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Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Crystal Clear app kedit.svg
This article may be in need of reorganization to comply with Wikipedia's layout guidelines. Please help by editing the article to make improvements to the overall structure. (December 2011)
Assange v The Swedish Judicial Authority
Court Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Judges sitting Lord Phillips of Worth MatraversLord Walker of GestingthorpeBaroness Hale of RichmondLord Brown of Eaton-under-HeywoodLord ManceLord Kerr of TonaghmoreLord Dyson
Case history
Prior action(s) Assange v The Swedish Judicial Authority [2011] EWHC 2849 (Admin) (2 November 2011)
Appealed from Administrative Court (Sir John Thomas POuseley J)
Appealed to Supreme Court

Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange is the set of legal proceedings relating to claims that Julian Assange committed sexual offences in Sweden.

When an arrest warrant was issued in November 2010, Assange had been living in England for 1-2 months. An extradition hearing took place in an English court in February 2011 to consider an application by Swedish authorities for the extradition of Assange to Sweden. The outcome of the hearing was announced on 24 February 2011, when the extradition warrant was upheld. Assange appealed to the High Court, and on 2 November 2011, the court upheld the extradition decision and rejected all four grounds for the appeal as presented by Assange's legal representatives. £19,000 costs was also awarded against Assange. On 5 December 2011, Assange was refused permission by the High Court to appeal to the Supreme Court. The High Court certified that his case raised a point of law of general public importance. The Supreme Court subsequently granted permission to appeal.[1] Assange denies the allegations, and remains on conditional bail in the United Kingdom.[2][3][4]



[edit]Swedish investigation

[edit]Complaints and investigation

On 20 August 2010, two women came to Swedish police inquiring whether it was possible to require that Julian Assange be submitted to an HIV-test. Within the filed report, the police officers found signs of sexual misconduct. In response, the police opened an investigation.[5] The women involved were a 26-year-old inEnköping and a 31-year-old in Stockholm.[6]

In answer to questions surrounding the incidents, the following day, Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné declared, "I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape." However, Karin Rosander, from the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said Assange remained suspected of molestation. Police gave no further comment at that time, but continued to investigate.[7]

After learning of the investigation, Assange said, "The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing."[8]

On 30 August, he was questioned by the Stockholm police.[2][9] He denied the allegations, saying he had consensual sexual encounters with the two women.[8][10][11]

Claes Borgström, the attorney who represents the two women, appealed against the decision to drop part of the investigation.[6][12] On 1 September 2010, the Swedish Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny decided to resume the preliminary investigation concerning all of the original allegations. [13]

[edit]Arrest warrant

On 18 August 2010, Assange applied for a work and residence permit in Sweden.[14][15] He left Sweden on 27 September 2010.[16] On 18 October 2010, his request was denied.[15][14][17]

On 18 November 2010, prosecutor Marianne Ny asked the local district court for a warrant for the arrest of Assange in order for him to be interviewed by the prosecutor.[18] As he was now living in England, the court ordered him detained (häktad) in absentia.[19][20] On appeal, the Svea Court of Appeal upheld the warrant on suspicion of rape, olaga tvång(duress/unlawful coercion), and two cases of sexuellt ofredande,[21][22][23][24] which has been variously translated as "sexual molestation",[25] "sexual assault",[26] "sexual misconduct", "sexual annoyance", "sexual unfreedom", "sexual misdemeanour", and "sexual harassment".[27][28][17][22][23] The Supreme Court of Sweden decided not to consider a further appeal as no principle was at stake.[citation needed][29] On 6 December 2010, Scotland Yard notified Assange that a valid European arrest warrant had been received.[30]

Assange has not yet been formally charged with any offence;[31] the prosecutor said that, in accordance with the Swedish legal system, formal charges will be laid only after extradition and a second round of questioning.

