WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was behind bars on Tuesday, having been arrested in the U.K. for sex-crime charges filed in Sweden. The 39-year-old Australian is accused of two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, relating to August encounters with two women. Assange was denied bail and will remain in custody for at least a week. His lawyer says the accusations have been "trumped up" to ultimately get the him to the U.S., where he might face espionage charges for releasing secret U.S. diplomatic cables. Is there any evidence to support that? (Watch a Fox News report about Assange's arrest)
The claims of Assange's accusers don't amount to much: Assange may be a "micro-megalomaniac with few if any scruples and an undisguised agenda," says Christopher Hitchens at Slate, but he's no sex offender. Enjoyable as it is to "picture Assange as a cult leader indulging himself with acolytes," the murky details of the case don't "appear to amount to rape and have a trumped-up feel to them." If so this might just help him "recruit sympathy."
"Turn yourself in, Julian Assange"
Assange might not be as innocent as his defenders insist: Assange's opponents may have "exploited the allegations against him for political gain," says George Eaton in the New Statesman, but that doesn't mean the charges are without merit. "For all their protestations, none of Assange's acolytes know what happened." If the allegations are trumped up, "they will not bear legal scrutiny," and Assange will have the "opportunity to clear his name."
"Julian Assange: Why both sides are wrong"
No one comes out well here: Assange and the two women involved in this case agree that each encounter began consensually, says Richard Pendlebury in The Daily Mail. But both women say their liaisons with Assange stopped being consensual when he refused to wear a condom, an offense in Sweden. One victim is a "seasoned feminist warrior" who has blogged about using the courts to get revenge on "unfaithful lovers." How do you decide who's right when no one involved "emerges with much credit?"
"The WikiLeaks sex files: How two one-night stands sparked a worldwide hunt for Julian Assange"