Scotland Yard has received the paperwork required to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, sources said tonight.
A fresh European Arrest Warrant has been issued by the authorities in Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over claims of sexual assault.
Mark Stephens, who represents the 39-year-old Australian former computer hacker, said he would fight any move to extradite his client.
But the move means there is no longer any legal impediment to holding Mr Assange and making him appear before City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.
Mr Assange is believed to be in hiding in south-east England as the latest publications on his whistle-blowing website fuel global uproar.
Prosecutors in Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest last month but it could not be enforced because of a technical blunder.
The Australian's details were also added to Interpol's most wanted website after a red notice was issued, alerting police worldwide to his outlaw status.
Detectives in Sweden want to question Mr Assange after two women claimed they were sexually attacked when he visited the country in August.
The country's Supreme Court upheld a court order to detain Mr Assange for questioning after he appealed against two lower court rulings.
Mr Stephens has denounced the move in Sweden as a "political stunt" and said he would fight extradition on the grounds that Mr Assange could then be handed to the US.
He said police know where his client is and should arrange for an interview by consent instead of a "show trial".
The solicitor added: "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."
The sex case is Mr Assange's most pressing legal issue, but may not be his last as several countries chew over the impact of his diplomatic cable disclosures.
He has come under growing pressure after his WikiLeaks site started publishing excerpts from a cache of 250,000 secret messages.
Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has described him as "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands".
Senior Republican Mike Huckabee said that "anything less than execution is too kind a penalty".
Meanwhile WikiLeaks has been forced to move to a Swiss host after being dumped by US internet companies as it comes under siege from a series of cyber attacks.
All Government departments have been asked to review their computer security by national security adviser Sir Peter Ricketts.
Home Secretary Theresa May told the Commons he has asked for "assurances" from all departments that their IT security is up to date.
Earlier, the Government condemned the publication of a secret list of facilities that the United States considers vital to national security.
The website revealed a detailed list of installations worldwide including a number of sites in the UK such as satellite sites, BAE Systems plants and cable locations.
It also included hundreds of pipelines, undersea cables and factories, including a cobalt mine in Congo, an anti-snake venom factory in Australia and an insulin plant in Denmark.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "We unequivocally condemn the unauthorised release of classified information.
"The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the United States, Britain and elsewhere.
"It is vital that governments are able to operate on the basis of confidentiality of information."
The leaks list three UK sites owned by BAE systems.
A spokeswoman for BAE said: "BAE Systems recognises its role as a custodian of key industrial and military assets.
"We would be concerned at any activity which compromises this."Reuse content