Update: Assange denied bail, remanded to British custody
Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange was arrested Tuesday morning by London Metropolitan police on a warrant out of Sweden.
The Guardian reports on a statement from Metropolitan police that “Assange, 39, was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 9.30 a.m.
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.”
One of the charges, which appears to be new, is that he had sex with a woman while she was sleeping.
Assange was denied bail and remanded into British custody until at least Dec. 14, according to reports from the scene.
Assange’s attorney says they plan to fight extradition to Sweden. A full extradition hearing is expected sometime in the next 21 days. If he is successfully taken to Sweden, the Guardian noted, he could also be legally vulnerable to extradition requests from other countries as well.
Assange has reportedly recorded a video statement, set to be published online later Tuesday.
A protest group, calling itself “Justice for Assange,” has already said it plans to gather outside the London police station on Tuesday afternoon to stage a “silent” protest. It is distributing a digital copy of a Julian Assange placard, asking participants to wear them over their faces.
Asked by reporters for his reaction to the arrest, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “that sounds like good news to me.”
More on this story as it develops… An earlier report follows…
The man behind the WikiLeaks website is expected to be arrested Tuesday on an Interpol warrant stemming from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.
According to the Guardian and the Telegraph, Julian Assange arranged to meet with British authorities after paperwork clearing his arrest was filed with Scotland Yard. He is expected to face a court hearing.
His lawyer has promised to fight extradition, claiming Assange could end up in US custody. The WikiLeaks chief has denied all wrongdoing.
Word of the arrangement came hours after Swiss bank PostFinance announced that it had frozen an account with €31,000 set aside for Assange’s legal defense.
James D. Catlin, a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia, wrote recently that Sweden’s justice system is destined to become “the laughingstock of the world” for investigating “rape” charges after two women complained that Assange had had sex with them without using a condom.
His principle accuser, Anna Ardin, was recently revealed to have ties with a Cuban anti-Castro group that receives money from the US Central Intelligence Agency. Assange himself had suggested that the allegation could be part of a smear campaign by the US Defense Department.
Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny has maintained that the investigation was not in any way politically motivated.
Assange has threatened to release a cache of devastating information if he is harmed.
US Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that his Justice Department was investigating whether it could prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing volumes of secret information stolen by one or more government employees.
A lone soldier, Pvt. Bradley Manning, stands accused of delivering leaks from Iraq, Afghanistan and the US State Department to the site. Authorities have not yet determined whether he worked alone or had help.
– With additional reporting by Daniel Tencer