WikiLeaks founder: Timing of bogus rape charge ‘deeply disturbing’
The founder of the controversial whistleblower website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is wanted in Sweden where he has been accused of rape, the prosecutor’s office said Saturday.
“Julian Assange is wanted for two different issues, one of them is that he’s suspected of rape in Sweden,” the director of communications Karin Rosander told AFP.
Early Saturday morning, Assange posted the following denial on the WikiLeaks Twitter account.
Julian Assange: the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.
Earlier, WikiLeaks tweeted,
We were warned to expect “dirty tricks”. Now we have the first one: http://bit.ly/bv5ku9
Another tweet added, “Expressen is a tabloid; No one here has been contacted by Swedish police. Needless to say this will prove hugely distracting.”
Karin Rosander was unable to say what the other accusation was or whether the search warrant was international.
“He should get in contact with police so that he can be confronted with the suspicions,” Rosander told The Associated Press.
She said a prosecutor in Stockholm issued the arrest warrant on Friday. The move means police are ordered to seek his arrest as part of an investigation but doesn’t necessarily mean that criminal charges will be filed.
“The next step is that we interrogate him,” Rosander said. “Then we’ll see what happens.”
According to the Swedish daily Expressen, the 39-year-old Australian is also wanted for assaulting a woman.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, a colleague of Assange’s who spoke to AFP from Iceland, said that the charges against him were false.
“He didn’t know of the charges until he read them in the right wing tabloid Expressen this morning”, Hrafnsson said. “There are powerful organisations who want to do harm to WikiLeaks.”
Hrafnsson said Assange was still in Sweden and would “go to the police very quickly.”
Last week Assange announced at a press conference in Stockholm that the whistleblower website was set to publish a final batch of 15,000 secret documents on the war in Afghanistan in “a couple of weeks.”
(with additional reporting by RAW STORY)