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Timeline: The International 'Arrest Warrant' For WikiLeaks' Julian Assange

As the furor continues over WikiLeaks' disclosure of a couple hundred thousand diplomatic cables and other messages sent in recent years by U.S. diplomats and intelligence operatives, here comes the news that Interpol has issued an alert for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in connection with a rape investigation in Sweden.

The case of the alleged rape has gotten kind of lost in the crush of news in recent days, so here's a timeline:

-- Aug. 20: The Swedish Prosecution Authority issues an arrest warrant for Assange, 39, but within hours cancels it. As the Associated Press reminds us, Assange was "suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden in August."

-- Aug. 30: Assange is interviewed by Swedish prosecutors.

-- Nov. 18: A Swedish court issues an international arrest warrant for him. According to the AP, "Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny said she sought (the) court order to detain him because attempts to question him again had failed."

-- Nov. 20: InterPol sends its 188 member countries a "Red Notice" about Assange. Basically, as InterPol says, that is an "international wanted persons alert" and "a request for any country to identify or locate an individual with a view to their provisional arrest and extradition." No InterPol member is required to arrest Assange. It is "a valid request for provisional arrest."

-- Nov. 28: WikiLeaks' latest disclosures start appearing on websites of  The New York Times, The Guardian and other news outlets.

-- Today:Interpol says it is making its Red Notice public "at the request of Swedish authorities who want to question him in connection with a number of sexual offenses."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.