CUSU seeks to block Assange (Secretly)

In an email leaked to The Tab the CUSU Women's Officer has called on supporters to force the Union to disinvite Julian Assange.

CUSU’s Women’s Officer Susy Langsdale has called on feminist members of the Union to block the invitation to Julian Assange – but warned them to do so secretly.

Writing to the people who had signed the previous petition, calling on the Union to disinvite Dominique Strauss Kahn last year, Langsdale claimed “the primary aim has to be to prevent him from speaking at all”.

In order to do this she called on recipients of the email to get 150 Union members to demand the meeting was cancelled – forcing a Special Business Meeting.

However, in what could be seen as an affront to the democratic process, Langsdale did not stop there. She also asked the feminists to “please keep it quite quiet because we don’t want a big ‘invite Assange’ campaign to be ready to go when the open meeting is organised“.

This attempt to keep the protestations on the down low has angered some students. Sidney 3rd year James Sheldon told The Tab “I have no problem with them trying to make their views heard, but by being secretive about it they sound like they know they’d lose if it ever got to a ‘fair’ debate”.

However, Union President Austin Mahler was unconcerned. He told The Tab that “I am happy to see members organising to have their voice heard in the Union. I hope that once our members are aware of the opportunity they will all – silent or vocal, majority or minority – stand up for their beliefs.”

The Tab attempted to contact Langsdale for comment, but were told she was out of the office.

CUSU Women’s campaign has campaigned vociferously against the invitations offered to some controversial speakers by the Union, including a large protest last year at the DSK talk. There were not, however, large-scale protests last time Mr Assange spoke at the Union, in March 2011.

They have labelled the decision to invite Mr Assange as “insulting to survivors of rape within the student body and nationally”, and are planning to protest during his speech.

  • Devvo

    Oh my word who elected bloody Susy Langsdale…

    • Mr Blonde

      About 1000 people I think…
      Your comment's got four likes at the moment, so you're 0.4% the way there.

      • Mr Pedant

        970 voted for, 726 voted against (well other candidates), so actually he only needs to get to 244…

      • ???

        And how many were entitled to vote?

        I am a woman. and always considered myself a feminist. But I am just alienated by some of the Women's Campaign actions. and i am not the only one

    • umm

      the majority of the electorate

    • Zubair Islam (@ZubiWun1984)

      “..However, in what could be seen as an affront to the democratic process, Langsdale did not stop there. She also asked the feminists to “please keep it quite quiet because we don’t want a big ‘invite Assange’ campaign to be ready to go when the open meeting is organised“….

      — seems her fears are to be realised! See this Counter Petition:

      Can everyone please sign it and share it around

      Need 4k signatures to double over the 2k signatures the Anti-Assange Petition has by 27th November 2012. Let’s give Assange a great platform on which to speak freely at Cambridge University with.

  • Innocent

    until speculated guilty

    • Ruth Graham

      You say this as a joke, but WHY SHOULD WE PRESUME INNOCENCE? Men are violent animals, driven by their lusts, and women have NO REASON and NO INCENTIVE to ever lie about rape! We'll ignore buyer's remorse, revenge, and the fact that British women can claim several thousands of pounds of taxpayer's money as compensation for rape without the need for a conviction. Those facts needlessly complicate the issue! If you presume innocence and refuse to inflate rape statistics, you're just trivialising rape and adding to the rape culture I've invented in my head! Rape apologist!!!

      • Learn some logic

        lol because women can't ever rape men, right?

        • Ruth Graham

          No they can't. Me and my EMPOWERED FEMINIST SISTERS have worked tirelessly to ensure that the legal definition of rape in this country is such that only men can be guilty of it, by making it specifically an act of penetration with a penis. We're so clever and crafty, just like my girl Susy! Keep at it, sister! FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY!!!

      • Who Cares

        I missed your sarcasm at first (I'm not British…)
        Women commit rap too.

      • The Real Ruth Graham

        Super complimented that I'm so famous that you're still posting comments as me on the Tab. Perhaps one day you'll be all grown up and muster up the courage to use your own name when claiming that rape culture is merely invented.

        However, I just had to point out that Assange's own lawyer described Assange's actions as 'penetrating one woman while she slept without a condom, in defiance of her previously expressed wishes'. No one's assuming guilt here, we're just rightfully naming what Assange's lawyer described, as rape.

        P.s. In future I think your satire will be more effective if you try less hard to seem like an insane version of the Daily Mail, and stick with saying exaggerated things that I might conceivably say, but in an ironic tone. No need to thank me for the tip, I can sense that you'll be grateful.

        • Radguy

          You imply his lawyers have admitted the allegations. This is simply not true.

          Lawyers aren’t paid to admit guilt. If you believe this poster, you are accepting a point in complete contradiction with a lawyers obligations to their client.

          You completely misconstrue the legal process his defense were engaging in.

          They were arguing that the ALLEGED actions were not crimes in the UK. If other evidence had been accepted by the UK Supreme Court, they would have been able to prove this.

    • Presumed innocent

      until deliberately evading British Justice.

  • Vigilantism

    is dangerous.

    What the hell happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    • innocent

      while evading extradition and interrogation (over rape and sexual assault allegations), and breaching bail conditions…

    • Old Bill

      So you take the same view with Jimmy Savile then?

  • DSK

    I am deity now thanks to the Union! Nobody thinks I'm a rapist at all!

  • Black/White

    There is no 'right' or 'wrong' here – having Assange speak does not make the Union 'rape apologists'. CUSU Women's Campaign show yet again absolutely no interest in rational discussion or equality of ideas and represent a MINORITY view of the issue as a whole. Despite their greatest ambitions, this is still a storm in a teacup.

    • Interested

      to know why choosing to offer a particular individual an esteemed platform to speak such as the Union is exempt from the notion of right and wrong. Whilst the stance projected by CUSU's women's officer does – understandably – focus on the issue of the rape allegations rather than the overall picture of the situation (which of course includes the matter of the US Governments' call for Assange's extradition), this does not change the fact that in the eyes of the High Court of Justice, Assange should stand trial in Sweden for his alleged crimes. To ignore this fact in the name of 'free speech' is to devalue the severity of these crimes, and promotes the idea that if you are successful enough, your acts of sexual violence will be forgiven/overlooked. I don't want an institution that represents my university to send out that message.

