Correcting the record in the Julian Assange case is essential part of our solidarity work in support of the WikiLeaks founder and in these Corvid-19 days of social distancing hampering our street actions, provides an effective alternative of action with significant impact.
I wrote to The Evening Standard twice highlighting errors in their reporting and requesting they set the record straight. Both times their response has been good.
On March 18th this year I highlighted that their article with the title: “The Londoner: Father fears Assange will die in jail” incorrectly stated that: “Assange had been set to be extradited to Sweden over rape charges, but these were dropped last year as the complainant’s memory faded”.
I pointed out their error correcting the record that Julian Assange was never charged in Sweden and that the case remained in preliminary stage investigating allegations only.
I provided them with several resources backing up my complaint like links to the UK’s Supreme Court clarifying note, and more recently, statements by Swedish Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson to the press:
“I would like to make the following very clear: my decision to re-open the preliminary investigation is not equivalent on whether or not to file an indictment with the courts. This is the matter we’ll have to revisit,”
“Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson reopened the remaining case after Assange left the embassy, but she said on Tuesday the passage of time meant there was not enough evidence to indict Assange.
“After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment,” she told a news conference. ”
Concluding I asked them in the name of accuracy and truthful reporting, to replace the word “charges” with the word “allegations”.
Two days letter The Evening Standard’s Assistant Managing Editor Jeannette Arnold
Assistant Managing Editor wrote back thanking me for my letter. She corrected the error replacing the sentence with a more accurate description: “Assange had been set to be extradited to Sweden over a rape allegation, but the investigation was dropped last year as prosecutors said witnesses’ memories had faded.”
But went further to delete the word “Hiding” (in the embassy) by saying:
“we don’t consider this to be inaccurate. It’s a colloquial shorthand way of explaining that Mr Assange had entered the embassy in breach of his bail conditions and was avoiding arrest by the UK police. Nonetheless, we have deleted this word from the online article as a gesture of goodwill.”
Furthermore she continued:
“The article made no comment about the lawfulness or otherwise of Mr Assange’s eviction from the embassy. We are under no obligation to include every detail of the case.”
Since I did not highlight these additional points in my complaint, it is reasonable to assume that other people did place complaints and the editor created a single response collating the corrections that she then sent to all people who had complained.
Back in September last year I had made a similar complaint about exactly the same issue.
Their article of 27/09/2019 “Julian Assange: Private security firm ‘spied on WikiLeaks founder in Ecuadorian embassy for CIA’ ” stated that:
“He took refuge there in 2012 while on bail and facing extradition to Sweden on sex charges, saying he feared extradition to the US if he left over the activities of WikiLeaks.”
The same lady advised me on the same day that the article had been updated.
The Evening Standard has a well staffed, fast response team for dealing with inaccuracies in their articles. Their reporting on the Julian Assange case is frequent as are the errors. It is worth reviewing its reporting to document historic errors. For someone with time in their hands, Evening Standard articles to March 2020 mentioning assange sweden charges and file complaints for all of them. It would be interesting to see if Editors would correct all of the errors going back to 2010.