Interpol puts Assange on most-wanted list
By the CNN Wire Staff
November 30, 2010 10:22 p.m. EST
(CNN) -- Interpol, at the request of a Swedish court looking into alleged sex crimes from earlier this year, has put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on its most-wanted listed.
The Stockholm Criminal Court two weeks ago issued an international arrest warrant for Assange on probable cause, saying he is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force in August incidents.
Sweden asked Interpol, the international police organization, to post a "Red Notice" after a judge approved a motion to bring him into custody.
The "Red Notice" is not an international arrest warrant. It is an advisory and request, issued to 188 member countries "to assist the national police forces in identifying or locating those persons with a view to their arrest and extradition," according to Interpol.
The Swedish court ordered Assange, 39, formally arrested in his absence, which requires Swedish authorities anywhere in the world to detain Assange if they come across him. Sweden's director of prosecutions, Marianne Ny, had requested the arrest-in-absence.
"The background is that he has to be heard in this investigation and we haven't been able to get a hold of him to question him," Ny said at the time.
Assange faces five counts that appear related to two incidents, according to the request Ny filed with the court.
He faces one count of rape and one count of sexual molestation related to an instance around August 17 in Enkoping, just outside Stockholm. He then faces two counts of sexual molestation between August 13 and 18 in Stockholm, and one count of illegal use of force between August 13 and 14, also in the capital.
Assange could be sentenced to at least two years in prison if convicted, according to the document.
Assange, an Australian, was rejected for permanent residency in Sweden in October. Swedish Migration Board official Gunilla Wikstrom said his application failed to fulfill all the requirements but declined to give details.
On Monday, Ecuador invited Assange to come to Quito to discuss documents leaked on the site relating to Ecuador and other Latin American countries, according to a statement from the country's foreign ministry.
The ministry also offered to process a request for residency "in accordance with the country's current laws."
In a November news release, Assange's British lawyer said the sex-crime charges stem from consensual sexual relationships his client had with two women.
"Only after the women became aware of each other's relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him," lawyer Mark Stephens said in the statement.
Stephens also said neither he nor Assange "have ever received a single written word, at any time, in any form, from Swedish authorities on the Swedish investigation against our client."
The media has been the only way they've learned substantial information about the investigation, Stephens said. He called it "a clear contravention to Article 6 of the European Convention, which states that every accused must be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him."
Swedish prosecutors announced over the summer they were investigating Assange in two separate cases of rape and molestation. Ny said then there was reason to believe a crime had been committed, but that more investigation was necessary before she could make a final decision.
Assange has maintained he is innocent, telling the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera the accusations were a "smear campaign."