Interpol Issues Warrant for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange for Sex Crimes

Whistleblower site’s founder now an international fugitive at large

Interpol has issued a “Red Notice” for the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in connection with a sex crime investigation in Sweden.

The notice from the Lyon, France-based international police organization comes less than three days after Assange and WikiLeaks coordinated their latest leak — over 250,000 secret American diplomatic cables — and ahead of a planned WikiFlood of thousands of documents from a U.S. bank.

So what exactly is a “red notice”?

Wired explains:

A Red Notice is kind of international wanted poster seeking the provisional arrest of a fugitive, with an eye towards extradition to the nation that issued the underlying arrest warrant. Interpol transmits the notices to its 188 member countries, including Britain, where Assange is believed to be located. Interpol has no authority to compel a subject’s arrest. It issued 5,020 Red Notice last year for a variety of crimes.

Ecuador's deputy foreign minister offered to give the 39-year-old Assange — an Australian citizen — safe haven, but the country’s president quickly retracted the offer.

On Nov. 18, a Swedish judge ordered Assange be “detained in absentia” to answer questions pertaining to the rape investigation in Stockholm, Wired reports, and an international arrest warrant was granted, opening the door for authorities in Sweden to apply Interpol for the "Red Notice." Assange’s lawyer lost an appeal to the detention order, but filed a new one to the Swedish Supreme Court.

Assange has long dismissed the charges as part of a coordinated, anti-WikiLeak smear campaign. In a recent appearance on CNN, he scolded Larry King for bringing up the rape charge. ("CNN should know better, and I believe does knows better than to do that.")

Meanwhile, the global banking community is bracing for Assange's next planned leak — "hundreds of thousands of documents" from a U.S. bank, thought to be Bank of America, which he plans to release early next year.

[Assange photo via Wired]