[edit]Extradition process

[edit]First instance proceedings

[edit]Detention and bail

Assange presented himself to the Metropolitan Police the next morning and was remanded to London's Wandsworth Prison[32] On 16 December, he was granted bail[33] with bail conditions of residence at Ellingham Hall, Norfolk and wearing of an electronic tag. Bail was set at £240,000 surety with a deposit of £200,000 ($312,700).[34]

On release on bail, Assange said "I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter,"[35] and told the BBC, "This has been a very successful smear campaign and a very wrong one."[36] He claimed that the extradition proceedings to Sweden were "actually an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the US." Swedish prosecutors have denied the case has anything to do with WikiLeaks.[34]

[edit]Extradition hearing

The extradition hearing took place on 7–8 and 11 February 2011 before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London.[37][38] Assange's lawyers at the extradition hearing were Geoffrey Robertson QC and Mark Stephens (solicitor), human rights specialists, and the prosecution was represented by a team led by Clare Montgomery QC.[39] Arguments were presented as to whether the Swedish prosecutor had the authority to issue a European Arrest Warrant, the extradition was requested for prosecution or interrogation, the alleged crimes qualified as extradition crimes, there was an abuse of process, his human rights would be respected, and he would receive a fair trial if extradited to Sweden.

[edit]Extradition decision

The outcome of the hearing was announced on 24 February 2011, when the extradition warrant was upheld.[29][40][41] Senior District Judge Howard Riddle found against Assange on each of the main arguments against his extradition.[42] The judge said "as a matter of fact, and looking at all the circumstances in the round, this person (Mr Assange) passes the threshold of being an accused person and is wanted for prosecution."[42] Judge Riddle concluded: "I am satisfied that the specified offences are extradition offences."[42]

Assange commented after the decision to extradite him, saying "It comes as no surprise but is nevertheless wrong. It comes as the result of a European arrest warrant system run amok."[43]

[edit]Appeal to the High Court

On 2 March 2011, Assange's lawyers lodged an appeal with the High Court challenging the decision to extradite him to Sweden.[44] Assange remains on conditional bail.[44][45] The appeal hearing took place on 12 and 13 July 2011 at the High Court in London. The judges' decision was reserved, and a written judgment was delivered on 2 November 2011, dismissing the appeal.[46][47][48][49]

[edit]Appeal to the Supreme Court

The High Court refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but this was granted by the Supreme Court itself, after the High Court certified that a point of law of general public importance was involved in its decision. The point of law certified was whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on 1 and 2 February 2012.[50]

