WikiLeaks Vows to Keep Operating After Assange Turns Himself in to Police

Julian Assange refused bail by British court; Swedish prosecutors issued the arrest order for the Australian whistleblower who is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of committing sexual crimes.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange handed himself in to British police on Tuesday after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest over allegations of sex crimes, London's Metropolitan Police said.

WikiLeaks said on Tuesday it will keep operating as normal despite Assange's arrest.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange AP

"WikiLeaks is operational. We are continuing on the same track as laid out before," said Kristinn Hrafnsson, spokesman for the group. "Any development with regards to Julian Assange will not change the plans we have with regards to the releases today and in the coming days."

Hrafnsson said the operation would be run by a group of people from London and other locations.

Assange, whose WikiLeaks website is at the center of a row over the release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, was arrested under a European Arrest Warrant.
Swedish prosecutors want to question the 39-year-old Australian about allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He denies the allegations.

Assange appeared before City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London  on Tuesday and was refused bail by the British court and faces a fresh hearing on December 14.

"He is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010," London police said in a statement.

Assange has spent much of his time in Sweden and earlier this year was accused of sexual misconduct by two female Swedish WikiLeaks volunteers.

This led Swedish prosecutors to open, then drop, then re-open an investigation into the allegations. The crime he is suspected of is the least severe of three categories of rape, carrying a maximum of four years in jail.

At a court hearing in London, Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said: "There are substantial grounds to believe he could abscond if granted bail".

Police said Assange was arrested by officers from its extradition unit at about 9.30 A.M. after he appeared by appointment at a London police station.

His whereabouts had been previously undisclosed.

If a judge is satisfied his extradition is warranted and will not breach his human rights, then he will order the WikiLeaks founder to be extradited, although Assange can appeal against that decision to higher courts.

Assange's Swedish lawyer has said his client would fight any extradition and believed foreign powers were influencing Sweden.

WikiLeaks has angered the U.S. government and others across the world by releasing details of 250,000 diplomatic cables it had obtained.