The lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today denounced the warrant for his extradition for questioning on sex allegations in Sweden as a "political stunt".
Mark Stephens said Mr Assange would "certainly" fight deportation to Sweden on the grounds that it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where senior politicians have called for him to be executed.
He said that the WikiLeaks site - which was last week forced to move to a Swiss host after being dumped by US internet companies - had come under siege from "a huge number of cyber-attacks".
The organisation held further secret material which it regarded as a "thermo-nuclear device" to be released if it needs to protect itself, he said.
Mr Assange, who is staying in Britain, has come under growing pressure from politicians in the US and around the world after his WikiLeaks site started publishing excerpts from a cache of 250,000 secret American diplomatic cables last week.
Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has described him as "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands" and called for him to be hunted down like a Taliban leader, while another senior Republican Mike Huckabee has said that "anything less than execution is too kind a penalty" for what he has done.
Swedish prosecutors have sent an international arrest warrant to the Metropolitan Police, seeking his extradition for questioning on allegations - which he strongly denies - of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.
International police agency Interpol has issued a "Red Notice" urging people to contact police with information about his whereabouts.
But Mr Stephens today said that Sweden's chief prosecutor had told Mr Assange in September that there was no case for him to answer, following complaints against him by two women, but the investigation was revived following the intervention of a Swedish politician.
He said that Swedish prosecutors knew where Mr Assange was and urged them to call him to discuss the case.
Mr Stephens told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "It is quite bizarre, because the chief prosecutor in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to find back in September, and then a few weeks later on - after the intervention of a Swedish politician - a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case which has resulted in these warrants and the Interpol Red Notice being put out.
"It does seem to be a political stunt.
"I have, and his Swedish lawyer has, been trying to get in touch with the prosecutor since August. Usually it is the prosecutor who does the pursuing, not the pursued.
"In this particular case, Julian Assange has tried to vindicate himself, has tried to meet with the prosecutor to have his good name restored. His name has been comprehensively traduced."
He added: "It is interesting to note that people as high up the American tree as Sarah Palin have called for him to be hunted down by American forces like the Taliban and assassinated.
"This is about a man who is a journalist. He received, unbidden, an 'electronic brown envelope' like journalists receive every day of the year.
"This particular journalist has put it out and what they are doing is criminalising him, criminalising journalistic activity."
Mr Stephens said: "The police know where he is, the Swedish prosecutor knows where he is and she could ring up at any moment.
"He has not been charged with anything. He is only wanted for interview, so why not have that interview by consent, instead of this show trial?
"I am rather worried by the political motivations that appear to be behind this. It doesn't escape me that Sweden was one of those lick-spittle states which used its resources and facilities for rendition flights."
Mr Stephens said that only 261 of the 250,000 documents received by WikiLeaks had so far been released and many of the papers being retained contained "material of equal importance to news-gathering" as those which have been published.
"They have been subject to cyber-attacks and censorship around the world and they need to protect themselves," he said. "This is what they believe to be a thermo-nuclear device in the information age."
Shadow foreign secretary Yvette Cooper warned that the release of confidential documents by WikiLeaks might impede the work of diplomats in trying to find peaceful solutions to conflict around the globe.
She told Andrew Marr the leaks had "made for good stories in the media but probably for bad diplomacy".
Ms Cooper added: "It does make it harder for people to have the conversations they need to.
"It does make people conscious of what they are saying and it would be a serious concern if it meant that diplomats didn't talk and leaders didn't talk to each other and they didn't send messages home.
"Diplomacy is the currency of peace. We need people to talk."Reuse content