Julian Assange Accuser "Still in Sweden"

Julian Assange
MARTIAL TREZZINI

The coordinator of a Christian outreach group in the West Bank denied reports Friday that one of two women accusing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sex offenses had left Sweden and traveled to a town in the Palestinian territory.

Australian news website "Crikey" reported on Thursday that Anna Ardin had traveled to the town of Yanoun, in the West Bank, with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Jerusalem and Israel (EAPPI) earlier this week.

Ardin, however, "cancelled her participation because we anticipated this," program coordinator Pauline Nunu told CBSNews.com Friday morning in a telephone interview. "She's still in Sweden and she's not coming to Palestine."

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Israeli news website JPOst, the online portal for the widely read broadsheet "Jerusalem Post," also reported on Friday that Ardin was in the West Bank. The report seemed to be based on a blog post attributed to the Swedish woman which referred to Yanoun. It's unclear whether the blog is actually published by Ardin.

Crikey also claimed, according to unidentified sources in Sweden, that Ardin may no longer be "actively cooperating" with the investigation into the sex allegations, which include rape, against Assange. While nothing has been revealed about the case against Assange by Swedish prosecutor Marriane Ny, there have been no other reports indicating that either of the two complainants have withdrawn their claims, or that they've halted cooperation.

Assange remain in a southwest London prison Friday morning, having been arrested on a Swedish warrant issued in the sexual assault case and his lawyers' request for bail being denied earlier in the week.

The WikiLeaks founder's British attorney, Mark Stephens, told CBS News on Wednesday that the rape and sexual coercion allegations amounted to a "stitch up," and he berated Ny for failing to produce any documentation regarding the claims, or any evidence, to himself or Assange.

It remains unclear whether Ny has even filed formal criminal charges against Assange in a Swedish court. Officially, he is only being sought for questioning in the case.

Stephens suggested the entire Swedish legal proceedings were a "show trial" -- little more than a means by which the U.S. government, furious at Assange for his organization's publication of thousands of secret, and often embarrassing, diplomatic cables, can keep the Australian whistleblower under lock and key.

The lawyer cited reports in the British media which have alleged secret conversations between Swedish and American justice officials to try and determine a legal path to bring Assange to the United States.

The U.S. and Australia have said they are "investigating" WikiLeaks' actions to determine whether any laws were broken by the website, but thus far no charges have been filed, anywhere, against Assange or WikiLeaks, relating to the leaked documents.

Assange is next due in front of British magistrates on Dec. 14 for a hearing to determine whether he should be extradited to Sweden for questioning in the rape case. Legal analysts remain divided as to the likelihood of that extradition actually going forward.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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