Guy Rundle’s story (‘Crayfish Summer’, April 2011) about the Guardian’s coverage of Julian Assange was a surprise. He never told us he was writing it and didn’t check basic facts with us. Rundle claims we repeatedly distorted the translation of a Swedish police file dealing with sexual allegations against Julian. If he had checked, he would have discovered that every one of the lines that he quotes was written by a professional translator who specialises in Scandinavian languages and that nobody from the Guardian touched a single word in any of them. His whole line of attack is just false.
Rundle also claims we distorted the material by omitting details that might have helped Julian. The fact is that when we obtained that file, the Guardian was still working with Julian. A dishonest newspaper would have suppressed it to avoid causing friction. That would have been corrupt: we had to publish. But, recognising that we still had a relationship with him, we were scrupulously careful to include his side of the story. We arranged with his lawyer to delay publication until an agreed deadline, and a senior editor then rewrote the whole story to include Julian’s position on every point and to avoid drawing any conclusion at all about the allegations. We also necessarily omitted significant material that could have caused damage or embarrassment to Julian.
At one point, he claims that I personally “fundamentally distorted” the translation of a sentence from the statement of one of Julian’s accusers by omitting several words. Apart from the fact that I didn’t touch the wording of that sentence, Rundle does not play fair with the evidence. He claims we were hiding the fact that after an early alleged skirmish, this woman allowed Julian to continue to have sex. But he does this by quoting the sentence from the Guardian and leaving out the final part, in which we clearly added “and so she allowed him to undress her”. He has removed the very words that prove his claim against us is false!
At another point, he claims we left out a sentence from the same woman’s statement that would have shown she does not accuse Julian of ‘guilty intent’. In fact, the woman (rightly or wrongly) told police that Julian “must have known” she was trying to reach for a condom when he was holding down her arms to stop her. Again, Rundle has failed to mention the information that would have proved his claim against us false.
We stand by our story. Rundle may well believe that Julian is the victim of a conspiracy but that does not entitle him to claim that we are part of it.