Interpol issues alert for Assange


Interpol issued a "red notice" yesterday to assist in the arrest of Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, who is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of sexual crimes.

Mr Assange, a former computer hacker now at the centre of a global controversy after WikiLeaks released a trove of classified US diplomatic cables at the weekend, denies the Swedish allegations.

Interpol, the international police agency, has said anyone with information on the Australian-born Mr Assange (39) should contact their national or local police.

Red notices allow arrest warrants issued by national police authorities to be circulated to other countries to facilitate arrests and help possible extradition.

Mr Assange's current whereabouts are not known and he is believed to move from country to country.

A Swedish court  ordered the detention of Mr Assange on November 18th. The prosecutor's office had started an investigation into allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion against Mr Assange in September.

Mr Assange's lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, told journalists after the hearings he expected a European arrest warrant would be issued for his client, who had sometimes visited Sweden in the past, and that he would probably appeal.

Mr Assange has called the allegations baseless and criticised what he has called a legal circus in Sweden, where he had been seeking to build a base in order to benefit from its strict journalist protection laws.

WikiLeaks has angered the United States by releasing more than 250,000 State Department cables exposing the inner workings of US diplomacy, including brutally candid assessments of world leaders.

WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 classified US files on the Iraq war in October, which Mr Assange said showed 15,000 more Iraqi civilian deaths had occurred than thought.