Published: Dec 7, 2010 13:35 Updated: Dec 7, 2010 14:21
LONDON: Police say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has surrendered to British police as part of a Swedish sex-crimes investigation, the latest blow to the secret-spilling website that faces legal, financial and security challenges.
London’s Metropolitan Police said Assange was arrested on a European warrant issued by Sweden over allegations of sex crimes including rape.
Police said Assange, at the center of a row over the release of secret US diplomatic cables, had been arrested at about 9.30 a.m. (0930 GMT) on Tuesday by appointment at a London police station under a European Arrest Warrant.
“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,” police said in a statement.
Assange has been hiding out at an undisclosed location in Britain since WikiLeaks began publishing hundreds of US diplomatic cables on the Internet last week.
The spokesman for WikiLeaks said the arrest is an attack on media freedom and that it won’t prevent the organization from spilling secrets on the web.
Kristinn Hrafnsson declined Tuesday to comment on Assange’s state of mind prior to the arrest but confirmed he has been in touch with the 39-year-old Australian over the past 24 hours. He says the arrest will not derail the release of more secret documents.
The organization’s room for maneuver is narrowing by the day. It has been battered by web attacks, cut off by Internet service providers and is the subject of a criminal investigation in the United States, where officials say the release jeopardized national security and diplomatic efforts around the world.
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