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WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested, Denied Bail in U.K.

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LONDON -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, arrested Tuesday morning in London on sex charges, was denied bail and said he will fight extradition to Sweden during a court proceeding this afternoon. The 39-year-old Australian was taken into custody when he arrived at a central London police station by appointment.

Judge Howard Riddle said he had "substantial grounds" to believe Assange wouldn't turn up for subsequent proceedings, and ordered him into custody ahead of another court session on Dec. 14.

The judge asked Assange if he understood that he could consent to be extradited to Sweden. Assange replied that he did not consent. If Assange loses his fight against extradition at the Dec. 14 hearing, he could be returned to Sweden within 10 days. However, he has right to appeal, a process that could take up to a year, a legal expert told the Washington Post.

The arrest was widely expected after it emerged on Friday that Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) had received a fresh extradition request for Assange concerning allegations of rape in Sweden. Assange entered the police station via a rear entrance to avoid a mass of reporters and television cameras from throughout Europe as well as the United States, China, Russia, and Japan, the New York Times reported.

For the past several months Assange apparently has been in hiding somewhere in the United Kingdom. The public perception has been one of a man hunt.

The Metropolitan Police released the following statement:

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit have this morning arrested Julian Assange on behalf of the Swedish authorities on suspicion of rape.


Julian Assange, 39, was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 9.30 a.m.


He is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010.


Assange is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court today.

Julian AssangeAssange denies the charges. According to his attorney, Mark Stephens, Assange was keen to learn more about the allegations and anxious to clear his name. He said: "It's about time we got to the end of the day and we got some truth, justice and rule of law."

According to the Guardian, a key issue will be whether Assange is released on bail. His lawyers are reported to be putting together a generous package, including a security of at least £100,000 ($157,000) and a surety -- where third parties guarantee to pay the court if he absconds. However, the allegations facing Assange are serious in Swedish law and it is often more difficult to secure bail for these.


Assange's first appearance at Westminster magistrates court today will be primarily concerned with formalities, including establishing his identity and determining whether he consents to the extradition. The court will then adjourn for a full extradition hearing, which has to be within 21 days.

Assange's lawyers have vowed to fight extradition, maintaining that the entire case has been a "political stunt." They are likely to argue that the extradition hearing in the UK can't be fair, because of the unprecedented media attention.


Meanwhile, United States Attorney General Eric Holder has apparently authorized "significant" procedures aimed at prosecuting Assange in the U.S. for his role in the release of hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables and other government documents.

Assange will reportedly release a video statement later today. He has also penned an op-ed that will appear in an Australian newspaper later today. (See bottom for link)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in Afghanistan as part of an Obama administration assessment of the war, told reporters that Assange's arrest "sounds like good news to me."

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.


Update -- 1 p.m. GMT (8 a.m. Eastern): The Guardian reports that WikiLeaks will continue releasing leaked U.S. embassy cables in spite of its founder's arrest. So far, at least, there are no plans to release the so-called "insurance file" of the remaining cables, which number more than 200,000. WikiLeaks has sent copies of the encrypted file to supporters around the world. These can be accessed only by using a 256-digit code.

Update -- 1:10 p.m. GMT (8:10 a.m. Eastern): Julian Assange's op-ed in The Australian is now live. It was penned before his arrest and represents a continued, emphatic attempt on his part to defend the WikiLeaks dump. A group calling itself Justice for Assange is planning a protest outside City of Westminster magistrates court at 1.30 p. m.

Update -- 2:10 p.m. (9:10 a.m. Eastern): Visa says it has suspended all payments to WikiLeaks "pending further investigation." Earlier, MasterCard said: "MasterCard is taking action to ensure that WikiLeaks can no longer accept MasterCard-branded products." WikiLeaks operates on donations, many of which are made online via the credit card companies.

Update -- 2:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m. Eastern): Channel Four news reports that Assange sought Australian consular assistance as early as yesterday morning. The Australian High Commission in London confirmed that it was helping Assange and his lawyers and would be present at court, along with Assange's lawyers, Stephens and Jennifer Robinson.

Update --3:10 p.m. (10:10 a.m. Eastern): Julian Assange has been denied bail. AP reports that Assange told a London court that he intends to fight his extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations, setting up what could be a drawn-out legal battle.


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18 Comments

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yorktown1979

Americans don't seem to be a bit upset with their government about committing these "sins" but they sure are upset that their nasty government officials got caught. My mother always told me "Be sure your sins will find you out"! Interesting thought that Saudi Arabi put a $Billion on his head. That's a whole lot of money. Perhaps they have the most secrets to hide. Perhaps they're worried that people will find out how much profits they're making off of selling oil for the "war effort" and perpetuating war is in their best financial interest.

December 07 2010 at 10:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bright11sunny

Amazing.

