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Charges against Assange 'political': lawyers

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Charges against Assange 'political': lawyers
08:16 CET+01:00
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's lawyers spoke out on Wednesday, insisting that the accusations of rape and molestation made against him by Swedish prosecutors are "politically motivated."

The charges against Assange stem from a visit that the nomadic former computer hacker made to Sweden to give a seminar in August.

When Assange appeared before a London court following his arrest on Tuesday, Gemma Lindfield, representing the Swedish authorities, told the judge that Assange was wanted in connection with four allegations made by two women.

She told the court the first complainant, identified only as Miss A, said she was victim of "unlawful coercion" on the night of August 14th this year in Stockholm.

The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

The second charge alleged Assange "sexually molested" Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her "express wish" one should be used.

The third charge claimed Assange "deliberately molested" Miss A on August 18th "in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity."

The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on August 17th without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.

The judge refused the 39-year-old Australian bail and remanded him in custody. He must now wait until December 14th before he appears in court again.

The European Arrest Warrant issued by the Swedish authorities was received by officers at London police's extradition unit on Monday night.

An earlier warrant, issued last month, was not valid as officials had failed to fill in the form properly.

The lawyer for the two alleged victims strongly refuted the claim that the accusations were politically motivated because WikiLeaks has angered governments worldwide by releasing thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

Lawyer Claes Borgström told reporters in Stockholm the case "has nothing to do with WikiLeaks", adding: "I would like Julian Assange to come forward and say that himself."

It emerged Wednesday that high-profile human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson will represent Assange in his fight against extradition from Britain to Sweden.

Robertson, a barrister who has dual British and Australian nationality, has appeared in some of the highest-profile freedom of speech trials in British history.

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