(Lennart Preiss/AP/File) Julian Assange
The founder of Wikileaks arrested Tuesday
Assange, 39, turned himself in to police
Tuesday morning, hours after Britain
from Swedish authorities. Assange denies
any wrongdoing and says he will fight the
attempt to extradite him, beginning with a
hearing Dec. 14.
That could be the start of a legal battle
that could drag on for weeks or even
months, in part because the case against
him in Sweden remains rather murky.
Assange, who is Australian, is eager to
avoid extradition for fear that it could set
the stage for him to be sent to the U.S. if
prosecutors there charge him with offenses
relating to the WikiLeaks disclosures of
State Department diplomatic cables and
classified Pentagon files related to the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Those leaked files have turned Assange into
an international figure, vilified by the U.S.
and governments around the world for spilling
official secrets but lionized by activists
demanding a free flow of information.
In Washington, the Obama administration
blames Assange for recklessly damaging
U.S. relations with other countries and even
A spokesman for WikiLeaks vowed that
Assange's arrest would not affect the website's
plans to continue publishing its cache of
The accusations against Assange in
Sweden have dogged him since the summer,
before his organization began releasing
portions of its huge trove of rifled State
Department cables. The allegations stem
from separate sexual encounters he
had with two women in August,
which Swedish prosecutors say may
have involved molestation,
"unlawful coercion" and rape.