Sexual assault allegations in Sweden against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are feeding conspiracy theories and claims that he's being framed. What are the known facts?
Elizabeth Cook/AP Photo
(The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Julian Assange is facing extradition to Sweden over charges of sexual assault. He is in fact wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault and no formal charges have been made.)
Following WikiLeak's release of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables to media outlets around the world, he's detained in the UK awaiting deportation to Sweden on allegations he sexually assaulted two women there in August.
His lawyer is warning that Assange has distributed the digital equivalent of a "thermonuclear device" in case something happens to him, and his defenders insist that the allegations are fabricated in an attempt to get him to Sweden – perhaps, they hint, because the country has a strong extradition treaty with the US.
But lawyer Gemma Lindfield, representing the Swedish state, told a London court yesterday that politics and Assange's activism have nothing to do with the case. In her telling, it's a simple case of credible allegations of rape being made against Assange by two women, and that he should be brought to Sweden to stand trial.
The circumstances of the case – both women told Swedish police they had at least one consensual sexual encounter with Assange – has fueled plenty of online rumor and disinformation. 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."