Sweden stalks Julian Assange

The Australian Government, a minority Labor Government led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, is cooperating in the extradition of Australian citizen Julian Assange to Sweden. Alex Mitchell thinks it's time to put the spotlight on the plucky Scandinavian kingdom.

Sweden has cultivated a shining image as a model of contemporary Western democracy, social justice and humanitarianism and the legend is sustained by the cultural imagery of the Nobel Peace Prize, Raoul Wallenberg, IKEA, Abba and Bjorn Borg.

But there's more to the plucky little monarchy that this superficial and ahistorical image. It becomes important to look more closely because the minority Swedish Government is pushing for the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who is currently seeking political asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in Knightsbridge.

Assange's legal team believe that if he is extradited to Stockholm he will be "rendered" to the US authorities and flown to the United States where he will go on show trial with former US soldier Bradley Manning on treasons charges.

Both men face lifetime jail sentences i.e. never to be released. Washington wants to make an example of whistleblowing, i.e. state information-sharing, and will stop at nothing to bring Assange before its corrupt legal system.

In the circumstances it's appropriate to present some historical facts to establish a proper perspective on the Swedish state and its political class...

At the outbreak of World War Two Sweden declared its neutrality. Other countries, viz Czechoslovakia, Poland, Holland and Belgium, didn’t have a choice: they were overrun and occupied by the Nazis.

The concept of neutrality towards Nazism is an immoral disgrace. No nation and no people can be neutral towards Nazism, then or now.

The Swedish Social Democrats (equivalent of the British Labour Party) led the national government that upheld the neutral line on Hitler’s Third Reich for the duration of the war.

The reality was that Sweden’s “neutrality” meant working cooperatively with Berlin. Under Social Democrat Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson German troops and armaments were permitted to pass through Sweden to fight the Russian army (which was on our side) in Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa.

Sweden continued to supply steel and machinery parts to Germany throughout the war and 10 million tonnes of iron ore was shipped from Sweden to the Nazi weapons industry.

Left-wing Swedish newspapers were closed on the insistence of the Nazis and Swedish volunteers joined the Waffen SS to fight on the Russian front.

Betrayal of Norway

While Sweden stayed neutral in the war, neighbouring Norway was among Hitler’s first conquests. Norwegians have always suspected that the Swedish wartime government played a treacherous role in their wartime ordeal. A newly published book, Blodsporet or The Blood Track, by journalist Espen Eidum shows how Sweden allowed the German army to use its efficient rail network to transport men and materials to the battle of Narvik, where British troops were deployed in a bid to stave off the Nazis.

Eidum spent three years sifting through Norwegian, Swedish and German archives to discover how the Nazis had managed to get troops and supplies to the front lines in Narvik in 1940, enabling them to turn a losing battle into a decisive victory, which led to the occupation of the whole country.

According to the book, trains carried heavy artillery, anti-aircraft guns, ammunition, and communications and supply equipment. And once the swastika flew over Narvik, Sweden allowed German trains to run to the ice-free port, taking Swedish iron ore back to Germany.

The rail network was also used to send Norwegians to Germany, many of them bound for concentration camps, Eidum wrote. “And hundreds of thousands of Germans passed through Sweden on their way to the eastern front. This made a great deal of money for Swedish rail operator SJ over a three-year period.”

Indeed, by the end of the war, Sweden was one of the richest countries in Europe because of its trade with Nazi Germany. Every deal was negotiated in cash.

In his wartime reflections, Winston Churchill accused Sweden of ignoring the greater moral issues and playing both sides for profit.

In Scandinavia, the treachery and moral cowardice of the Swedish upper class and the social democrats has never been forgotten nor forgiven.

In a 1940 letter to Anders Frihagen, his envoy in Stockholm, Norway’s prime minister, Johan Nygaardsvold, asked him to convey his anger to the duplicitous Swedish prime minister:

“If you can arrange a private conversation with Per Albin Hansson, tell him there are two things I want to experience, and those are: that the Germans get hunted out of Norway and, secondly, that I get to live long enough to give him and his entire government a proper dressing down.

“There is is nothing, nothing, nothing I hate with such passion and wild abandon as Sweden – and it is his fault.”

CIA rendition

Apart from the wartime complicity with Nazism – under the cloak of "neutrality – we have the Swedish Government's more recent high-level cooperation with the CIA policy of rendition. Two asylum seekers were handed to the CIA in Stockholm in 2001 and they were flown secretly to Cairo where they were tortured. The Social Democrats were in power when the illegal kidnapping was conducted by the CIA. A few years later Assange exposed Sweden's role in the rendition crime – and the Social Democrats as well as the Swedish intelligence services have never forgiven him.

When the UN Human Rights Committee subsequently condemned the Swedish Government's complicity with rendition, the plucky little monarchy's worldwide reputation took a beating which turned Assange into its Public Enemy No 1.

Assange and his lawyers cannot obtain a guarantee from the Swedish authorities that if he returns to face questioning in relation to sex charges he won't be handed to the US Government. They have invited the Swedish legal authorities to travel to London where Assange has undertaken to cooperate fully with their investigation. So far that invitation has not been accepted. If you were Assange, would you go to Stockholm?

Sweden's far right

The late Stieg Larsson (1954-2004), author and journalist, spent his career exposing Sweden’s corrupt and degenerate state and the far right. He concluded there were more Nazis, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, gun nuts, skinheads, Islamaphobes and anti-Semites per head of population in Sweden than anywhere in western Europe.

The author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy argued that the far right used its tiny but noisy political influence to pressure the major parliamentary parties into passing authoritarian legislation and that it enjoyed protection from the state.

He also ridiculed the media presentation of race hate crimes as the actions of “one-off madmen” when they represent the actions, directly or indirectly, of organised Nazi terrorist groups.

Last week in the Swedish city of Malmo, Peter Mangs was convicted of two counts of murder and four of attempted murder during a wave of sniper attacks targeting immigrants.

Before sentencing in September the court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation to decide whether he is insane or not.

If the great Stieg Larrson was alive today there is no doubt he would be actively campaigning in support of the Wikileaks founder and exposing his country’s depraved and servile judicial system.

30 July 2012

Alex Mitchell is an Australian-born journalist and author of "Come The Revolution: A Memoir" published by NewSouth Books.

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