Anna Ardin, one of two women whose accusations of sexual abuse against Julian Assange prompted the Wikileaks founder to hide in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for seven years, has written a tell-all book called In the Shadow of Assange: My Testimony.
Ardin, a church deacon who has previously only been identified as “Miss A.”, recalls meeting Assange in Sweden and helping him organize his seminars. She readily admits to fancying the budding celebrity and even offering him her spare bedroom, and writes that she had considered sleeping with him, in part out of revenge on an ex-boyfriend. She recalled thinking at the time, “It might be a pretty fun thing, and no big deal to ‘score with Julian Assange.’”
But she says Assange immediately started behaving erratically and when she came home to her apartment, he met her at the door with one of her bras in his hands. “I’ve been looking through your underwear drawer,” he allegedly said. “I saw the size of this and thought ‘this is a woman I’d like to meet.’”
The two then agreed to sleep together, but when the moment came, Assange grew aggressive, pushing her down on the bed and “deliberately sabotaging his condom” in order to try to have risky, unprotected sex. She resisted and retrieved a fresh condom and returned to bed, in part because of what she described as “the coolness in his gaze, our common knowledge that he is stronger than me.” She said then she went on to “have one orgasm, perhaps even two.” But that the incident remained unfavorable.
“Julian is definitely not a monster,” she writes. “But he crossed my boundaries.”
After the incident, she allowed him to stay in her apartment. They went to a party together the night after the incident, during which Ardin says he was an entirely different person than he was the night he assaulted her. “Julian is in many ways a fantastic person,” she told a top Swedish talk show while promoting her book over the weekend. “But the Julian who took part in the party is totally different from the one who humiliated and abused me the previous evening.”
Ardin also wrote of Assange’s questionable hygiene, a complaint mirrored by the Ecuadorian embassy. She said he refused to bathe, leaving her apartment smelling “strongly of unwashed body, of dried-in sweat.” She also accused Assange of failing to flush. “There are turds floating in the toilet,” she recalled thinking before she asked him to leave.
Ardin readily admits that by initially agreeing to sex and then allowing Assange to stay with her raises concerns about the validity of her allegations, which she said some might say fall into a “grey zone.” But in an interview with a Swedish newspaper, she said that his treatment of her and forcing her to have unprotected sex was abusive. “It feels like society is ready to talk about these grey areas now,” she said.
Ardin, who Assange has accused of working with the CIA to set him up after he spilled U.S. secrets on the Iraq war and other sensitive issues through Wikileaks, has come under fire for her publicity tour during which she has adamantly denied any connection to the U.S.
Anne Ramberg, the former head of the Swedish Bar Association, condescendingly tweeted against Ardin, writing that comments by “the aggrieved lady who provided her home and bed to Assange” were “extremely worrying.”
Ramberg, who supports Assange’s innocence, suggested that the backstory of Ardin’s accusations needed further review. “Anyone who has not read the preliminary investigation should do so,” she tweeted. “To now write a book and make a career of what is described as abuse seems extremely questionable.”
Ardin decided to formally accuse Assange of the abuse after a second woman, known only as Miss W., contacted her and also accused him of forcing her to have sex without a condom and being aggressive when she pleaded with him to use protection.
Both women dropped the accusations in 2019, in part because they had become intertwined with the U.S. efforts to extradite Assange to the U.S. over Wikileaks. Assange is currently in Belmarsh prison serving a 50-week sentence for defying bail by hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy while waiting for the judicial process over his extradition to the U.S. to play out.
“We are never going to get to know whether Julian is a perpetrator in a juridical sense,” Ardin writes. “But I can describe the events as I experienced them. Instead of standing witness in the trial which never happened, I now want to give my version.”
Ramberg has faced criticism for victim-blaming but has stood by her comments. “The women, I can’t regard them as these very tragic victims that they have tried to portray themselves as,” she said. “I see him as the victim, actually. His life is destroyed.”
Assange has denied the accusations by both women.