  • Hmm…

    Not so sure he's totally innocent. Ben Emmerson, his defense lawyer kinda did not give a good defense. I think he just described rape. He described Assange as penetrating one woman while she slept without a condom, in defiance of her previously expressed wishes, before arguing that because she subsequently “consented to … continuation” of the act of intercourse, the incident as a whole must be taken as consensual.

    In the other incident, in which Assange is alleged to have held a woman down against her will during a sexual encounter, Emmerson offered this summary: “[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”

    • Thomas Britz

      This is only half of the statement and makes things look a lot worse than the whole statement: see paragraphs 74 and onwards in the official documents:

      To me, it seems like Assange might have been slow to understand body language and maybe even stubborn for a brief moment but in no way coercive or enforcing his will in any way.

      The quote that you presented has been copied from news media to news media, uncritically and lazily.

    • Maggie

      @Hmm… Your selection of the police report can only be interpreted as misleading. Why did you cut the narrative there? In fact, AA's narrative of events then reads: "After a moment, Assange asked Anna what she was doing and why she was squeezing
      her legs together. Anna then told him that she wanted him to wear a condom before he
      came in her. At that, Assange released Anna’s arms and put on a condom that Anna
      fetched for him."

      The Assange police report in full is available in English for those who are actually interested in knowing what the conduct alleged actually is, and not at using the allegations as a weapon to smear Assange (something that many in the UK establishment will happily do): gives background on the irregularities of the investigation and the fact that the prosecutor is the one refusing to hear Assange's testimony through standard EU judicial cooperation mechanisms.

      Ms. Langsdale's secret initiative actually undermines the two women at the centre of the Assange case: If Ms. Langsdale were genuinely acting in the interests of complainants of sexual crimes, would decry the actions of the Swedish prosecutor, who is deliberately blocking the questioning of Assange. Assange has repeatedly stated that he will progress the investigation by giving his testimony not through extraordinary measures, but through standard EU procedures. At the centre of this issue are three human beings, including one man who deserves to be presumed innocent and who many want to silence and smear in whatever way possible. This matter raises serious concerns about due process and proportionality, and yet some are capitalising on this in a similar way to those who have driven this politicised case.

      It gives me little hope as a feminist when I see this matter so poorly argued, researched and fought.

    • Fusako

      That's not true: Assange's lawyers were faced with allegations on the European Arrest Warrant. They had to challenge the warrant, not the offenses. It would have been pointless for his lawyers to argue "my client is innocent" in the extradition hearing. Because a trial of innocence or guilt is something that happens when a person is prosecuted, not during an extradition hearing. If they had said "my client is innocent" or made arguments to that effect, the judge could have said, "make that argument in Sweden." The point of the extradition hearing was to challenge the extradition. They did this by arguing against the warrant. The warrant contained four alleged offenses. They argued that those alleged offenses would not be offenses in England. They made clear during the hearing that the offenses were still *alleged.* They were NOT admitting anything of that description happened. They were merely arguing that the allegations *if true* would not even be crimes in England and it didn't work out. They made long and detailed arguments about it. For the purposes of clarity, the word "alleged" applied to the whole section of argument. Since everyone in the court knew what was going on, they did not drop the word "alleged" six times into every sentence. It was understood. Nothing was "admitted"

    • Colleen Adams

      Have swedish women lost their voice. What is the matter with saying NO NO NO NO or even DON'T DON'T DON'T How many men who are also "half asleep" attempt sexual intercourse in the morning. Would that be hundreds, thousands maybe millions … Sweden needs to encourage women to be assertive and stop infantilizing them.

    • Arbed

      Hmm, but the lady said to her other witness friends that she wasn't asleep at the time. It's in their witness statements.

      In the other incident it appears that at no point did the lady actually make it clear that she was trying to reach for a condom. Her witness statement says "he must have known" but clearly he didn't because the next sentence of the lady's witness statement describes Assange asking her what on earth was wrong. As soon as she actually verbalised "I want you to use a condom" he let go immediately, she fetched one and returned to the bed to continue sex with him.

      I think you need to look more at the background of the Swedish prosecutor who has described the allegations in the way that she has on the EAW, which resulted in that ridiculous arguing Ben Emmerson had to do in court.

      Here, this will help you:

      Guy Sim, Julian Assange in Sweden – what really happened:

      Only costs $3, available as a pdf, lots of different formats

    • No, fool

      While it may well be true that he raped these women, and he certainly should face justice, what you have said is flat-out incorrect. It is an argument that originates in a blogpost on Staavers which quoted from the Guardian's coverage of the hearing. However, this article selectively quoted precisely the parts you did to suggest that Emerson was admitting that this is what happened. The original Guardian article makes very clear this is not the case: Emmerson's argument was that *even if this happened*, it would not be rape under English law. Hence:

      It states, following the linked article by staavers, that the above narrative is 'Assange's description of events'. However, the linked article is itself a selective quotation from the Guardian's report on the matter, available at…. In the original, it is very clearly stated that:

      '• The case does not hinge on whether Assange accepts this version of events and others relating to other incidents because there are no charges against him, but whether the arrest warrant in connection with them is valid on "strict and narrow" legal grounds, Emmerson said.'

      This recalls the Women's campaign's misinterpretation of a point made by DSK's lawyer, which they wrongly said had him admitting to sexual assault against Banon. Like your quotes, their argument was made in good faith – but it was simply wrong.

      It is precisely this shaky evidential foundation that is the reason the Women's Campaign should not be made immune from criticism, as they consistently attempt to make themselves on their Facebook page. It is this intolerance of discussion and dissent that turns so many against these good causes.

    • No, fool(s)

      Ah, I apologise — looks like Fusako already addressed my point. I hope my providing of sources means my post wasn't without purpose.

      I'd like to add that I find the hysterical certainty that Arbed and Adams, and to an extent Britz and Maggie, hold that Assange is innocent of these charges disquieting.

