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Assange accusers 'not pawns of CIA'

The two Swedish women accusing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sex crimes are not pawns of the CIA nor do they hunger for revenge or money - they just seek justice for a violation of their "sexual integrity," their lawyer says.

Claes Borgstrom, who used to be Sweden's ombudsman for gender equality, says he finds it "very upsetting" that Assange, his lawyers and some supporters are suggesting the case is a smear campaign against the whistle-blowing website.

"He's been spreading false rumours that he knows are untrue. It's reckless against these two women," Borgstrom told the Associated Press. "They, too, are supporters of WikiLeaks. They support its work."

Assange denies the allegations of sexual misconduct, which his lawyers say stem from a dispute over "consensual but unprotected sex." He has not been charged. He is in Britain on bail fighting extradition to Sweden.

The lawyer said Assange had every right to reject the women's sex claims but says Assange is, in essence, accusing them of breaking the law by suggesting they are driven by ulterior motives. "There is no truth to this whatsoever," he added.

Assange has said there is "very suggestive evidence" the two women were motivated by revenge, money and police pressure.

When the investigation started after the August incidents, Assange said he had been warned about "dirty tricks" from the Pentagon, though he later said he was not pointing fingers at anyone.

At the time, WikiLeaks had deeply angered US officials by publishing tens of thousands of secret US military documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, memos that the US said could have put the lives of informants at risk.

The silver-haired Australian met both women in connection with a lecture on August 14 in Stockholm. One, a 31-year-old, was involved in organising the event for Sweden's left-wing Social Democratic Party and offered to host Assange at her apartment. The other, a few years younger, was in the audience.

Assange had sex with both within a week, police documents show. A policewoman who heard their stories decided there was reason to suspect they were victims of sex crimes and handed over the case to a prosecutor.

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