10 april 2016

The Race to Run the United Nations

For the past 70 years, each time the post of secretary general of the United Nations has been open, those interested in the job lobbied and cajoled the five permanent members of the Security Council behind closed doors. The Council chose the finalist, whose name was then presented to the General Assembly as a done deal. This obscure process for selecting one of the world’s most important leaders has gone unchallenged for decades.

Not anymore. The race to replace Ban Ki-moon, who will step down at the end of the year, fortunately, will be different. At the insistence of small nations that traditionally had no say in the matter, the United Nations has asked that governments that wish to nominate a candidate for the job do so openly. Next week, diplomats from the United Nations’ 193 states will have an opportunity to meet and question the four women and four men who are vying for the job.

Among the candidates are five United Nations veterans, including Helen Clark of New Zealand, a former prime minister, who has led the United Nations Development Program since 2009, and Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Also in the race are António Manuel Oliveira Guterres of Portugal, who served for a decade as the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, through last year; Danilo Turk, a former assistant secretary general who served as president of Slovenia from 2007 to 2012; and Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia, who served as foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations.

The other contenders are Vesna Pusic, the foreign minister of Croatia; Natalia Gherman, a senior diplomat from Moldova; and Igor Luksic, the foreign minister of Montenegro.

Most candidates are Eastern European because that region is widely assumed to be the next in line to have a representative at the top of the United Nations. The Security Council is also under pressure to give serious consideration to female candidates, since no woman has run the United Nations. The Council will start vetting the candidates in July and will pick one later in the year.

The next secretary general will face a series of challenges that will require deft leadership and tenacity. The United Nations needs to play a central role in ending wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, even as it struggles to provide resources and aid to millions of refugees who have fled Syria and other countries roiled by war.

The new leader will also inherit internal problems. The United Nations was slow to acknowledge and respond to allegations of widespread sex abuse by peacekeepers in Africa, a situation that could destroy its reputation and credibility in areas already struggling with the ravages of war and famine. The World Health Organization, which came under criticism for its inadequate response to the Ebola crisis in 2014, will also require sustained attention.

Those vying for the job will need to clearly outline their priorities and vision for a job that becomes ever more daunting in a conflict-ridden world.

05 april 2016

Kim Philby, British double agent, reveals all in secret video

A previously unseen video of one of Britain's most infamous spies describing his career as a Soviet agent has been uncovered by the BBC.
The tape is of Kim Philby giving a secret lecture to the Stasi, the East German Intelligence Service, in 1981. It is the first time the ex-MI6 officer can be seen talking about his life as a spy from his recruitment to his escape. He describes his career rising up the ranks of MI6 whilst providing its secrets to the Soviet Union's KGB. He ends with advice to the East German spies.

"Dear Comrades." With those two words spoken in an impeccable upper-class English accent, one of Britain's most famous spies and its greatest traitor begins a masterclass in betrayal to a select audience of East German spies.
Philby's hour-long address was preserved on video tape and never seen in public until now.
The BBC unearthed it in the official archives of the Stasi in Berlin.
It was never made for public consumption (and the grainy video and poorly synchronised sound shows the limits of technology at the time), but that means the former MI6 officer is open about his career in a way never heard before.

Enemy camp

After an introduction from East German spymaster Markus Wolf, who was so elusive to western spy agencies that he was known for many years as "the man without a face", Philby makes his way to the lectern to a hero's welcome.
"I must warn you that I am no public speaker," Philby says. "I've spent most of my life trying to avoid publicity of any kind."
That much is true. Previously the best known video of Philby was him giving a 1955 press conference in his mother's London flat. On that occasion he said very little, only denying he was a communist. In this newly discovered video, for the first time, we hear Philby himself boast about what he calls his "30 years in the enemy camp".

He describes himself as born into "the ruling class of the British Empire" and explains how he first was drawn towards communism at Cambridge. He details his recruitment by the Soviet intelligence service, later known as the KGB, after he returned from working with activists in Austria.
The most surprising thing about his recruitment, he says, was that it happened at all since he had no real job or prospects at that moment.
"It was essentially a long range project. No immediate results were expected or could have been expected." He says his Soviet contact did express his ambitions for his recruit. It was made perfectly clear to me that the best target in the eyes of the Centre in Moscow would be the British Secret Service."
Philby details how he spent years trying to work his way in - turning to journalism, working for The Times newspaper, covering the Spanish Civil War, building up contacts in the establishment and then as war came dropping hints about his desire to work for government.
At last, he was interviewed and accepted in to the inner sanctum of the British state - the Secret Intelligence Service - SIS (or as it is popularly known MI6).
In one of the most remarkable sections of the talk, Philby then reveals just how easy it was to steal secrets from Britain's secret service. He says that he simply made friends with the archivist who managed the files by going out two or three times a week for a drink with him.
This allowed Philby to get hold of files which had nothing to do with his own job.
"If there had been proper discipline in the handling of papers in SIS that would have been quite impossible. But there was, in fact, no discipline."
Philby goes on to explain what he did with all the documents.
"Every evening I left the office with a big briefcase full of reports that I had written myself, full of files and actual documents from the archive."
"I used to hand them to my Soviet contact in the evening."
"The next morning I would get the files back, the contents having been photographed and early the next morning I would put them back in their place. That I did regularly year in year out."

