British Police Vow to Arrest Julian Assange As Soon As Possible

Sweden is pursuing him in connection to alleged rapes against two women.

December 06, 2010, 2:47 PM

Dec. 6, 2010 -- British police are closing in on Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange, vowing to arrest him "as soon as possible." The Australian hacker recently released secret U.S. diplomatic cables related to sensitive sites vital to America's national security.

As Assange continues to raise the ire of the United States for publishing classified and sometimes embarrassing diplomatic cables, Swedish authorities are pursuing him in connection with alleged rapes against two women there in August.

"[London's Metropolitan Police] will now seek to arrest Julian Assange as soon as possible," Scotland Yard told ABC News.

His lawyer, Mark Stephens, said police have been in contact and they are now arranging to interview him, though the location and timing have yet to be finalized.

British authorities last week said they knew Assange's whereabouts and had been in contact with him since he arrived there in November.

As the noose tightens on Assange, Wikileaks is under additional pressure from the Swiss government, which recently closed a bank account where the site received vital financial donations.

"This is a serious matter, which will impact upon his [Assange's] ability to defend the case," his lawyer Jennifer Robinson told ABC News about the funding.

The latest cable leak to anger U.S. authorities includes a list of installations vital to America's national security and interests.

Speaking a press conference Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the leak could "create potential dangers for our friends and partners."

In a February 2009 cable, American envoys were asked to identify sensitive places "whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States."

Diplomats responded with a list of installations from all over the world including a mine located in the Congolese jungle, where cobalt is produced to make jet engines and medical scanners; the largest crude oil processing plant in the world located at Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia; a marine engineering firm in Edinburgh, Scotland "critical" for nuclear submarines; and a Canadian power plant that supplies the northeastern United States.

Clinton said she would not comment on "any specific cable," but said the theft of the cables was "deeply distressing."

Clinton then called on "countries around the world and businesses to assist us in preventing any of the consequences that could either endanger individuals or other interests internationally.

State Dept spox P.J. Crowley told ABC News that "for someone to release that kind of information is tantamount to sending a group like al Qaeda a prospective targeting list."

In a statement to ABC News, Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, said the cables offer additional proof that American diplomats were asked to engage in intelligence gathering, an allegation the State Department denies.

Holder: U.S. Security Put at Risk

"The latest release from the embassy cables reveals U.S. embassies were asked to gather information on key infrastructure and resources without the knowledge of, or consultation with, their host governments," Hrafnsson told

"This further undermines claims made by the U.S. government that its embassy officials do not play an intelligence gathering role," he said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the release of the documents had put the United States at risk and said he authorized a criminal investigation into Assange.

"The National security of the United States has been put at risk; the lives of people who work for the American people has been put at risk; the American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that are, I believe, arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way. We are doing everything that we can," Holder said.

"We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature. I authorized just last week a number of things to be done so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable, as they -- as they should be."

Assange has threatened that if he is arrested he would release a cache of documents, nicknamed the "doomsday files" that includes secret documents whose release would threaten America's national security.

The file, which he calls insurance, is encrypted. The password, he said, would be revealed only if he was detained or the site disabled.

"We have over a long period of time distributed encrypted backups of material we have yet to release. All we have to do is release the password to that material, and it is instantly available," Assange told the London Sunday Times.

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