Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been arrested in London.
The Metropolitan Police arrested the 39-year old this morning, on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant, as he voluntarily turned himself into a police station. He will appear in Westminster Magistrates’ Court later.
Assange is accused by the Swedish authorities of sexually assaulting two women. He has said the charges are wrong and are part of a campaign against him as Wikileaks reveals a raft of confidential government communications.
Last week, Assange said Wikileaks would reveal data demonstrating "unethical" behaviour at a top US bank. Large pharmaceutical and energy companies would also be targeted in leaks, he said.
Yesterday the British national security adviser ordered government departments to review their IT defences in the wake of the leaks.
Sir Peter Ricketts asked for assurances that all departments’ security technology is up to date.
Home secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons: “On the issue of Wikileaks, the Prime Minister's national security adviser has written to all departments to ask them to look again at their information security and to provide him with the assurance about the level of that information security.”
The UK clampdown comes as US authorities take an increasingly strong stance against Wikileaks.
US Army Private First Class Bradley E. Manning has already been charged with mishandling and transferring classified information in connection with the leaks. He is believed by some to have passed the material to WikiLeaks.
President Obama has ordered an urgent of US government IT security, but Republican politicians have taken a tougher line. Sarah Palin, widely tipped as a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012, last week said Assange should be targeted in the way the US seeks out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
But leading academics have questioned the impact the attacks on Wikileaks have on information ending up in the public domain. John Naughton, professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University, wrote in today’s Guardian: “Our rulers have a choice to make: either they learn to live in a Wikileakable world, with all that implies in terms of their future behaviour; or they shut down the internet.”
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