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Julian Assange: Arrest Looks Imminent

4 years ago
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LONDON -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange -- who sent the world into a tailspin last week when his organization dumped some 250,000 U.S. secret diplomatic cables -- is without question the world's most wanted man. But according to several British news outlets, Assange's arrest is imminent, possibly as early as Monday.

Speculation that the end was in sight began after it emerged late Friday that Swedish prosecutors had filed a fresh request to British police to extradite the WikiLeaks founder. In November, Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Assange, who was accused of committing sex crimes there in August. But a procedural error in the original European arrest warrant sent by Swedish prosecutors to Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency, or Soca, have prevented any move to apprehend the Australian.

For the past several months, Assange has widely believed to have been in hiding somewhere in the United Kingdom. The public perception has been one of a man hunt.

But according to his U.K.-based lawyer, Mark Stephens, Scotland Yard has actually had precise knowledge of Assange's whereabouts since he arrived in this country in October. Indeed, Stephens maintains, they even have a phone number should they wish to reach him.

"I feel like I am sitting in the middle of a surreal Swedish fairytale," Stephens said. "The trolls keep threatening to come on and keep making noises off stage. But at the moment, no appearance from them."

Apparently, the delay in Assange's apprehension stems from the fact that the original warrant listed the maximum penalty only for the most serious charge (in this case, rape), rather than for all of the charges (which include sexual molestation and unlawful coercion). Assuming the new warrant fulfills the letter of the law, Soca will then be legally obliged to authorize the police to arrest Julian Assange.

Once the arrest is made, Assange will be taken before an extradition hearing at Westminster magistrates' court. If he refuses to be extradited, a judge will preside over an extradition hearing and will rule on whether he should be sent to Sweden or discharged.

Stephens -- who has denounced the Swedish arrest warrant as a "political stunt" -- plans to fight extradition should Assange be arrested. On a widely viewed British television program on Sunday, Stephens said Sweden's chief prosecutor had told Assange in September that the sexual charges against him by two women in Sweden were unsubstantiated. But the investigation was subsequently revived following the intervention of a Swedish politician.

Now, amid the furor following last week's secret cables dump, there is added pressure for Assange's arrest (and potential extradition) from the United States. Some prominent American politicians have even called for him to be put to death.

On Friday, Assange took to the pages of the British daily, The Guardian, to defend the actions of his organization in a Q and A with the newspapers' readers. On Saturday, he lashed out at the Australian government for not defending him against attacks by the United States, saying he felt personally "betrayed" by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

As Assange's arrest looms, WikiLeaks has struggled to keep its website accessible after such service providers as Amazon dropped contracts. On Friday, a U.S.-based domain name provider shut down WikiLeaks (though it later re-emerged on both Swiss and German domains.) And on Saturday, the online payment service provider PayPal cut off its account used to collect donations, saying the website was engaged in illegal activity.

But Assange remains combative. Several British newspapers on Sunday reported Assange as warning that he has already distributed an encrypted "poison pill" to fellow hackers of damaging secrets, thought to include details on BP and Guantanamo Bay. He believes that this file is his "insurance" in case he is killed, arrested or WikiLeaks is removed permanently from the Internet.

Get ready, folks. This guy ain't going down without a fight.

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I see it like this. Assange is just the distributor. The real leaker is someone in our own govt who is passing the info on to Assange.

December 06 2010 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The guy threatens to release more senitive material if his site is shut down or he is arrested. Sounds like blackmail to me. Of course everyone realizes that he will release them at some future date anyway. That's the way blackmailers work. They kill the person who they kidnapped and can identify them with or without the ransome being paid. This kid, for all his smarts is kinda stupid. If this country gives in to him, then we deserve all that happens to us.

December 06 2010 at 1:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Don't arrest him yet. I want to see the Bank America stuff first. That would be worth all the crap he's put the USA through.

December 06 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

It's treason, pure and simple. Assange and the US Army PFC who leaked the data to him cannot 'fry' soon enough, or with too much publicity. Their greatest possible restitution for the severe damage done can only be to serve as examples of what happens to such scum -- prosecute and execute -- rapidly!

December 06 2010 at 11:32 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alex's comment

Looks like someone is still leaking to Assange, and that PFC is likely just the scapegoat. That's how Washington operates. This info is likely coming from someone mjuch higher at the Pentagon or White House. maybe that's why Rahm is running away to Chicago...?

December 06 2010 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

......engaged in stolen property, engaged in espionage against the US, oh yes, he's a technological terrorist engaged to embarrass the United States. Why won't he do it against Russia, Iran or China they would kill him outright. His friends said last night they have people all over the world working on this and even if Assange gets stopped they will carry on. 251,000 documents and only a few have been released. NY Times and Washington Post are complicit sue their butts.

December 06 2010 at 11:02 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dc walker's comment

That's exactly why they need to make an example out of him. People need to be heavily discouraged from doing this (i.e., seeing how Assange has been put to death as a result of his security leaks). If others want to continue his "work" then they should be prepared to reap the consequences.

December 06 2010 at 1:39 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Hank, if we are going to use AOL posters as a measure of people's ability and/or willingness to carefully weigh and assess the veracity, legality and impact of Assange's leaks, we have been shown that most people lack the wit or the will to enagage in independant enquiry.

December 06 2010 at 9:19 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Some posters believe that Assange is an advoctae of openness, honesty, truth, light and justice for all. He presently has an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest on sexual asaault charges. When he surrenders himself and submits himself to due process in an open and fair trial on those charges we will have a better barometer of his moral character. As to the super-secret, Goldfingeresque information treasure trove secreted around the globe with release keys to be issued in Cracker Jack boxes to a worthy 100,000 of his closst friends and trusted confidants, let him release them all today. He has already proven himself to be an exortionist simply by making the threat. If we all have a right to know what is in the documents why isn't he releasing them? The reality is that, once his star begins to fade and he is no longer the subject of international acclaim, adoration and, amongst the sane, revulsion, he will dump the documents to reignite the flame. He has made a choice now let him follow through and accept the consequences.

December 06 2010 at 9:14 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Assange is not the first to possess secrets leaked by government agencies about dirty tricks and derogatory remarks. Most people have the good sense to weigh the impact and legality of these with the benefits and make a decision. He has somehow absolved himself of that responsibility. He is a rank opportunist and is using this intelligence for his own purposes. Now he has added blackmail to the list. If it can be proved that anyone has died because of his unauthorized leak of classified material, he should be tried for accessory to murder.

December 06 2010 at 8:53 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Hank's comment

Hank, you're right. This guy is no better than that flaky Florida preacher and his flagrant disregard for the lives that would be lost for his "15 minutes of fame". I wonder if Assange has ever hacked Australia's secret documents. In any case I don't blame them at all for not "defending" him. It shows good sense on their part for not getting dragged down to Assange's low level.

December 06 2010 at 9:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who else would be tried? Everyone in congress? I think too many people are missing the point which is: The US waged an illegal war. If you don't want to get caught, don't do the crime. It's only natural that the truth comes out. Now you want to kill the messenger?

December 07 2010 at 11:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If we have the same people looking for him that are looking for Osama Bin Laden, Assange will be safe for about ten years. He can send us videos and update his web sites but hide so well that our super trained spies can't find him. We are probably afraid that the information he has will reveal why.

December 06 2010 at 3:30 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Very eloquent post cr4care. I'd rather digest my international news from WikiLeaks instead of the major news networks which spew lies and nonesense. Governments wish to keep the public ignorant. Assange has become their enemy for informing the public about the truth. If there's a time to stand up against big government, it's now. Thank you to all the whistleblowers.

December 06 2010 at 3:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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