December 07 2010 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Humberto

Assange should be released. Maybe now the world politicians will stop bad-mouthing other politicians around the world. Let this be a lesson. Oh, I forgot, that politicians easily forget the lessons they have learned. Oh, well.

December 07 2010 at 9:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rlaitres

What I find quite interesting about this entire scenario is that when he was leaking sensitive military and state information, nobody did much about it but complain. However, when he threatens to divulge information about an economic powerhouse (a bank), then they move. The question I would ask is, who is directing this effort to silence him, and for what reason?

December 07 2010 at 8:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jack

Somebody please put this man in jail for the rest of his life. He has risks the lives of many people around the world with his leaks of secret information. How would you like your secrets to be made public... even the most embarrassing ones. Well this is 100 times worse because it put peoples lives in jeopardy. he need to be locked up for the rest of his life and his organization needs to be shut down.

December 07 2010 at 8:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jack's comment
janforney

has not been charged with crime, did nothing illegal, redacted all specific info and reviewed with multiple news agencies to make sure it was safe to release. Embarassing yes-- and I do hope only the important stuff is leaked in the future. But I want to know what is being done in our name! Citizens need to know their government is performing responsibly in the world.

December 07 2010 at 8:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
m09952

freedom of speach maybe we should change the constution

December 07 2010 at 9:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jbmm7151

This WikiLeaks, Julian Assange had done No wrong/ with These Crooks in Congress and our Government, where as Bill Clinton gave the State Department approval to O.K The sell of Missile Guidance Systems to China 10 years ago, Now they can Hit anywhere U.S.A. Lock Bill up for Treason.Mike Biondo May 21,2011.... Add this to your comments every time you get a chance.

December 07 2010 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ldyqtee6

Sheesh, does the US government want to silence him that badly that they willingly fabricated sex charges against him? How many prominent public figures in the US are guilty of sex crimes but have yet to be charged, or when they are they manage to go free?

December 07 2010 at 7:52 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
lspor

In May 1972, the Pulitzer Prize was awarded to reporter Jack Anderson for national reporting of his disclosure of the Nixon administration’s covert support to Pakistan in its conflict with India over Bangladesh while publicly officially standing its neutrality. Anderson’s information was based upon files stolen from the National Security Council and given to him. The judges stated, “The Anderson Papers brought to light facts that would not have been available through any other channels. It is this kind of exposure to the sunlight of public opinion that contributes to the integrity and ultimate success of the democratic process.” (“Report of the National Jury,” by the Pulitzer Prize jurors, March 10, 1972) Will the Pulitzer Prize judges now consider awarding a Pulitzer Prize to Julian Assange for his similar disclosure of stolen documents about American diplomacy?

December 07 2010 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lspor's comment
janforney

absolutely!

December 07 2010 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chill

Hello, I cannot wait till this issue is over. It is the holidays, Elizabeth Edwards is fighting for her life, unemployment is disgustingly high and the depression/suicidal thoughts are increasing with our economy, people are homeless and hungry, health care can be reduce if our government pay their bill of $5 billion plus interest, and we fix the USA before going to other nations and fixing them. What the heck happen to the money from the oil company that was place into an account for New Orleans? Have we forgotten them once again, the circulating bad seafood in America and the damages to the ocean & the water life? Oh, what happen to the 75% of the charity money raise for Hattie by Americans? They did not receive it and their living conditions are terrible. Nothing changes for them but more virus and bacterial opportunist invading them. Maybe this is the wrong time to bring awareness of these issues but 18 days away for the most celebrate day for those who believe in a higher spiritual power. We need to place appropriate closure to these issues and create resolutions for them. I just do not see why be involved in an issue that taxpayers cannot do a thing about and receive an outrageous reprimands for attempting to resolve the problems of the government. I can see if the issue is tangible and able to change by us...but it cannot. Our nation leaders need to address it and stop writing every word on paper. Let them, deal with the issues and we can prepare for our holidays’ blues to the best of our abilities.

December 07 2010 at 9:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chill's comment
janforney

I agree with so many of the things you said-- BUT, bottomline, this is about keeping free speech and our democracy alive. And therefore hard to list as being less important to about anything, except the lives of children to me. With the war on terror, the government has asserted rights including rendition, non-observance of habeus corpus, and now actually suppressing the right of people to read the documents. They've told students at Columbia U. and with government jobs they may not read the docs -- which already were accessible to 2 MM govt employees. Assange has not been charged with any crime because he has not committed any under U.S. or international law. We really need to protect free speech and the rule of law. PLEASE stay involved. I know you have a lot but this is for our kids and future.

December 07 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Brent

The bottom line is he and his organization are putting American lives on the line. He must be stopped and the website shut down. I believe in the Freedom of Information Act but there has to be a limit as national security is at risk. His sources must be found and prosecuted also. I know that he has no intention on stopping what he's doing, so I believe he should be jailed for life. Agreed?

December 07 2010 at 9:13 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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