Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Assange may be nabbed in 10 days: reports

DEATH THREATS:As the whistleblowing Web site struggled to stay online, its editor-in-chief emerged from hiding briefly, promising to resist ‘attacks against us by the US’

AFP, LONDON

The WikiLeaks Web site was fighting to stay online yesterday after Sweden issued a new arrest warrant for its elusive chief and it battled cyber attacks and government attempts to silence it.

The whistleblowing Web site’s editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, briefly broke cover to say he had boosted his security after receiving death threats amid the storm unleashed by his site’s publication of about 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

In Stockholm, Swedish prosecutors issued a new international arrest warrant for Assange — who is believed to be in Britain — on sex assault allegations that incorporated missing elements requested by British police.

“They were asking for additional information concerning the maximum penalty for all the crimes and infractions on the file. We usually only include the most severe offense,” which was rape in this case, prosecution office spokeswoman Karin Rosander said.

Reports in Britain said Assange could be arrested within 10 days.

The Web site was forced to turn to Switzerland for a new domain name after its original wikileaks.org address was shut down by a US provider, while Paris tried to ban French servers from hosting it.

The Swiss address was out of service late on Friday after the domain name was blocked by the US system provider, but WikiLeaks popped up on more than 20 alternative Web sites.

In an online question and answer session with the Guardian newspaper, Assange vowed to resist the “attacks against us by the US.”

“The threats against our lives are a matter of public record. However, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a superpower,” the 39-year-old Australian wrote.

Former US Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has said those responsible for supplying the leaked cables should face execution, while some pundits have called for Assange to be assassinated.

Assange’s lawyer in London, Mark Stephens, said that neither Scotland Yard nor he had received the new arrest warrant released by Sweden.

Stephens linked the warrant to “sophisticated” efforts to take down the Web site, suggesting that a “state actor” was behind efforts to silence Assange.

In France, Industry Minister Eric Besson called for WikiLeaks to be banned from French servers, saying it was endangering lives.

“France cannot host Internet sites that violate the confidentiality of diplomatic relations and put in danger people protected by diplomatic secrecy,” Besson wrote to the main body governing the Internet in France.

Russia has also been upset by leaks branding it a virtual “mafia state” and President Dmitry Medvedev derided as a “Robin” to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s “Batman.”

At a press conference on Friday with visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — himself a target of some of the cables — Medvedev said the cables illustrated the “cynicism” of US foreign policy.

The White House told government agencies on Friday to take measures to prevent employees without proper authorisation from accessing classified US diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks.

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