Assange hunt seems politically motivated: Lawyer

Last Updated: Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 18:58

London: The pursuit of WikiLeaks` founder Julian Assange appears to have "political motivations", his lawyer told BBC television on Sunday.

"I`m really rather worried by the political motivations that appear to be behind this," Mark Stephens said during an interview.

His comments came after Swedish prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant for Assange -- the elusive boss of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks -- on sex assault allegations.

Assange broke cover on Friday to say in an online chat that he had boosted security after receiving death threats amid the storm that was unleashed by his site`s decision to publish 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

Over the past several days, WikiLeaks has published the first of the cables, creating an international firestorm as American diplomats` private assessments of foreign leaders and politics has been publicly aired.

The release marked the third major publication of secret US files by WikiLeaks this year, after the site had published tens of thousands of American military files from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

The United States and other governments said the release of the documents were against their laws.

Meanwhile on Friday, Sweden said it had sent out a new international arrest warrant for Assange that included missing elements requested by the British police.

The Stockholm district court had ordered on November 18 an arrest warrant for Assange for questioning on suspicions of "rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion" in Sweden in August.

The court order authorised prosecutor Marianne Ny, who had requested Assange`s detention, to prepare an international arrest warrant for the hacker, who travels constantly.

The global police agency Interpol said Wednesday it had alerted member states to arrest the 39-year-old Australian on suspicion of rape on the basis of a Swedish arrest warrant.

But British reports said Thursday that police in Britain -- where Assange could be hiding -- could not arrest him because the Swedish warrant was incomplete.

Sweden acknowledged the blunder and said it would issue a new warrant.

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 18:58

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