[edit]See also


  1. ^ "Julian Assange wins right to pursue extradition fight". The BBC. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  2. a b "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange questioned by police". The Guardian. 31 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Tell-All on WikiLeaks' Assange Coming out in March". ABC News. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Wikileaks' Assange appeals over Sweden arrest warrant". BBC News. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Sex accusers boasted about their 'conquest' of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange". The Times of India. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  6. a b Cody, Edward (9 September 2010). "WikiLeaks stalled by Swedish inquiry into allegations of rape by founder Assange". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Swedish rape warrant for Wikileaks' Assange cancelle". BBC. 21 August 2010.
  8. a b Davies, Caroline (22 August 2010). "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denies rape allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  9. ^ "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange questioned by police". The Guardian. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  10. ^ Leigh, David; Harding, Luke; Hirsch, Afua; MacAskill, Ewen (30 November 2010)."WikiLeaks: Interpol issues wanted notice for Julian Assange". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Assange charges: Consensual sex or rape?". msnbc.com. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  12. ^ "Julian Assange rape accusations: timeline". Telegraph. 24 Feb 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
  13. ^ "Chronology - Aklagarmyndigheten". Aklagare.se. 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  14. a b "Timeline: sexual allegations against Assange in Sweden". BBC News. 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  15. a b "Assange denied Swedish residence permit". The Local - Sweden. 18 October. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  16. ^ Esther Addley (8 February 2011). "Julian Assange's accusers sent texts discussing revenge, court hears". Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  17. a b "Rundle: timeline of Assange’s visit to Sweden and events that followed". Crikey. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  18. ^ "Prosecutor wants arrest of Julian Assange for rape". The Swedish Wire. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  19. ^ "Assanges häktning avgörs i dag" (in Swedish). Expressen. Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  20. ^ "Arrest warrant issued for WikiLeaks founder". The Local. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  21. ^ "Hovrätten fastställer häktningsbeslut". www.aklagare.se. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  22. a b Vinthagen Simpson, Peter (24 November 2010). "Swedish court rejects Assange appeal". The Local. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  23. a b "Chronology: Events concerning Julian Assange in chronological order". Åklagarmyndigheten. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  24. ^ Hosenball, Mark (7 December 2010). "Special Report: STD fears sparked case against WikiLeaks boss". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  25. ^ In the Certified European Arrest Warrant of 6 December 2010
  26. ^ In the Extradition Ruling of 24 February 2011
  27. ^ "Did he or didn't he? The murky politics of sex and consent". Theage.com.au. 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  28. ^ Mackey, Robert (2010-08-23). "Swedish Prosecutor Hopes to Conclude Investigation of WikiLeaks Founder Soon - NYTimes.com". Thelede.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  29. a b Dodd, Vikram (8 December 2010). "Julian Assange extradition attempt an uphill struggle, says specialist". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  30. ^ Verkaik, Robert (7 December 2010). "Arrest warrant on Assange to be served today". The Independent. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  31. ^ Nick Davies (17 December 2010). "10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange". Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  32. ^ Addley, Esther (17 December 2010). "Q&A: Julian Assange allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  33. ^ Swedish Judicial Authority v Julian Assange, [2010] EWHC 3473 (Admin), 2010 WL5093971
  34. a b "Extradition part of 'smear campaign': Assange". The Local. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  35. ^ Coles, Isabel; Ormsby, Avril (16 December 2010). "WikiLeaks' Assange walks free on bail in London". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 16 December 2010.
  36. ^ Ormsby, Avril (17 December 2010). "WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says he is victim of smear campaign". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  37. ^ "Besieged Assange hires PR team". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 January 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
  38. ^ Addley, Esther (11 January 2011). "WikiLeaks: Julian Assange 'faces execution or Guantánamo detention'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  39. ^ "Lawyer: WikiLeaks Founder Cannot Get Fair Trial in Sweden". Voice of America. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  40. ^ Jeffery, Simon (8 February 2011). "Julian Assange extradition hearing – final day live updates". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  41. ^ "Wikileaks founder Julian Assange refused bail". BBC News. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  42. a b c Coleman, Clive (24 February 2011). "Wikileaks' Julian Assange handed 'resounding defeat'". BBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  43. ^ Addley, Esther; Topping, Alexandra (24 February 2011). "Julian Assange attacks 'rubber-stamp' warrant as he loses extradition battle". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  44. a b Meikle, James (3 March 2011). "Julian Assange lodges extradition appeal". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  45. ^ Gordon, PA, Cathy (3 March). "WikiLeaks' Assange appeals against UK extradition". Reuters. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  46. ^ Assange v. Swedish Prosecution Authority [2011] EWHC 2849 (Admin)
  47. ^ "Assange case set for July". The Independent. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2011.[dead link]
  48. ^ "Wikileaks' Julian Assange extradition decision deferred". BBC News. 13 July 2011.
  49. ^ Booth, Robert; Addley, Esther (28 October 2011). "Julian Assange extradition judgment due on Wednesday". The Guardian.
  50. ^ "News Release: Application for Permission to Appeal: Julian Assange v Swedish Judicial Authority". Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. 16 December 2011.

