WikiLeaks Chief faces new arrest warrant

Sweden said it would issue a fresh arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2010, 19:09 PM IST

Stockholm: Sweden said on Thursday it would
issue a fresh arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian
Assange as new revelations from his website`s expose of US
diplomatic cables saw Russia branded a "mafia state".

While the elusive whistleblower laid low, his British
lawyer insisted police knew his whereabouts and it emerged
that an initial warrant was defective.

The United States meanwhile named an anti-terrorism
expert to lead a review of security in the wake of the leaks
which have angered its friends and foes.

After the Supreme Court in Stockholm refused to hear
an appeal by Assange against the initial warrant over
allegations of rape and molestation, Swedish police said they
would issue a new one as a result of a procedural error.

"We have to refresh the warrant. It`s a procedural
fault, we agree. The prosecutor Marianne Ny has to write a new
one," Tommy Kangasvieri of the Swedish National Criminal
Police told a news agency.

"The procedure demands that the maximum penalty for
all crimes Assange is suspected for is written" in the
warrant, he explained. "We described it only for the rape."

While Assange has not been seen in public since
WikiLeaks began leaking around 250,000 cables on Sunday, his
London-based lawyer Mark Stephens denied he was on the run.
"Scotland Yard know where he is, the security services
from a number of countries know where is," Stephens told a news agency.

"The (British) police are being slightly foxy in their
answers, but they know exactly how to get in touch with him,
as do the Swedish prosecutors."

Britain`s Times newspaper said that Assange was at a
location in southeast England although there was no
confirmation from Stephens.

After former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah
Palin said the WikiLeaks team should be treated like a
terrorist organisation, a spokesman for the website said
Assange feared for his life.

"When you have people calling, for example, for his
assassination, it is best to keep a low profile," Kristinn
Hrafnsson said in London, after right-wing US websites and
pundits called for him to be assassinated.

Assange`s mother also expressed fear for her son`s
safety.

"I`m concerned it`s gotten too big and the forces that
he`s challenging are too big," Christine Assange told the
Courier Mail, her local newspaper in Queensland, Australia.

Assange`s Stockholm-based lawyer Bjoern Hurtig told
a news agency today he would fight his client`s extradition to Sweden in
the event of his arrest.

PTI