Warrant revoked against founder of WikiLeaks
Stockholm ? Swedish authorities revoked a short-lived arrest warrant for the founder of WikiLeaks on Saturday, saying a rape accusation against him lacked substance.
Julian Assange, who was believed to be in Sweden, remained under suspicion of a lesser crime of molestation in a separate case, prosecutors said.
The nomadic 39-year-old Australian dismissed the allegations in a statement on WikiLeaks’ Twitter page, saying “the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.”
WikiLeaks is preparing to release of a fresh batch of classified U.S. documents from the Afghan war, despite warnings from the Pentagon that they could endanger American soldiers and their Afghan helpers.
A Stockholm prosecutor issued the arrest warrant on Friday, saying Assange was suspected of rape and molestation in two separate cases. But chief prosecutor Eva Finne withdrew the warrant within 24 hours.
“I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape,” Finne said in a brief statement.
Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said Assange remains suspected of molestation, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.
“The prosecutor hasn’t made a decision” on that count, Rosander told The Associated Press. “The investigation continues.”
Molestation covers a wide of range of offenses under Swedish law, including inappropriate physical contact with another adult, and can result in fines or up to one year in prison.
Assange was in Sweden last week seeking legal protection for the whistle-blower website, which angered the Obama administration by publishing thousands of leaked documents about U.S. military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first files in Wikileaks’ “Afghan War Diary” revealed classified military documents covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. Assange said Wednesday that WikiLeaks plans to release a new batch of 15,000 documents from the Afghan war within weeks.
The Pentagon has demanded WikiLeaks return all leaked documents and remove them from the Internet.