London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, wanted in Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, may only be guilty of "bad sexual etiquette" and that the case has "all the hallmarks of a setup", a British MP has said.
George Galloway said if a woman fell asleep after consensual sex, a man was entitled to do it again.
Galloway, of the Respect party, was, however, criticised by his own party leader, The Sun reported.
Respect party chief Salma Yaqoob termed his comments "disappointing and wrong".
"Let me be clear. Rape occurs when a woman has not consented to sex," she said.
Galloway later issued a clarification but refused to apologise.
"Julian Assange, let's be clear, has always denied the allegations. And this has all the hallmarks of a setup," Galloway said.
"What occurred is not rape as most people understand it. And it's important to note that the two women involved did not initially claim it," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Assange is staying at the Ecuador embassy in London, avoiding extradition to Sweden.
Galloway said Assange has repeatedly made it clear that he was prepared to return to Sweden to face questioning if he received guarantees that he would not be extradited to the US to face charges over the leak of US diplomatic cables.
"It is not denied that Assange had consensual sex" with the two women in August 2010.
Galloway said one of the women "even hosted a party for him (Assange) the following evening" after having sex.
He said the women went to the police, not to allege rape, but to see if it was possible to force Assange to have an HIV test. An arrest warrant was issued and then withdrawn, with a prosecutor saying he does not think there was reason to suspect Assange committed rape, the British MP said.
Even if the complaints made against Assange by the two women in Sweden were "100 percent true", they still could not be considered rape.
"They don't constitute rape," Galloway said. "At least not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it."
"Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you're already in the sex game with them."
"It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said: 'Do you mind if I do it again?' It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape, or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning," he said.
First Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012, 00:21