Woman in WikiLeaks 'smear' campaign speaks out
A woman at the centre of an alleged smear campaign against the founder of the WikiLeaks whistleblower website said she had supported a rape claim because she had experienced unwelcome sexual advances from him, according to reports.
Julian Assange, an Australian who lives mostly in Sweden, was charged briefly with rape and molestation by Swedish prosecutors last week. He has dismissed the charges as a Pentagon inspired smear campaign to create "sex traps" to harm his credibility.
Swedish chief prosecutor Eva Finné aims to make a decision on how to move forward in the investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tomorrow, she said in a statement on Monday.
On Friday night, a warrant was issued for Assange's arrest on suspicion of rape and molestation - which in Sweden can include many kinds of reckless behaviour against another person - by the prosecutor on duty. The decision to issue the warrant for Assange was in part made because he was considered a flight risk, according to the Prosecution Authority.
On Saturday, Finné took over the handling of the case and dropped the rape charge and warrant. Finné made that decision based on having access to more information on Saturday than the duty prosecutor had on Friday, she said.
However, that doesn't mean Assange is out of the woods yet. He may no longer be suspected of rape, but Finné will investigate the matter further, she said. Concerning the suspicion of molestation, Finné has not yet been able to make any decisions, she added.
Finné expects to be able to provide more information later this week, probably by tomorrow, according to the statement.
One of the two women behind the charges told a Swedish newspaper that the woman who alleged rape was a stranger to her, but had also attended speeches by Mr Assange, the Daily Telegraph reported.
After the woman had approached her, she agreed to attend a police station to make a complaint of her own.
"I believed her information immediately because I had a similar experience myself," she said. "The other woman wanted to report a rape, I gave my statement as a support statement to her story and to support her."
Swedish news website Newzglobe.com named a woman in the scandal as Anna Ardin. Silicon Valley gossip site Valleywag said she was the political secretary and press officer of the Swedish "Brotherhood Movement", a group of Christians from the Social Democratic Party.
WikiLeaks has come under severe criticism from the US government for recently publishing thousands of documents related to the war in Afghanistan and has taken steps to ensure its infrastructure for hosting documents is robust and distributed.
In Sweden, the Pirate Party last week said it will host several new WikiLeaks servers.
- Reuters, smh.com.au and Stuff.co.nz