Wikileaks Julian Assange.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
LONDON— Julian Assange's lawyer was arranging to deliver the WikiLeaks founder to British police for questioning in a sex-crimes investigation of the man who has angered Washington by spilling thousands of government secrets on the Internet.
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Lawyer Mark Stephens told reporters in London that the Metropolitan Police had called him to say they had received an arrest warrant from Sweden for Assange. Assange has been staying at an undisclosed location in Britain.
"We are in the process of making arrangements to meet with police by consent," Stephens said Monday, declining to say when Assange's interview with police would take place.
Scotland Yard refused to comment.
The 39-year-old Australian is wanted on suspicion of rape, sexual
molestation and unlawful coercion in Sweden, and the case could lead to
his extradition. Interpol placed Assange on its most-wanted list on Nov.
30 after Sweden issued an arrest warrant. Last week, Sweden's highest
court upheld the detention order.
Assange has denied the accusations, which Stephens has said stem from a
"dispute over consensual but unprotected sex." The lawyer has said the
Swedish investigation has turned into a "political stunt."
The pressure on WikiLeaks mounted from other quarters Monday: Swiss
authorities closed Assange's bank account, depriving him of a key
fundraising tool. And WikiLeaks struggled to stay online despite more
hacker attacks and resistance from world governments, receiving help
from computer-savvy advocates who have set up hundreds of "mirrors" — or
carbon-copy websites — around the world.
In one of its most sensitive disclosures yet, WikiLeaks released on
Sunday a secret 2009 diplomatic cable listing sites around the world
that the U.S. considers critical to its security. The locations include
undersea communications lines, mines, food suppliers, manufacturers of
weapons components, and vaccine factories.
Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan called the disclosure damaging and
said it gives valuable information to the nation's enemies.
"This is one of many reasons why we believe WikiLeaks' actions are irresponsible and dangerous," Lapan said.