Dec 7, 2010

Assange's bank account frozen in Switzerland

The Swiss post office bank, PostFinance, has frozen the accounts of Wikileaks founder Julian Paul Assange.

The whistle-blowing website says the freeze includes a defence fund and personal assets worth 31,000 euros.

Wikileaks has published hundreds of secret US diplomatic cables, angering the US government and triggering moves by several companies including PayPal and Amazon to end their services.

Meanwhile, a warrant for Mr Assange's arrest has reached the UK authorities.

Sources have told the BBC that the European Arrest Warrant for Mr Assange arrived on Monday afternoon.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange in connection with allegations of rape, which he denies.

He is believed to be in hiding somewhere in south-east England. Once the police have located him, he would be expected to appear at a magistrate's court within 24 hours, pending extradition to Sweden, says the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner.

The move by Switzerland's PostFinance to freeze the Wikileaks accounts is the latest setback to hit the whistle-blowing website since it began publishing the US cables last week.

On its website, PostFinance said Mr Assange had "provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process.

"(Mr) Assange entered Geneva as his domicile. Upon inspection, this information was found to be incorrect.

"(Mr) Assange cannot provide proof of residence in Switzerland and thus does not meet the criteria for a customer relationship with PostFinance. For this reason, PostFinance is entitled to close his account."

For its part, Wikileaks says it and Mr Assange have lost 100,000 euros in assets in a week.

"Late last week, the internet payment giant PayPal, froze 60,000 euros of donations to the German charity the Wau Holland Foundation, which were targeted to promote the sharing of knowledge via Wikileaks," Wikileaks said in a statement.

On Monday, Wikileaks released an extensive list of facilities around the world that, according to the latest leaked cables, the US describes as vital to its national security.

The list includes pipelines, communication and transport hubs.

Several UK sites are listed, including cable locations, satellite sites and BAE Systems plants.

This is probably the most controversial document yet from the Wikileaks organisation, says BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.

Former UK foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind accused WikiLeaks of being "generally irresponsible, bordering on criminal".

Courtesy: BBC.

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