[edit]External links

sv:Julian Assange#Misstankar om sexualbrott

Case details - The Supreme Court

Case details

CaseID UKSC 2011/0264
Case name Assange (Appellant) v The Swedish Judicial Authority (Respondent)
Case stage Hearing Scheduled
Date of issue 15 Dec 2011
Expedition requested Requested
Order being appealed - Date 02 Nov 2011
Order being appealed - Court Divisional Court QBD (EW)
Devolution No
Human Rights raised Yes
Human Rights raised - details Article 5(3)
Intervener Yes
Case Summary
On appeal from the Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division (England and Wales)


Whether a European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”) issued by a public prosecutor is a valid Part 1 EAW issued by a “judicial authority” for the purpose and within the meaning of sections 2 and 66 of the Extradition Act 2003.


The Appellant, a journalist well known through his operation of Wikileaks, visited Sweden to give a lecture in August 2010. He had sexual relations with two women. Both women went to the police who treated their visits as the filing of complaints. The Appellant was interviewed by police and subsequently left Sweden in ignorance of the fact that a domestic arrest warrant had been issued for him. Proceedings were brought in the Swedish courts in the Appellant’s absence, although he was represented, in which a domestic warrant for the Appellant’s detention for interrogation was granted and upheld on appeal. Subsequently, an EAW for the Appellant was issued by the Swedish Prosecution Authority that set out allegations of four offences of unlawful coercion and sexual misconduct including rape. The EAW was certified by the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency under the Extradition Act 2003. The Appellant surrendered himself for arrest in the UK and, following an extradition hearing, his extradition to Sweden was ordered. The order was upheld on appeal to the Divisional Court.

Subject Matter catchwords for indexing

Extradition – European Arrest Warrant – Judicial Authority

Permission to appeal
Permission to appeal
Date supporting documents received 15 Dec 2011
Date PTA application referred to justices   
Date of oral hearing   
Permission granted/refused Granted
Notice of intention to proceed filed Yes

Appellant name Julian Paul Assange
Appellant case due date   
Appellant case date filed 13 Jan 2012
Respondent name The Swedish Prosecution Authority
Date form 3 filed   
Date form 3 issued   
Respondent case due date   
Respondent case date filed 17 Nov 2012
Intervener - names Gerard Batten and Vladimir Bukovsky
Lord Advocate
Justices allocated Yes
Justices allocated - names Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers
Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore
Lord Wilson
PTA granted by court below No
Statement of facts & issues and Appendix due date   
Statement of facts & issues and Appendix date filed 12 Jan 2012
Time estimate   
Time estimate received   
Time estimate number of days 2 days
Hearing date 01 Feb 2012
Other hearing location
Core volumes due date   
Core volumes date filed   
Authorities due date   
Authorities date filed   
Hand down date   

News - The Supreme Court

Access to The Supreme Court building: 1 & 2 Feb 2012

Julian Assange v Swedish Judicial Authority appeal hearing

Members of the public wishing to visit the building on Wednesday 1 February or Thursday 2 February are advised that we are expecting a large number of visitors on these days, and those not specifically coming to observe the hearings in Julian Assange v Swedish Judicial Authority (UKSC) or Sans Souci Ltd v VRL Services Limited (JCPC, Jamaica) are encouraged to choose other days to visit the building.

The Supreme Court has scheduled the Assange hearing to be in the largest courtroom, and has made arrangements for an 'overflow' courtroom where a live audio/visual feed of the proceedings will be shown. Even with these arrangements in place, we do expect that demand for seats is likely to exceed the number of spaces we can safely make available to the public. For this reason, a queuing system will be put in place on the two days of the hearing, with those arriving earliest being offered seats in the courtroom; once that is full, a further tranche of visitors will be allowed into the overflow room. The court building will open to the public at 09.30 on both days; the hearing begins at 10.30 on both days.

Please note that, in line with the Court's usual practice, items of clothing or other materials bearing messages that undermine the diginity of the court or which seek to interfere with the proper administration of justice will not be permitted into the building.

The Supreme Court does reserve the right to suspend temporarily admission to the building, should the number of visitors and professional court users exceed our safe capacity.

