A British judge sent Julian Assange to jail on Tuesday, denying bail to the WikiLeaks founder who vowed to fight efforts to extradite him to Sweden in a sex-crimes investigation.
A WikiLeaks spokesman said the flow of secret U.S. diplomatic cables would not be affected by Assange's legal troubles, nor by the group's increasingly rocky finances as both Visa and MasterCard cut off key funding methods.
"This will not change our operation," Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Associated Press. As if to underline the point, WikiLeaks released a dozen new diplomatic cables, its first publication in more than 24 hours, including the details of a NATO defense plan for Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that prompted an indignant response from the Russian envoy to the alliance.
Assange turned himself in to Scotland Yard on Tuesday morning, and was sent to the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in the early afternoon. He showed no reaction as Judge Howard Riddle denied him bail and sent him to jail until his next extradition hearing on Dec. 14.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, visiting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, was pleased that Assange was behind bars.
"That sounds like good news to me," he said Tuesday.
Assange faces rape and sexual molestation allegations in one Swedish case and sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in another. He denies the allegations, which he and his lawyers claim stem from a "dispute over consensual but unprotected sex" dating back to August.
Riddle asked the 39-year-old Australian whether he understood that he could consent to be extradited to Sweden. Assange, dressed in a navy blue suit, cleared his throat and said: "I understand that and I do not consent."
Fighting the extradition request could be difficult. Experts say that European arrest warrants like the one issued by Sweden can be tough to beat, barring mental or physical incapacity. Even if the warrant were defeated on a technicality, Sweden could simply issue a new one. (Continues here)