A fresh arrest warrant for the founder of the notorious document-dumping website WikiLeaks has arrived in the United Kingdom. His lawyer is discussing the warrant with British police and arranging for a possible questioning session.
Lawyer Mark Stephens told reporters in London that the Metropolitan Police had phoned him to inform him that they had received the warrant from Sweden in a sexual assault case. Stephens said Monday he is in the process of arranging for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to meet with police so that he can be questioned.
Stephens declined to say when that interview will take place.
In the event that Assange is arrested, Stephens told the British Broadcasting Corp. in a televised interview that he'll fight extradition to Sweden in case the Swedes, under political pressure, turn him over to the U.S., CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from London.
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In the U.S., authorities are wondering what law besides the outdated 1917 Espionage Act they might use to prosecute Assange.
"We have a very serious criminal investigation that's underway, and we're looking at all of the things that we can do to try to stem the flow of this information," Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters.
The legal maneuvering to restrain Assange will be complicated and slow, Palmer reports. The financial world has moved faster. The online payment company PayPal is no longer processing donations to WikiLeaks, and Assange's Swiss bank has closed his account.
Earlier Monday, Stephens said Swedish prosecutors have rebuffed offers since August for Assange to meet at the Swedish embassy, via video conference and at Scotland Yard, the BBC reported on its website.
"That's obviously to be regretted and is deeply unsatisfactory both for the women who made the complaints and indeed for Julian Assange, whose name's been so comprehensively traduced, particularly in the last seven days in the week while the cables have been released," Stephens said.
Previously, Scotland Yard said it hasn't arrested Assange because the warrant wasn't correctly filed.
Sweden's highest court turned down an appeal from Assange's legal team Thursday, validating the warrant. Assange is in hiding somewhere in or around London and working hard to keep his site up and running, Palmer reported.
On Twitter, WikiLeaks wrote about the warrant that authorities "may issue it shortly."
The 39-year-old Australian is accused of rape and sexual molestation in one Swedish case and of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in another.
Assange denies the allegations, which Stephens has said stem from a "dispute over consensual but unprotected sex." Stephens said Sunday that the Swedish investigation - which has involved prosecutors overruling each other and disputes over whether the most serious allegation constitutes rape - had turned into a "political stunt."
Scotland Yard would still have to seek a warrant at Westminster and City Magistrates' Court, which handles extradition, before Assange is detained.
Australia said it would give consular help to Assange if he is arrested abroad and noted he is entitled to return home as well. But Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland also condemned the document leaks as harming security and said Australia is obligated to help the criminal investigation into Assange's activities.
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