News / USA

Wikileaks Founder Arrested in London

View of the Interpol "wanted" page for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange taken in Washington, 3 Dec 2010
View of the Interpol "wanted" page for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange taken in Washington, 3 Dec 2010

The founder of the website WikiLeaks, which has posted U.S. diplomatic cables and other government documents on the Internet has been arrested on a European arrest warrant in London. Julian Assange surrendered to London's Metropolitan police Tuesday morning in connection with a rape case in Sweden.

"He vehemently denies the allegations and as we have maintained the entire time and as demonstrated by his numerous voluntary offers for cooperation with Swedish prosecuting authorities, he is very keen to clear his name," said Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange's London lawyers.

WikiLeaks has angered the U.S. government and officials around the world by releasing classified American military documents and U.S. diplomatic cables.  Most recently,  the leaked cables allegedly revealed a list of international sites the United States regards as vital to its security, from satellite earth stations here in Britain to a cobalt mine in Congo.

U.S. companies associated with the WikiLeaks site have stopped hosting its website and accepting donations.  France has taken down its WikiLeaks site server after France's industry minister said his country could not host a site that "violates the secrets of diplomatic relations."

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman condemned the site.

Senator Joseph Lieberman (file photo)
Senator Joseph Lieberman (file photo)

"In my opinion what WikiLeaks has done amounts to espionage, in a most serious form," Lieberman said. "It's probably the single greatest act and the most terrible act of espionage against the United States in our history, because WikiLeaks used the massive power and openness of the Internet to disseminate stolen classified information around the world."

Assange is an Australian citizen and the country's attorney general says he is entitled to consular assistance and to return to Australia if he wishes. But Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the country is investigating whether a crime was committed in Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

"The foundation stone of it is an illegal act. Information was taken and that was illegal. So, let's not try and put any glosses on this," Gillard said. "It would not happen, information would not be on WikiLeaks if there had not been an illegal act undertaken."

Assange's supporters say the leaks are in the public interest.  A WikiLeaks spokesman says Assange's arrest will not prevent the organization from releasing more documents.



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