Julian Assange Arrest "Sounds Like Good News to Me," Says Robert Gates

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Sept. 29, 2010. AP Photo

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates welcomed the recent arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday, indicating that the recent turn of events could signal "good news."

"I hadn't heard that, but that sounds like good news to me," Gates told reporters in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Swedish officials recently issued an arrest warrant for the 39-year-old Australian, who is wanted on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion in the country, and Assange was arrested in London on Tuesday morning in connection with those charges.

Assange is currently appearing before the Westminster Magistrate's Court, at which point it will be decided whether or not his extradition to Sweden will be required. 

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Assange denies all of the Swedish accusations and insists that the sexual encounters were consensual.

Assange's lawyers also said they will fight their client's extradition to Sweden: "I think he will get a fair hearing here in Britain but I think our, his, prospects if he were ever to be returned to the U.S., which is a real threat, of a fair trial, is, in my view, nigh on impossible," Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Gates has said in the past that while "embarrassing," he did not think the recent WikiLeaks revelations would have serious consequences for U.S. foreign policy.

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Meanwhile, Gates also recently expressed his skepticism that, at this point, Congress would be able to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. "I'm not particularly optimistic that they're going to get this done," he said, according to the Washington Post, adding that "I would hope that they would."

Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.