Hours after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London on a European warrant issued by Sweden, he appeared before a British magistrate who refused to set bail for him, RadarOnline.com has learned.
The controversial Australian — who’s accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden — was remanded in custody pending a full hearing next week.
Assange, 39, told a judge at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court he would fight extradition back to Sweden.
Assange was arrested at 9:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET) Tuesday, after he surrendered to police in London.
An attorney for Assange had earlier arranged to deliver him to British police for questioning in the sex-crimes investigation.
He was wanted on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in Sweden, and despite his plan to fight extradiction, he could still be sent back to Sweden to stand trial there.
The allegations leveled against him involve two women he met in Sweden over the summer. Assange is accused of rape and sexual molestation in one case and of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in another.
Assange flatly denies the allegations, which his attorneys claim comes from a “dispute over consensual, but unprotected sex.”
His lawyers also said the Swedish investigation has turned into a “political stunt.”
Interpol placed Assange on its most-wanted list on November 30, after Sweden issued the arrest warrant. Last week, Sweden’s highest court upheld the detention order.
One of Assange’s lawyers — Jennifer Robinson — said the WikiLeaks founder had voluntarily offered to cooperate with Swedish prosecutors because he “is very keen to clear his name,” but his offers have been refused.
Assange had been hiding out at an undisclosed location in Britain since WikiLeaks began publishing hundreds of U.S. top-secret diplomatic cables online last month.
Since the scandal broke, WikiLeaks has seen its bank accounts canceled and its Web sites attacked. The U.S. government has launched a criminal investigation, saying the group has jeopardized U.S. national security and compromised diplomatic efforts around the world.
A spokesman for WikiLeaks called Assange’s arrest an attack on media freedom and said it won’t prevent the organization from releasing more secret documents.
“This will not change our operation,” Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Associated Press.
WikiLeaks’ Twitter feed, generally packed with updates, appeals and pithy comments, has been silent since Monday night, when the group warned that Assange’s arrest was imminent.