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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange facing arrest over 'rape' claim

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange facing arrest over 'rape' claim
08-21-2010, 01:32 PM,
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange facing arrest over 'rape' claim
Quote:The warrant was issued by prosecutors in Sweden, where the Australian-born internet activist was on a visit last week.

"We can confirm that he's wanted. He was charged last night - the allegation is suspected rape," said Karin Rosander, director of communications at the national prosecutor's office.

"One is rape and one is molestation," she said, without giving details. During his visit to Sweden, Assange held a press conference where he announced that his whistleblower website was intending to publish further secret military documents on the war in Afghanistan.

The website has already published thousands of pages of intelligence information, infuriating the US government, which claims the disclosures may have compromised military security and put informants' lives in danger.

Supporters of Mr Assange believe he has been the victim of a smear campaign to discredit him. The Wikileaks Twitter page dismissed the assault claims, which first appeared in Sweden's Expressen newspaper, as "dirty tricks".

It said: "Expressen is a tabloid; No one here has been contacted by Swedish police. Needless to say this will prove hugely distracting."

Mr Assange, whose current whereabouts are unknown, also sent an email to the Swedish daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, saying that he had not yet been contacted by police.

"Why these accusations are popping up right now is an interesting question. I have not been contacted by police. These allegations are false," he said.

Mr Assange has close ties with Sweden, where WikiLeaks has said it keeps some of its servers. The purpose of his visit there was also to apply for a publishing certificate to make sure the website, which has servers in Sweden, can take full advantage of Swedish laws protecting whistle-blowers.

He also spoke at a seminar hosted by the Christian faction of the opposition Social Democratic party and announced he would write bimonthly columns for a left-wing Swedish newspaper.

US officials have called the Wikileaks disclosures, including more than 70,000 documents detailing the war in Afghanistan, as one of the biggest security breaches in American military history.

The Pentagon said this month it would be the "height of irresponsibility" if WikiLeaks went through with a new threat to publish outstanding documents it had on the Afghan war.

It wants the site to expunge all classified material from the Internet and return the material it had to the US government.

News of the warrant came as the Wall Street Journal reported that Pentagon lawyers have concluded that Wikileaks acted illegally in disclosing the military documents, and are now considering possible criminal charges.

Several officials told the newspaper that the Defence and Justice departments were now exploring legal options for prosecuting Mr Assange and others involved on grounds that they encouraged the theft of government property.

Prosecuting Wikileaks would be a complex procedure, however, and expose the Obama administration to accusations of trying to stifle legitimate journalism.
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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange facing arrest over 'rape' claim - TriWooOx - 08-21-2010, 01:32 PM

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