Indymedia UK had reported
that Assange, the 41-year-old Australian who sparked a diplomatic row when he was granted asylum
by Ecuador, was arrested while secretly visiting a medical clinic five minutes from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
"Sources close to this reporter have confirmed that Wikileaks founder and international fugitive Julian Assange has been arrested by Scotland Yard detectives at a private medical clinic located just a five minute drive from the Ecuadorean Embassy," an article posted on the site claimed.
But Wikileaks, as well as the reporter to which the Indymedia UK article was attributed, vehemently denied the story, tweeting
that "Reports of Julian #Assange arrest are false and derive from a fabricated story."
"Such media smears are common," Wikileaks tweeted. "Reader beware."
Indymedia UK has since 'hidden' the spurious article about Assange's arrest, citing a breach of editorial guidelines.
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since last June. He entered
the embassy in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted on charges of sexual assault. The charges reportedly stem from Assange having unprotected consensual sex
with two Swedish women, which can be considered a crime in the Nordic country under certain circumstances.
Assange rose to international prominence after Wikileaks began leaking and publishing hundreds of thousands of classified US military and diplomatic cables, many of them detailing atrocities
committed by US troops and local authorities in Iraq
Assange has been hailed as a champion of free speech and transparency by progressives around the word, and even by some libertarians like US congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul
. Wikileaks has even been nominated
for the Nobel Peace Prize.
But he has also been vilified by reactionary forces, especially conservative American politicians, some of whom have called Wikileaks a "terrorist organization"
. Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has gone so far as to call for Assange's execution