24 Aug 2010
WikiLeaks is the whistle blowing website that released more than 91,000 classified military records on the war in Afghanistan last month, some of which point to war crimes by coalition forces.
On Friday, 21 August 2010, Swedish authorities charged WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, with two charges of rape and issued an arrest warrant for him. Six hours later, the charges were dropped. Al Jazeera speaks to Assange about these charges and why they were dropped.
According to Assange, it is the height of irresponsibility to make such allegations at the present time. He reports further that Wikileaks was warned by Australian intelligence on the 11th of August to expect "this sort of thing."
In a Guardian report, "Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, and a friend of Assange, said: A lot of us who had any notion of what he was doing expected this sort of thing to happen at least a week ago. I'm amazed it has taken them this long to get it together. This is how smears work. The charges are made and then withdrawn and the damage is done."
According to Assange, WikiLeaks has no direct evidence at the moment about whether these charges are the result of an intelligence operation or if they are being influenced by an intelligence operation -- but certainly the surrounding context is disturbing, he says.
He argues further that this is clearly part of a smear campaign as the allegations were withdrawn six hours later -- the only question is: who was involved in it?
WikiLeaks has some suspicions about who would benefit from making such charges now, but are in no position to make allegations without sufficient evidence to back them up, says Assange.
Swedish authorities have dropped the rape charges, but are still investigating sexual molestation charges against Assange.
Assange maintains that any claims of molestation are completely untrue and remains confident that the Swedish investigation will come to the same conclusion.
And, while Swedish authorities have, thus far, made no attempt to contact Assange, he has instructed his lawyers to contact them.
In the meantime, WikiLeaks is preparing to release another batch of classified documents in the next two to four weeks.