WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has arrived at a court in London after he was arrested by British police over assault claims made in Sweden. The elusive 39-year-old Australian was earlier detained by Scotland Yard officers after he voluntarily went to a police station in central London.
Speaking outside City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mr Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens said his client is “fine”.
Asked about the meeting with police, he replied: “It was very cordial. They have verified his identity. They are satisfied he is the real Julian Assange and we are ready to go into court.”
Police contacted Mr Assange’s lawyer last night after receiving a fresh European arrest warrant from Swedish authorities, as anger grows in the US over the latest leaked embassy cables by the whistleblowing website.
Mr Stephens, who has labelled the move a “political stunt”, has warned any attempt to extradite Mr Assange will be resisted, “mainly on the grounds that he may be handed over to the Americans”.
Assange is soon to appear before magistrates so a decision can be made about whether the warrant is appropriate for extradition.
It is thought Mr Assange has been hiding in the south east of England.
Marshall added: “It’s important to remember that Mr Assange has not been charged with anything, he only wants to be interviewed as a witness, so magistrates may decide they’re not happy with sending him to Sweden but that it’s ok for police to come over here to interview him.
“But if magistrates decide otherwise and he is extradited, the Swedish police will interview him and then decide whether there is enough evidence to go to trial or not.”
WikiLeaks, which has seen its bank accounts cancelled and its websites attacked since releasing the diplomatic cables, has vowed to keep operating as normal despite Mr Assange’s arrest.
There is a growing clamour in the US for something to be done even if they’re not completely sure what that should be.
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told Sky News the website would continue with its plan to make more releases today and in the coming days despite the “outrageous attack on the fundamentals of speech and the press”.
Officials in Washington are said to be watching developments “very closely”.
Sky News’ US correspondent Greg Milam said: “There is a growing clamour in the US for something to be done even if they’re not completely sure what that should be.
“The big fear for everyone here is what comes next. What will be contained in the next leak of documents and how damaging will that be?”