Bloomberg News

Assange Faces New U.K. Arrest for Breaching Bail in Asylum Bid

June 20, 2012

Julian Assange, founder of the anti- secrecy website WikiLeaks, faces arrest again in Britain after he breached the terms of his bail agreement by staying overnight at the Ecuadorian embassy, where he sought asylum.

Assange, who seeks to avoid extradition to Sweden on claims of rape and sexual molestation of two women, sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London yesterday. He says the case is actually a U.S. effort to punish him for releasing diplomatic and military communications through his WikiLeaks website.

Assange has been required for the past 18 months to remain at his bail address from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. “He is now subject to arrest under the Bail Act for breach of these conditions,” the Metropolitan Police Service said today in an e-mailed statement.

The claims against Assange, an Australian, became public around the same time he posted classified U.S. cables on the WikiLeaks website, creating controversy for U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. Assange denies the allegations and argues Sweden fabricated the arrest warrant to assist the U.S. in punishing him for the breach.

Assange lost his appeal to avoid extradition after the U.K. Supreme Court ruled May 30 that the arrest warrant had been issued properly by Sweden. Assange had argued the warrant was invalid because it was issued by a prosecutor instead of a judge.

Assange, arrested in London in December 2010, was considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights before he sought asylum.

Assange is accused of failing to use a condom with one of the women and having sex with the other while she was asleep. The women, both supporters of WikiLeaks, let Assange stay at their homes during a speaking tour in Sweden in 2010. The U.K. Court of Appeal ruled in November that he should return to Sweden to face the claims. He hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Gareth Peirce, Assange’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return a call to her office today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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