World

Interpol puts WikiLeaks founder on wanted list

Interpol has placed the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks on its most-wanted list after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape investigation.
Julian Assange is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. ((Reuters))

Interpol has placed the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks on its most-wanted list after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape investigation.

The France-based international police organization has issued a "red notice" for 39-year-old Julian Assange — the equivalent of putting him on its most-wanted list.

The issuance by Interpol was expected after a Swedish court in mid-November approved a motion to have Assange brought in for questioning.

The notice, posted on Interpol's site Tuesday, is likely to make international travel more difficult for him.

Assange, whose whereabouts are unknown, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.

He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden in August.

His lawyer in Britain, Mark Stephens, said Assange had consensual sex with each woman and they turned on him after becoming aware of each other's relationship with him.

The irregular evolution of the case, in which prosecutors of different ranks have overruled each other, has sparked questions about Sweden's legal system and conspiracy theories about intelligence agencies seeking to silence and discredit Assange and WikiLeaks.

The site has published hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other sensitive matters.

Governments and some of Assange's own colleagues have denounced him for releasing Afghan documents that contained the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO forces, saying that could place the sources' lives at risk.

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