Assange is currently in a London jail cell awaiting deportation to Sweden on charges he sexually assaulted two women there in August. His defenders insist that the charges are fabricated in an attempt to get him to Sweden - perhaps, they hint, because the country has a strong extradition treaty with the US, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
However, lawyer Gemma Lindfield, representing the Swedish state, told a London court yesterday that it's a simple case of credible allegations of rape being made against Assange by two women.
A mention from the Swedish police and press reports that Assange failed to use a condom in one instance, and that in another his condom broke, have led to many false claims that having unprotected sex is illegal in Sweden, and that the country has a "broken condom law."
According to Lindfield, the two women had withdrawn their consent to have sex with Assange either during or immediately before the act.
The first woman, "Miss A" alleges that he coerced her to have sex. He's also charged with refusing to wear a condom, despite being asked to by her.
In the case of "Miss W," as she was described in court, he's also alleged to have "sexually exploited" the fact that she was asleep to have sex with her.
Article 3 of Sweden's criminal code on sex crimes indicates, "A person who induces another person to engage in a sexual act by gross abuse of his or her dependent state shall be sentenced for sexual exploitation to imprisonment for at most two years."
"The same shall apply to a person who engages in a sexual act with another person by improperly taking advantage of the fact that the latter is helpless or in some other state of incapacitation."The fact that the two women are acquaintances has raised eyebrows.
Many Assange supporters say the women could have conspired together after they discovered he was carrying on a relationship with them simultaneously.
"Commentators are saying that Assange didn't really rape anyone, and these are trumped-up charges of 'sex by surprise,' which basically means that Assange didn't wear a condom and so days later the women he slept with are claiming rape. Totally unfair, right?" wrote Jill Filopovic, a lawyer who writes at the Feministe blog.
Filopovic, while admitting that she's speculating, writes that based on news reports, it sounds as if in one of the cases, sex was consented to on the condition of the use of a condom, and that when the condom broke, the woman asked Assange to stop. If that's what happened and he didn't heed her, she says, that would clearly be illegal."In most states, there's a requirement of force in order to prove rape, rather than just demonstrating lack of consent. Consent is more often used as a defense to a rape charge, and it's hard to convict someone of rape based solely on non-consent," she writes.