      It is inconsistent to attack the Women's Campaign for saying DSK is guilty despite the prosecutor's decision, yet to say you're so sure that Assange is innocent that he shouldn't face trial. In both cases, the justice system rather than the semi-informed mob ought to decide. It is this kind of partisan certainty and inconsistency that understandably aggravates the Women's Campaign and leads to slurs like 'rape apologist'.

      You have all swallowed biased narratives – for instance, Maggie, it is not obviously unreasonable to issue an EAW to question someone suspected of rape, and it is not normal procedure to travel to question them yourself, particularly when they are evading justice. The only potential argument in Assange's favour is that assurances ought to be provided that he won't be extradited, which is *arguably* possible. The rest about inconsistencies in narratives, CIA plants, this not 'really' being rape and so on are bunk and reflect an unreconstructed attitude to rape – he ought to be tried.

    • drivingthatbus

      Have you ever had sex? Because, you know, if I invite a guy to sleep in my bed and he gets a morning boner, starts fucking me without asking "holy gee, do you want me to penetrate you without wearing a condom?" and I don't kick him in the balls or yell WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING I'M NOT TAKING THE PILL… Yes, that's consensual sex. Not the smartest kind of sex, yes, but not rape. If I were so mad at it I'd freak out and kick him, and maybe even call the cops (which they didn't). The prosecutors of that case just used whatever evidence they could get to try to make a case in a country where these cases are absolutely ridiculous. Did you read the accusations? I'm the kind of woman who yells at assholes who catcall me or say I'm sexy in the streets because I feel disgusted and vulnerated, but bitch please.

  • Stjärna Frånfälle

    Susy Langsdale ought to be far, far better informed.. 'Rape Victim Fury at Julian Assange Prosecutor, Marianne Ny':

    • Thomas Britz

      Excellent and thought-provoking post! I suggest that Hmm… and others in this thread read it.

    • Sad But True

      Ms Langdale is also incredibly misinformed about the reality of consent, to the point of completely ignoring the legal definition and inventing her own ideas. She also frequently gets rape statistics wrong, and invents causation between different things (see: 'men do better in exams; ergo, exams are rigged to support male patriarcy.') She perpetuates myths, which damage the reputation of feminists (of which I am one) and discredit and devalue those who are genuinely downtrodden.

    • Unconvinced

      Just because one person thinks that the two women are lying doesn't mean that they automatically are, no matter who the person is it's still speculation. I don't see how this article suddenly means that Susy Langdale is uninformed, as if, 'OMG shock horror someone's posted a blog therefore now we all know that Assange is innocent but Susy Langdale's so dumb and small minded that she just hasn't caught on yet!' Also, to 'Vigilantism', 'What the hell happened to innocent until proven guilty?', a) This is SO not a case of Vigilantism; they aren't trying to claim justice of their own or actively do anything to him, they are trying to not give him a forum through the union and so legitimise his actions, b)you should probably read the descriptions of the court case and what his own defense is before saying 'What the hell happened to innocent until proven guilty?' and c) If he is innocent then he should stand trial for it and be proved innocent. By saying 'oh he's probably innocent and they're probably making it up' then you contribute to the rape culture of this country, trivialising accusations made

  • Anyone Else Think

    Just another example of CUSU being a joke

  • coward

    He only reused the condom and failed to have a check for HIV after having sex, it wasn't a rape.

  • but…

    I thought Assange was holed up in Ecuador's embassy. I would hope if he attempted to come to Cambridge, he would be detained the moment he set foot back on British soil.

    • bobo

      you make me sad

    • No,

      he's in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, it's all on Wikipedia…

  • FFS

    It's not undermining the democratic process, its using it. There's nothing wrong with calling on Union members to push for an open meeting of some sort, if enough Union members feel that Assange should not speak. The whole tone of this article is reactionary and sensationalist.

    • True, but

      There may not be a problem with calling on Union members to push for an open meeting, but making sure that they keep it quiet so that their opponents don't have time to organise/turn up to said meeting is pretty low, and makes them sound insecure in their own powers of persuasion over the majority.

      • FFS

        I'm not in the women's campaign, so I can't say why they decided to keep in quiet, but I assume that the desire to keep this quiet was not an attempt to stop opponents from organising (who are the opponents in the situation, anyway? The Union has already organised the speaker, they don't really need to do much else do they) but to avoid sensationalist and warped press like this; because they want to avoid causing a fuss and using the Unions own channels to change its policy. Come on, it's not as if the email called for mass occupations. The actual content of this story is "Woman's officer sends email, asking for democratic process to be used. End."

        • Recipient

          "Please tell ANY one you know who is a member of the union and who agreed with the DSK protest to sign this as well. But also, please keep it quite quiet because we don't want a big "invite Assange" campaign to be ready to go when the open meeting is organised."

          Sounds like you are wrong sir/madam.

    • drivingthatbus

      Open… Openly secretive, now.

  • Typical tab crap

    I fail to see what the fuss is about? Langsdale just sent out an email to people asking for support, and like someone above said, it's using the democratic processes within the union. Keeping it quiet doesn't strike me as unhand at all! Also, the whole tone of this piece is vicious, and smacks of the tab hankering after a easy, lazy story with half-arsed, over sensationalised claims.

    • Abdulla

      The tab merely pointed out that The woman's officer sought have Julian Assange disinvited from a general meeting that she hoped would not include many people who would want him to speak.

      I think your upset reaction to this being made known is evidence enough of just how innocent this endeavor was.

  • A Sensitive Scholar

    Oh look, CUSU (and the radfems in particular) are being underhanded scumbags and not properly representing the student body. I'm shocked (not srs).

