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WikiLeaks' Assange Arrested In London

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during an Oct. 23 news conference in London.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during an Oct. 23 news conference in London.

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange has been arrested by British authorities who were acting on an international warrant issued by Sweden, where he's wanted for questioning about an alleged rape and related accusations. Assange has said he's innocent and that he's being persecuted because of WikiLeaks' recent disclosures of U.S. government secrets.

We'll have more on this developing story shortly, so be sure to hit your "refresh" button to get our latest updates.

Update at 11:20 a.m. ET: In a new post, we detail the allegations against Assange.

Update at 10:07 a.m. ET: Assange was "refused bail," The Guardian reports, and was "remanded in custody till 14 December," when he presumably will next appear in court.

Update at 9:25 a.m. ET: Assange, as expected, has told a London court that he will fight extradition to Sweden, the AP reports.

Update at 8:15 a.m. ET: Earlier, we added a recording of the conversation that NPR London correspondent Philip Reeves was having on the air with Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep as the news broke. They've now spoken again.

The first legal issue today, Philip reports, will likely be whether bail will be set for Assange:

Meanwhile, NPR's Carrie Johnson tells us that U.S. Justice Department officials do not think Assange's arrest affects their investigation into possible criminal charges stemming from WikiLeaks recent disclosure of U.S. diplomatic cables. They doubt Assange would speak with U.S. investigators about the leaks even if they got access to him.

Also, there's word from CNet News that MasterCard "is pulling the plug on payments to WikiLeaks, a move that will dry up another source of funds for the embattled document-sharing website."

In recent days, PayPal has restricted WikiLeaks' account and Swiss authorities cut off Assange's access to a bank.

Update at 8 a.m. ET: The Guardian, which continues to live-blog developments, says "Assange has entered the court" in London.

Update at 7:13 a.m. ET.Here's the statement from London Metropolitan Police about the arrest:

"Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Extradition Unit have this morning arrested Julian Assange on behalf of the Swedish authorities on suspicion of rape.

"Julian Assange, 39 (dob 03/07/71), was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 09.30 today.

"He is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010.

"Assange is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates Court today."

(The time of the arrest was 4:30 a.m. ET.)

Update at 7:05 a.m. ET: WikiLeaks says on its Twitter page that:

"Today's actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won't affect our operations: we will release more cables tonight as normal"

Update at 6:50 a.m. ET: The Guardian, which is live-blogging the story, says "Assange will release a video statement later today."

According to BBC News, the 39-year-old Australian is "due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court later." And, it adds:

"If the district judge rules there is a prima facie case to be answered by Mr Assange, and the arrest warrant is legally correct, he could be extradited to Sweden.

"But the process could take months."

NPR's London correspondent, Philip Reeves, was on the air with Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep when the news broke today. "We can now expect that the spotlight" will switch to an extradition battle, Philip said, as Assange fights against being sent to Sweden.

Here's a recording of their conversation:

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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.