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Julian Assange avoided authorities, British prosecutor says

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange repeatedly avoided interview requests from Swedish authorities who wanted to ask him about allegations that he had sexually abused two women last summer, a British prosecutor said Tuesday.

Assange's apparent reluctance to be interviewed made him a flight risk and justified the move to arrest him, a London courtroom heard on the second day of a hearing to decide whether the Australian should be extradited from Britain to Sweden.

But Assange's lawyers said their client was difficult to reach not out of a desire to avoid interrogation but because he had essentially gone underground in September after his website leaked thousands of U.S. military documents and sparked official condemnation and threats of retaliation.

Prosecutors in Stockholm want Assange, 39, sent back to Sweden so that they can investigate allegations by two women who have accused him of molestation and rape on separate occasions in August. Assange, who surrendered to British police two months ago on a European arrest warrant, has said the sex was consensual.

His defense team continued to argue Tuesday that Assange was the subject of a witch hunt by overzealous prosecutors.

The hearing, which had been scheduled to conclude Tuesday, is now due to wrap up on Friday. The judge's decision could take days.

Julian Assange avoided authorities, British prosecutor says 02/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:28am]

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