Assange lawyers, police negotiate meeting

Dec. 6, 2010 at 5:51 PM
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LONDON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Negotiations took place Monday for the founder of WikiLeaks to be questioned by British police about sexual assault allegations against him, lawyers said.

The Guardian reported Julian Assange was expected to appear in a U.K. court by mid-week. His lawyers said he would meet with police to discuss an extradition warrant from Sweden where he is wanted for questioning, the British newspaper said.

"We have ... received an arrest warrant (related to claims in Sweden). We are negotiating a meeting with police," Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer representing Assange, told The Guardian.

"We are in the process of making arrangements to meet the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question and answer that is needed," Stephens said, adding the meeting would take place in the "foreseeable future" but with no specific time set.

Other sources told the newspaper it was thought Assange would appear in court to arrange bail.

"(London's Metropolitan Police) will now seek to arrest Julian Assange as soon as possible," Scotland Yard told ABC News.

Robinson told the U.S. network Assange's ability to raise cash for his defense is a key issue.

"This is a serious matter, which will impact upon his (Assange's) ability to defend the case," Robinson said.

Scotland Yard has the paperwork needed to arrest the founder of the whistle-blower Internet site on apparent charges related to the sexual assault allegations, sources told The Independent Monday. Assange allegedly is hiding in southeastern England, the newspaper said.

Assange went into hiding in the wake of the latest dump of U.S. diplomatic cables, which sent Washington and many of its Western allies scrambling to save face.

Early reviews of the leaked diplomatic documents dealt with Iran though others have highlighted disparaging remarks made by U.S. officials against British royalty and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Mark Stephens, another lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder, said the latest action by Scotland Yard was somehow part of a political move to silence Assange.

"I am rather worried by the political motivations that appear to be behind this," he was quoted as saying.

He added he would fight any extradition request related to the sexual assault charges.

Since the release of the 250,000 diplomatic cables, which followed the release of tens of thousands of military documents concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, WikiLeaks has experienced disruptions to its Internet service.

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