The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been refused bail by a court in London but vowed to fight extradition to Sweden. Mr Assange denies sexually assaulting two women in Sweden. He was remanded in custody pending a hearing next week.
A judge at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court refused bail because of the risk of the 39-year-old fleeing. A Wikileaks spokesman said the arrest was an attack on media freedom and pledged to continue publishing.
After the court appearance Mr Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens said he would be applying again for bail. He claimed the charges were politically motivated and said the judge was keen to see the evidence against Mr Assange, an Australian citizen.
Mr Stephens said Wikileaks would continue to publish material and added: We are on cable 301 and there are 250,000 secret cables.
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Assange's arrest was a matter for the police and there had been no ministerial involvement. The Pentagon welcomed the arrest, with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates saying on a visit to Afghanistan that it was good news.
Prosecutors in Sweden have insisted the extradition request is a matter of criminal law and they have not been put under any kind of pressure, political or otherwise.
Five people, including journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach and Jemima Khan, the sister of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, offered to put up sureties. But district judge Howard Riddle refused bail for Mr Assange and he was remanded in custody until 14 December.
Judge Riddle said he believed Mr Assange might flee and he also feared he may be at risk from unstable persons.
Gemma Lindfield, for the Swedish authorities, gave details of the allegations against Mr Assange.
One of the charges is that he had unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom. Another is that he had unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep.
According to the Argentine press Miss A is Miss Anna Ardin, a fervent admirer of the Kirchner ruling couple according to her blog. She spent time in Buenos Aires in 2005 at the Swedish embassy and describes herself as a “Peronist to the heart”.
Mr Assange, who was accompanied by Australian consular officials, initially refused to say where he lived but eventually gave an address in Australia.
At a full hearing, which is not likely to take place for some weeks, Mr Assange will be able to raise his arguments against extradition.
US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said it was possible the US would make an extradition request for Mr Assange but he said it was premature as the criminal investigation into Wikileaks was still ongoing.
Mr Assange was arrested by appointment at a London police station at 0930 GMT.
Police contacted Mr Stephens on Monday night after receiving a European arrest warrant from the Swedish authorities. An earlier warrant, issued last month, had not been filled in correctly.
Mr Assange has come in for criticism in the past week for the revelations made on Wikileaks.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has criticised the website for publishing details of sensitive sites, including some in the UK, saying they could be targeted by terrorists.
But in an article in The Australian newspaper Mr. Assange denied he put lives at risk and said Wikileaks deserved to be protected.
Mr Crowley said: ”The (US) constitution enshrines the freedom of the press and we respect that, even if we have concerns about how that is exercised.
Gerard Batten, a UKIP MEP, said the Assange case highlighted the dangers of the European arrest warrant.
He said: I don't know of the quality of the evidence in Mr Assange's case but it does seem that he is involved in political turmoil and intrigue and there are a lot of people keen to shut him up and there is nothing a court in the UK can do to look at the evidence before they extradite him.
Mr Assange's supporters have written an open letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, asking her to protect him.
Mr Pilger, who appeared in court to support Mr Assange, said Ms Gillard's threat to remove his passport smacked of totalitarianism”. (BBC).-