British police receive Assange arrest warrant: report

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British police have received an international arrest warrant issued by Sweden for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the BBC reported Monday, suggesting the Australian may be arrested soon.

Media reports last week suggested that police in Britain, where the elusive 39-year-old Australian is thought to be hiding, could not arrest him because the original warrant issued in Stockholm was incomplete.

The Stockholm district court had ordered on November 18 an arrest warrant for Assange for questioning on suspicions of "rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion" in Sweden in August.

Swedish prosecutors issued a new international warrant on Friday. "We sent back the elements that the British police asked for," spokesman Karin Rosander told AFP.

The BBC said this warrant has been received by British police, fuelling speculation that Assange will be detained within days.

When contacted by AFP, Scotland Yard was unable to confirm the report.

Assange has denied the charges and his British lawyer, Mark Stephens, said Sunday that the pursuit of his client had "political motivations", referring to WikiLeaks' recent release of 250,000 secret US government documents.

Swedish prosecutors rejected this.

Assange broke cover on Friday to say in an online chat that he had boosted security after receiving death threats.

© 2010 AFP

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