  • extremists

    like the CUSU womens campaign members are infuriating in cases like this where they specifically try to block an interesting and high profile speaker regardless of what the majority of people feel. They disagree with him as a speaker. FIne. There may well be speakers I dislike sometimes. Why do they feel that they have the right, moreover the obligation, to prevent an individual from exercising his right to free speech in a building of which the sole purpose is to defend and partake in free speech? They say 'in the name of feminism' that it's essential to stop this kind of event because it'll upset rape victims. If that's the only motivation then it's an admirable one however I think it's also absurd; if you go on any website, watch the news, current affairs based TV shows, basically look at anything in the media, there will be mention of and discussion of rape as a crime and rapists. Does it really make that much difference having him speak by video link in the union? Assange hasn't even been convicted; personally I don't doubt his guilt but vigilantism is no more moral because your cause is a women's campaign.

    AND this kind of excessive, knee jerk, shouty, angry reaction (I know my comment is all of these things as well) from a group of 'feminists' is part of the reason why the feminist movement, and indeed the women's campaign, is neither mainstream nor effective. It represents a tiny minority of angry idealistic (a dangerous combination) of women as opposed to the majority of women in the university.

    And before any of the CUSU women's people comment that I'm a guy and/or an anti-feminist arsehole I'm
    a) a woman
    b) a feminist

    • Err…

      …Don't you think it's possibly a bit ridiculous to invoke "innocent until proven guilty" in a case where the person is actively ON THE RUN? He is under an active arrest warrant and refuses to face up to the allegations. You can't expect due process of innocent until proven guilty and freedom of speech whilst running and hiding from the law to face up to the accusations under fair legal process.

      Likewise, unlike with DSK, Assange has nothing relevant to say. He is not going to have strong insights that a) haven't already been shared or b) could have been shared by someone else. He has been invited for no other reason than the controversy surrounding him, which is not a valid reason for an institution like the Union.

    • and c)

      Involved in the Union?

    • You should probably

      Run for CUSU women's officer

    • Hear! Hear!

      The way the women's campaign often behaves can be more enlightening than what its members actually say.
      Indeed, the exclusion of men from the planning meeting for this campaign is symptomatic of what is wrong with the women's campaign in Cambridge. It encourages division between genders and undermines the message of equality which the CUSU women's campaign purports to spread. It perpetuates ideas that feminists hate men and that women should be scared of men. In doing so, it marginalises feminism, making it an extremist viewpoint rather than an inclusive mainstream one. Enthusiastically encouraging the engagement of men with feminism and the women's campaign is surely the fastest way to change attitudes and foster true equality in the University and more widely.
      That's not even to mention the wilful ignorance of innocent until proven guilty…

  • see the politics

    From his prosecutor's description (as posted above) it does seem awfully like rape – is undoubtably so in the second case. However, this particular rape case is significant because Assange has made powerful enemies who want to put him away. It's entirely possible that the cause of feminism is being exploited here.
    Some ulterior play was also there in the DSK case and I belive the charges were later dropped. It's one thing to protest against something, entirely another to be used in someone else's game -without, or maybe even with – recognizing it.

  • James Sheldon…

    …is my hero.

    So loquacious!

  • humanbee

    Exploiting feminism is giving it a bad name!
    I'm starting to hate feminism for being too extreme while I used to be one.

  • Arbed

    I came across some tweets by people supporting the petition to get Assange's invitation withdrawn:

    Sarah ‏@Seja75
    @ElizabethGlass_ of course, sign the petition. The only thing Assange should be invited to is court

    @Seja75 or a dungeon of rusty weapons

    What kind of feminist participates in witch hunts? "A dungeon of rusty weapons" – What next, ducking stools? Boiling Catholics? Burning heretics at the stake?

    Oi, Elizabeth Glass, Seja75, I'm a feminist too.* Not in my name, please.

    Honestly, is there any way we can rescue the concept of feminism from these people before they hang, draw and quarter it completely and smack the horses' arses away?

    * And a rape victim. Just because I have suffered this crime – as so many women have – it doesn't mean I have lost sight of the concept of innocent until proven guilty, or stopped believing that justice should extend to both accuser and accused in rape cases. There is a stigma about rape which never goes away – both for the victim of it AND for those falsely accused of it. People should remember that Assange has been charged with precisely nothing to date; he is wanted for questioning only; the case is incredibly weak; and there is forensic proof that one of the complainants handed in false evidence. Genuine rape victims don't do that.

    • mask man

      The point that assange has not been charged is fallacious, as he can only be charged when on Swedish Soil and after police questioning. The fact he hasn't been charged is irrelevant.

      As someone who believes Assange is guilty I'd be more interested in what format he will be speaking and whether those at the union will be allowed to not only ask him about wikileaks, democracy and how awful america is (topics im sure he'll be more than) willing to discuss), but also about the allegations and his version of events? Also as to why he chose Ecuador a country with an appalling track record on human rights – was it because he tried elsewhere and realized only Ecuador wanted to give a middle finger to "the west" so badly?

      I have no problem with allowing him to speak so long as he merely isn't being lent a platform to indulge his egomania.

  • Richard

    Firstly, innocent until proven guilty.
    IF Julian Assange had done what he is accused of, then he would be guilty of assault… but he has not been tried. The evidence is decidedly dodgy… for example, the broken condom that one of the women submitted as evidence turned out to have been cut with scissors, and had never been worn.

    Secondly, while J.A.'s actions are (possibly) consistent with guilt, they are *also* consistent with innocence. If this whole scandal really were even slightly related to the issue of sexual assault, then there would be no difficulty whatsoever in Sweden making a public statement "we promise not to extradite to the USA", the UK making a public statement "we promise not to permit onward extradition to the USA" and the USA making a public statement "we aren't seeking to extradite Assange for espionage". None of these has happened.

    Thirdly, I vehemently oppose the idea that we should seek to deny people the right to speak, no matter how much one might disagree with them. CUSU should be ashamed of their "no platform" policy. For anyone interested, there is an archive of a CUS debate "This house would give 'no platform' no platform".

    • voice of reason

      Extradition requests are governed by the courts, not pre-emptive guarantees. Assange has no right to demand any guarantees over and above those provided for by EU law and the relevant extradition treaties. If the USA decides to make a request, it should be considered on its own merits through the proper judicial procedure. It is not within the remit of the courts to dismiss a speculated extradition request.

      Finally, it should be remembered that Sweden would be required to gain the UK's consent to further extradition in any event, and EU law prohibits extradition where the death penalty is in prospect.