Those interested in the case are reminded that the proceedings will be streamed live via the Sky News website

Supreme Court (UK): Live TV Coverage Of Cases, Provided By Sky News

British businessman to fight against US extradition in European court | Law | The Guardian

British businessman to fight against US extradition in European court

Move comes after high court judges refuse Christopher Tappin the right to appeal against extradition in supreme court

Christopher Tappin
Christopher Tappin's lawyers have now exhausted all possible UK-based legal avenues to prevent his extradition. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

A retired British businessman facing extradition to the US over allegations he plotted to export missile components to Iran will make an emergency application to the European court of human rights after being refused leave to appeal to the supreme court.

Christopher Tappin, from Orpington, in Kent, has said he was the victim of entrapment and that US customs agents enticed him into the deal, which he says made him a profit of $500 (£325). His is among a series of recent cases to focus attention on the UK-US extradition treaty, which critics allege is grossly biased in favour of America.

Magistrates first ordered Tappin to be extradited to Texas in February last year. He appealed to the high court and lost that case this month. If convicted in the US he could face a jail sentence of up to 35 years.

The 65-year-old's lawyers said they would apply to take the case to the supreme court, the country's highest legal body. But two high court judges, Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Cranston, ruled that they would not permit the application, saying the case did not raise legal issues of sufficient general importance.

It means Tappin's lawyers have used all possible UK-based legal avenues to prevent his extradition.

His solicitor, Karen Todner, said an application would be lodged with the European court "in the next few days" seeking a halt on Tappin's extradition pending a full hearing of his case. Government solicitors had agreed not to remove Tappin for 14 days to allow for the application, Todner added.

Tappin admits arranging shipment of the batteries, a type used in US-made Hawk surface-to-air missiles, from the US to the Netherlands in 2006 but insists he had no idea about their final destination.

His lawyers told the appeal court that Tappin was set up by agents from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency who established a fake company, Mercury Global Enterprises, to "ensnare unsuspecting importers such as Mr Tappin".

The agents told Tappin they would obtain the export licences necessary for the batteries, the court was told. When Tappin raised concerns about this, one of the agents told him "this would not be a problem". The British businessman was sent paperwork by the agents saying that no licence was needed.

Tappin's argument was rejected by the high court. "Entrapment, as far as I can see, is simply unsustainable on the facts as alleged in the request," the appeal ruling said.

Tappin, who is the president of the Kent county golf union, has also unsuccessfully appealed against the extradition on human rights grounds, saying he is the primary carer for his wife, who has a rare and debilitating auto-immune condition, Churg-Strauss syndrome.

The most prominent case to focus attention on the 2003 extradition treaty between Britain and the US is that of Gary McKinnon, whom US prosecutors have sought since 2005 for hacking into top-secret US military computers.

McKinnon, 45, admits the hacking but says he was looking for evidence of UFOs. His supporters argue that McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, is extremely vulnerable and that any trial should take place in Britain.

A more recent case is that of Richard O'Dwyer, a 23-year-old student from Chesterfield. This month a magistrates court approved his extradition to the US for running a website posting links to pirated TV shows and films, despite significant doubts over whether such sites break any UK laws. O'Dwyer has never visited the US and his website used servers based in other countries.

Mark Steel: Still relaxed about the filthy rich? - Mark Steel - Commentators - The Independent

I'm not sure I've read it right, but is the Labour Party AGAINST bankers getting million-pound bonuses now? Maybe we all misunderstood their policy for 15 years. When Peter Mandelson said he was "intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich", he didn't mean it was all right for bankers like Stephen Hester to be offered a bonus of £963,000. He must have drawn the line at £962,000. That would be filthy rich, which is fine and relaxing, but £963,000 is taking the piss.

And when he spent weekends on the yacht of multi-billionaire Oleg Deripaska, he can't have had any idea Oleg was an obscenely wealthy businessman, and must have assumed he'd won the yacht as the star prize on Family Fortunes.

