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WikiLeaks founder arrested in London

AFP/The Local · 7 Dec 2010, 14:57

Published: 07 Dec 2010 11:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Dec 2010 14:57 GMT+01:00

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The elusive 39-year-old Australian was due to appear in court later in the day after surrendering to detectives at a police station in London, setting up an extradition battle that he may have to fight from behind bars.

The United States said the arrest was "good news", but the whistleblowing website vowed to press ahead with its publication of thousands of US diplomatic cables despite his detention and other attempts to drive it offline.

Britain's Metropolitan Police said in a statement that officers from its extradition unit had arrested Assange "on behalf of the Swedish authorities on suspicion of rape."

"Julian Assange... was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 09:30hrs," it said, adding that he was due to appear at the City of Westminster Magistrates court later Tuesday.

"He is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010."

The former computer hacker, who last appeared in public in November, denies the Swedish allegations.

He says they stem from a dispute over consensual, unprotected sex with two women and that the accusations may be politically motivated.

And Sunday, Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens said the hunt for the WikiLeaks boss appeared political.

"I'm really rather worried by the political motivations that appear to be behind this," he told the British broadcaster.

WikiLeaks itself has been chased around the globe since it started to release the US diplomatic memos on November 28, hopping from server to server as various countries tried to close it down.

In one of the latest leaks, US cables released Tuesday showed that NATO had extended an existing defence plan covering Poland to include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after they lobbied for extra protection.

In a statement on Twitter, WikiLeaks said: "Today's actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won't affect our operations: we will release more cables tonight as normal."

A WikiLeaks journalist in London said staff were working as normal.

"In terms of what is happening, all is on schedule, all that stuff will keeping rolling out as ever. That's all I can tell you," James Ball, who has been analysing the cables for WikiLeaks, told AFP.

Assange's lawyers were not immediately available for comment, but they have said he will fight extradition to Sweden, saying they fear he could then be passed on to the United States.

One of his London-based lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, said he was "isolated and persecuted" and that death threats had been made on blogs against Assange's son.

"I think he will get a fair hearing here in Britain but I think our, his, prospects if he were ever to be returned to the US, which is a real threat, of a fair trial, is, in my view, nigh on impossible," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp ahead of his arrest.

A court in Stockholm issued an arrest warrant for Assange on November 18.

Assange could now be embroiled in the extradition process for weeks, or even months. Police sources said Assange was unlikely to be granted bail because of the risk he will try to flee the country.

A spokesman for the London-based Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) told AFP ahead of Assange's arrest that if he contests his extradition Tuesday there will be a further hearing at which he can argue his case.

Story continues below…

If a judge rules he should be sent to Sweden, he would have seven days to appeal and the case could then go all the way to Britain's Supreme Court. If there is no appeal he would be extradited within 10 days.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who was visiting Afghanistan on Tuesday, said when told about the arrest that it "sounds like good news."

WikiLeaks has already been expelled from the United States where politicians have called for Assange to be treated as a terrorist. Supporters of the website have

responded by setting up hundreds of "mirror" sites to keep it online.

Swiss authorities shut down one of Assange's bank accounts on Monday, while a major WikiLeaks donor is in trouble in Germany for not filing its accounts on time.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:06 December 7, 2010 by hilt_m
richard nixon pose, funny.
12:21 December 7, 2010 by wadani
I am wondering where is the freedom of expression in Sweden?

when Danish Cartoon released, all Swedish were defending the freedom of expression including Government? Now they are fighting the freedom of expression!!!

this is what it called "hypocrisy of society"
12:22 December 7, 2010 by KungsholmenGuy
Perhaps a minor point, but: I find it odd that Assange fears that extradition to Sweden will result in his transfer to the USA.

England is much more of a US ally, as they proved in the Iraq war, and the WMD coverup.

Why are Assange (and his lawyers) not more afraid of extradition from England to the USA?

Or is it simply a matter that by fighting extradition, he gets to live a normal life for many more months, and/or that he will obviously avoid any jail time in Sweden if he successfully avoids extradition to Sweden?.
12:44 December 7, 2010 by Luke R D
....and so injustice prevails
12:49 December 7, 2010 by Strongbow
#3: Sweden has a warrant. US doesn't. It would be very bad politics to ignore the treaties with Interpol/Europol, and perhaps also the human rights.
12:54 December 7, 2010 by mojofat

Assange is arrested on a swedish rape arrest warrant, not because of exercising his right to free speech...and by that, I assume you mean his rights as an australian citizen.

Secondly, free speech doesn't cover theft of private information. If it did, anyone hacking into a bank and stealing account numbers could claim freedom of speech.
13:18 December 7, 2010 by Makaveli
@Mojofat. Thanks for educating Mr. Wadani. He clearly needs some education and clarification on the difference between freedom of speech and a crazy stunt man (Lassange) who goes around stealing government secrete files and publishing them. This guy has clearly gone too far. This is not what Journalism is all about.
13:18 December 7, 2010 by weddells
mojofat. Are you serious? Is a journalist who receives information from a whistle blower a thief? He DID NOT STEAL anything. He published it. The Marine who released it, if anyone, should be held accountable.

