Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Spectacularly Missing the Point

So Assange is remanded in custody without bail, and teh Interweb is up in arms.


The decision to deny him bail is so blindingly obvious that even the wonderfully-named Judge Riddle had no real choice but to do so.  To summarise, from what I have been able to extract from the noise, Assange is not a UK citizen, has no permanent base here, has no family or property ties to the UK, has a history of moving from country to country, and arrived here in a manner that is vague and unclear. He is currently running a web service that is doing its utmost to avoid any form of legal jurisdiction.  To say that he is a flight risk is to somewhat understate the matter.

What is potentially scandalous is the fact that the rape allegations are suddenly being revived, coincidentally just after he embarrasses a major government.  Or, if the rape allegations are serious and substantial, that they were not pursued originally.  Or, in either case, that he is being held at all under a warrant for questioning when he has (according to his lawyer) repeatedly offered to meet the Swedish prosecutor to discuss the case.

The fact that he has been denied bail is utterly trivial and entirely unremarkable.  So all those whinging about it should grow up and try that "thinking" thing that people keep talking about.


  1. I need say no more than I absolutely agree!

  2. so he turns himself in and is then denied bail because he could flee?
    that doesn`t make any sense.

  3. Glad to hear that, Pam!

    Anon - years after the original allegation and after he has left Sweden, a warrant for his arrest was issued and his lawyer was called. Presumably, he was then asked whether he wanted to walk in through the front door or be dragged in through the back door.

    That's hardly "turning himself in".

  4. Ahem, bail was anticipated by all parties present.

    Assange had handed himself in, offered up his passport, and offered surety. Nor is he actually wanted for anything other than 'questioning' with no specific charges in his native tongue actually available to him.

    You are indeed talking patent rubbish!

  5. It doesn't matter what the parties think; it is not for them to decide. The decision rests with the Judge.

    I've dealt with whether he really turned himself in. The passport & surety points are not things that entitle you to bail, merely necessary precautions if bail is justified.

    And the reason why he has been detained is not an issue in bail; the question before the Judge was "is this man a flight risk" - which he clearly is, given his history and his circumstances.

    So the decision to deny bail makes perfect sense. The point of the post is that getting upset over the refusal of bail is silly, when there are so many other aspects of the detention are worrying.

  6. Sheriff of Nothing - of course he is wanted for questioning; in effect, there are only three things you can be wanted for. Wanted for Failing to Appear (when you have been investigated, interviewed, charged, and failed to appear at court), wanted for charging (when you have have been investigated and interviewed but not appeared for your Police decision) or wanted for questioning - in other words, an allegation has been made and needs to be investigated.

    The vast majority of wanted people are wanted for questioning. As a still vaguely liberal copper, i think that is a good thing. It means people still are given the right to respond to an allegation put to them. If they were wanted for charging direct, that would remove that extra layer of citizen protection.

    I agree with Patently here, in all respects except the bit about him offering to meet the prosecutor and the inference that perhaps that negates the necessity for arrest.

    From (bitter) personal experience, if you do NOT arrest someone for questioning and just meed them to do so, they can walk out at any point and there is nothing you can do. Much earlier in my career, I had exactly that happen - halfway through questioning for a relatively minor offence, as the questioning got difficult and the evidence built up, there was a brief whispered conversation between suspect and client and both then walked out.

    It is established in both the UK and most Western nations that someone walking out of a voluntary interview does not in itself give grounds for arrest.

    So for me (and probably all officers), if someone needs to be interviewed as a suspect for a criminal matter they will be arrested to prevent them leaving - as Patetntly implies, this doesn't have to be a kicked down door and in fact I've arrested a significant amount of people by appointment.

    I am damn sure that if I had someone wanted for questioning for sexual offences, he or she would not be put in a position where they could leave at any point if the questioning got too heavy.

    BTW, enjoying your blog Patently. Don't agree with everything you say, but I'm sure you would say the same about me. Most importantly, most of what you write is eloquent and thought out to some extend. More than I can say for my often drunken ramblings!

  7. Illuminating - thanks. I see your point about the need for arrest even if the suspect seems to be willing to be interviewed. Your are, it does seem, far too shackled by procedure.

    a brief whispered conversation between suspect and client and both then walked out

    I don't think you meant that ... but it is genuine rofl material!

    (And thanks for the end comment!)