British police say they are now seeking to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is thought to be in London. The U.K. is executing a European Arrest Warrant that originated in Sweden, where Assange is wanted on rape charges. The arrest warrant comes soon after WikiLeaks published a list of "vital" facilities worldwide "whose loss could critically affect U.S. national security," according to the secret list, which was written by U.S. officials. Assange, though, has threatened to release an event bigger file should any action be taken against him. Here's what we know about the U.K. arrest warrant and a handful of first reactions, as a Swiss bank nearly simultaneously freezes Assange's account.
Julian Assange to be arrested, lawyer reveals. Developing now...
- What His Lawyer Can and Can't Fight The Associated Press explains:
Mark Stephens, who represents the 39-year-old Australian former computer hacker, said he would fight any move to extradite his client. But the move means there is no longer any legal impediment to holding Mr Assange and making him appear before City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. Mr Assange is believed to be in hiding in south-east England as the latest publications on his whistle-blowing website fuel global uproar.
- Will Assange Use His 'Insurance Policy'? "Meanwhile," notes The National Review's Daniel Foster," tens of thousands of sympathizers have downloaded an encrypted 'insurance file' released by Assange and said to contain sensitive documents on Guantanamo Bay, BP, and Bank of America, among others. Assange has threatened to send out a decryption key for the file should WikiLeaks be shut down."
- No Legal Case Against His Work on WikiLeaks Salon's Glenn Greenwald, a WikiLeaks defender, fumes:
WikiLeaks has never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted for one or convicted of one. A consensus of legal experts agree that prosecuting the organization or Julian Assange for any of its leaks would be difficult in the extreme. Despite those facts, look at just some of the punishment that has been doled out to them and what has been threatened.
- Swiss Bank Freezes Assange's Account, the BBC reports. The WikiLeaks site itself says the "freeze includes a defence fund and personal assets worth 31,000 euros." The pretext? The PostFinance statement apparently says Assange falsified a Switzerland address, which is required to open a PostFinance account. Assange had used the Swiss account after his PayPal account was closed.
- Did U.S. Pressure Swiss Bank? There's plenty of food for conspiracy theory here. One commenter at Little Green Footballs suggests that Swiss banks don't actually "freeze every account where the account holder had violated their rules." Another speculates: "The US government is pressuring them in a *nudge, wink wink, nod* kind of way." A third adds that "the swiss bank has been making deals to share info with the IRS going back a few years now."