Friday, 19 November 2010
Whistleblowing may lead to false allegations of sexual assault
Whistleblowing is a high risk activity which is beneficial to public but can be extremely dangerous for the whistleblower. Mr Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks was issued with a warrant for his arrest because of the allegations of rape made by two women in Sweden. He was giving a public lecture there and was approached by the women. He had sex with them because these women were interested in him which is not surprising. However, it would appear that they felt he did not give them sufficient attention and subsequently the allegations have been made.
WikiLeaks has fought over 100 legal actions against them so far, and won.
WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified material such as war logs in Iraq and Afghanistan recently.
There have been attempts to destroy WikiLeaks financially (one example: attempted withdrawal of PayPal facilities for donations to WikiLeak website) and to forbid international travel to Mr Julian Assange.
His lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig appealed to Swedish Court to remove the arrest warrant as Mr Assange efforts to assist investigations have been refused by the Swedish authorities. He won in August.
Interestingly, Mr Assange was seeking residence in Sweden in the belief that laws there would protect him. But there is another sort of politics that has to be considered such as attempts to eliminate sexual bias from court proceedings. It is well known that conviction rate is low for rape and that various governments would be keen to improve the appearances because the overwhelming majority of victims are women who are also the majority of voters. One quick way of improving conviction figures is finding suitable scapegoats. Those who are different e.g. foreign are always more likely to be attacked, generally speaking. Mr Julian Assange is Australian.
Male Whistleblowers, especially are likely to be attacked in this manner.
While the Assange case is happening in a very public way there are other cases I know of where the accused experience a great deal of distress, public humiliations of court case against them, regulatory persecution (for example, by the General Medical Council) as well thrown in when the accused man is a doctor. The psychological torture does not end at the end of the court hearing as it may be repeated as in cases of hung jury. Thus the wrongly accused man has to go through all the stress once more.
British Medical Association has failed to protect many whistleblowers over the years but following the election the new government has decided to introduce policies in keeping with the law.
Women whistleblowers are more likely to be subjected to allegations of mental illness than rape and in addition suffer like men from sham peer review, restrictions on their license to practice which may include restrictions to working abroad.
Perhaps, British lawyers should learn something from Bjorn Hurtig so that all the wrongly accused men still waiting for their trials are spared too.
I wonder for how long will Swedish prosecutor who ordered arrest warrant for Mr Assange keep her job.
Dr Frederic Whitehurst is an FBI whistleblower who saved some men already in jail when he blew the whistle on police presenting false DNA evidence.
More allegations have been made and in the light of so called new evidence a warrant has been issued again. It is as if in Sweden they never heard of teleconferencing. Surely if any of the prosecutors wanted to speak with Mr Assange this could have been arranged without the warrant. This disproportionate measure should have been appealed straight in the European Court.