  • But

    We wouldn't invite OJ Simpson to speak, and he actually went to his trial!

    • John S

      No, we'd leave that PR-fest to Oxford, while Cambridge Union hosts former Polish President, and Peace Prize winner, Lech Walesa. Guess who got the reporters knocking their doors down..

      Guess which one had the credibility after also inviting Kermit the Frog….

  • Margret Gilchrist

    Transparency and information about what’s really happening behind the public view needs to be spoken out. Wikileaks and Julian Assange reveal these vital truths. How can we be further informed when people like Susy Langsdale try to prevent speak outs … Looking forward to the video link to Julian’s speech .. Cheers, from Australia, Margie

  • This isn't about

    disagreement. CUSU are not saying he shouldn't speak because they disagree with what he has to say. They would just rather that he went to that rape trial he's been putting off. I don't think that is a position which only radical feminists hold.

    • Rob Lewis

      Assange isn't putting off a rape trial. There may be a trial, there may not: Sweden simply wants him for questioning. He has yet to be prosecuted. He has yet to be charged. The insistence on having him in Sweden for questioning is itself very strange. Why not issue the arrest warrant and commence prosecution in absentia on the evidence already collected? Or is the prosecutor simply hoping Assange will incriminate himself at interview? That a Swedish prosecutor (not a Swedish judge) can file for extradition at all is due to a quirk of EU law that itself was badly misinterpreted in this instance by British judges in a narrow vote. All this makes it seem even more sensible that Assange should not want to return to Sweden, particularly after comments from the US State Department that it would be easier to extradite him to the US from Sweden than from the UK. All this information is freely verifiable from MSM or government websites on the internet.

      Are you at Cambridge? How sad that such a privileged education should be bestowed on someone so steadfast in their ignorance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with ignorance, of course, unless it *is* deliberate ignorance. Yours seems to be. Check yo'self.

      The facts are out there for you to avail yourself of if you would like to correct your opinion. Sadly, I think you prefer to keep the one you've got, for various emotional reasons.

  • Innocent

    Until proven guilty, by a court of law. That principle doesn't work when he's hanging out in an embassy. Soozlebears, legal scholars of Cambridge.

  • Annoyed Feminist

    Seems to me like US Intelligence has people on the ground stirring them up. Congratulations University Feminists, you are dancing to the tune of the USA against the one man who is in a position to change the political world. Are you just selfish man-haters. You make me ashamed to be a feminist.

  • Thomas Britz

    Those transcript snippets ( “[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her [etc.]") appear in many news articles, whose journalist authors must just copy from each other. As they stand here, they seem to damn Assange; however, read the full version in the official transcripts (see paragraph 74 onwards):

    The full version is much less damning, and at worst gives the impression of Assange being stubborn for a brief moment before asking what is wrong and moving off her; more likely (to me), Assange is slow to read the body language and misreads the situation for a brief moment. Anyway, have a read yourselves!

  • Basic Justice

    To everyone who is saying 'innocent until proven guilty', well that's just IT – he isn't going to his trial. How can anyone prove him guilty or otherwise when he's skulking away in the Ecuadorian embassy? Speculation over what happened or what didn't happen is entirely pointless considering that he isn't even facing his allegations like any other person would have to.
    What I believe is at stake here is the fact that rape cases should go to trial. His rights should not be placed above those of his alleged victims. If he is innocent, let him prove it.

    • But…

      …he's not like 'any other person', is he? He's someone who's riled the US by exposing its abominable foreign policy practices, and therefore rightly fears being extradited there. He's expressed a willingness to be investigated provided that the Swedish government gives its assurance that he won't be extradited – which of course it hasn't.

    • Arbed

      There is no trial. Assange hasn't been charged with any crime. Aren't you a little worried that the European Arrest Warrant system allows someone from this country to be extradited on the basis of mere allegations and the say-so of an investigating prosecutor (one whose job in Sweden, by the way, is specifically "the expansion of the sex crime laws")? Because it could just as easily be you – or any of us – in Assange's position.

    • Jonathan

      So even a rape case with many glaring irregularities that was dropped once for lack of evidence and reinstated for potentially political reasons by cronies of a psychopathic nation highly embarrassed by the alleged criminal's conduct well outside the bedroom, against a man who has quite eagerly offered to cooperate with the investigation through several, quite precedented avenues provided his own rights of freedom from political persecution are respected and preserved, should be taken at face value?

      What you are arguing for is the normalization of false charges to neutralize opposition to the Establishment. Deep in your heart, you know this and believe it is best for your future as an aristocrat in the Establishment to be seen supporting abuse of power in service of the elite's stranglehold on power. Perhaps someday you shall be allowed more justice for your crimes against humanity than you are allowing Mr Assange.

  • Lemmiwinks

    let me at him

  • Not radical

    This is hardly "radical feminism". I am a male and a conservative and still think that that is really pushing the definition.
    Not giving a platform to someone who is a fugitive of the British justice system (because let's not forget that it is this system that has the obligation to arrest and extradite him) is not radical, nor does it become feminism just because the crime he's accused of is rape. Funnily enough a lot of men have a problem with rapists too.

    He can come back and speak when/if he clears his name in Sweden. It is up to a jury to eventually decide someone's innoncence/guilt, not armchair judges on the Tab making their mind up from reading 'facts' on the case from the internet.

  • Thomas Britz

    Assange's case and his arrest warrant were both dropped back in 2010 by the Swedish Chief Prosecutor but they were later taken up again by a second Chief Prosecutor, who got a European arrest warrant issued (bigger deal than the local one). Assange willingly went to the British police, was arrested, and released on bail and semi-house arrest. Assange has promised to go to Sweden for trial if Sweden will provide diplomatic guarantee that he would not be turned over to the US; Sweden refuses to do this.
    When Assange was to be extradicted by the British, he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The Ecuadorian officials suggested that the Swedish prosecutors question Assange there
    but the prosecutors have turned down this suggestion. The Swedish prosectors and authorites have also refused previous solutions that would allow Assange to stand trial.
    It is therefore not a matter of Julian hiding from the law; rather, it is about the British and the Swedes (and the US) hiding the law from him.

