Wikileaks' Assange cleared of sex allegations

Julian Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks, no longer faces charges of committing a sex crime.

Authorities in Sweden yesterday formally dropped a rape charge brought after an allegation made by one woman, but will continue to investigate another complaint against Assange by a second woman - though not as a sexual offence.

Assange - who protested his innocence of all charges, and alleged that they were part of a smear campaign orchestrated over WikiLeaks' release of documents pertaining to the Afghan war - still faces charges that he molested a woman on August 13th.

Molestation covers a range of offences, including reckless conduct or inappropriate physical contact, but is not a sex crime under Swedish law. Conviction can result in hefty fines or up to a year in jail.

Formally closing the case involving a woman who claimed Assange had raped her, chief prosecutor Eva Finne said in a statement: "The investigation is therefore closed in regard to this complaint since there is no suspicion of a crime."

Claes Borgstrom, the Swedish lawyer representing both women, dismissed Assange's claims that there had been any foreign involvement in the complaints.

"There is not an ounce of truth in all this about Pentagon, or the CIA, or smear campaigns, nothing like it," Borgstrom told Swedish news agency TT.

Borgstrom was also critical of the prosecutor's decision, insisting that both complaints should be investigated as sex crimes.

No details have been formally released about either case, but a police report obtained by news agency Associated Press reveals that both women met Assange in Stockholm, in connection with a seminar he gave on 14 August.

They filed their complaints together six days later. A warrant for Assange's arrest on suspicion of rape was issued later that day, but withdrawn within 24 hours.

Assange's lawyer, Leif Silbersky, slammed prosecutors for their handling of the case, particularly for exposing his client's name to the press.

"He has been cast as a rapist, labelled as a rapist and the international press have described him as a suspected rapist and now he has ended up in a situation where they have dispelled the sexual parts and what remains is molestation," Silbersky said.

WikiLeaks is expected to release a further 15,000 new documents soon. An improved interface, that enables users to read and rate individual documents from the existing dossier, has been posted online here.