Very dirty story

Philby, a Soviet agent, is then appointed number two in a new MI6 section, devoted to countering Soviet espionage. His KGB handler next instructs him to get the top job by removing his boss, Felix Cowgill.
"I said 'Are you proposing to shoot him or something?'" Philby recalls asking.
Instead his instructions were to use bureaucratic intrigue.
"So I set about the business of removing my own chief. You oughtn't to listen to this," he tells the audience of secret service officers to considerable laughter.
He succeeded.
"It was a very dirty story - but after all our work does imply getting dirty hands from time to time but we do it for a cause that is not dirty in any way," Philby explains.

"I have to admit that was the most blatant intrigue against a man I rather liked and I admired but the instructions stood and nothing I could do would alter them."
There is one episode which is usually cited to illustrate the human cost of Philby's treachery.
When he was posted to Washington DC as MI6's liaison with the CIA and FBI, he betrayed an operation to secretly send thousands of Albanians back into their country to overthrow the communist regime. Many were killed. In his lecture, Philby tries to turn it to his credit - even claiming he helped prevent World War Three.
He claims that if he had not compromised the operation and it had succeeded, the CIA and MI6 would have tried it again in countries like Bulgaria. He says the Soviet Union would then have become involved, leading to an all-out war.

Escape from Beirut

While he was in Washington, two fellow Cambridge spies, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, fled to Moscow, leading to suspicions about Philby and his interrogation. He says there were two reasons why he got away with his espionage for so long.
The first was the British class system, which could not accept one of their own was a traitor. The second was the fact that so many in MI6 had so much to lose if he was proven to be a spy.
Philby did officially leave MI6 but remarkably was soon taken back. He became an agent based in Beirut under cover of being a newspaper journalist. This allowed him to resume his spying.
Philby ends the formal section of his talk with an account of his escape from Beirut which he uses to mock MI6. In 1963, an MI6 colleague came to confront him with new evidence pointing to his work for the Soviets. Philby bluffed and stalled. Another MI6 officer was then left to watch over him.
But that man was an avid skier. Philby says that news came in of a fresh snowfall and the officer could not resist heading off to the Lebanese mountains to make the most of it. At that point, Philby got the signal from the KGB for his departure and was able to slip away.
Philby then sits down and takes questions from the East German spies. A fascinating first answer explains how he first acquired his communist beliefs and was then able to hold on to them despite living in the West.
He praises his Soviet handler and advises his audience that they need to take care of the political as well as physical health of any agents they run. Philby finishes with one piece of advice to the spies gathered before him that had served him well: never confess.
"If they confront you with a document with your own handwriting then it's a forgery - just deny everything… They interrogated me to break my nerve and force me to confess."
"And all I had to do really was keep my nerve. So my advice to you is to tell all your agents that they are never to confess."
This video, designed to be secret, is a chance to see Philby giving his own account of his life as a spy.
The tone is one of total self-confidence.
Philby died in Moscow in 1988 just before the collapse of the Communist ideal which he had spent his life serving.

06 mars 2016

Anne Applebaum: Is this the end of the West as we know it?

Back in the 1950s, when the institutions were still new and shaky, I’m sure many people feared the Western alliance might never take off. Perhaps in the 1970s, the era of the Red Brigades and Vietnam, many more feared that the West would not survive. But in my adult life, I cannot remember a moment as dramatic as this: Right now, we are two or three bad elections away from the end of NATO, the end of the European Union and maybe the end of the liberal world order as we know it.
In the United States, we are faced with the real possibility of Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump, which means we have to take seriously the possibility of a President Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign might implode for any number of reasons, too obvious to rehash here; elections are funny things, and electorates are fickle. That means that next January we could have, in the White House, a man who is totally uninterested in what presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan — as well as Johnson, Nixon and Truman — would all have called “our shared values.”
Trump has advocated torture, mass deportation, religious discrimination. He brags that he “would not care that much” whether Ukraine were admitted to NATO; he has no interest in NATO and its security guarantees. Of Europe, he has written that “their conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars annually.” In any case, he prefers the company of dictators to that of other democrats. “You can make deals with those people,” he said of Russia. “I would have a great relationship with [Vladimir] Putin.”
Not only is Trump uninterested in America’s alliances, he would be incapable of sustaining them. In practice, both military and economic unions require not the skills of a shady property magnate who “makes deals” but boring negotiations, unsatisfying compromises and, sometimes, the sacrifice of one’s own national preferences for the greater good. In an era when foreign policy debate has in most Western countries disappeared altogether, replaced by the reality TV of political entertainment, all of these things are much harder to explain and justify to a public that isn’t remotely interested.
And Americans aren’t the only ones who find their alliances burdensome. A year from now, France also holds a presidential election. One of the front-runners, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, has promised to leave both NATO and the E.U. , to nationalize French companies and to restrict foreign investors. Like Trump, she foresees a special relationship with Russia, whose banks are funding her election campaign. French friends assure me that if she makes it to the final round, the center-left and center-right will band together, as they did two decades ago against her father. But elections are funny things, and electorates are fickle. What if Le Pen’s opponent suddenly falls victim to a scandal? What if another Islamic State attack jolts Paris?

