August 21st, 2010
08:38 AM ET

Is Assange the target of a U.S. smear campaign?

[Update 11:30 a.m.] Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange is "no longer wanted" and "is not suspected of rape," Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne said in a statement published by the Swedish prosecutor's website Saturday.

[Original post] Reports of criminal accusations against  WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brought instant suspicion of a U.S. government-led smear campaign.

Assange, a citizen of Australia, has been accused in Sweden of rape and molestation, or harassment, the Swedish tabloid Expressen reported.

Read a rough Google translation of the Expressen report.

WikiLeaks recently published tens of thousands of U.S. documents related to the war in Afghanistan and has said it is preparing to publish another batch of 15,000 documents soon.

"We were warned to expect 'dirty tricks.' Now we have the first one," WikiLeaks' Twitter page said Saturday.

Blogger Alexander Higgins said the U.S. government "has truly grown into an Orwellian Big Brother regime."

According to the London-based tech blog Thinq, Assange "has become the focus of a smear campaign in what appears to be [an] effort to pile pressure on the whistle-blower ahead of the expected publication of thousands more classified US military documents. The documents are likely to lift the lid on more atrocities committed by forces in Afghanistan in the polluted name of freedom."

The publication OneIndia called the report "a suspicious development that seems to be a smear campaign against Assange."

Twitter user Deanzoz remarked, "Assange charged with rape. Pretty unusual approach from the CIA – they usually just shoot people in the head."

However, some think the accusations could be legitimate.

A commenter called Chips on the Somethingawful forum wrote: "If it's a smear, it's a superb smear given how simple and compelling it is and how creepy Julian Assange is."

Follow this developing story at CNN.com.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Crime • Google • National security • Sweden • Twitter • WikiLeaks
soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Ed

    The CIA at first considered having him charged with public urination, thinking it would be some sort of irony to have him arrested for taking a leak.

    August 21, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gabriel

    My 2 cents go for the following scenario:
    Assange was traveling to a US friendly country and the CIA knew about this. They somehow got someone to issue a bogus warrant. The said country would hold Assange for the swedish warrant (through Interpol or whatever). US would then file charges in local court and ask the friendly country to extradite Assange over. Assange gets to US and is hold, convicted, etc. The end 🙂

    August 21, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I suspect your scenario is worth much more than just 2 cents. It is more than likely dead on to what the USA is trying so desperately to do. After all, some people in the the USA have an awful lot at stake here. War crime charges do not go away easily, especially when there is so much evidence to support them. Eventually justice will prevail.

      August 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      "War crime charges do not go away easily, especially when there is so much evidence to support them."

      ...except that the US refuses to acknowledge the ICC when it or Israel is the target of investigation. 🙁

      August 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kaye

    breaking news folks....sweden just dropped the charges....hmmmm!

    August 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. James L.

    I read a lot of the comments. I hope that you don't feel too foolish when I tell you the charges have been dropped against this guy for lack of evidence. After all the posturing and all the while claims, at least it brought out the nuts into the sun light.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ron

    Just saw the latest news now that Mr. Assange is without a doubt the target of a smear campaign. Hope he sues the Swedish Government for millions. Obama in my opinion wears this and total shame on him and of course on the Pentagon. The truth stings bad.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      There is nothing to sue the Swedish Government for. Contrary to some Media, Mr. Assange was never actually charged with a crime. He was simply wanted for questioning based on the complaint(s) filed against him. Once the authorities spoke with him, and looked at the evidence presented in the report(s), it was likely clear that they he had nothing to do with what he was being accused of.

      August 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    Innocent until proven guilty – no matter who is being accused and no matter the accusation. That is the mantra every American should repeat in his/her head when a person is accused of a crime.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TMK

    Straw man, ad hominem. Anything goes these days...

    August 21, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Reaper

    If the US is really this dirty, where am I supposed to live?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUkcjAtzzcI

    August 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thozzmaniac

      Yeah Obama's a trip isn't he...LOL!

      August 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert

    Because the forums at somethingawful must be a legitimate news source, with its dancing bunnies, alien theories and wanna-be-hacker stereotypes. LOL. To the author Mr. Kavanagh, where did you say your journalism degree was from again?

    August 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Unfortunately journalism no longer appears to be associated with much investigative reporting. These days, the media (not just CNN) will run with a story based on only a very minimal amount of evidence to support it, and even then only when the crux of the story fits their own agenda. The really sad part is that many such media outlets view being first with a story far more important than being accurate.

      August 21, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Greg Matthews

    Beware of air travel Mr Assange. I heard about this little trick "they" use where you take off fine but then crash in a remote desolate area with this big hole in the middle of your plane.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. A

    In some parts of the world it is said "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". So, what sides are people on?

    August 21, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Indeed! And likewise it is said, that one should keep one's friends close, but one's enemies closer.

      August 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alex MacPherson

    Anyone ever think that maybe he got someone to accuse himself of these crimes to try and make it seem like a set up and in the process make himself look like the victim? Biased opinions about the American government aside, there is no way they would be stupid enough to try and pull such an obvious smear campaign and then retract the charges a few hours later.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tyhouston

    If the US goverment disliked him that much he'd be dead...

    Period.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • justen

      don't kid yourself–the US government is most likely trying to track him to find a pattern to his movements and actions so as to find a way to get to him. Give the CIA time and they will rendition him.

      Trust your government as much as you trust a rabid dog–don't turn your back on it for a second.

      August 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • jflange

      Yeah, except what about Osama?

      August 21, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hugo

    tcaudilllg, thanks for calling me a good person. However, Martin said "U.S. Government" and the head of that government doesn't appear to be a right winger. This doesn't mean that someone in the CIA (or wherever) ran an op not approved by the head of the government. But then it wouldn't be "the U.S. Government." It would be something else (a rogue element of the U.S. Government, perhaps).

    August 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Geo

    I am waiting for the investigation into WikiLeaks and its funding sources. I would love to see how many "sources" lead to groups associated with the Russian FSB or the Chinese NSB, among others. Who benefits from such information? Easy: Russia, China, Iran, and anyone with an interest who can read English. "Transparancy" is merely a buzz word to distract attention from those who really benefit from this information. No better gift in the world could be given to the enemies of the US than Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

    August 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
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