British police asked Swedish authorities Thursday for additional details not specified in an initial arrest warrant for Julian Assange, a possible indication that the location of the elusive founder of WikiLeaks is known.
The fact that British police are seeking more information probably means there is a procedural problem preventing them from arresting Assange. The additional details could provide them with a valid warrant.
It is likely that British police either know where he is or they have been watching him. However, there are definitely legal restraints holding them back from an arrest.
Assange is wanted in Sweden for sex-crime allegations that are not related to WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, the website continued publishing confidential diplomatic information that has been stirring up all corners of the world.
Assange, who has said he has long feared retribution for his website’s disclosures, has denied the sex-crime allegations, calling them a smear campaign.
Despite the warrant and an Interpol red notice, akin to an all-points bulletin, Assange has so far eluded arrest, making him one of the world’s most wanted fugitives.
Assange has not been seen in public since the Stockholm Criminal Court issued an international arrest warrant on November 18, 2010. Officials say Assange is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force.
There are conflicting reports on whether Assange is currently in Britain or elsewhere. Swedish authorities claim they are unaware of his whereabouts, which prompted the request to Interpol.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority said it would send additional information to British police that would lay out the allegations of sexual molestation and illegal use of force — in addition to the accusation of rape that was already in the warrant — and the potential penalties attached to each alleged crime.
Assange, meanwhile lost a legal bid in the Swedish Supreme Court, which refused Thursday to hear an appeal of an arrest warrant for suspicion of rape and sexual molestation. Previously, the Swedish Court of Appeal had rejected Assange’s appeal.
At Sweden’s request, Interpol has issued an international wanted-persons alert for Assange to its 188 member countries. The red notice is not an arrest warrant, but an advisory and request for countries to locate a person with a view toward that person’s arrest and extradition. He would most certainly face extradition to Sweden if he is arrested, but he would have the right to appeal it.
A U.S. warrant for Assange over the WikiLeaks postings could further complicate this case. Specifically, the United States could pursue a case against Assange to silence the WikiLeaks site. Further, it is definitely possible for Assange to drag this out for years, and who’s to say that if Assange is arrested, publications on WikiLeaks will cease?
The most important question remains: Where is Assange?
For a complete reading of the CNN article, please click here.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of the offices listed above.