By the time that happens, Britain may also be halfway out the door. In June, the British vote in a referendum to leave the E.U. Right now, the vote is too close to call — and if the “leave” vote prevails, then, as I’ve written, all bets are off. Copycat referendums may follow in other E.U. countries too. Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, sometimes speaks of leaving the West in favor of a strategic alliance with Istanbul or Moscow.

It’s not hard at all to imagine a Britain unmoored from Europe drifting away from the transatlantic alliance as well. If the economic turmoil that could follow a British exit from the E.U. were sufficiently severe, perhaps the British public would vote out its conservative government in favor of the Labour Party, whose leadership is now radically anti-American. Everyone discountsJeremy Corbyn , the far-left Labour leader, but they also discounted Trump. Corbyn is the only viable alternative if the public wants a change. Elections are funny things, and electorates are fickle.
And then? Without France, Europe’s single market will cease to exist. Without Britain, it’s hard to see how NATO lasts long either. Not everyone will be sorry. As Trump’s appealing rhetoric makes clear, the costs of alliances (“millions of dollars annually”) are easier to see than the longer-term gains.
Western unity, nuclear deterrence and standing armies gave us more than a half century of political stability. Shared economic space helped bring prosperity and freedom to Europe and North America alike. But these are things that we all take for granted, until they are gone.
Anne Applebaum är amerikansk-polsk journalist, författare och kolumnist i Washington Post. Hon är gift med Polens förre utrikesminister Radoslaw Sikorski.  www.anneapplebaum.com

15 februari 2016

When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism

Maureen Dowds giftiga kolumn i söndagens New York Times.
WASHINGTON — THE Clinton campaign is shellshocked over the wholesale rejection of Hillary by young women, younger versions of herself who do not relate to her.
Hillary’s coronation was predicated on a conviction that has just gone up in smoke. The Clintons felt that Barack Obama had presumptuously snatched what was rightfully hers in 2008, gliding past her with his pretty words to make history before she could.
So this time, the Clintons assumed, the women who had deserted Hillary for Barack, in Congress and in the country, owed her. Democrats would want to knock down that second barrier.
Hillary believed that there was an implicit understanding with the sisters of the world that now was the time to come back home and vote for a woman. (The Clintons seem to have conveniently forgotten how outraged they were by identity politics when black leaders deserted them in 2008 to support Obama.)
This attitude intensified the unappetizing solipsistic subtext of her campaign, which is “What is Hillary owed?” It turned out that female voters seem to be looking at Hillary as a candidate rather than as a historical imperative. And she’s coming up drastically short on trustworthiness.
As Olivia Sauer, an 18-year-old college freshman who caucused for Bernie Sanders in Ames, Iowa, told a Times reporter: “It seems like he is at the point in his life when he is really saying what he is thinking. With Hillary, sometimes you get this feeling that all of her sentences are owned by someone.”
Hillary started, both last time and this, from a place of entitlement, as though if she reads her résumé long enough people will surrender. And now she’s even angrier that she has been shown up by someone she considers even less qualified than Obama was when he usurped her place. 

