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WikiLeaks founder jailed in London

LONDON - A British judge sent Julian Assange to jail yesterday, denying bail to the WikiLeaks founder after Assange vowed to fight efforts to be extradited to Sweden in a sex-crimes investigation.

Despite Assange's legal troubles, a WikiLeaks spokesman insisted the flow of secret U.S. diplomatic cables would not be affected. He downplayed efforts to constrict the group's finances after both Visa and MasterCard cut off key funding methods yesterday.

"This will not change our operation," spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Associated Press. As if to underline the point, WikiLeaks released a dozen new diplomatic cables, its first publication in more than 24 hours, including the details of a NATO defense plan for Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that prompted an indignant response from the Russian envoy to the alliance.

Assange turned himself in to Scotland Yard in the morning, and was sent to the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in the afternoon. He showed no reaction as Judge Howard Riddle denied bail and sent him to jail until his next extradition hearing on Dec. 14.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, visiting with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, was pleased to hear that Assange had been arrested. "That sounds like good news to me," he said.

In Washington, State and Defense department officials said Tuesday that foreign powers are pulling back from their dealings with the U.S. government since the hundreds of classified diplomatic cables wound up on the Internet.

In court, Judge Riddle asked the 39-year-old Australian whether he understood that he could agree to be extradited to Sweden. Assange, dressed in a navy blue suit, cleared his throat and said: "I understand that and I do not consent." The judge said he had grounds to believe that the former computer hacker, a self-described homeless refugee, might not show up for his next hearing if bail were granted.


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