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US denies Assange's 'wild assertions' over American witch-hunt

WASHINGTON--The United States on Monday denied Julian Assange's “wild assertions” that it has launched a witch-hunt for the WikiLeaks founder, who was holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition.

The Australian-born hacktivist rallied supporters Sunday from the balcony of the embassy, accusing the United States of pursuing him after his website angered Washington by publishing a trove of sensitive diplomatic cables.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the United States had nothing to do with efforts by Britain to extradite Assange, who is wanted for questioning by Sweden on allegations of rape and molestation.

“He is making all kinds of wild assertions about us when in fact his issue with the government of the United Kingdom has to do with whether he's going to face justice in Sweden for something that has nothing to do with WikiLeaks, it has to do with charges of sexual misconduct,” Nuland told reporters.

“He is clearly trying to deflect attention away from the real issue, which is whether he's going to face justice in Sweden,” she told reporters.

“That case has nothing to do with us. It's a matter between the UK, Sweden and now Ecuador has inserted itself,” she said.

Nuland, in an exchange with reporters, later clarified that Assange was not charged in Sweden but was wanted for questioning. Two female WikiLeaks volunteers in Sweden have accused Assange of the sexual misconduct.

Assange says that the accusations are politically motivated and that he would eventually be extradited to the United States. He says the sex was consensual.

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