All those years when Labour leaders addressed banquets in the City with speeches that went "O beloved investment bankers, permit us to lay down meekly before your immeasurable wisdom and beg for a glimpse of the mighty hedge funds you so ably manipulate. Only those who swipe gargantuan bonuses for no discernible reason are truly men in the eyes of GOD. To suggest even for a second you should be regulated would be criminal, nay evil, a folly that would bring the apocalypse itself upon us, and we would deserve every locust that devoured us alive, for the bigger your bonus the more divine you are", that did not in any way imply that Labour was in favour of bankers earning a bonus of more than three or four pounds.

Throughout the years of Labour government, boardroom pay rose by 5,000 per cent, which was in line with the New Labour pledge to take every company director out of poverty by the year 2008. But now their pay is going up even more and that's unnecessary, so Ed Miliband has decided it's gone too far.

To see how the Labour Party despises people making themselves ridiculously rich at the expense of everyone else, you only have to look at Tony Blair's modest lifestyle, in which he's never used his status to make money for himself. Instead, he chugs along with seven houses and 45 million quid like a Franciscan bloody monk.

Luckily for the Labour Party, its sudden conversion to being appalled at banker bonuses appears to have happened the same week that the whole country announces its disgust, which I'm sure is just a coincidence and Labour is genuinely shocked and dismayed on principle.

Because how could the party have known bankers would interpret New Labour's calls to enrich themselves in a deregulated frenzy by enriching themselves in a deregulated frenzy? And how could New Labour know bankers were taking billions out of the economy every year? They didn't have time to read the papers, they were running the country.

But the Labour Party is getting there bit by bit. It's discovered Murdoch's no good, worked out bankers' bonuses aren't fair, next week it'll say, "Good Lord, have you seen what happened? Some idiot invaded Iraq."

Energy bar-ista moves from reality TV to real food | Grist

Energy bar-ista moves from reality TV to real food

31 Jan 2012 7:07 AM

Grist is proud to present the Change Gang — profiles of people who are leading change on the ground toward a more sustainable society and a greener planet. Some we’ve written about before; some are new to our pages. Some you’ll have heard of; most you probably won’t. Know someone we should add to the Change Gang? Tell us why.

It doesn’t take Corey Rennell more than a few staccato sentences to explain why, as a kid growing up in Alaska, he first started taking his food seriously.

“My mom was a huge hippie and only fed me natural food. My dad was a hunter. I watched Bambi when I was 7, and then shortly after, my dad killed a deer and served venison as my first taste of red meat. I was confused as to what it was. He said it was deer — baby deer. I had a meltdown and became a vegetarian.”

Today, after some detours that would defy the imagination of even the most baroque novelist — body builder, mountaineer, reality TV show contestant, Harvard graduate — the 26-year-old Rennell is the founder and owner of Core Foods, a San Francisco-headquartered food company that makes what are perhaps best described as ultra-natural energy bars.

Rennell’s “Core Meals” are so natural, in fact, that you won’t be able to find them on the same shelf with the Clif Bars or the Power Bars. These mixtures of nuts and fruit and other natural ingredients — no flour, no sweeteners, no oils — are perishable; they must be refrigerated.

“No bar that you ever eat of mine is ever a month from when I made it,” says Rennell, who is convinced that freshness is critical to maximizing the nutritional benefits from food.

That may not be the most earthshaking theory ever propounded by a Bay Area food activist, but Rennell has pushed his convictions further than most. He isn’t just trying to provide an alternative energy bar; he wants to shake up the whole for-profit food business.

Rennell believes that the economic incentives that put a priority on what he calls “shelf-stable” food have created a nutritional catastrophe. The necessity of loading up food with additives and preservatives and sweeteners all hinges on being able to keep that food hanging around as long possible before it must be sold.

