WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, was arrested in London on Tuesday.
Assange was detained after a European Arrest Warrant was issued by a Swedish prosecutor who wants to question him regarding allegations of â€œrape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.”
During an almost an hour-long appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court, Assange said he would fight the extradition request.
He was denied bail and will remain in police custody pending his return to court on Dec 14 for a further hearing.
This was despite radical journalist, John Pilger, filmmaker Ken Loach and socialite human rights campaigner, Jemima Khan appearing with him to stand “surety,” in other words, pay the fine if Assange skipped bail.
The charges against Assange stem from incidents alleged to have taken place last summer.
Details are sparse because of Swedish laws that protect women’s anonymity in cases of rape and other sexual offenses.
The laws governing the European Arrest Warrant system were created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
They create a fast-track for extradition between European Union member states provided the country issuing the warrant provides basic evidence that demonstrates the person being arrested will be put on trial, not merely questioned.
Following yesterday’s proceedings, Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, assured the hundred plus journalists waiting outside the court in freezing temperatures that the State Department cables would continue to be published.
“Wikileaks will continue,” he said. “Wikileaks is many thousands of journalists around the world.”
Referring to what happened in the court, Stephens said, “We are in the rather exotic position of not having seen any of the evidence.”
He added that he understood the problems Judge Howard Riddle had in evaluating the bail request. “The judge wishes to see the evidence himself,” Stephens told reporters, and suggested Ribble would hold another bail hearing after he has seen that evidence.
Stephens said Assange was in good spirits.
The day’s drama began when the 39-year old Assange presented himself voluntarily to the police at a central London police station in the morning. As expected he was arrested under terms of the warrant. Official Washington was asleep when Assange was arrested.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates, however, is in Afghanistan and had the first administration response to Assange’s arrest. Gates said, “Sounds like good news to me.”