Sweden issues arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder

Scotland Yard searching for Assange over Swedish rape charge, which he dismisses as smear to defame

Scotland Yard officers are hunting for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Sweden issued an international warrant for his arrest on charges of rape, sexual assault and unlawful coercion.

Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens confirmed the founder's presence in Britain, but said that he cannot disclose his movements and location while denying that Assange was hiding.

The site's founder, an Australian citizen who lives in Europe, is keen to meet the authorities at the Swedish Embassy or at a neutral venue, Stephens added.

Assange was in Sweden earlier this year to apply for a publishing certificate to make sure the website, which has servers in Sweden, can take advantage of Swedish laws protecting whistleblowers.

WikiLeaks made news in October after it released thousands of secret Pentagon documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which angered the American and British authorities.

In a recent interview, Assange dismissed the charges against him as a smear campaign aimed at defaming his website.