“There is a public ‘Red Notice’ on behalf of Sweden,” a spokeswoman told AFP, confirming that Interpol had posted Sweden’s request for assistance in tracking down the 39-year-old Australian on its website.
Sweden’s International Public Prosecution Office in Gothenburg issued an arrest warrant for the secretive activist on November 18, citing “probable cause of suspected rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.”
Assange, whose current location is unclear, contested the warrant in a Swedish appeals court, but his first bid to get it thrown out was rejected last week and he has lodged a second appeal.
In the meantime, he could face arrest and extradition to Sweden from anywhere in the world where local authorities decide to act on the warrant.
Some of Assange’s supporters have accused unnamed forces of framing him for the alleged sexual assaults on two Swedish women in Sweden in August, in order to undermine his campaign to publicise secret documents.
The elusive activist’s lawyers have not taken this tack, however, arguing instead that the prosecutor should not need to arrest him simply to question him, as he had proposed several dates and times for questioning.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks’ crusade has continued, with this week’s dump of the first of around a quarter of a million secret US State Department cables online and a barrage of leaks in world newspapers.
The release of the documents, mainly internal US diplomatic telegrammes, has proved highly embarrassing for the United States and some of its allies, with surprise revelations and indiscreet asides about world events.
Assange gave an interview to Time magazine on Tuesday from an undisclosed location through the Skype Internet phone service. Although Australian, he is thought to live mainly in Europe, and has been seen recently in Britain.
Many countries around the world, including the United States, have denounced the theft and exposure of the cables as a criminal act that undermines global stability and diplomatic practice.
US prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the leaks but one country — leftist Ecuador — briefly appeared to offer Assange asylum, before withdrawing the offer a day after it was made.