    • Laurie chmiel

      You are correct. His mother and I twitter on occasion. Get facts from her. @AssangeC

    • voice of reason

      Sweden is under no obligation to provide any diplomatic guarantees against speculated future extradition requests; Assange is under an obligation to face justice for his alleged actions on the same terms as anybody else. Why are so many people pleading for special treatment for Assange?

  • Sad But True

    It's good to see that Suzy's petition about this is open to everyone in the world to sign, so that the relatively minor support she can scrape together from across the country will appear as one united front [/sarcasm].

    I hope that CUS has the wits to see through this and only consider objections from those eligible to attend the debate.

  • Unhappy

    “please keep it quite quiet because we don’t want a big ‘invite Assange’ campaign to be ready to go when the open meeting is organised”

    The key point for me here is not the Assange issue itself but the above quote – that an elected officer (and charity trustee) of CUSU – whose wages are funded (at least in part) by my college affiliations fees should be acting in a manner that is that is clearly not free, fair or democratic – all things you’d expect CUSU (and its autonomous campaigns) to stand for.

    Also if you read her election manifesto –

    It clearly states as its first point – that if elected she’d “Listen to the voices of all students”

    – I’m not sure how keeping things quiet, and stifling an expression of views contrary to your own sits with that.

    Surely some action needs to be taken by CUSU here?

  • Karl

    Typical feminists resorting to censor those they dislike. When will people stand up to feminism and censor them for a change?

    • Britta

      This is a joke, right? "Stand up to feminism"? You are making feminism as such sound like some vicious force – perhaps just a bit reductive? But then again, your use of "typical" in this case does not really show a readiness to avoid generalisation…

  • John Knight

    These are allegations, not charges, and allegations Assange has actually tried willingly to face up to (not that you ever hear that part on the news – look it up). Apart from the innocent until proven guilty thing already mentioned, this highlights the issue brought up by Craig Charles, that rape allegations can severely damage one's reputation and cause all kind of trouble that stays with the person forever if the person is innocent (when it comes to sexual assault, many people's reasoned logic goes out the window).

  • TPH

    I thought Cambridge was supposed to be an institution of higher education. Stifling dissent with the comment::

    “please keep it quite quiet because we don’t want a big ‘invite Assange’ campaign to be ready to go when the open meeting is organised”

    This seems to be nothing more than censorship of ideas that don't meet CUSU's level of political correctness.

    Keeping the campaign quiet in hope of preventing Assange from speaking only furthers the justifications for the students that want to hear his viewpoints.

    The CUSU shot themselves in the foot with their secretive censorship campaign.

  • richard crowden

    If you do manage to ask Assange questions, please read this first: Origin of the idea subsequently named Wikileaks,15… and ask him to confirm it or deny it. Assange has totally avoided addressing these issues publicly until now. These are therefore facts I am assuming he wants covered up regarding exactly how and why the idea for Wikileaks originated and includes connections to the Australian Government, it's Defence Force, SAS and intelligence communities.

  • Sue

    Susy Langsdale must have been sure that those Duke Lacross players were guilty too…
    Feminist take on Males: Born guilty OR Innocent… until accused

  • mark

    If you are still not sure if Julian Assange committed rape, you really need to watch this ABC documentary:
    "Sex, Lies and Julian Assange"

  • Lucas

    Julian Assange hasn’t been charged for any crime in any country – Therefore Assange talking at CSUS will NOT be “insulting” to anyone, including “survivors of rape”.

    Let Assange speak. Let him be heard.

  • Laurie chmiel

    It seems you “feminists” don’t bother with “facts”. There were no rapes. The women wouldn’t even sign the statements that were written for them. He has NOT been charged with ANY crime, Sweden refuses to interview him. Even when he was right there. It is more dangerous to cry rape falsely. It took decades for rape victims to be treated as victims. men didn’t listen to any of us when we really are raped? This is insulting to of and my mother, both of us lived through horrific rapes.

  • Laurie chmiel

    Me and my mother, typo

  • Can we not just


  • Check it out first

    Before you begin attacking both Suzy and the campaign, why not read what the petition actually has to say? It's interesting, whether you agree with it or not, and doesn't state that Assange is guilty, but that he is refusing to face the allegations. Britain has a rape conviction rate of only 6% – partly because of institutionalised attitudes like those shown in the Tab, which doubt the alleged victim before the alleged perpetrator. Look at the petition, then make up your mind

    • anon

      I looked at the petition. A comment from someone who signed it states, "We must always support survivors, thinking of their triggers and standing in solidarity with them. Inviting a rapist onto campus does the complete opposite. The longer Assange continues to be celebrated as some sort of hero, the harder it is for women to fight the masculinist, dismissive discourse around rape.

      In Solidarity,

      Naomi Beecroft. Women's Officer of Edinburgh University Students Association."

      I am rather confused by her statement "inviting a rapist onto campus". Please tell me, when was Assange found guilty of being a rapist?

  • A Sensitive Scholar

    'Britain has a rape conviction rate of only 6% – partly because of institutionalised attitudes like those shown in the Tab, which doubt the alleged victim before the alleged perpetrator.'

    No, we have a conviction rate of 6% because the Home Office fiddles with the figures and reports a totally different statistic as the 'conviction rate' for rape than it does for any other crime. The true conviction rate for rape is close to what it is for most other similar crimes, as is the attrition rate (which is here being reported as the conviction rate). This has been known for some time, but I wouldn't expect dogmatic feminists to accept facts as they emerge. That's too inconvenient.

  • Sad But True

    @Check it out first: shame on you.
    @ A Sensitive Scholar: well said.

    6% is a non-statistic. 6% is believed to represent the number of allegations of rape which result in a conviction for rape. So it doesn't include cases where a woman alleges rape and a conviction is obtained for a technically different sexual offence. That aside, the 6% figure is wrong: it's actually closer to 12%. This attrition rate (as it is properly known) is higher than for most offences: GBH it's 4%; robbery is 11%; only attempted murder is higher at 14%. Rape is no statistically worse off than other offences here.

