Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wikileaks chief Julian Assange turns himself in to British authorities

Wikileaks chief Julian Assange voluntarily turned himself in to U.K. authorities on Tuesday. He surrendered at 9:30 AM local time (4:30 AM ET), and arrived at court later in the day with both of his British lawyers, Mark Stephens and Jennifer Robinson.

Assange's arrest increases the pressure on the site, which has seen much of its access to funds terminated by companies like MasterCard and PayPal. Even their Swiss bank has seized their funds.

The legal issues for Assange stem for allegations of sexual abuse while he was in Sweden this summer. The details are not known, due to Swedish legal requirements to protect anonymity and preserve confidentiality for sex crimes.

However, it's been rumored that the sex was consensual, until Assange wanted to continue the sex without protection. It's also been stated, by Assange, that the charges are being filed for "political reasons."

The Guardian reported that one of the women, speaking anonymously to the Swedish daily newspaper, Aftonbladet, said she never intended Assange to be charged with a crime and that both women had had consensual relations with him. She said:
"He is not violent and I do not feel threatened by him. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who had attitude problems with women."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Wikileaks said the site's activity will continue unabated. Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Associated Press, "This will not change our operation.

Prior to his arrest today, Assange warned of a secret cache of unreleased documents, a so-called "poison pill," to be released if he was taken into custody. One of the files is reportedly named "insurance." The Guardian has reported, however, that WikiLeaks had no immediate plans to issue those documents.

While Wikileaks has been under attack, literally via DDoS attacks on the site, as well as losing financial and infrastructure backing, its followers continue to support it. More than 500 mirrors of its data have been created by its online backers.

You can watch an NBC report below.

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