Assange asks for new lawyer

Denies blaming CIA for 'smear'

Julian Assange has requested a new lawyer to represent him during a rape investigation in Sweden because his previous brief, Leif Silbersky, was not engaged enough with the case.

Assange wants Bjorn Hurtig to represent him as authorities continue to investigate the allegations, according to AP.

Various alleged Wikileaks insiders are busy giving anonymous briefings to the press in support of, or opposition to, Assange's continued role as spokesman for the organisation.

Assange told Sweden's TV4 that he had never blamed the CIA for the "smears".

He said: "I don't describe other people's private lives. I don't describe my own private life, because it's private. That is the correct discretion for all people to have and is certainly the correct discretion for a man to have. However I've never done anything unconsensual in my private life...in Sweden or anywhere else."

He said the claims might just have been personal vendettas and his words had been taken out of context, and that people said he had said the CIA was behind it, which was not true.

He said: "I didn't say anyone was behind it. I said very clearly what we knew, which was that on the 11th we received a warning and that this was a smear because it was not true. When people make false accusations that is a smear. That does not mean that intelligence agencies are behind it. Nor does it mean that they're not behind it. Nor does it mean that once this has happened for other reasons that they're not capitalising on it."

The video is available here.

Meanwhile Bradley Manning, the man accused of leaking video footage to Wikileaks, is being held in solitary confinement and being treated for depression and insomnia. Several reports claim his sergeant was so concerned about his behaviour before the alleged leak happened that he took the bolt out of his rifle. ®

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