains a factual error: Julian Assange has not been charged with anything yet and no decision on prosecution has been taken. Second, a minister speaking his mind in an individual case is a big no-no. In any case, this is a typical statement running the risk of being manipulated or eradicated from history and for this reason I decided to check if it had been removed from the main stream media web or manipulated in some other way. The short story is that the statement is still present on all the main Swedish newspaper sites in (what I believe is) its correct form. But there is also a slightly longer story. It turns out that the statement was manipulated shortly after publication and the publication date of the statement has been changed.
The magazine Resumé describes that the critical sentence (“Man har till allmänt åtal instämt Julian Assange för anklagelser om våldtäkt.”) was removed from several news sites shortly after publication. Further, according to the Resumé article, Reinfeldt’s statement has been reported to “Konstitutionsutskottet”.
Screendump from Resumé:
Göran Rudling, who was in London at the time, wrote an entry on his blog “samtycke.nu” where it seems that he first got second-hand information about the original, full, statement. But then, when he could read it himself (in Expressen), he could only see the redacted form. The critical sentence is not present in the blog entry (only in one of the comments).
A few hours ago I was sitting in a taxi on my way to the Belmarsh court together with Sven Erik Alhem and some English lawyers when my mobile phone rang and an English lawyer in an excited voice shouted that Fredrik Reinfeldt had said that Julian Assange had been charged with rape. Sven Erik and I looked at each other with enormous surprise. Something must be completely wrong. It is inconceivable that the Prime Minister would be the one to communicate such a decision. We really do have independent courts [in Sweden] even if many people these days try to make us believe that Sweden in reality is just a “banana republic” routinely sending people off to the USA.
Before we had a chance to check the story, more lawyers were contacted and informed about the decision to charge Assange. It was not until Sven Erik calmly read the communication from TT that we understood that there had been some mistake in the translation, which had given the impression that Julian Assange had been charged. But for a short while I and Sven Erik experienced how quickly a small translational error could cause an enormous misunderstanding and cause rumors to spread.
Göran Rudling posted the blog entry on February 9, but in the main Swedish newspapers the articles I manage to find using google with Reinfeldt’s statement are dated February 11. Aftonbladet is a notable exception with their article dated Februray 8, 2011. I also find the correct date in several news databases and blogs, many citing that the information came from Expressen. However, if one follows the Expressen links only the redacted text is found. The original TT text (linked to in the Resumé articlce) is gone. The Belmarsh court hearings started on February 7 and ended on February 11, 2011.
Draw your own conclusions.
*”instämt” is here translated as “called upon”. If this is incorrect, please correct me. In fact, I have not been able to find this word anywhere else than in Reinfeldt’s statement. In the comment section of Rudling’s blog entry, one person comments that not even law professionals use this word anymore. In any case, it seems clear that most people interpret the meaning in the way I have translated it.
Edit: “instämt” can also be translated as “summoned”. (thanks rixstep)
Edit: Unconfirmed rumors have it that Konstitutionsutskottet (KU) never dealt with the report because nobody was willing to pursue the case. (thanks FB)