WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to London police Tuesday as part of a Swedish sex-crimes investigation, the latest blow to an organization that faces legal, financial and technological challenges after releasing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
Assange was due at Westminster Magistrate's Court later Tuesday. If he challenges his extradition to Sweden, he will likely be remanded into U.K. custody or released on bail until another judge rules on whether to extradite him, a spokeswoman for the extradition department said on customary condition of anonymity.
Since beginning to release the diplomatic cables last week, 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 diplomatic efforts around the world.
WikiLeaks has also seen an online army of supporters come to its aid, sending donations, fighting off computer attacks and setting up over 500 mirror sites around the world to make sure that the secret documents are published regardless of what happens to Assange.
The legal troubles for Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, stem from allegations leveled against him by 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.