Latest update: 09/12/2010
Assange's lawyer says sexual allegations politically motivated
Julian Assange is behind bars in the remand wing of Wandsworth Jail in London. The founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks believes his detention, for questioning for sexual assault in Sweden, is politically motivated.
By FRANCE 24 (text)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spent his first night behind bars after he was refused bail over allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, which had issued a European Arrest Warrant for him.
The founder of the WikiLeaks website, which has so angered and embarrassed the US authorities, will stay on remand in the UK until a further hearing on December 14.
The alleged sexual offences took place when Assange was visiting Sweden in August of this year, following leaks of US military memos relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Assange was invited to talk at a conference being given by the Swedish Social Democratic Party.
His first alleged victim, identified as "Woman A," was one of the conference organisers.
In written testimony viewed by the British newspaper the Daily Mail, she told police she had consensual sex with Julian Assange, but accused him of not wearing a condom when she asked him to.
His second alleged victim, identified as "Woman W," admitted she had attended the conference to get a glimpse of Assange. She too said she had sex with him willingly. She also complained that Assange had sex with her without a condom.
Both women filed a complaint that was investigated by prosecutors and then dropped. Since then, the case has been reopened by a different prosecutor.
Not yet charged
Assange has not been formally charged with any offence in Sweden. Rather, he has been summoned by a prosecutor in Gothenburg to answer questions.
But he fears that the allegations, which he strenuously denies, are a pretext to extradite him to the USA.
"It has nothing to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA," Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer for the two claimants, said on Wednesday.
Asked how likely it was that charges would be levelled at Assange, the lawyer said it was “more than 50/50.”
Mark Stephens, Assange's UK lawyer, told BBC Television that the reopening of the case against his client was politically motivated.
Interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Stephens said: “It is quite bizarre. The chief prosecutor in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to find back in September.
“And then a few weeks later, after the intervention of a Swedish politician, a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case which has resulted in these warrants and the Interpol Notice being put out.
“It does seem to be a political stunt,” Stephens said.