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From Hammarskjöld to Assange:

A Swedish Legacy Dishonoured


Sweden has a long history of service to the United Nations and adherence to its principles, as proclaimed on the government’s website: ”Over the years, more than 70,000 Swedes have served in the U.N. and many Swedes have served as mediators. Sweden has worded in many areas of the U.N., and has also begun the work with many important issues, including abolition of the death penalty, children’s rights, abolition of apartheid, the Convention against Torture.…”

The government has kept the rhetoric, but in recent years has begun to abandon the principles. Nowhere is that more evident than in its collaboration in the persecution of Julian Assange, which in May 2019 became the subject of unusually sharp criticism from the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment accused Sweden of serious crimes against the human rights of Julian Assange.

The Swedish government dismissed rapporteur Nils Melzer’s detailed criticism with a brief letter consisting largely of untruths, evasions and glaring omissions.* In a bitter irony, the government’s spurious arguments were devised by a grand-niece of Dag Hammarskjöld, the revered and martyred secretary-general of the U.N.

Nils Melzer therefore sent a follow-up letter to the government to convey ”additional observations and clarifications, and to reiterate or further detail my queries”. That letter reviews extensive and detailed evidence which substantiates Melzer’s conclusion that there ”appears to have been a deliberate, sustained and concerted effort by the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom and, more recently, Ecuador, with a view to isolating, demonizing, harassing and, ultimately, silencing Mr. Assange”.

The Swedish government responded on 11 November 2019 with a brief note that referred the U.N.’s rapporteur to its disgraceful reply to his first letter: "The Government has no further observation to make”.

Swedish Crimes against Assange’s Human Rights

U.N. Rapporteur’s first letter to Swedish government, May 2019
Swedish government’s reply to U.N. Special Rapporteur, July 2019
*Critique of government’s reply to U.N. rapporteur, August 2019
U.N. Rapporteur’s second letter to Swedish government, Sept. 2019


Related Reading
Profile of Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer
FAQ: U.N. Special Rapporteurs
Media vs. Melzer: Censorship by Omission
Sweden & Assange
Nils Melzers correspondence with USA concerning Julian Assange