Julian Assange: Anna Ardin speaks after plea deal results in WikiLeaks founder freedom

Caleb Runciman
The Nightly
Anna Ardin alleged the now 52-year-old of sexual assault over an alleged incident in 2010 — but the case was never tested in court due to the statute of limitations expiring her complaint after five years.
Anna Ardin alleged the now 52-year-old of sexual assault over an alleged incident in 2010 — but the case was never tested in court due to the statute of limitations expiring her complaint after five years. Credit: SOFIA EKSTROM/SVD/TT News Agency via AFP

The woman who accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sexual assault more than 10 years ago says she is happy he has been granted freedom from the confines of prison.

WARNING READERS MAY FIND SOME DETAILS IN THIS STORY CONFRONTING

Anna Ardin accused the now 52-year-old of sexual assault over an alleged incident in 2010 — but the case was never tested in court due to the statute of limitations expiring her complaint after five years.

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Anna Ardin alleged the now 52-year-old of sexual assault over an alleged incident in 2010.
Anna Ardin alleged the now 52-year-old of sexual assault over an alleged incident in 2010. Credit: SOFIA EKSTROM/SVD/TT News Agency via AFP

Ms Ardin, 42, claims that while she was helping promote Wikileaks with Assange in August 2010, the pair had “uncomfortable sex” before he ripped off his condom and ejaculated.

Another woman also claimed she was assaulted by Assange, but her complaint to the police expired after 10 years.

Between the years of 2012 and 2019, Assange fled to Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over the 2010 sex assault allegations.

Assange said Swedish authorities could have extradited him back to the US to face espionage charges.

The Wikileaks founder had been fighting extradition to the US after he obtained and published classified information from Afghanistan and Iraq — which included confronting the vision of the US military killing civilians.

Swedish prosecutors dropped their rape probe in 2019, with the length of time passed weakening their case.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 26: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he arrives at Canberra Airport on June 26, 2024 in Canberra, Australia. Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, returned to his native Australia as a free man, after attending the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands in Saipan on Wednesday. Following his guilty plea to a felony charge under the Espionage Act, Assange was sentenced to time served and subsequently released, allowing him to walk free after years of incarceration and intense lobbying for his release from across the political spectrum. Family, supporters and politicians welcomed his release and return, with Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying the case "had dragged on for too long." Assange's case has been a lightning rod for debates about press freedom and national security, with his supporters hailing him as a whistleblower who exposed government wrongdoing, while critics accused him of recklessly endangering lives by publishing classified information. His release marks the end of a tumultuous legal saga that spanned over a decade, involving allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and a protracted battle against extradition to the United States. (Photo by Roni Bintang/Getty Images)
The second woman alleged she woke up to find Assange having unsolicited sex with her while she was sleeping. Credit: Roni Bintang/Getty Images

The second woman alleged she woke up to find Assange having unsolicited sex with her while she was sleeping.

Assange has vehemently denied all the sexual assault allegations.

Speaking to The Australian after Assange’s plea deal resulted in his freedom this week, Ms Ardin said she has struggled not to feel impacted by the news.

“I’m not able to be out of it because, I mean, I’ve tried to be. This is not about me. This is about the US, and (the US government) not wanting their secrets to leak.”

“Everyone is confusing my story and the extradition case to Sweden with the extradition case in the United States.”

Ms Ardin said Assange was “no hero”.

“I’m sincerely happy for him that he is not in this high-security prison. He never should have been in the beginning.

“The good things that he did was exposing war crimes, the Chelsea Manning leaks and exposing the misuse of power and the abuse of human rights. People committing war crimes should be punished, not the ones exposing them.”

Julian Assange is back on Australian soil.
Ms Ardin claims Assange’s team accused her of being a liar, an American spy and that one person had put out a bounty on her after the allegations hit the media. Credit: AAP

“If you get a label of being a hero, many times you get a free pass. People think you’re a perfect person, and then they excuse things.”

Ms Ardin claims Assange’s team accused her of being a liar, an American spy and that one person had put out a bounty on her after the allegations hit the media.

Ms Ardin, who lives in Sweden, published a book titled In the Shadow of Assange: My Testimony. In it, she said she offered her spare bedroom to Assange while also having a crush on the WikiLeaks founder.

The book claims both Ms Ardin and Assange went to a party the following evening after the alleged assault incident and that he was a “different person” to the one who “humiliated and abused” her the night prior.

Assange touched down in Canberra on Wednesday after pleading guilty to one count of espionage in the Pacific US territory of Saipan.

“Working as a journalist, I encouraged my source to provide information that was said to be classified to publish that information,” he told the court.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Canberra Airport,
Assange touched down in Canberra on Wednesday after pleading guilty to one count of espionage in the Pacific US territory of Saipan. Credit: AAP

“I believed the First Amendment protected that activity, but I accept that it was ... a violation of the espionage statute.”

Chief US District Judge Ramona Manglona accepted his guilty plea and said the US government did not identify any personal victims from Assange’s publication of the documents.

Assange spent over five years in one of the UK’s harshest prisons and seven years in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

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