Why has this rape case been dropped then reopened, delayed, and the prosecutor avoiding due process? He was allowed to leave Sweden after the case was dropped by another prosecutor for lack of evidence. Then the leaks happened and WOW - case REOPENED.. Maybe a top-level phone call?

Free Speech does allow for information that may be distasteful to you to be PUBLISHED. You may not agree.

If you this case is handled properly, and he is convicted or not on its merits then fine. If he is extradited to the US then the once great Independent state of Sweden has just become nothing more than a US state, and lap dog.

Does Sweden agree with comments such as Sarah Palins' encouragement to assisinate Julian? Should he be killed prior to any conviction? IS that the way you do things in Sweden.
13:20 December 7, 2010 by dobermann
To KungsholmenGuy

Yes it would be even easier for extradition from uk to usa than from sweden to usa, but the point is, that there are no charges against Assange from usa side, but I think there going to be soon, because nowadays it's very easy to call anybody a terrorist and then he can be trated as a very dangerous person. For example here in uk, policeman can't search you without a reason, but if policeman thinks, that you are terrorist, then he/she can search you without any explanations.
13:20 December 7, 2010 by N0DE
Next time if someone wants to block freedom of speech, just do one thing. Blame 'offender' off another crime, put him in jail and never directly point about his actual crime.

Come-on, get a life. Double standards, aren't they? Accept that Swedes are puppets of US . What US doesn't want to do , it asks Swedes to do that. Such as accepting immigrants after US destroys a country( Afghani + iraqi immigrants). Now, putting Assange in jail, on not wearing a condom. :D
13:21 December 7, 2010 by weddells
Makaveli - I assume by education you mean ignorance to the facts. Steal? What did he steal. When did he steal anything. He stole nothing. He runs a web site which contains an UPLOAD button. WOW. Thanks for showing us the education level of Sweds.
13:22 December 7, 2010 by N0DE
@Makaveli : get your facts right, Assange published the documents,. These were stolen by another US citizen (of US Army).

Funny, US worries so much about 'hypothetical' theft of nuclear weapons from other countries while they cannot even protect their own data. Their own citizens are criminals
13:24 December 7, 2010 by weddells
Yes N0DE.

Only 3 million people knew.

And Assange published them. Shame Shame
13:43 December 7, 2010 by TheOriginalBlackMan
I'll wait for the trial to begin before I make any assumptions. (eating popcorn^'^'^)
14:19 December 7, 2010 by Adriano
Whatever happens to Assange it still is impossible to burry or hide the truth. Sooner or later it will come out. Is this not the foundation of democracy? Wiki will still continue.
14:19 December 7, 2010 by absolut
This case has very familiar elements of a previous high profile case in Sweden in 1993 where a successful celebrity in the music industry called Billy Butt was accused of 9 counts of rape. Many of the girls who had accused him then now affirm his innocence. Many believe that they/the establishment wanted to nail him because he was so successful and wasn't "lagom" about it and showed off, which is a crime in Sweden, according to the law of Jante...

You can read more about it here http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Butt
14:21 December 7, 2010 by bamse_in_the_rye
To KungsholmenGuy

Good point but.........

to the casual observer it would appear that the Swedish judicial system is under huge pressure from the USA - hence the US's attempts to rewrite Swedish copyright law, the Piratebay prosecution, and now this. If the Swedish Judicial system can convict the Piratebay guys on the rubbish put before Swedish courts then Julian Assange doesn't stand a chance in Sweden. It is much easier to convict in Sweden than in the UK. Why? In the UK you are judged by 12 of your peers, other people from your society. In Sweden you are judged by a single (maybe 3 judges). I ask you one question; is it easier to bribe a single judge or 12 unkown members of your society?
14:36 December 7, 2010 by Chuy
weddells...I understand your point of view but since he published the document he could be charged with being an accessory after the fact. There is still some accountability even if he didn't actually steal the documents.
14:39 December 7, 2010 by casinoed
Look on the bright side Jules, at least here in Sweden it will be a lot harder to follow the ass kicking your boys are gonna get in the Ashes.

And for using your fingers as speech marks, we have all the evidence we need. Guilty as charged.

Take him down please
14:58 December 7, 2010 by eppie
Yeah let him go to jail. We (the stupid and ignorant public) just want that stolen information is secretly sold to the russians or chinese without us knowing about it......at least when we don't know we can still sleep at night.
15:26 December 7, 2010 by EP
And the two women in Sweden ... both uber-feminists. This stinks of something more:

15:59 December 7, 2010 by youarejoking
To expose crime is not a crime , its all about the money

as financial competitors , US , EU , China , Russia .everyone is struggeling to maintain controll or change things for the better

War is great business , diplomats are one of the tools you need

in order to get the right info, and also to affect directly .

What Assange actually is doing remains to see , there are some questions unanswered , it seems like he is protecting some information from getting out , by filtering all documents

Why and Who is he protecting
14:06 December 9, 2010 by actuary
It was okay for the Luxemburg bank employee to steal details of the bank's clients and sell them to interested parties eg. Germany, but not okay for Assange to put leaks online. Government agencies can do no wrong it seems,but individuals are persecuted.
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