    If we are talking about conviction rate (that is, once in court, the likelihood of conviction), rape's conviction rate is 58%. This is higher than the average for all crimes (at 57%), and significantly higher than even murder (which is just 40%). It's got the highest conviction rate of all serious crimes.

    If you want victims to come forward, be honest with them. Don't lie and then complain that women don't bother.

    • Interesting

      I had heard this before, but didn't know the attrition rate for other offences was so low – do you have any sources?

      I'd add that I'm not sure your attrition rate point is right – the 60% rape conviction rate is definitely for those convicted of rape *or* sexual assault, so it would be surprising if the attrition rate weren't too.

      Otherwise, keep up the good work, skeptical heroes of statistics!

      • Sad But True

        I don't have the time to go digging around for all the statistics (and you're always going to get some differences based upon methodology), but a good place to start would be here:

  • bobo

    The National Union of Students’ recent “No Platform for Rape Apologists” motion which passed on 26th September 2012 mandated that the NUS shall “not offer a platform to speakers who are rape deniers, and blame and undermine rape victims, nor shall it officially support any event that does. – Petition

    Fuck me you are not fucking holocaust victims, and people who want Assange to speak are not 'rape deniers' you morons.

  • Allan

    Well Assange was innocent enough for the Swedish police and prosecution service to confirm there was NO real evidence to support the claim and the initial testimony was vague at best, it was not until the HILLDOG visited Sweden and applied the usual US strong arm pressure, that the case was reopened.

    And until then the Swedish police did not think it was worth the airfare to come to London and interview Assange.

    I think Assange is guilty of nothing more than upsetting the yanks, which is nice, and he gets the same stitch-up treatment as Dominic Strauss Khan after he upset wall street.

    Hail a cab and get a ride to real street !!!

  • Grateful Grad

    I certainly don't envy being Editor of The Tab this week for revealing the dodgy dealings at CUSU.

    I remember being told about the torrent of personal abuse the editors of CUSU's own newspaper got from from their Womens Campaign members for questioning the role of the CUSU Womens Campaign in the DSK Union protest

    (by way of example)..

  • Sue

    @ Check it out first:
    People like you are the reason why the world no longer takes feminist claims seriously. Stop the absurd false accusations ! Read the rebuttles to your 'claim' and use some real facts next time.

    You prove that feminism is not about equality. It's become a sexist movement full of unsupported blame and an alergy to responsability. 6%.. 1 in 4, 1 in 3, 1 in 1…feminists will believe anything as long as it supports their hatefull attitudes. Get your facts straight and start telling the truth or one day soon your house of cards is going to come a tumblin' down… wait, it's already teetering… keep it up

  • Rodicurus

    FFS he has been accused by a CIA operative who formerly worked in Cuba. Probably innocent of rape STFU Langsdale

  • Rodicurus

    One of the females is a CIA operative. get your facts straight Langsdale

    • voice of reason

      are you saying it is alright to rape a CIA operative then?

  • Hand him the stage.

    I would be very much interested to hear a first hand account of his experiences at the helm of WikiLeaks.

    That he has been accused of rape holds no bearing on his capacity to speak as an authority on the subject of transparent governance. I categorically do not wish to hear him defend the accusations levelled against him – his guilt is not for me to judge.

    The union does not exist to pander to peoples feelings. It is a platform which grants us the opportunity to listen. It should not yield to the concealed direction of any minority.

  • just a woman

    This is an amazingly depressing thread. I don't see why anyone should have to stand by and watch a man speak AGAIN on a platform he when he has still not confronted his charges of sexual assault. I read the transcripts and frankly that Assange will not face up to the allegations is highly indicative of his cowardice.

    Why does the attack have to be on feminism? I think everyone's resorting once again to attacking the term rather than facing the issues. Look at the summer we've had of assault allegations and ask yourselves the union's true motivations for allowing Assange to return. A well filled hall and a bit of publicity.

    • Miracle cure

      'I don't see why anyone should have to stand by and watch a man speak AGAIN on a platform he when he has still not confronted his charges of sexual assault.'

      Very easy solution to this problem – don't go to watch him.

  • hollytannen

    Cambridge University can use Assange’s upcoming talk as an opportunity to teach students how to evaluate evidence in controversial situations.

    If I still taught anthropology, I would give my Anthropology of Women students an assignment:

    1) Read the testimonies of Assange, the two women, and the nine witnesses:,04.shtml
    For more information, read Guy Sims’ “Julian Assange In Sweden: What Really Happened.”

    2) Write your assessment of what you think happened

    3) Speculate on possible reasons for the discrepancies between what happened, how the case has been prosecuted, and how it has been presented in the press

    I taught my students to distinguish between

    a) What happened, what we can know for sure – the data


    b) The interpretations of that data – what people made it mean.

    Writers who do not make this distinction confuse their readers.

    Every woman I know has been pushed into doing things sexually she didn’t want to do, so we tend to react emotionally to allegations of rape. No woman wants to be called a “rape apologist,” so we become silent – another form of women’s oppression.

    Let’s learn to analyze data objectively, acknowledging our own emotional responses as part of that data. Are we willing to consider the possibility that the Swedish, British, and US press have presented Assange as a rapist in order to undermine support for Wikileaks?

  • Even the Union

    Dislikes rape. No one likes rape!

  • Robert

    On Wednesday 18 August, he (Julian Assange) applied for a work permit and residence permit in Sweden. With these permits he would also be able to apply for a publishing certificate which would give him and WikiLeaks strong legal protection in Sweden. On Friday 20 August two women walked into a police station. That evening, Julian Assange was sought for arrest on suspicion of rape and this was reported in the newspaper Expressen and subsequently world-wide. The next day the arrest order was cancelled and the suspicion of rape dropped.
    If Cambridge women students think this looks perfectly normal and above board, how is it that they have made it as far as being accepted for university places?

