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Pressure on WikiLeaks founder to step down: Report

Assange is under investigation after two Swedish women separately accused him of rape and molestation.

Written by Agencies | New York |
September 7, 2010 1:14:36 pm

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is under pressure from within the whistleblower organisation to step down from the helm of the website he created.

Assange is currently under investigation in Sweden after two Swedish women separately accused him of rape and molestation.

Last week,however,Sweden\’s chief prosecutor,Marianne Ny,said the decision to reopen the case was taken after a further review of the facts in a case involving two Swedish women.

Birgitta Jonsdottir,a parliamentarian in Iceland where WikiLeaks is based,told \’The Daily Beast\’,that she had encouraged Assange to step aside and give up his other management responsibilities,at least until the criminal investigation is wrapped up.

“I am not angry with Julian,but this is a situation that has clearly gotten out of hand,” she said in an interview with the American news outlet.

“These personal matters should have nothing to do with WikiLeaks. I have strongly urged him to focus on the legalities that he\’s dealing with and let some other people carry the torch. Somebody needs to say this,” she added.

“If it means I get banned,I don\’t care. I really care very much for WikiLeaks and I do consider myself to be Julian\’s friend.

“But good friends are the people who tell you if your face is dirty. There should not be one person speaking for WikiLeaks. There should be many people”.

Assange was catapulted into public spotlight in July when WikiLeaks published nearly 77,000 classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan.

The information supported existing suspicions like Pakistan\’s ISI links with extremists and extra-judicial killings by US forces.

The Pentagon has blasted the 39-year-old former hacker from Australia for endangering the lives of local informers in Afghanistan mentioned in the documents,and asked him not to release another 15,000 documents.

Another WikiLeaks organiser asserted that Assange had been resisting efforts over the last two weeks to step down,and his insistence on “staying in charge of everything” was creating “a mess for everyone”.

Speaking on condition of anonymity,this organiser told \’The Daily Beast\’ that internal protests directed at Assange resulted in a temporarily shutdown of the WikiLeaks website several days ago.

Shortly after the rape charges were reopened,however,a statement on the WikiLeaks blog read,”We are deeply concerned about the seriousness of these allegations”.

Assange has also suggested that the Pentagon could be behind this smear campaign but this hasn\’t been taken too seriously,and the charges have been attributed to female jealousy and anger.

Jonsdottir also said she did not believe repeated suggestions by Assange that the Pentagon was behind the allegations,and pointed out that the present accusations could be due to a cultural misunderstanding between Assange and the two women.

“I have never seen this as a conspiracy,” the Swedish politician said adding,”Julian is brilliant in many ways,but he doesn\’t have very good social skills,” she added.

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