Julian Assange has been accused of a lot of things: being a loud mouth, an attention-seeker, a destroyer of the United States' national security -- and now he's accused of "molestation" in Sweden.
The charges of rape were made on Friday, then dropped by the Swedish authorities due to a lack of evidence, but the molestation -- or sexual harassment in a more U.S. style interpretation -- still stands.
The Australian native who recently published classified U.S. military documents surrounding the war in Afghanistan says he was warned to expect "dirty tricks" and these allegations are false.
Assange was actually in Sweden in order to take full advantage of the legal protection Sweden offers whistle-blowers, and instead wound up on the other side of the law. The Swedish legal system works in a very different way than we're used to in the United States. The Huffington Post explained the confusing situation this way:
A Stockholm prosecutor issued the arrest warrant on Friday, saying Assange was suspected of rape and molestation in two separate cases. But chief prosecutor Eva Finne withdrew the warrant within 24 hours.
"I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape," Finne said in a brief statement.
Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said Assange remains suspected of molestation, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.
"The prosecutor hasn't made a decision" on that count, Rosander told The Associated Press. "The investigation continues."
Molestation covers a wide of range of offenses under Swedish law, including inappropriate physical contact with another adult, and can result in fines or up to one year in prison.
I'm not huge on conspiracy theories and generally come down on the side of anyone who accuses someone of such a heinous crime. But I know next to nothing about the Swedish protocol in criminal cases -- reading The Dragon Tattoo series religiously does not count -- still, this seems weird. So I'm finding it difficult whether to side with the rape victim, who we don't know anything about, or Assange, who could potentially be a target. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Do you think Assange is being set up?
Image via andyg1/Flickr