Julian Assange on Interpol's Most-Wanted List

Wikileaks' Founder Julian Assange (CBS)

Interpol has placed the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks on its most-wanted list after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape investigation.

The Lyon, France-based international police organization has issued a "red notice" for 39-year old Julian Assange - the equivalent of putting him on its most wanted list.

The issuance by Interpol was expected after a Swedish court in mid-November approved a motion to have Assange brought in for questioning. The notice, posted on Interpol's site Tuesday, is likely to make international travel more difficult for him.

Video: Who Is Julian Assange?

Assange, whose whereabouts are unknown, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden in August.

From her home in Queensland, Australia, the WikiLeaks founder's mother, Christine Assange, reportedly issued an appeal for her son Wednesday.

"He's my son and I love him and obviously I don't want him hunted down and jailed. I'm reacting as any mother would. I'm distressed," she told Australian radio, according to the Reuters news agency.

WikiLeaks began publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables this week, embarrassing and maddening world leaders from Washington to the Middle East.

The White House has called Assange's leaks of classified and top secret documents dangerous, but as CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports, friends say the WikiLeaks founder is motivated by a, "very firm belief that secrets are not often a good thing. And that society doesn't benefit from secrets."

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