“People aren’t eating fresh fruits and vegetables because we’ve tied up food with profit,” says Rennell. “Food is a business, and for businesses there is nothing worse than a perishable inventory. Your profit margin for an entire year can evaporate overnight if a cooler goes out. So grocery stores prioritize shelf-stable food, which means that all the advertising budget for food goes to shelf-stable food, and the only access consumers have is shelf-stable food.”

Core Foods operates on a unique model. Executive salaries are capped, and all profits get poured back into the business.

“At the end of every year, we don’t take a profit on the food,” says Rennell. “We either lower the price to the consumer or we increase the quality of the ingredients to match the profit that we have as a company. Or we do additional things like increase the sustainability of our packaging or make our employees happier.”

“It was really important to me that we didn’t reconnect food with profit,” adds Rennell. “Because otherwise there is an incentive to lower the quality of the ingredients in the food because it increases the profit margin. And that is a very bad incentive for a healthy food system.”

Rennell’s Core Meal recipes are based on insights he learned while competing in Last Man Standing — a BBC-Discovery Channel joint venture reality TV show that plopped six extreme athletes into the midst of 12 “primitive” tribes all around the world. At the time, Rennell was the president of the Harvard Ski Club and had recently participated in a mountaineering expedition to Kyrgyzstan. He took his nutrition very seriously — and he needed to, in order to survive the rigors of Last Man Standing. But his home-brewed mixtures of raw nuts, whole oats, and whey protein “tasted awful.”

“As I traveled to the different tribes,” he explains, “I got some of them to help me with recipe creation. So actually each one of our bars is inspired loosely by recipes that are traditionally based, that feature the traditional flavors of each region.”

And there you have it: a reality-show contestant who takes his nutritional cues from the indigenous inhabitants of Papua New Guinea and India’s Nagaland plans to overthrow the for-profit model of the food industry while helping us all live healthier lives.

It’s hard not to root for the guy.

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. He lives in Berkeley, California with his two children and likes to ride his bicycle.

Burmese pythons and Florida’s invasive species : The New Yorker

The Natural World

Swamp Things

Florida’s uninvited predators.

by April 20, 2009

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ABSTRACT: THE NATURAL WORLD about Burmese pythons and other invasive species in Florida. Writer describes the destruction caused to Florida by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Between three and four thousand primates escaped during the hurricane, together with as many as fifteen thousand other animals including parrots, gazelles, wallabies, and mountain lions. The majority were rounded up or exterminated. What happened to the rest isn’t clear. Mentions a warehouse for exotic reptiles in Homestead that was destroyed by Andrew. Writer interviews a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer who speculates that the storm might have distributed frogs, scorpions, and Burmese pythons as far as the Everglades. Discusses the history of Florida’s ecology including the introduction of citrus trees, sugarcane, wheat and barley by the Spanish. More recently, a thriving exotic-wildlife trade sent a ragged parade of escapees into the wild: parakeets, peafowl, swamp eels, and squirrel monkeys. Florida now has more exotic lizard species than there are natives in the entire Southeast. Writer interviews Skip Snow, a wildlife biologist at Everglades National Park, and its chief hunter of Burmese pythons. Snow isn’t sure how the Pythons got to the Everglades. He, for one, doesn’t buy the “frisbee” theory that Hurricane Andrew carried them there. Burmese pythons began to appear in the park in 1995. One January morning in 2003, a group of tourists came across a full-grown alligator and an adult python fighting. Within months, Snow was finding pythons of all sizes. He and his colleagues have found more than nine hundred so far. The Everglades, at capacity, could hold as many as a hundred and forty thousand. Describes the pythons’ hunting and eating habits and Snow’s tracking of them with radio transmitters. Discusses the laws that regulate the import of exotic species and the enforcement of those laws by inspectors at U.S. ports. Writer interviews Eddie McKissick, the lead agent for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at the port of Miami. McKissick believes there’s no good way to keep troublemakers like the python out of the country. The best you can do is try to exterminate them when they escape. The python’s potential range is roughly a third of the contiguous United States. Mentions the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, which was proposed to Congress last spring and the likelihood that it won’t pass because of opposition from the pet industry. Writer visits Cape Coral, Florida where an African lizard called the Nile monitor has recently become a nuisance.

