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WikiLeaks founder Assange wanted in Sweden for rape

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-08-21

Julian Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, has been accused of rape and molestation after a visit to Sweden last week. The website said the accusations were part of a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign.

Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, faces arrest in Sweden for rape, Swedish authorities said on Saturday.

“The arrest refers to two separate events, one complaint of molestation and one complaint of rape,” the prosecutor’s office said in a brief statement. “The person is arrested in absentia, as there is a risk that he could obstruct the investigation.”

The accusations come a week after Assange’s visit to Sweden, where he was seeking a publishing certificate for his website to take advantage of Swedish laws that protect whistle-blowers.

He also spoke at a seminar hosted by the Christian faction of the opposition Social Democratic party, announcing that he would write bi-monthly columns for a left-wing Swedish newspaper.

Swedish tabloid Expressen, which first broke the story Saturday morning, reported that the 39-year-old Australian allegedly met one of the women last weekend in the Swedish capital of Stockholm and the second victim in the city of Enköping, in central Sweden, on Tuesday.

Prosecutors quoted by Expressen said Swedish police had tried to contact the WikiLeaks founder but there had been no response.

‘Dirty Tricks’

WikiLeaks initially rejected Expressen’s report earlier Saturday.

“Expressen is a tabloid; No one here has been contacted by Swedish police. Needless to say this will prove hugely distracting,” WikiLeaks wrote on it’s Twitter page.

“We were warned to expect 'dirty tricks'. Now we have the first one,” WikiLeaks said referring to the article.

However, after Swedish authorities had confirmed the charges, Assange posted a comment on Twitter. “The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing,” he said.

WikiLeaks has been strongly criticised by the US government after it published thousands of classified documents relating to operations in Afghanistan. The website also published a video showing a US helicopter gunship apparently killing innocent civilians in Iraq in 2007.

Date created : 2010-08-21

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