Swedish court issued an arrest warrant today for Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks site, on the charge of rape.
WikiLeaks, founded in 2006 by Assange and others, is an international organization and website that publishes content otherwise unavailable to the public, such as secret or confidential government documents. In the U.S., it is famous for having been the source of the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary; major leaks that have made international headlines and embarrassed the U.S. government to the point where the Obama administration has demanded that WikiLeaks publish no further secret American documents.
Karin Rosander, a spokesperson for the Swedish prosecutor’s office announced that the courts had issued two arrest warrants, one for Europe and the other for Interpol, for the Wikileaks founder on months-old charges of “rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.” The next step would be getting an international warrant for Assange.
Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, claims that the charges are “false and without basis.”
The charges arose in August this year, after two female WikiLeaks volunteers (its primary workforce) claimed that that they entered into consensual sex with Assange that developed into non-consensual sex after condoms were broken or removed, and Assange refused to stop despite their appeals.
It’s been nearly 13 weeks since the prosecutor’s office said it wanted to question Assange, and today’s statement heavily implies that that has yet to happen. Just before the warrants became public, director of the Stockholm prosecutor’s office Marianne Ny claimed that they had been “unable to interrogate” Assange at any time since the charges were brought up.
A statement by Stephens claims that this is no fault of Assange’s. “Before leaving Sweden, Mr. Assange asked to be interviewed by the prosecution on several occasions in relation to the allegations, staying over a month in Stockholm, at considerable expense and despite many engagements elsewhere, in order to clear his name. Eventually the prosecution told his Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig that he was free to leave the country, without interview, which he did.”
Stephens also says that even though the charges are just being brought now, the 13 weeks of what he calls “flawed” investigation has caused perhaps irreparable harm to Assange’s reputation, and that “one in 10 Internet references to the word ‘rape’ also include his name.”
Source: The New York Times