Australian intel warned WikiLeaks of `dirty tricks`: Assange

Australian intelligence services had warned WikiLeaks of "dirty tricks" before Swedish authorities issued a short-lived arrest warrant for founder Julian Assange over a rape claim, he said on Monday.

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2010, 00:37 AM IST

Stockholm: Australian intelligence
services had warned WikiLeaks of "dirty tricks" before Swedish
authorities issued a short-lived arrest warrant for founder
Julian Assange over a rape claim, he said on Monday.

"We were warned on the 11th (of August) by
Australian intelligence that we should expect this sort of
thing," Assange said in a telephone interview with
broadcaster Al-Jazeera from a secret location in Sweden.

Assange -- whose whistleblowing website is
embroiled in a row with the Pentagon over the release of
thousands of secret US documents on the Afghan war -- faced
allegations from two women in Sweden of rape and molestation.

Prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest on
Friday night on the rape claim but abruptly withdrew it the
following day saying that new information had come to light.

"We were warned about dirty tricks and specifically
that they would be of a type like this," the 39-year-old
Australian said.

Swedish authorities are still investigating the
claim of molestation, but Assange insisted that all the
allegations against him were untrue.

"It is clearly a smear campaign ... the (rape)
accusation was withdrawn six hours later. The only question is
who was involved," he said in the interview which was posted
on Al-Jazeera`s website.

But while Assange had said at the weekend that he
believed the Pentagon could be behind the claims, he was more
circumspect today, acknowledging that he could not say for
sure.

"We don`t have direct evidence that this is coming
from a US or other intelligence" agency, he said. "We can have
some suspicions about who will benefit, but without direct
evidence I won`t be making direct allegations."

The Pentagon said yesterday any allegation of dirty
tricks was "absurd".

Assange has promised to publish 15,000 new
documents about the war in Afghanistan, after posting 77,000
leaked documents online late last month in a move that the
Pentagon said could endanger the lives of informants.

He told Al-Jazeera the new release would take place
in "two to four weeks."

PTI