Bernie has a clear, concise “we” message, even if it’s pie-in-the-sky: The game is rigged and we have to take the country back from the privileged few and make it work for everyone. Hillary has an “I” message: I have been abused and misunderstood and it’s my turn.
It’s a victim mind-set that is exhausting, especially because the Clintons’ messes are of their own making.
On the trail in New Hampshire, Madeleine Albright made the case that it was a betrayal of feminist ideals to support Bernie against Hillary, noting that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” When Sanders handily won the women’s vote on Tuesday, David Axelrod noted dryly that they were going to need to clear out a lot of space in hell.
And in a misstep for the feminist leader who got famous by going undercover as a Playboy bunny, Gloria Steinem told Bill Maher that young women were flocking to Bernie to be where the boys are. Blaming it on hormones was odd, given the fact that for centuries, it was widely believed that women’s biology made them emotionally unfit to be leaders.
What the three older women seemed to miss was that the young women supporting Sanders are living the feminist dream, where gender no longer restricts and defines your choices, where girls grow up knowing they can be anything they want. The aspirations of ’70s feminism are now baked into the culture.
The interesting thing about the spectacle of older women trying to shame younger ones on behalf of Hillary is that Hillary and Bill killed the integrity of institutional feminism back in the ’90s — with the help of Albright and Steinem.
Instead of just admitting that he had had an affair with Monica Lewinsky and taking his lumps, Bill lied and hid behind the skirts of his wife and female cabinet members, who had to go out before the cameras and vouch for his veracity, even when it was apparent he was lying.
Seeing Albright, the first female secretary of state, give cover to President Clinton was a low point in women’s rights. As was the New York Times op-ed by Steinem, arguing that Lewinsky’s will was not violated, so no feminist principles were violated. What about Clinton humiliating his wife and daughter and female cabinet members? What about a president taking advantage of a gargantuan power imbalance with a 22-year-old intern? What about imperiling his party with reckless behavior that put their feminist agenda at risk?
It rang hollow after the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. When it was politically beneficial, the feminists went after Thomas for bad behavior and painted Hill as a victim. And later, when it was politically beneficial, they defended Bill’s bad behavior and stayed mute as Clinton allies mauled his dalliances as trailer trash and stalkers.
The same feminists who were outraged at the portrayal of Hill by David Brock — then a Clinton foe but now bizarrely head of one of her “super PACs” — as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” hypocritically went along when Hillary and other defenders of Bill used that same aspersion against Lewinsky.
Hillary knew that she could count on the complicity of feminist leaders and Democratic women in Congress who liked Bill’s progressive policies on women. And that’s always the ugly Faustian bargain with the Clintons, not only on the sex cover-ups but the money grabs: You can have our bright public service side as long as you accept our dark sketchy side.
Young women today, though, are playing by a different set of rules. And they don’t like the Clintons setting themselves above the rules.

16 januari 2016

Wallström betalade ingen skatt på miljoninkomster som EU-kommissionär

Under sina nästan tolv år som EU-kommisionär i Bryssel tjänade Margot Wallström närmare 28 miljoner kronor. Men hon betalade ingen skatt för sina mycket omfattande inkomster. Under åren 1999-2004 var hon kommissionär med ansvar för miljöfrågor. 2004-2010 var Margot Wallström kommissionens 1:e vice ordförande med ansvar för kontakter med institutioner och kommunikationsstrategi.

Det var nättidningen Svensk Tidskrift som den 3 oktober 2014 avslöjade att hon aldrig betalade någon skatt under alla åren i Bryssel. Men tidningens avslöjande väckte inga som helst reaktioner i andra medier Uppgiften redovisades först av Open Europe. Jag skrev om skandalen i mars förra året i samband med Saudiaffären.

Lönerna för parlamentariker och kommissionärer är i praktiken skattefria. Man betalar bara någon enstaka procent i skatt i Bryssel. En skattesats som är närmast försumbar.

Kritiken mot de svenska europaparlamentarikernas nettolöner ledde till att det nu finns ett regelverk för att beskatta deras inkomster. Beskattningen är frivillig eftersom systemet hade tvingats att göras om ifall någon hade valt att ta det till domstol. Men för att undvika kritik, för att inte skapa ett slags frälse och för att mer ha levnadsförhållanden som liknar de svenska har europarlamentarikerna själva valt att beskattas.

Margot Wallström hade mycket enkelt kunna ringa upp Skattemyndigheten och meddela att hon ville följa det svenska regelverket för parlamentarikerna. Men det gjorde hon aldrig. Hon har heller aldrig själv öppet redovisat sina enorma inkomster från åren i Bryssel. Möjligen ansåg Wallström att en högt uppsatt kommissionär inte berördes av det frivilliga svenska regelverket.

Helt enkelt att hon var "untouchable" och en ekonomisk fribrytare i förhållande till de övriga svenskarna i Bryssel.

Men det var en nonchalans som stack i ögonen på de svenska parlamentarikerna. Andra högt uppsatta personer inom EU retade sig samtidigt på att Wallström under alla år i Bryssel vägrade lära sig franska, som inom EU är ett viktigt arbetsspråk. Wallström skaffade sig alltså ett högst personligt privilegium, en självutnämnd medlem av det socialdemokratiska privilegiesamhället.

Efter åren i Bryssel blev Walllström FNs generalsekreterares särskilda representant i frågor som rör konfliktrelaterat sexuellt våld under åren 2010-2012. FN-gräddans monstruösa skattefria löner är välkända världen över. Men de inkomsterna har Wallström heller aldrig redovisat öppet. Till  saken hör att hennes arbete i FN aldrig avsatte några bestående intryck.

Socialdemokraterna har varit mycket tydliga i synen på parlamentarikernas arvoden. I ett
pressmeddelande den 25 mars 2009 säger de. "All inkomster ska beskattas. Skattereglerna för de svenska EU-parlamentarikerna skall inte avvika från de som gäller för de svenska riksdagsledamöterna".

Men Wallström avstod och anslöt sig till EUs skattefrälse. Det är precis samma sak med lägenheten i Stockholms innerstad som hon fick av Kommunal. Från skattefrälse till bostadsfrälse. Sedan spelar det ingen roll att Wallström påstår att Kommunals ordförande ljuger. Hon fick en lägenhet av Kommunal och uppbär dessutom bidrag från regeringskansliet på sammanlagt 12 400 kronor per månad för bostaden. Ur egen ficka betalar Margot Wallström hela 32 kronor för sitt boende som utrikesminister.

Det är Margot Wallström som ljuger och inte Kommunals ordförande.

Efter Saudiaffären, bråket kring ett erkännande av Västsahara, det regelvidriga erkännandet av Palestina och bråken med Israel är bara några exempel på när grodorna hoppat strömhopp ur munnen på Sveriges utrikesminister.

Egentligen har Margot Wallström för länge sedan förlorat allt förtroende som utrikesminister och statsråd.

Avgå Margot Wallström! och gör hon inte det självmant är det statsministerns uppgift  att skilja henne från uppdraget.

13 augusti 2015

Johan Hakelius blir ny chefredaktör för Fokus

Johan Hakelius blir ny chefredaktör för nyhetsmagasinet Fokus. Journalisten, författaren och kolumnisten Hakelius tillträder som chefredaktör vid årsskiftet.
– Det ska bli spännande att få bli del av en så pass unik tidning. Det finns inte många tidningar i Sverige som har den kombinationen av seriös ambition och stilistisk höjd, säger han till Dagens Nyheter.
–Jag skulle vilja bygga på de styrkor tidningen har men även bredda tidningen till att behandla fler ämnen och skapa ett tilltal som är lite vassare ibland. Det sades en gång om Johan Björkman, magasinets förste finansiär, att han var ”uppriktig på gränsen till oförskämd”. Jag vill dra Fokus ditåt, och inte gå som katten kring het gröt alla gånger, säger han.
Johan Hakelius förnekar ett påstående som Dagens Nyheter citerar att tidningen nu kommer att dras åt en politisk höger och tillägger att tidningens första chefredaktör var socialdemokrat och som nu arbetar på en socialdemokratisk ledarsida. Och jag är själv varken medlem i något parti, eller röstar ens, säger han.
Direkt efter tillkännagivandet meddelade Henrik Frenkel att han avgår som Fokus styrelseordförande med omedelbar verkan, eftersom han inte står bakom ägarnas beslut att göra Johan Hakelius till chefredaktör.
– Johan Hakelius är en väldigt spännande krönikör och författare och jag tycker mycket om honom. Men han är inte rätt profil för Fokus, säger Frenkel till tidningen Resumé.
Viveca Ax:son Johnson, styrelseordförande i ägarbolaget FPG Media, är däremot nöjd.
– Han är en av vårt lands mest spännande, självständigt tänkande intellektuella. Han kommer att utveckla Fokus unika styrkor och göra tidskriftens identitet än tydligare, säger hon till Dagens Media.
Min kommentar till Henrik Frenkels påstående om Johan Hakelius är att Frenkel själv är en ifrågasatt mediefigur. Inte minst då han var redaktionschef på SVT/Aktuellt. Det var en tjänst han tvingades bort från efter bara en kortare tid.
Johan Hakelius har gedigen erfarenhet från både Finanstidningen och Svenska Dagbladet, plus att han är en både uppskattad och skicklig författare och kolumnist i flera tidningar och tidskrifter.
Hans önskan att vässa tilltalet är något som verkligen behövs i det här landet.

12 augusti 2015

Fallet Assange: Tre av fyra misstankar om brott faller nu bort

Efter fem år av juridiska turer och internationella förvecklingar preskriberas nu tre av de fyra misstänkta brott som Julian Assange anklagas för att ha begått i Sverige.
– Han blir inte dömd för brotten, men han blir inte heller frikänd, säger målsägandebiträdet Claes Borgström.

Brottsmisstankar om olaga tvång och sexuellt ofredande preskriberas under torsdagen. Misstanke om ytterligare ett sexuellt ofredande preskriberas med största sannolikhet på tisdag. En av två kvinnliga målsägande i det uppmärksammade Assange-ärendet faller bort.
Efter att i flera år ha begärt Assange utlämnad till Sverige har svenska åklagare sedan några månader tillbaka försökt att få till stånd ett förhör på ambassaden i London. Särskilda krav från Ecuador – som enligt svenska justitiedepartementet står i strid med svensk lag – har gjort att förhören hittills inte blivit av. Men det förnekas bestämt av Ecuador.
Av de fyra misstänkta brotten i Sverige kommer det efter preskriberingarna att kvarstå en händelse som rubricerats som våldtäkt och som preskriberas om ytterligare fem år.
Samtidigt skriver idag advokat Svante Thorsell i en debattartikel i Göteborgs-Posten att åklakarens hantering av fallet är ett brott mot juridisk anständighet. Här följer hans artikel i sin helhet.

