The Obama administration, along with countless other pundits, is furious with WikiLeaks over the publishing of tens of thousands of classified military documents a few months back. (You can check out the behind-the-scenes story here.) That’s resulted so far mostly in attacks in the press, going after WikiLeaks and its enigmatic Australian leader, Julian Assange, for the supposed irresponsibility in publishing such documents.
But the attacks on WikiLeaks took an unexpected twist this weekend when an “on-call” Swedish prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Julian Assange, under suspicion of rape. That warrant was withdrawn less than 24 hours later, after a supervisor had taken a look at it and decided there was not enough evidence to support it.
Says Karin Rosander, spokeswoman for the authority, to the Associated Press: “The prosecutor who took over the case yesterday had more information,
and that is why she made a different assessment than the on-call
Rosander also claimed that there was “absolutely nothing” to suggest an error had been made by either the on-call prosecutor or his supervisor, which seems a bit strange. Assange remains under suspicion of “molestation,” a charge much more broad in Sweden than here in North America–it can refer to milder acts we might term sexual harassment.
Assange and WikiLeaks, as is their wont, are not taking this lying down. On Twitter and in blog posts, both the organization and its founder are attacking the warrant, calling it entirely baseless and perhaps even a sign of something far more disturbing.
Assange, quoted in a Swedish tabloid, said: “I don’t know who’s behind this but we have been warned that for example
the Pentagon plans to use dirty tricks to spoil things for us.” WikiLeaks’s official Twitter account echoed the remarks, saying “We were told to expect ‘dirty tricks.’ Now we have the first one.” WikiLeaks has not expanded on the theory that the Pentagon is behind the accusation.
A Swedish watchdog group called RO has swiftly come to Assange’s defense, filing a complaint against the on-call prosecutor with the appropriate authorities.