WikiLeaks' Assange arrested in London, denied bail

Julian Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sexual assault accusations

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange

WikiLeaks' chief spokesman Julian Assange was arrested on Tuesday by U.K. police after turning himself in to authorities and was denied bail later in the day after being deemed a flight risk.

Assange, 39, of Australia, will next appear in court on Dec. 14, according to Westminster Magistrates Court officials.

Assange has been accused of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape stemming from incidents with two women in Sweden in August, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Police.

Assange has maintained that his encounters with the women were consensual, and Swedish prosecutors initially dropped rape charges.

However, Swedish Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny re-opened the investigation into the rape charges and said she wanted to question Assange, who was allowed to leave Sweden after the incidents.

Since then, Assange has spent time in the U.K., making few public appearances. The pressure has intensified on him as WikiLeaks began releasing portions of 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables late last month.

Some U.S. politicians have called for his arrest, while the U.S. Attorney General's office is investigating whether he could be charged under the Espionage Act for releasing the material.

The U.S. Army has already charged Private First Class Bradley E. Manning with mishandling and transferring classified information in connection with the cables and a video of an Apache helicopter shooting civilians in Iraq. He is believed to have passed the material to WikiLeaks.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks has taken steps to make its infrastructure more resilient after its Web site came under repeated denial-of-service attacks. WikiLeaks was also booted from Amazon Web Services after it was briefly hosted on its servers.

But more than 350 other Web sites are now up that are distributing WikiLeaks' content, posing further difficulties for authorities seeking to halt the release of the material.

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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