Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli

As Swedish authorities push for a secret trial of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a noted human rights activist has repeatedly challenged the oft-praised fairness of his nation’s legal system and its media coverage.

Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli built an illustrious career as a medical school professor after enduring torture in his native Chile. But he has worked almost tirelessly in his spare time for the past two months to expose what he regards as complacency among his fellow Swedes regarding the human rights abuses in his nation’s all-out effort to capture Assange, ostensibly because of sex allegations filed by a politically connected lawyer.

The professor says he has documented that investigative reports by the Justice Integrity Project and the prominent author Naomi Wolf about Assange are among those prevented from display in reader comments at major Swedish newspapers.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has imposed new and barbarous pre-trial punishment on Assange’s alleged accomplice, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning. This fuels suspicions that the Sweden and the United States are secretly collaborating to frame the two suspects as part of a pan-national crackdown on government whistleblowers – even as Western powers boast of their “Internet Freedom.” Secretary of State Clinton boasted of the importance of freedom at a recent university speech even as her security personnel beat and arrested a silent peace protester in the audience, retired CIA officer Ray McGovern.

In theory, Swedish authorities want to ask Assange once again about reports of sex misconduct with two women who invited him to sleep with them during his visit to Sweden last summer. A United Kingdom judge ordered Assange, held without bond, extradited to Sweden to answer the questions in Swedish proceedings that will be secret, according to the country’s norms. The judge brushed off allegations of a potential vendetta against Assange, saying European authorities could address any irregularities if they occur. Assange’s lawyers are appealing the ruling, with the appellate decision expected shortly.

For Professor Ferrada-Noli, however, the irregularities in the unprecedented Interpol manhunt to capture Assange for another round of questioning are already shocking. The case is so unusual that the doctor has published on his “Professors blogg” website many investigative commentaries since last fall.

Furthermore, he has observed, tested and exposed what he describes as a plot by powerful figures in the mainstream Swedish media working behind the scenes to limit public questions about their nation’s courts, including blocking reader attempts to cite columns by Wolf and the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project I founded to examine such allegations in the United States and internationally. The professor’s study of why and how this occurred is entitled, “Does Sweden Inflict Trial by Media against Assange?”

The professor undertook his study with no staff and on a rushed basis because of fast-moving legal proceedings. He holds a Ph.D. in psychiatry from the Karolinska Institutet. A professor emeritus there in Public Health Sciences, he was formerly a research fellow in social medicine at Harvard Medical School. Currently, he is senior advisor at the Department of Immunology at, Stockholm University. His introduction to his study is:

Svenska dagbladet, a main Swedish newspaper, illustrated its 17 Feb 2011 article “Idyllic picture of Sweden is darkened” with a montage showing the notorious criminal Göran Lindberg – a world-reviled, convicted serial rapist (including the rape of a 14-year old child) – portrayed together with Julian Assange and his lawyer Mark Stephens. A conspicuous columnist of the newspaper Aftonbladet refers 13 Feb 2011 to Julian Assange as “a paranoid idiot who refuses come to Sweden to confront trial”. The competitor newspaper, Expressen, describes 13 Feb 2011 in its cultural page “the sexual pleasure of Mr Assange is just an inescapable element for his severe compulsive needs that are beyond….”

To assess such reports, this article presents an empirical statistical analysis of Swedish media reports regarding the Assange case. We describe hostility by the Swedish media to Assange raising questions about the journalists’ mental state, and as well as questions about self-censorship by prominent Swedish media. We must question also why Swedish journalists employed by traditional media act so uniformly. Finally, we scrutinize whether the frequently claimed freedom of expression by Swedish newspapers can be compatible with blocking opinions viewed as contradicting conventional wisdom, such as exposing reasons for Sweden’s official antagonism towards Assange and WikiLeaks.

Who in the Swedish media is deciding to filter the links of articles to admit certain blogs and censure others? What are the criteria? Is it the newspaper publisher or the journalist who is authoring the newspaper article? Or is it the Internet Service company providing the link from the blogosphere?

Going to the gist of the matter, he continues:

The questions arise from a recent article in Sweden by the prominent American writer and journalist Naomi Wolf (12/2). The main Swedish newspapers refused to link to her article, creating further international embarrassment for the Swedish media beyond the facts of the Assange case. Her article analyzed the proceedings against Assange published as a guest-contribution in the Sweden-based Professors blog, established 2005 and edited by this author.

Naomi Wolf

A longtime feminist and volunteer rape counselor, Wolf’s courageously criticized Swedish authorities for pursuing such an unusual investigation so aggressively. She quoted extensively from my report on the Huffington Post in December that former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove’s clients have included Sweden’s governing conservative party.

In doing so, she provoked cheap shots from some other feminists who argued that she should defer to the judgment of Claes Borgström, the lawyer seeking Assange’s prosecution on claims of unprotected sex. Her essay, however, noted the political context of the case based on such reports as my article in December, “Rove Suspected In Swedish-U.S. Political Prosecution of WikiLeaks.” . Later, I reported “Partner at Firm Counseling Assange’s Accusers Helped the CIA In Rendition for Torture.”

The professor raises important questions about how the traditional media have congruent interests with government leaders, particularly in covering Internet-enabled media that bypass traditional gatekeepers in the media and government. Ferrada-Noli and the Justice Integrity Project have each succeeded in republishing our political investigations in Sweden on such Internet-based independent news sites in Sweden as The Swedish Wire, News 24 and The Local that appear to be more independent of the pressures in a highly-charged political case. The phenomenon is apparent on both sides of the Atlantic, as indicated by the Wolf essay published originally on the Huffington Post and March 3 on Professors blogg: “WikiLeaks, Revolution, and the Lost Cojones of American Journalism.”

“Sweden used to enjoy a selective, well-cultivated journalist body,” Ferrada-Noli concludes. “The creepy and accomplice silence of the media is devouring the soul of a country otherwise dignified by its beauty, its ethics, and its peace.”