Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Assange rape suspicion unfounded

Julian Assange founded website Wikileaks (AP)
Julian Assange founded website Wikileaks (AP)

Swedish prosecutors have withdrawn an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying the rape suspicions against him are unfounded.

In a brief statement, chief prosecutor Eva Finne said: "I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape."

The accusation had been labelled a dirty trick by Mr Assange and his backers, who are preparing to release a fresh batch of classified US documents from the Afghan war.

Swedish prosecutors had urged Mr Assange - a nomadic 39-year-old Australian whose whereabouts were unclear - to turn himself in to police to face questioning in one case involving suspicions of rape and another based on an accusation of molestation.

"I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape," chief prosecutor Eva Finne said, in announcing the withdrawal of the warrant. She did not address the status of the molestation case, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.

Mr Assange had dismissed the rape allegations in a statement on WikiLeaks' Twitter page, saying "the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing". His whereabouts were not immediately known.

He was in Sweden last week seeking legal protection for the whistle-blower website, which angered the Obama administration for publishing thousands of leaked documents about US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Assange has no permanent address and travels frequently - jumping from one friend's place to the next. He disappears from public view for months at a time, only to reappear in the full glare of the cameras at packed news conferences to discuss his site's latest disclosure.

A WikiLeaks spokesman, who says he goes by the name Daniel Schmitt in order to protect his identity,said that the "extremely serious allegations" came as a complete surprise.

WikiLeaks' Twitter page had a link to an article in Swedish tabloid Expressen, which first reported the allegations. "We were warned to expect dirty tricks. Now we have the first one," it said.



From Belfast Telegraph