Those European Hotbeds of Civil Liberties

I am happy to vociferously criticize the many shortcomings in US civil liberties.  But one are where I can't agree with other civil libertarians is their frequent homage to Europe as the home of civil liberties enlightenment.  Kudos, of course, to countries like Holland and more recently Portugal for reasonable drug laws.  But Europeans have many problems we do not share, particularly in protecting, or not protecting free speech.  Here is another example, from Sweden.  Just because they have a reputation for sexual freedom does not make them a civil liberties paradise:

One of the prime arguments I have always made about the Assange asylum case is that his particular fear of being extradited to Sweden is grounded in that country's very unusual and quite oppressive pre-trial detention powers: ones that permit the state to act with anextreme degree of secrecy and which can even prohibit the accused from any communication with the outside world.....

Svartholm is  that I've long argued (based on condemnations from human rights groups) prevail in Sweden:

"Gottfrid Svartholm will be kept in detention for at least two more weeks on suspicion ofhacking into a Swedish IT company connected to the country's tax authorities. According to Prosecutor Henry Olin the extended detention is needed 'to prevent him from having contact with other people.' The Pirate Bay co-founder is not allowed to have visitors and is even being denied access to newspapers and television. . . .

"Since he hasn't been charged officially in the Logica case the Pirate Bay co-founder could only be detained for a few days.

"But, after a request from Prosecutor Henry Olin this term was extended for another two weeks mid-September, and last Friday the District Court decided that Gottfrid could be detained for another two weeks.

"To prevent Gottfrid from interfering with the investigation the Prosecutor believes it's justified to detain him for more than a month without being charged....

Unlike in the British system, in which all proceedings, including extradition proceedings, relating to Assange would be publicly scrutinized and almost certainly conducted in open court, the unusual secrecy of Sweden's pre-trial judicial process, particularly the ability to hold the accused incommunicado, poses a real danger that whatever happened to Assange could be effectuated without any public notice....

By the way, the whole sexual freedom thing?  Uh-uh.  Which is another reason Assange is worried, since women can pretty much retroactively any sex they later regret as a sexual assault.


  1. obloodyhell:

    }}}} since women can pretty much retroactively any sex they later regret as a sexual assault.

    Well... unless it involves a gang of Muslim thugs... THEN it was always consensual... even before she consented...

  2. a_random_guy:

    The US is currently in the lead. Svartholm will have been held for a few weeks; Bradley Manning has been held by the US for many months under far harsher conditions. No European country has a facility equivalent to Guantanamo, where prisoners have been held for years with no legal recourse.

    The US has great civil rights on paper - the reality is very different.

  3. Matthew Slyfield:

    "Bradley Manning has been held by the US for many months under far harsher conditions."
    True as far as I can tell but it does not stand counter to the Svartholm case in Sweden. Svartholm is being held without haveing been formally charged with any crime. While the government does appear to be dwadling about brining the Bradley Manning case to trial, he has been formally charged.

  4. Matthew Slyfield:

    The authors statement was about the law in Sweden, not in Islamic countries. If you know of a case where what you described occured in Sweden please provide a citation.