WikiLeaks’ chief spokesman and founder Julian Assange was denied bail after being arrested today by U.K. police for rape and other charges.
Assange, 39, stands accused of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape stemming from incidents involving two women in Sweden this past August. Swedish authorities initially dropped the charges, but in November, Swedish Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny requested Assange be arrested.
Assange was taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police’s Extradition Unit at 9:30 a.m. GMT. In an appearance in City of Westminster Magistrates Court, according to authorities, he told the court he would not consent to extradition, according to reports.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for WikiLeaks, told the Associated Press that Assange’s arrest is an attack on freedom of the press.
“This will not change our operation,” Hrafnsson was quoted as saying.
As the main face of WikiLeaks, Assange has been at the center of controversy surrounding the site. Last month, WikiLeaks began releasing a cache of U.S. diplomatic cables, opening up a new salvo of attacks-both cyber-security and public relations-wise-against the site.
But it’s not just WikiLeaks’ foes that have been busy; defenders of the site have been active as well. After PayPal announced it was blocking the site’s donation account, attackers knocked the PayPal blog offline for more than 8 hours Dec. 4. A second attack hit the main PayPal site Dec. 6.
Also targeted was PostFinance.ch, which closed Assange’s account after claiming he had lied about his residency. An analysis of the attack by Netcraft is available here, and the site remains down as of 11:45 a.m. EST.
The attacks are reportedly the work of ‘Anonymous,’ a loose affiliation of people tied to numerous hacktivist incidents. The group published a seven-point platform pledging continued attacks and urging supporters to “spread the current leaked cables as much as possible.”
WikiLeaks itself has been subject to denial-of-service attacks, with one coming shortly before it began publishing the diplomatic cables Nov. 28. A second attack occurred days later. Amazon also decided to stop hosting WikiLeaks on its servers, forcing the site to look elsewhere. EveryDNS.net backed away from the site Dec. 3, disabling services for WikiLeaks’ secondary hosted domains as well as the WikiLeaks.ch domain.
In order to stay alive, the WikiLeaks Website and its CableGate Webpage are being mirrored on 748 sites.
Meanwhile, U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, remains in U.S. military custody.