STOCKHOLM - The two Swedish women accusing Julian Assange of sex crimes are supporters of WikiLeaks, not pawns of the CIA, and they simply seek justice for a violation of their "sexual integrity," their lawyer said.
Claes Borgstrom, a self-professed feminist who used to be Sweden's ombudsman for gender equality, said he found it "very upsetting" that Assange, his lawyers, and some supporters were suggesting that the case was a smear campaign against WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling website that Assange founded.
"He's been spreading false rumors. . . . It's reckless against these two women," Borgstrom said by phone Thursday. "They, too, are supporters of WikiLeaks."
Assange has denied the sexual-misconduct allegations, which his lawyers say stem from a dispute over "consensual but unprotected sex." He has not been charged.
The lawyer said that Assange had every right to reject the women's allegations but that Assange was, in essence, accusing them of breaking the law by suggesting they were driven by ulterior motives. "There is no truth to this whatsoever," he said.
The British newspaper The Times recently quoted Assange as saying there was "very suggestive evidence" the women were motivated by revenge, money, and police pressure.
When the investigation started after the August incidents, Assange said he had been warned about "dirty tricks" from the Pentagon, though he later said he wasn't pointing fingers at anyone.
At the time, WikiLeaks had deeply angered U.S. officials by publishing tens of thousands of secret U.S. military documents on the war in Afghanistan.
Assange, an Australian, met both women in connection with a lecture Aug. 14 in Stockholm. He had sex with both within a week, according to police documents. Lawyer Gemma Lindfield, acting for Sweden in British courts, said one of the women accused him of pinning her down and refusing to use a condom. The second says Assange had sex with her without a condom while she was asleep.
After Assange had already left Sweden, a senior prosecutor got court approval for a request to interrogate him on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. Assange is now out on bail in Britain, fighting extradition to Sweden.