Net closes on Assange: arrest by British police expected in days

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is expected to be arrested in the coming days after Swedish prosecutors filed a new warrant with British authorities.

The Independent revealed yesterday that a procedural error with the European Arrest Warrant had delayed the arrest of the 39-year-old Australian, who is wanted in Sweden over sexual allegations but has been in England since October.

Police in Gothenburg claim they have now submitted a fresh warrant to the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Soca is expected to instruct Scotland Yard to arrest Mr Assange and have him appear before an extradition hearing – although as of last night the Metropolitan Police had yet to receive the warrant.

Police sources have previously said that they received a letter from Mr Assange's UK-based lawyer, Mark Stephens, containing information about how to contact Mr Assange should they need to.

Details of the new arrest warrant came as a last-ditch attempt to have the allegations against Mr Assange dropped failed. Sweden's highest court upheld the arrest order and refused to let him appeal against a lower court's ruling.

Last night, Mr Assange's family spoke of their fears for his safety after increasingly shrill statements from American commentators who have called for his assassination. His mother, Christine Assange, said "the forces that he's challenging are too big".

The arrest warrant filed with Soca states that he was wanted on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. But Soca requested a new warrant. A spokeswoman for the Swedish National Police Board told the BBC that the original one had been refused because it listed only the maximum penalty for the most serious crime alleged, rather than for all of the crimes.

When the arrest is made, Mr Assange will be taken before an extradition hearing at Westminster magistrates' court. If he refuses to be extradited, a judge will preside over an extradition hearing and will rule whether he should be sent to Sweden or discharged.

Last night, Mr Stephens said he would challenge any arrest in British courts. "The process in this case has been so utterly irregular that the chances of a valid arrest warrant being submitted to me are very small," he said. Mr Stephens has accused Swedish prosecutors of launching a witch-hunt against his client, who strongly denies the rape allegations and says he is being smeared because of the exposés published by his website.

He has maintained that Swedish prosecutors have yet to provide any evidence against Mr Assange and have ignored his requests to meet with them. He also expressed concerns at the way the UK and Swedish authorities were handling the case.

"I feel like I am sitting in the middle of a surreal Swedish fairytale," he said. "The trolls keep threatening to come on and keep making noises off stage. But at the moment, no appearance from them."

In an interview with an Australian newspaper, Mr Assange's mother defended her son and lambasted hawks in the US who have called for his death.

Ms Assange, who runs a puppet theatre in Noosa, a Queensland beach resort, defended her son's decision to publish thousands of classified US documents on the website. "He sees what he's doing as doing a good thing in the world – fighting baddies, if you like," she told Queensland's Courier-Mail.

Ms Assange – who does not even own a computer – described her son as a hero of the internet. But she added that she feared he had "gotten too smart for himself", saying: "I'm concerned it's gotten too big and the forces that he's challenging are too big." She did not want him "hunted down and jailed".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world