A law firm representing the accusers in the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has ties to the CIA and torture in the post-9/11 period, according to a 2009 report in Europe.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Assange says his client is likely to be tortured or killed if he is extradited to Sweden and then handed over to the United States. Those concerns probably are valid, considering the background of a lawyer connected to Assange's accusers.
Thomas Bodstrom, from the firm representing two women who claim Assange committed sex-related crimes, served as Sweden's minister of justice from 2000-2006, under Prime Minister Goran Persson. The 2009 report, based on a book released at that time, says Bodstrom and Persson used CIA agents to help expel two terror suspects to Egypt, where they reportedly were subjected to torture.
The story even is breaking on YouTube. A new video there uses animation, humor, and the 2009 report to raise serious questions about the motives of the lawyers at the heart of the accusations against Assange.
Here is how the story was reported in Europe:
Former justice minister Thomas Bodström and former prime minister Göran Persson have been reported to the Riksdag's constitutional committee over the expulsion of two terror suspects Sweden to Egypt in 2001.
The case has already been subjected to investigation by the committee, but new details published in a book released on Monday cast doubt on the details surrounding the extradition.
"Bodström and Persson denied then that they knew that CIA agents were involved. If it is shown that they lied to the constitutional committee, then it is a very serious matter," said the Moderate party member of parliament Tomas Tobé.
The 2009 book raised new questions about the role Swedish officials played in an expulsion that reportedly led to torture:
Former foreign minister Anna Lindh, who was assassinated in 2003, has long been seen as the one responsible for the decision, and the use of CIA agents, to expel Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed Alzery to Egypt in late 2001.
But her friend and former press secretary Eva Franchell writes in a new book, entitled "Väninnan: Rapport från Rosenbad" ('Girlfriend: an account from Rosenbad'), released on Monday that the commonly held view doesn’t tell the whole story.
"It is important the burden of guilt is apportioned fairly," said Tobé.
Why does all of this matter? The 2009 report explains:
Shortly after the Swedish government decision in December 2001, a CIA plane left Cairo bound for Stockholm’s Bromma airport.
Agiza and Alzery were then handed over to US agents and flown back to Cairo in what was one of several extraordinary renditions carried out by the United States in the early years of the war on terror.
Both men later claimed they were tortured while being held in Egypt, leading many international human rights bodies to criticize Sweden for its role in the forced deportations.
Both men eventually had their deportations overturned and went on to receive damage awards from the Swedish state in 2008.
Could Assange's life now be in danger? His lawyer, Mark Stephens, says the answer is yes. Stephens' assertions came in a 35-page document that was released yesterday. Reports wired.com:
Stephens argued in the document that extraditing Assange could violate the European Convention on Human Rights if the U.S. then tried to extradite him from Sweden or, worse, grab him through an “illegal rendition.” The highly-charged reference is to the “extraordinary renditions” that the Central Intelligence Agency performed to illegally nab suspected terrorists and send them to countries overseas where they could be tortured in secret prisons. . . .
A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, is believed to be investigating possible criminal charges against Assange in relation to classified documents that his organization obtained from a source and published. If charges were filed in the U.S., Stephens asserted that Sweden was likely to “bow to US pressure and/or rely naively on diplomatic assurances from the USA that Mr. Assange would not be mistreated.”
As for Bodstrom, he has denied that he had any knowledge of how the 2001 deportations were to be carried out. But his involvement in the accusations against Assange, raises this question: Did Bodstrom help concoct a bogus case against Assange in an effort to make sure that WikiLeaks does not reveal the truth about Sweden's ties to the CIA and torture?
The new YouTube video raises just that question, and more, in an "interview" with Bodstrom's law partner, Claes Borgstrom, on an imaginary news network called XNN. The "interviewer" gets to the heart of the matter with this statement:
Thomas Bodstrom seems to be a man with many secrets and much to lose if those secrets are revealed. How would you respond to that?
When the Borgstrom character is stuck for answers, which is often, he becomes desperate to turn attention away from himself:
"Julian Assange kicks kittens. . . . Julian Assange kicks little baby cats. He kicks them hard."
"Julian Assange kicks puppies. . . . Julian Assange kicks little baby doggies, a lot--and makes them whimper."
"Julian Assange pulls the wings off butterflies."
It's funny, quirky stuff--about a very serious subject, one that could be dominating the news in the weeks ahead. You can check out the video below: