To the General Secretary of the Swedish Bar Association, Ms. Anne Ramberg
Dear Anne Ramberg,
We the undersigned are lodging a formal complaint against lawyer Ms. Elisabeth Mazzi Fritz to the Swedish Bar Association. It concerns her dealings with the press in the Julian Assange case. Elizabeth Massi Fritz represents the complainant Sofia Wilen. Ms. Massi Fritz has made two conflicting statements one to the international press and one to the Swedish press which are outlined in the last link contained in this email.
An article published on her official company website seeks to blacken the character of Julian Assange and it contains potentially libellous and certainly incorrect statements made by James Ball, a former and disgruntled employee of Wikileaks. Despite contesting that her motives, and those of the prosecution service, are not political, Ms. Massi Fritz published a false political statement on her company´s website to the detriment of Julian Assange under the heading “Fallet Julian Assange”.
We find it objectionable at the very least that a professional versed in legal matters can try to influence public opinion against someone who has not been charged with any crime. We query whether such behaviour is legal in Sweden and whether it adheres to the ethical stipulations of the Swedish Bar Association. The following link brings up the article by Mr. Ball which she includes on her website.
There are glaring errors in the article which are prejudicial to Mr Assange. Mr Ball stresses that during a John Humphrey’s interview Julian Assange initiated an assault on the characters of the two accusers, when in actual fact Assange said quite the opposite:
“It’s a matter of public record as far as the courts are concerned but I’m not going to be exposing other people’s lives or my own more than is absolutely necessary. That is not what a gentleman does. We don’t know precisely what pressures they [the women] have been under, exactly. There are powerful interests that have incentives to promote these smears. That does not mean that they got in there at the very beginning and fabricated them.”
Ball also selectively misquoted Assange taking what Assange said in the Humphreys’ interview out of context. Ball claimed Assange said: “I’m not saying it was a honey trap. I’m not saying it was not a honey trap” when what Assange actually told Humphreys came in a series of questions and answers which are reproduced here.
“Q: So you’re not suggesting that this was a honey-trap? That you were
somehow set up by the Americans, by the CIA? You don’t buy into that idea
because your lawyer’s suggested that that’s the case.
JA: He says that he was misquoted. I have never said that this is a
Q: You don’t believe it?
JA: I have never said that this is not a honey-trap. I’m not accusing
anyone until I have proof.”
The interview in full is available in two parts here. The second part contains the above misquote starting at around 1 minute 15 seconds.
Ms. Massi Fritz has also issued two separate statements, one to the domestic and one to the international press. There are tangible differences in these separate press releases and they contradict information released to Mr. Assange´s defence team in the available police protocol.
Contained in this link are the press statements from the office of Elizabeth Massi Fritz:
The first released statement is the one to the right, containing the information that Sofia Wilen herself reported a rape. The statement to the left is released later (June 4th) is ante-dated to May 21st and no longer claims that Sofia Wilen herself reported rape to the police.
We suspect political motives because, firstly, the government of Ecuador has repeatedly offered the use of its embassy premises in London for the Swedish prosecutor or prosecution officials to question Mr. Assange. Secondly, it is internationally known there are no known obstacles in Swedish legal procedures to prohibit questioning of a suspect abroad, because there are precedents. In April, the senior Swedish Supreme Court judge, Stefan Lindskog, delivered a public lecture at Adelaide university – Australia. He made it perfectly clear that pending legal obstacles any final decision on an extradition request by the United States government rests with the Swedish government. He also made it clear that there is absolutely no hindrance to questioning Mr. Assange in London. The Swedish prosecutor has refused to go to England to question Assange, despite the issue of questioning being the only objective of the European Arrest Warrant.
Lastly, in exclusively blaming the government of Ecuador for the legal stalemate that has arisen Ms. Massi Fritz has been unfair to Ms Wilen, as well as Mr. Assange, through deliberately protracting the case. She has published two separate statements using her position as a legal representative on behalf of her client, the named accuser mentioned above. Because she is fully aware – as well as any other informed person – that the deadlock could be broken if the Swedish prosecution service were to interview Julian Assange in London, as outlined above, or to guarantee that Mr. Assange would not be extradited to the United States. Her refusal to take either of these initiatives demonstrates that there are political motives, rather than legal representation, underlying her actions.
We respect the integrity of your office and call upon you to investigate the professional behaviour of lawyer Elisabeth Massi Fritz regarding the human rights of Mr. Julian Assange to see whether discliplinary action is appropriate under the Swedish Bar Association´s regulations.
Okoth Osewe – journalist and author – Kenya and Sweden
Rafik Saley – general secretary African Committee for Sustainable Development – Sweden
John Goss – writer and researcher – United Kingdom