Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wikileaks defends Assange as rape charges reported, retracted

Are Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange being targeted with "dirty tricks?" That's the assertion of the site, after a Swedish warrant for rape and molestation against founder Julian Assange was first reported in Swedish media, in the Swedish tabloid Expressen.

Later, however, it was announced on the website of Swedish Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne that Julian Assange is "no longer wanted" and "is not suspected of rape." It is unclear if Assange, 39, an Australian citizen, is truly free from prosecution, however. At the time of this writing, NBC News was reporting that he is still wanted on the "lesser charge of molestation."

In an earlier Tweet, Assange defended himself, saying:
Julian Assange: the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.
Wikileaks Tweeted that they had been warned to expect "dirty tricks," saying:
We were warned to expect "dirty tricks". Now we have the first one: http://bit.ly/bv5ku9
The shortened URL points to a translation of the Expressen story.

Lowest Price on Canadian Drugs GuaranteedCNN asked the rather obvious question: "Is Assange the target of a U.S. smear campaign?" The opinions around the Web, thus far, point in that direction, meaning that most feel there is a smear campaign going on (1, 2, more at CNN).

One commenter at CNN took the time to smear Assange him or herself, posting the comment that "I know. I am that individual. Julian Assange molested me when I was in middle school in Denmark" (this comment has been reported as possibly offensive to CNN).

Wikileaks is a whistleblower site that promises to protect those to distribute documents to it for leaking, but while it's been around far longer, it first drew attention of many when it released the "Collateral Murder" Iraq war video in April. Then, in late July, Wikileaks released the "Afghan War Diary," tens of thousands of documents relating to the war in Afghanistan.

Since then, Assange, already elusive in his movements, has become near invisible, skipping some events in fact. Assange has also reached agreement to write a monthly column for the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, while the site has come to an agreement with Sweden's Pirate (political) Party to host its servers for free.

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