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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in UK

The controversial WikiLeaks editor will appear at a Magistrates court this afternoon in relation to sexual assault claims.

Image: Lennart Preiss/AP/Press Association Images

WIKILEAKS FOUNDER JULIAN ASSANGE will appear at a Westminster magistrates court this afternoon after being arrested in the UK this morning.

Assange had been expected to appear in court in the UK today after agreeing to meet police over sexual assault allegations made against him in Sweden, and was arrested after presenting himself for a scheduled police meeting at 9:30am.

He will appear in court at 1:30pm, and will likely request bail at that hearing. He is also set to contest any moves to extradite him to Sweden to face the charges, which relate to molestation, rape, and having sexual intercourse without a condom.

Assange has been the subject of international police attention since he was added to the Interpol ‘red warning’ list last week, which asked police organisations worldwide to remain vigilant of his whereabouts – effectively tantamount to a global arrest warrant.

His lawyer Mark Stephens told Sky News the arrest was “a political stunt”, but said Assange would happily await to see which allegations he faced before beginning a full campaign to clear his name.

Though Assange is apparently willing to fight the claims – made in August, but later withdrawn before another arrest warrant was issued – he wis unwilling to be extradited, because he fears “he may be handed over to the Americans,” Stephens said.

Stephens had earlier played down the police interview, saying they were in the process of organising a meeting by consent. Assange would have been required to appear before magistrates within 24 hours of the police meeting anyway, according to the Guardian, where he would have been able to request bail.

Earlier this year, two women in Sweden claimed Assange had sexually assaulted them while he was in Sweden. Assange denied the allegations and his legal team says he will fight any extradiction attempts, the Herald Sun reports.

The WikiLeaks site has pledged to continue with its scheduled release of the US embassy cables it currently holds, and has called for a public display of support for Assange ahead of his court hearing.

Assange has also previously promised to use the ‘nuclear option’ of releasing a series of highly sensitive data if he is killed as a result of his actions.

Additional reporting by Gavan Reilly.

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