21 August, 2010 – BBC News
Sweden has cancelled an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on accusations of rape and molestation.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority website said the chief prosecutor had come to the decision that Mr Assange was not suspected of rape but did not give any further explanation.
The warrant was issued late on Friday.
Wikileaks, which has been criticised for leaking Afghan war documents, had quoted Mr Assange as saying the charges were ‘without basis’.
That message, which appeared on Twitter and was attributed directly to Mr Assange, said the appearance of the allegations ‘at this moment is deeply disturbing’.
In a series of other messages posted on the Wikileaks Twitter feed, the whistle-blowing website said: ‘No-one here has been contacted by Swedish police’, and that it had been warned to expect ‘dirty tricks’.
In its ‘official blog’ on Saturday before the warrant was cancelled, Wikileaks said it was ‘deeply concerned about the seriousness of these allegations. We the people behind Wikileaks think highly of Julian and and he has our full support’.
The current whereabouts of Mr Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, are unclear.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority website said chief prosecutor Eva Finne had come to the decision that Julian Assange was not subject to arrest.
In a brief statement Eva Finne said: ‘I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.’
The website said there would be no further immediate comment.
Earlier, Karin Rosander, communications head at Sweden’s prosecutors’ office, said there were two separate allegations against Mr Assange, one of rape and the other of molestation. She gave no details of the accusations. She said that as far as she knew they related to alleged incidents that took place in Sweden.
On Saturday she said the police investigation into the molestation charge continued.
Ms Rosander said: ‘The [chief prosecutor] will look into that later. She hasn’t been able to do that, but that’s not enough for being arrested. It’s not a serious enough crime.’
Here’s how the Independent on Sunday reported it:
False rape claim haunts WikiLeaks boss – for a few hours By David Randall and James Burton
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has strenuously denied the allegations made against him
A hue and cry in pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Swedish police wrongly issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with a rape claim ended in official red faces after just five hours yesterday. Police said the allegation was “unfounded”.
This was not, however, until media around the world had broadcast headlines about Mr Assange being wanted for the serious alleged sex crime. This was soon accompanied by strenuous denials by Mr Assange, and assertions by WikiLeaks that this was the first sortie in the expected “dirty tricks” campaign following the release by the site of thousands of US military documents.
Then, an hour after the warrant was dropped, Swedish prosecutors said that “for the moment” Julian Assange remains suspected of the lesser crime of molestation in a separate case.
The saga apparently began when two women went to a police station in Stockholm on Friday and made complaints about two distinct incidents. Then, yesterday morning, a Swedish newspaper reported that a warrant for Mr Assange’s arrest had been issued. This was duly confirmed later in the morning by the Swedish Prosecution Authority. The 39-year-old Australian immediately denied the allegations on WikiLeaks’ Twitter page, saying they “are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing”. Mr Assange also emailed two newspapers – Aftonbladet and Dagens Nyheter – to deny the allegations.
The WikiLeaks founder was in Sweden last week, partly to apply for a publishing certificate to make sure the website, which has servers in Sweden, can take full advantage of Swedish laws protecting whistle-blowers. He also spoke at a seminar hosted by the Christian faction of the opposition Social Democratic Party and announced that he would write bimonthly columns for a left-wing Swedish newspaper. WikiLeaks has angered the Obama administration by publishing thousands of leaked documents about US activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr Assange, who is believed to still be in Sweden, also said last Wednesday that WikiLeaks plans to release a new batch of 15,000 documents from the Afghan war within weeks. WikiLeaks commented on the allegations on its Twitter page. Apart from the comment from Mr Assange, the page had a link to an article in the Swedish tabloid Expressen, which first reported the allegations. “We were warned to expect “dirty tricks”. Now we have the first one,” a tweet said.