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Assange could claim Swiss asylum

Info pimpernel goes cuckoo?

Transparency campaigner Julian Assange may seek political asylum in notorious Alpine secrecy stronghold Switzerland, he has claimed.

Apparently without irony, the Wikileaks founder told a Swiss TV news programme he is mulling throwing himself on the mercy of the hush-hush cash stash.

"That is a real possibility," he said. "I'm considering whether I should seek asylum."

The Australian fears being extradited to the US on espionage charges, following Wikileaks' recent disclosures of tens of thousands of classified frontline reports from the wars in Afganistan and Iraq.

He is in Geneva to make a speech to the UN today about human rights. Wikileaks is urging the Obama administration to launch a full, open investigation into alleged abuses by US troops.

The leaked Afghanistan and Iraq War files have focused international attention on the US' human rights record, which the UN is reviewing.

Assange previously applied for residency in Sweden, but it was denied last month by the country's migration board. Officals did not give a reason, although he is under investigation there for the alleged rape and molestation of two women.

Assange denies the allegations and has suggested they are the result of a conspiracy to discredit him.

Separately, the Wall Street Journal reports disgruntled ex-Wikileaks staff are preparing to launch a new whistleblowing service. The leaders of the rival, unnamed initiative reportedly include Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former Wikileaks spokesman, who left the organisation recently complaining about Assange's priorities and imperious style. ®

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