"Dawit Isaac har suttit frihetsberövad i fjorton år utan att få sin sak prövad i domstol. Fångarna på Guantanamobasen på Kuba har hållits kvar där av USA sedan 2002 utan rätt att få sin sak prövad av en allmän och offentlig domstol. Allvarliga brott mot rättssäkerheten, hävdas det. Sverige har här sin egen bakgård, dåligt belyst av jurister och glömd av makthavare.
Julian Assange har de facto varit frihetsberövad av Sverige i snart fem år. Först i husarrest och sedan som inlåst asylflykting på Ecuadors ambassad i London. Assange lämnade vårt land hastigt 2010 i tron att Sverige inte var rättssäkert och är alltjämt misstänkt för egenartade sexbrott. Om han infunnit sig, ett åtal prövats och Assange fällts hade ett fängelsestraff varit omkring två år och betydligt kortare än den tid han nu varit berövad sin frihet i London.
Det finns skäl att granska vad åklagaren haft för sig under de fem åren. Sedan Assange sökte asyl på Ecuadors ambassad har polisbevakningen kostat de brittiska skattebetalarna drygt 160 miljoner kronor.
Sverige utmärker sig i EU då det inte finns någon tidsgräns inom vilken förundersökningen skall avslutas. Det anges i lagen bara att den skall bedrivas så skyndsamt som möjligt. Det finns inte något rättsmedel, någon rätt att i domstol få den nedlagd eller arbetet granskat i ett rättsligt förfarande. Assange får liksom andra finna sig i att vara föremål för brottsutredningen så länge det passar åklagaren.
Avsaknaden av rätten att få beslut om förundersökning prövad av domstol är besvärande. Europakonventionen för de mänskliga rättigheterna är direkt tillämplig som lag i Sverige. Enligt artikel 6 garanteras den som anklagas för brott en rättegång inom skälig tid. Men Sverige som rättsstat är unikt då vi saknar en regel om maxtid för frihetsberövande före rättegång.
Av de närmare 10 000 personer som häktas årligen var ifjol 21 frihetsberövade i mer än 361 dygn. En misstänkt narkotikasmugglare släpptes efter 3,5 år i häktet. Det krävs inte någon livlig fantasi för att förstå vad det innebär att vistas i ett utrymme som motsvarar en transporthiss tjugotre timmar per dygn i månader – kanske år. Det tillämpas i primitiva stater ”in order to break them” och leder ofta till att den misstänkte har en väl etablerad apati då han sent träder in i rättssalen för att tillvarata sin rätt. I rättsstaten Sverige har vi en ordning med många förundersökningsfångar, det vill säga personer som sitter frihetsberövade utan att vara dömda. Till orimligheten hör att de dessutom skall bemötas som oskyldiga om än i sina celler.
Från åklagaren i Assangemålet, Marianne Ny, har det varit tyst sedan hösten 2010. Under våren 2015 bröts tystanden då hon kommit på att man skall höra Assange i England. I rättegångsbalken anges att Ny, som varje annan kollega, skall bedriva förundersökningen på sådant sätt att ingen onödigtvis utsättes för misstanke och får vidkännas olägenheter. Så länge en person är misstänkt leder det till en stor anspänning. Det är en svår prövning i sig även utan rättegång. Vad har åklagaren haft för sig under snart fem år?
Vi saknar särskilda regler om rätt till domstolsprövning av hur förundersökningen bedrivits. Kvar finns JO:s generella uppdrag att enligt grundlagen granska att varje myndighet är opartisk och saklig i sin maktutövning och att de grundläggande fri- och rättigheterna iakttas. Justitieombudsmannen, JO, har tvärtom i karga former avvisat två anmälningar i fallet Julian Assange. JO Cecilia Renfors har avfärdat en anmälan av före detta hovrättsdomaren/rättsvetenskapsmannen Brita Sundberg-Weitman med ett avhugget besked att det inte föranleder någon åtgärd eller något uttalande. Sundberg-Weitman ansåg att Assangefallet strider mot Europarådets konvention om de mänskliga rättigheterna och regeringsformens proportionalitetsprincip.
2012 avskrev JO Hans-Gunnar Axberger en anmälan med motiveringen att saken var ”föremål för en pågående rättslig prövning”. Hur Axberger kunde veta att den var pågående är i marginalen märkligt. Vad var det som ”pågår”? Allt talar för att brottsutredningen redan då var död. JO avstår i fallet Assange från att ta värn mot det som felas.
Allmänheten kan befara att Sverige har en dold agenda, att JO i vart fall inte vill ha detta känsliga ärende på sitt bord, i skärningspunkten mellan juridik, politik och CIA-mystifiering.
Varje spekulation blir berättigad till dess åklagare Ny berättat, saken utretts av JO eller blivit kända genom domstols prövning. Det är något ruttet med fallet Assange. Varför är han de facto frihetsberövad? Varför avslutas inte förundersökningen? Svaret finns på utrikesdepartementet, tyvärr inte inom rättsväsendet. En slutsats lika säker som någon annan i detta tystnadens hav. Den politiska makten tillåts här ha inflytande över rättsväsendet för att vårt konungarike inte skall få problem med USA och dess intresse för ”hackaren Julian Assange”? Om Sverige inte är följsamt i fallet Assange, kan vi frysas ute från utbyte av information med amerikanska säkerhetstjänster och blockeras från köp av militär teknologi, säger de som vet.
Jag har ingen närmare kännedom om rättsordningen i Dawit Isaaks Eritrea eller rättsordningen där Guantanamofångarna vistas, men jag befarar det värsta. Gemensamt med Sverige har de dock att man där kan hållas frihetsberövad utan rättegång, och utan någon maxtid. Det finns inte heller någon tid inom vilken förundersökningar skall vara avslutade.
Den misstänktes lidande skall alltid begränsas oavsett om det är Eritrea, Sverige eller Guantanamo. Och när tänkte åklagaren Ny på de båda kvinnorna som brottsmisstankarna avser? De är i vart fall offer i den meningen att de fått vänta i fem år på Ny.
I maj prövade Högsta Domstolen häktningen av Assange. HD gav då Ny en sista chans. HD fäste då särskild vikt vid att åklagare Ny, som en nyhet, åtagit sig att förhöra Assange i London. Det har hon inte gjort.
Hennes obegripliga invändning har tidigare varit att det fanns formella hinder för staten Sverige att genomföra ett förhör i Storbritannien. Det stämmer inte. Under samma tid har svensk polis, tvärtom genomfört 44 förhör på brittiskt mark. Trots löftet har hon, i dag, ännu inte avtalat någon tid med Julian Assange. Det har snart gått fem år sedan de påstådda våldtäkterna. Åklagarens passivitet är ett brott mot anständigheten."

