"Don't hunt down my son," says mother of WikiLeaks founder

CANBERRA Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:24pm EST

CANBERRA (Reuters) - The mother of Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Wednesday she was distressed by an international police alert for her son's arrest and did not want him "hunted down and jailed."

Global police agency Interpol issued a "red notice" on Tuesday to assist in the arrest of Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, who is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of sexual crimes.

Assange, 39, a former computer hacker now at the center of a global controversy after WikiLeaks released a trove of classified U.S. diplomatic cables at the weekend, denies the Swedish allegations.

Christine Assange, who runs a puppet theater in Australia's Queensland state, said she was worried about her son's wellbeing as Australia's government joined the United States in launching an investigation into whether Assange and WikiLeaks had broken security or criminal laws.

"He's my son and I love him and obviously I don't want him hunted down and jailed. I'm reacting as any mother would. I'm distressed," she told Australian radio. "A lot of stuff that's written about me and Julian is untrue."

Assange, who was born in Townsville, Queensland has gone underground since WikiLeaks controversially began publishing more than 250,000 secret U.S. government documents.

Assange's arrest warrant was issued by Sweden's International Public Prosecution Office in Gothenburg on November 18.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor)

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