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Swedish prosecutor seeks arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

By Reuters
Thursday, November 18, 2010 10:18 EDT
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A Swedish prosecutor on Thursday requested that Julian Assange, the founder of whistle blowing website WikiLeaks, be detained over rape allegations, a charge he strongly denies.

The prosecutor’s office began an investigation into allegations of rape against Assange, an Australian citizen, in September.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement it had now decided to seek to detain Assange on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. A court hearing on the request was due at 1300 GMT.

“The reason for my request is that we need to interrogate him. So far, we have not been able to meet him to carry out the interrogations,” said Marianne Ny, leading the case for the Prosecution Authority.

If the request is granted, authorities could issue an international arrest warrant for Assange, said Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander.

Assange has called the allegations baseless and criticized what he has called a legal circus in Sweden, where he had been seeking to build a base in order to benefit from its strict journalist protection laws.

He has said that he had been warned by Australian intelligence before the charges were brought that he could face a campaign to discredit him.

WikiLeaks has angered the Pentagon with its releases of documents related to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The latest, in October, was of nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war, which Assange has said showed 15,000 more Iraqi civilian deaths than thought.

On November 4, Assange said he may seek political asylum in Switzerland.

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Reuters
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