Fotnot: Den JO-anmälan som JO Hans Gunnar Axberger avvisade 2012 gjordes av mig.
Länk till min analys av den omdiskuterade häktningspromemorian från 2010. Det är det enda kända dokument som läckt ut från utredningen. http://stadsholmen.blogspot.se/2011/02/fallet-assange-lackta-svenska-forhor-en.html
Allt mitt material om fallet Julian Assange finns här: http://stadsholmen.blogspot.se/search/label/Julian%20Assange

07 augusti 2015

Nytt bråk om svenskt förhör med Julian Assange

Svenska åklagare ska visst få höra sexbrottsmisstänkte Julian Assange på Ecuadors ambassad i London. Bara Sveriges regering går med på villkor som strider mot svensk lag.
”Kraven är helt i strid med våra rättsprinciper”, säger Cecilia Riddselius vid justitiedepartementet.

Svenska åklagare ska visst få höra sexbrottsmisstänkte Julian Assange på Ecuadors ambassad i London. Bara Sveriges regering går med på villkor som strider mot svensk lag.
”Kraven är helt i strid med våra rättsprinciper”, säger Cecilia Riddselius vid justitiedepartementet.

Det är Sveriges fel om Wikileaksgrundaren Julian Assange inte kan höras av svenska åklagare innan preskriptionstiden för vissa av de sexbrott han misstänks för löper ut i augusti. Det påstod Ecuadors utrikesminister Ricardo Patiño Aroca nyligen.

Men om Ecuadors krav tillmötesgicks skulle det innebära brott mot svensk lagstiftning, enligt Cecilia Riddselius, chef för centralmyndigheten vid justitiedepartementet.
– Som villkor för att Assange ska få höras har man krävt ett särskilt avtal där Sverige erkänner asylstatus för Assange. Men regeringen kan inte göra en sådan utfästelse eftersom det är Migrationsverket som prövar om en person har rätt till asyl, säger Riddselius till TT.

I Sveriges och Ecuadors skriftväxling om villkoren för förhör uttrycker Ecuador oro över att Assange – om han så småningom skulle hamna i Sverige – riskerar att utlämnas till USA för misstänkta brott där.

– Men ett tillstånd att hålla förhör förändrar inte det faktum att Assange fortfarande befinner sig på deras ambassad och åtnjuter den politiska asyl som de gett honom, säger Riddselius.
Åklagaren kan alltså inte ta med Assange till Sverige efter förhören.
Trots det kräver Ecuador redan nu en garanti från Sveriges regering om att Assange inte kommer att utlämnas till USA längre fram.

– Svensk rätt medger inte att man på förhand ger en sådan garanti, säger Riddselius.
En eventuell utlämning till USA kan dessutom avgöras av regeringen först efter yttranden av riksåklagaren och Högsta domstolen. I det här fallet skulle det dessutom krävas ett samtycke från Storbritannien.

Svenska åklagare var i London under sommaren för att höra Assange men släpptes inte in på ambassaden. Enligt Riddselius berodde det på att Sverige inte gått med på de krav som strider mot svensk rätt.

Julian Assanges svenske försvarare, Thomas Olsson, ger en annan bild.
– Man hade lämnat in sin förfrågan till Ecuador för sent, säger han.
Preskriptionstiden för den våldtäkt Assange misstänks för går ut först om fem år.


15 april 2015

Maureen Dowd: Grandmama Mia!

Dagens Nyheter publicerar idag på ledarsidan en krönika av min favoritkrönikör i New York Times, Maureen Dowd. Texten är en ganska besk historia om Hillary Clintons andra försök att nå USAs högsta ämbete. Som vanligt är originalet bättre än en svensk översättning.

