Julian Assange: WikiLeaks founder hits out at rape smears as Swedish warrant for his arrest is withdrawn.
When Julian Assange, the secretive founder of WikiLeaks, leaked 77,000 documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, many of us expected some reaction from those embarrassed by the leaks. Is this it?
Friends of his certainly think that this is revenge for the leaks.
Swedish authorities have withdrawn an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, stating that the accusation of rape against him was unfounded.
The move came just a day after a warrant was issued by Sweden's prosecutors' office in Stockholm in response to accusations of rape and molestation in two separate cases.
"I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape," the chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, said.
She made no comment on the status of the molestation case, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.
Assange has denied both accusations, first reported by the Swedish tabloid Expressen, which were described as dirty tricks on the Wikileaks' Twitter account.
He implied that they were linked to the release by the whistleblowers' website of a huge cache of US military records on the Afghan war, which were published in collaboration with the Guardian and two other newspapers.
Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, and a friend of Assange, said: "A lot of us who had any notion of what he was doing expected this sort of thing to happen at least a week ago. I'm amazed it has taken them this long to get it together. This is how smears work. The charges are made and then withdrawn and the damage is done."Obviously, as with any claim of this kind, none of us have any way of knowing what is true and what is untrue.
"It seems an unusual time to embark on a career of multiple rape," said Guardian journalist David Leigh, who has worked closely with Assange over the recent WikiLeaks Afghanistan documents. "He certainly didn't come across as a violent man, not in the least. Julian was clearly preparing to release more sensitive documents."
But the fact that the arrest warrant was made public and then withdrawn, does allow for maximum embarrassment to be heaped on to Assange without anyone having to come forward with a shred of evidence to implicate him.
It goes without saying that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but, nevertheless, there is a whiff of a warning in the air about all of this. A distinct feeling that he is being told to back off.
A Pentagon spokesman said:
So many threats to prosecute. So little prosecution. This reads like a dirty tracks campaign. An attempt to blacken the man's name.
"These documents are property of the United States government," he said. "The unauthorised release of them threatens the lives of coalition forces as well as Afghan nationals."
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal claimed both the US Defence and Justice departments were exploring legal options for prosecuting Assange and others on grounds that they encouraged the theft of government property.
Just look at the glee with which the right wing blogs jumped all over this:
Shouldn’t be hard for the cops to find him. Just follow the trail of slime.This guy has an awful lot of enemies in the pro-war camps. They are simply dying for him to be discredited.
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