Swedish authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on suspicion of molestation and rape. The warrant was issued late yesterday, said a spokeswoman at Sweden's prosecutors' office in Stockholm.
She said Assange should contact the Swedish police for questioning about the accusations of molestation and rape in two separate cases "so that he can be confronted with the suspicions". Assange has denied the charges, which were first reported by the Swedish tabloid Expressen, on Wikileaks' Twitter account.
He implied that they were linked to the release by the whistleblowers' website of a huge cache of US military records about the Afghan war, which were published in collaboration with the Guardian and two other papers. Assange said: "The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing." Earlier postings on the Twitter account implied the accusations were part of a dirty tricks campaign against the Wikileaks founder, who has been strongly criticised by the Pentagon.
"Expressen is a tabloid; No one here has been contacted by Swedish police. Needless to say, this will prove hugely distracting. "We were warned to expect 'dirty tricks'. Now we have the first one." Last month Wikileaks released around 77,000 secret US military documents on the war in Afghanistan.
US authorities criticised the leak, saying it could put the lives of coalition soldiers and Afghan informants at risk. Assange has said that Wikileaks is intending to release a further 15,000 documents in the coming weeks - a pledge condemned by the Pentagon, which has demanded the deletion of the files from the website.
Assange, an Australian citizen, was in Sweden last week to apply for a publishing certificate to make sure the website, which has servers in Sweden, can take full advantage of Swedish laws protecting whistleblowers. He also gave a talk about his work and defended the decision by Wikileaks to publish the Afghan war logs.
Oy vey... Let's see if this is just a post by the right-wing tabloid before engaging in any spec-u-lation /bush.