WASHINGTON — When my brother Michael was a Senate page, he delivered mail to John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who had offices across the hall from each other.

He recalled that Kennedy never looked up or acknowledged his presence, but Nixon would greet him with a huge smile. “Hi, Mike,” he’d say. “How are you doing? How’s the family?”

Dog leashes in support of a new Hillary Clinton campaign for the presidency. Credit Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

It seemed a bit counterintuitive, especially since my dad, a D.C. police inspector in charge of Senate security, was a huge Kennedy booster. (The two prominent pictures in our house were of the Mona Lisa and J.F.K.) But after puzzling over it, I finally decided that J.F.K. had the sort of magnetism that could ensorcell big crowds, so he did not need to squander it on mail boys. Nixon, on the other hand, lacked large-scale magnetism, so he needed to work hard to charm people one by one, even mail boys.

Hillary Clinton has always tried to be more like the Democratic president she lived with in the White House, to figure out how he spins the magic. “I never realized how good Bill was at this until I tried to do it,” she once told her adviser, Harold Ickes. But she ends up being compared with the Republican president she investigated as a young lawyer for the House Judiciary’s Watergate investigation.

Her paranoia, secrecy, scandals and disappearing act with emails from her time as secretary of state have inspired a cascade of comparisons with Nixon.

Pat Buchanan, a former Nixon adviser, bluntly told Jason Zengerle recently in New York magazine: “She reminds me of Nixon,” another pol who’s more comfortable behind the scenes than grinding it out in the arena.

As Hillary finally admits the axiomatic — she wants to be president — she will take the Nixon approach, trying to charm people one by one in the early states for 2016, an acknowledgement that she cannot emulate the wholesale allure of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.

That reality hit her in 2008, when throngs waited hours to get in to hear The One. “Enough with the speeches and the big rallies,” a frustrated Hillary cried out to a Cincinnati crowd.

She wants to avoid the coronation vibe this time, a member of her orbit told Politico’s Glenn Thrush, even though Martin O’Malley, a potential rival, objected that “the presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families” and The Onion reported her campaign slogan is “I deserve this.”

Hillary’s team plans to schedule low-key events where she can mingle with actual voters. “I think it’s important, and Hillary does, too, that she go out there as if she’s never run for anything before and establish her connection with the voters,” Bill Clinton told Town & Country for a cover story.

The Big Dog, who got off his leash last time in South Carolina, said he will start small as well, noting: “My role should primarily be as a backstage adviser to her until we get much, much closer to the election.”

Democratic strategists and advisers told The Washington Post’s Anne Gearan and Dan Balz that “the go-slow, go-small strategy” plays to her strengths, “allowing her to meet voters in intimate settings where her humor, humility and policy expertise can show through.”

As the old maxim goes, if you can fake humility, you’ve got it made. But seeing Rahm and Hillary do it in the same season might be too much to take.

President Obama has said: “If she’s her wonderful self, I’m sure she’s going to do great.” But which self is that?

Instead of a chilly, scripted, entitled policy wonk, as in 2008, Hillary plans to be a warm, spontaneous, scrappy fighter for average Americans. Instead of a woman campaigning like a man, as in 2008, she will try to stir crowds with the idea of being the first woman president. Instead of haughtily blowing off the press, as in 2008, she will make an effort to play nice.

It’s a do-or-die remodeling, like when you put a new stainless steel kitchen in a house that doesn’t sell.

In 1992, Clinton strategists wrote a memo aiming to recast Hillary in a skeptical public’s mind as a warm, loving mother. They even suggested an event where Bill and Chelsea would surprise Hillary on Mother’s Day.

Now, after 25 years on the national stage, Hillary is still hitting the reset button on her image, this time projecting herself as a warm, loving grandmother.

On the eve of her campaign launch, she released an updated epilogue to her banal second memoir, “Hard Choices,” highlighting her role as a grandmother.

“I’m more convinced than ever that our future in the 21st century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte will,” she wrote, referring to her granddaughter.

This was designed to rebut critics who say she’s too close to Wall Street and too grabby with speech money and foundation donations from Arab autocrats to wage a sincere fight against income inequality.

But if Hillary really wants to help those children, maybe she should give them some of the ostensible and obscene $2.5 billion that she is planning to spend to persuade us to make her grandmother of our country.

14 april 2015

Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential Campaign Announcement

Så startade Hillary Clinton sin kampanj inför presidentvalet 2016, med en video som är 147 sekunder lång. Den inledningen är komplett annorlunda jämfört med 2007. Då hette det "Hillary for president". Idag heter det "Hillary for America". I själva verket är det oceaner mellan dessa båda slogans.

Starten idag i Iowa är sällsynt low key och på vägen dit dök hon upp helt inkognito på ett Burrito-ställe i Ohio.

Där fångades hon först av enbart en anonym övervakningskamera, innan en av hennes medarbetare tipsade snabbmatstället.