Smell a rat of state power in the grip of fear and irrationality:
It is a case bound to excite the world’s conspiracy theorists. First the secretive computer hacker behind the leak of thousands of intelligence documents about the Afghan war was sought yesterday by police who accused him of rape.
Then just hours later the charge against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was mysteriously dropped – and his supporters claimed he had been the victim of an attempt to smear his name.
A WikiLeaks activist said: ‘We were warned to expect dirty tricks. Now we have the first one.’
Authorities in Sweden had issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr Assange, 39, after two women accused him of sexual assault.
Police said he was wanted for raping a woman in Stockholm last weekend and then sexually assaulting another woman in the town of Enkoping, 40 miles from the capital, three days later.
After they said he was under arrest in his absence, Assange responded on a Twitter account claiming the charges were baseless.
Then last night police admitted they were dropping the charge of rape and withdrawing the warrant for his arrest.
But they said they were still deciding whether to question him about the sex assault allegation.