  • Robert

    On Wednesday 18 August, he (Julian Assange) applied for a work permit and residence permit in Sweden. With these permits he would also be able to apply for a publishing certificate which would give him and WikiLeaks strong legal protection in Sweden. On Friday 20 August two women walked into a police station. That evening, Julian Assange was sought for arrest on suspicion of rape and this was reported in the newspaper Expressen and subsequently world-wide. The next day the arrest order was cancelled and the suspicion of rape dropped.
    If Cambridge women students think this looks perfectly normal and above board, how is it that they have made it as far as being accepted for university places?

  • Auleo

    Disgusting. Utterly disgusting.

  • Veracity

    "Insult to rape victims", well does this woman actually know anything about this case of Assange?

    No charges, the women concerned affirmed that it was consensual sex, they stated that they didn't want to lay a complaint and only wanted him to take an AIDS test, the case was dismissed by a senior prosecutor only to be reinstated by a feminist friend of one of the ladies.
    Swedish 'rape law' is so screwed up that the slightest disagreement can lead to a 'rape charge' without you knowing, and that's what is the case here.

    The women were told that they must proceed with the charges as they are not lawyers and don't know that they have been sexually violated!!!!!!!!!!

    Go figure this out; charging someone against one's own judgement and will of sexual violation because the feminists and rednecks order you to do so as part of their agenda.

    It's not law or due process, but witch-hunt to satisfy someone's psychotic vengeance and pathological loathing of men !!!!

    A feast fort the loony feminist brigade who'd rather shoot first without knowing the ins and outs of a case just to pursue their warped agenda.

  • Veracity

    "Insult to rape victims", well does this woman actually know anything about this case of Assange?

    No charges, the women concerned affirmed that it was consensual sex, they stated that they didn't want to lay a complaint and only wanted him to take an AIDS test, the case was dismissed by a senior prosecutor only to be reinstated by a feminist friend of one of the ladies.
    Swedish 'rape law' is so screwed up that the slightest disagreement can lead to a 'rape charge' without you knowing, and that's what is the case here.

    The women were told that they must proceed with the charges as they are not lawyers and don't know that they have been sexually violated!!!!!!!!!!

    Go figure this out; charging someone against one's own judgement and will of sexual violation because the feminists and rednecks order you to do so as part of their agenda.

    It's not law or due process, but witch-hunt to satisfy someone's psychotic vengeance and pathological loathing of men

    A feast fort the loony feminist brigade who'd rather shoot first without knowing the ins and outs of a case just to pursue their warped agenda.

  • Sandra K. Eckersley

    The general ignorance surrounding the Julian Assange allegations is staggering. Read up people. You have hypothetical hysteria up against real accusations of rape and sexual impropriety. Why buy into this hysteria & agree it is an excuse to avoid a rape trial?

  • greekemmy

    Personally I find that the CUSU Women' s campaign is misguided. This article though highlights the secretive tactics of the person behind this initiative, revealing a desire to manipulate circumstances by acting in the dark, which is not honourable and casts doubts as to CUSU’s Women’s Officer Susy Langsdale motives.

    For the facts of the case please visit:

    It is very interesting to see Sandra K. Eckersley posting a link to her soupyone post. This persona is linked to a site dedicated in spreading misinformation and smear on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The website is owned by another persona Alan Taylor of PGPBoard, whose twitter polemic against WikiLeaks, Assange and many of its supporters will be examined in history as an early illustration of social media manipulation and its use in creating Fear Uncertainty and Disinformation to attack a cause.

    We know that Bank of America was using Private Intel Firms to Attack Wikileaks… , goodness knows how many big corporations and other powerful interests are putting forward and executing plans to undermine WikiLeaks and discredit its Editor in Chief Julian Assange.

    I sincerely hope that the good people of CUSU Womens Campaign have not fallen victim of such manipulation. If so, one should worry about how vulnerable our democracies are.

  • Opinjon

    I am Swedish. Let me make one thing very clear. Had it been anyone other than Julian Assange, there would have been no case, no investigation, nothing! I am ashamed of Claes Borgström. I am ashamed of Marianne Ny. I am ashamed that my country is the reason more than 90% of articles about Julian Assange these days carry the epithet "våldtäktsanklagade" (rape accused). The sex was consensual (which both women have stated)! The only time it is illegal in Sweden to have sex without a condom is if you have HIV or AIDS. If the condom broke, that's too bad, but it is not a crime. If Julian Assange coaxed the women into having unprotected sex, he is surely not alone. Many many many Swedish men have done the same thing on several occasions.

  • Ronald Joyal

    Don't know if I am allowed to comment here being a Canadian and (ex-)American, but I'll give it a whirl. At college in the US back in '63, Norman Lincoln Rockwell (head of the US Nazi party), spoke by invitation at one of the monthly current events talks. It was very interesting to observe, and to listen to, this man; and there was absolutely no intention to endorse his ideas. Is critical thought in danger with the return of witch hunters?

  • Arbed

    Free speech died today – along with the right to a fair defence against unproven allegations – with the automatic presumption of guilt.

    Finally we have reached the point where the words "alleged rapist" mean exactly the same as "rapist".

    Suzy Langsdale should hang her head in shame.

  • Arbed

    Suzy Langsdale's manifesto:

    Yes, that's all of it. What worries me is that people with such limited and narrow vision get to impose their single-issue agenda on the rest of us. And her plain bloody ignorance, of course – given how much in the way of facts about the Swedish sex investigation has been supplied to her by way of this and other feedback forums. She plainly refuses to educate herself about the case. Clearly that's too dangerous for Suzy; it might mean abandoning her position.

    God help us.

    • Jesus Quintano

      That's her manifesto for the election of NUS Conference Delegates. Her manifesto for Women's Officer is here:

      It's much longer and more detailed, and explicitly includes as part of its platform campaigning on rape and consent. Women voted for it, and Langsdale did it.

  • Idalino Franco

    Prejudiced judgements before an official court of law trial ???????????? Everybody is presumed innocent before he is found guilty. Unbelievable behaviour from the CUSU's Women’s Officer Susy Langsdale!

  • Well…

    I don't think she was exactly keeping it a secret, I was on a coach to London today with her and whilst I disagree with her campaign I think this article is a little unfair…

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