In Florida Everglades, pythons and anacondas dominate food chain - The Washington Post

In Florida Everglades, pythons and anacondas dominate food chain

Every child learns this sad and basic truth about nature: The snake eats the rabbit.

But in the southernmost part of the Florida Everglades, things have taken a really wild turn. Pythons and anacondas are eating everything. The most common animals in Everglades National Park — rabbits, raccoons, opposums and bobcats — are almost gone, according to a study released Monday.

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A family in southern Florida had to call in animal control experts after discovering a 13-foot Burmese python in their backyard pool. After some false starts, the slithery creature was eventually captured without injury to snake or humans. (Dec. 27)

A family in southern Florida had to call in animal control experts after discovering a 13-foot Burmese python in their backyard pool. After some false starts, the slithery creature was eventually captured without injury to snake or humans. (Dec. 27)

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The snakes are literally fighting with alligators to sit atop the swamp’s food chain. In October, a 16-foot python was found resting after devouring a deer.

“There aren’t many native mammals that pythons can’t choke down,” said Robert N. Reed, a research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geologial Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center and a co-author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Officials can’t stop invasive pythons and anacondas from marauding in the Everglades, Reed said; they can only hope to contain them. “We’re trying to prevent spread to the Florida Keys and elsewhere north.”

The snakes were released by pet owners into the Everglades, where they started to breed. A female python can lay 100 eggs, though 54 is considered the norm. The study was described as the first to show pythons are causing the decline of native mammals in the Everglades.

When researchers struck out to count animals along a main road that runs to the southernmost tip of the park, more than 99 percent of raccoons were gone, along with nearly the same percentage of opossums and about 88 percent of bobcats. Marsh and cottontail rabbits, as well as foxes, could not be found.

The Obama administration recently banned the import and interstate commerce of Burmese python, two species of African pythons, and the yellow anaconda. But under pressure from the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, trade of the world’s longest snake, the reticulated python, and the boa constrictor were allowed to continue.

The reptile trade is a $2 billion business in the United States, according to the Humane Society. About 11 million reptiles were kept as pets in 2005, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. More reptiles are imported here than anywhere else in the world.

“Pythons are wreaking havoc on one of America’s most beautiful, treasured and naturally bountiful ecosystems,” Marcia McNutt, director of the USGS, said in a statement. “The only hope to halt further python invasion . . . is swift, decisive and deliberate human action.”

But officials do not yet know what can be done to slow the migration of pythons to other areas in Florida, and north to Georgia and Louisiana.

“We need more research into methods to limit the population spread,” said Michael F. Dorcas, one of the authors of the study, Severe Mammal Declines Coincide with Proliferation of Invasive Burmese Pythons in Everglades National Park.

Researchers collected data through repeated night road surveys, traveling 39,000 miles for eight years ending in 2011, counting live animals and road kill. They compared the data with findings of similar surveys conducted in 1996 and 1997, according to a statement by the USGS.

Andrew Wyatt, president of the Reptile Keepers, which advocates on behalf of snake importers, dismissed the study.

“They play fast and loose with facts and make big jumps to conclusions,” Wyatt said. The authors contradict prior studies showing that mercury in the water has played a role in the deaths of small mammals, he said.

Wyatt also said pythons can only survive in southernmost Florida and that they would perish in extreme cold.

Dorcas, who participated in several studies of pythons and cold weather, said it’s not simple. Hundreds of adult pythons and hatchlings were captured and removed from the park months after a cold snap, he said.

Dorcas was also part of a study that removed 10 snakes from the Everglades to winter in South Carolina, where each died of exposure. But researchers noted that the snakes were far more tolerant of cold weather than they had thought.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicted that a new generations of Burmese pythons on the edge of their non-native range can adapt and “expand to colder climates.”