(photo credit: Associated Press)
STOCKHOLM — Swedish prosecutors defended their handling of a rape allegation against the founder of WikiLeaks, saying Sunday that they had made no mistakes in issuing an arrest warrant and withdrawing it less than a day later.
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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said the short-lived warrant had damaged his group nonetheless.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said an "on-call" prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Assange late Friday only to see it revoked the next day by a higher-ranked prosecutor, who found no grounds to suspect him of rape.
"The prosecutor who took over the case yesterday had more information,
and that is why she made a different assessment than the on-call
prosecutor," said Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the authority.
She declined to specify what the new material was, but said there was
"absolutely nothing" that suggested errors had been made by either
Assange was in Sweden last week seeking legal protection for the webiste, which angered the Obama administration by publishing thousands of leaked documents
about US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
WikiLeaks is preparing to release of a fresh batch of classified US
documents from the Afghan war, despite warnings from the Pentagon that
they could endanger American soldiers and their Afghan helpers.
Assange called the allegations "without basis" in a Twitter posting and
questioned the motives behind them in an interview with a Swedish
The tabloid Aftonbladet quoted Assange as saying the allegations had
caused damage even though the rape suspicion was dropped, because
WikiLeaks' "enemies" could use them to discredit the site.
"I don't know who's behind this but we have been warned that for example
the Pentagon plans to use dirty tricks to spoil things for us," he said
in comments translated to Swedish. "I have also been warned about sex
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell on Sunday called Assange's charges "absurd."