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Warrant out for Assange

Interpol yesterday issued a global arrest warrant for the shadowy founder of WikiLeaks, as the chaos from its massive dump of secret American cables spread from governments to financial markets.

The United States suspended the military’s access to some sensitive American diplomatic correspondence in a bid to stop new leaks, as the leaders of France and Pakistan were the latest to be stung by cables obtained by the website.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 39, a former Australian computer hacker, is wanted in Sweden for questioning over the alleged rape and molestation of two women. Assange has denied the charges.

Interpol, which is based in Lyon, France, said it had alerted all member states to arrest Assange on sight. He spends much of his time in Britain and Sweden. Assange is said to lead a spy-like life of rarely sleeping in the same place twice.

In one of a series of media interviews, Assange boasted that he was ready with a fresh “megaleak” that could take down a major bank, leading Bank of America shares to tumble more than 3 percent on Tuesday.

Assange told Forbes magazine that the bank leak would “give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume”.

Assange told Time magazine that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should resign over a cable that appeared to show the US ordered diplomats to spy on foreign officials, particularly at the United Nations.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Clinton did not draft the document and that her name was affixed systematically to many cables.

Crowley said the State Department had temporarily suspended the Pentagon’s access to some of its correspondence. He described Assange as an “anarchist”.

WikiLeaks and US authorities have not fully explained how the 250,000 sensitive cables managed to go public, but suspicion has fallen on Bradley Manning, a disgruntled 23-year-old ex-army intelligence analyst.

The Pentagon has faced questions on how it entrusted so much sensitive data to the low-ranking soldier.

The latest revelations include US accounts that Pakistan’s army chief has mused about mounting a coup against President Asif Ali Zardari and that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was so pro-US he considered sending troops to Iraq.

China has called on the US to “properly handle” the leak after cables indicated that Beijing was frustrated with North Korea and may accept its collapse and absorption by the South.

The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence, Mikhail Fradkov, said that WikiLeaks “released a treasure trove of analytical material”. AFP



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