February 26, 2011 / 12:23 AM / 8 years ago

Bush cancels conference visit over Assange invite

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former President George W. Bush on Friday canceled a scheduled appearance at a business leaders’ conference in Denver after learning that organizers also invited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks and Assange, who is under house arrest in Britain while he fights extradition to Sweden in a sexual misconduct case, have drawn the ire of U.S. officials by leaking hundreds of thousands of secret government documents.

“Upon learning that Julian Assange had recently been invited to address the same summit, President Bush decided to cancel his appearance,” Bush spokesman David Sherzer said in a statement.

Assange also will not attend the summit, according to Geoffrey Robertson, a British lawyer helping represent him in his extradition battle. Assange was granted bail in December on condition he stay at a country estate north of London.

The Justice Department is conducting an investigation of the WikiLeaks leaks, though officials and legal experts say it would be difficult to bring a successful criminal prosecution against Assange for the leaks.

Assange has defended the leaks and has also denied any wrongdoing in Sweden, where authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest to face interrogation in the sexual abuse case.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Paul Simao

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