Assange turns himself in to police

The chase is over: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has handed himself into the police.

Assange has been accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all of which are alleged to have taken place in August this year in Stockholm. He denies the charges, saying the sex was consensual.

In a statement, the London Metropolitan Police says its Extradition Unit this morning arrested him on a European Arrest Warrant.

He’ll appear at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court later today, when a date for an extradition hearing will likely be set.

The accusations against the 39-year-old Australian were made by two female Wikileaks volunteers. The Swedish authorities dropped the allegations almost immediately, but then reopened them again a month later – some say under pressure from the US government.

Like his website, Assange has been dodging from place to place in recent weeks. He’s believed to have been in southern England for the last few weeks as 250,000 classified diplomatic cables have been released to newspapers around the world.

Assange’s lawyer – Mark Stephens from the wonderfully-named London firm Finers Stephens Innocent – denied that Assange had been in hiding, telling the BBC that he’d offered to meet Swedish prosecutors right from the start.

Assange has said that the next planned release of cables will take place whatever happens. He’s believed to be fighting the extradition in fear that it could then lead to a further extradition to the US.