LONDON –, DEC 07 - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to London police on Tuesday as part of a Swedish sex-crimes investigation, the latest blow to an organization that faces legal, financial and technological challenges after releasing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
Assange was due at Westminster Magistrate's Court later Tuesday. If he challenges his extradition to Sweden, he will likely be remanded into custody or released on bail until another judge rules on whether to extradite him, a spokeswoman for the extradition department said on customary condition of anonymity.
Since beginning to release the cables last week, WikiLeaks has seen its bank accounts canceled, its web sites attacked and the U.S. government launch a criminal investigation, saying the group has jeopardized national security and diplomatic efforts around the world. It has also seen supporters come to its aid by setting up over 500 mirror sites around the world.
The legal troubles for Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, stem from allegations leveled against him by two women he met while in Sweden over the summer. Assange is accused of rape and sexual molestation in one case and of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in another.
Assange denies the allegations, which his British attorney Mark Stephens says stem from a "dispute over consensual but unprotected sex." Assange and Stephens have suggested that the prosecution is being manipulated for political reasons.
A spokesman for WikiLeaks called Assange's arrest an attack on media freedom and said it won't prevent the organization from releasing more secret documents.
"This will not change our operation," Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Associated Press.
Posted on: 2010-12-07 04:27
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