Julian Assange arrested, in custody until hearing
Julian Assange, founder of controversial and news-making WikiLeaks website was arrested in London Tuesday and ordered to remain in custody until next week’s hearing on Dec. 14 on his possible extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women back in August 2010. His sex-related crimes include one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape. He turned himself in to the police, just a few hours after Britain received a formal warrant for his arrest from Swedish authorities. Assange denies any wrongdoing and says he will fight any attempts to extradite him.
According to an article on the LA Times website, “Sweden has asked that Assange be extradited so that it can investigate allegations by two women who had sexual encounters with him in that country earlier this year. Swedish prosecutors say the encounters may have involved ‘unlawful coercion’ and even rape, but Assange has insisted that the liaisons were consensual.”
WikiLeaks has said that they will continue to release a secret cache of U.S. State Department diplomatic embassy cables despite the founder’s arrest. “WikiLeaks is operational. We are continuing on the same track as laid out before. Any development with regards to Julian Assange will not change the plans we have with regards to the releases today and in the coming days,” said WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson.
At next week’s court hearing, Assange’s lawyers are expected to ask for him to be released on bail while he fights the attempt to extradite him. The legal battle could take up to several months.