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Freed and Defiant, Assange Says Sex Charges 'Tabloid Crap'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LONDON) -- Freed from a London prison, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange now says he was set up in the Swedish sexual assault case and claims that the publication of over a quarter-million classified U.S. diplomatic cables was "a step forward."

"[I am] clearly the victim of a smear campaign," Assange told ABC News on Friday. "There are intercepted SMS messages between the women and each other and their friends that I am told represent a set-up."

Assange said his attorney has seen the messages, but has been ordered by the Swedish government not to discuss them. Assange is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden, but claimed he has not been presented with "one word" of evidence.

In another interview with ABC News, Assange called the allegations "tabloid crap."

Speaking from the English mansion where he is staying with a friend now that he has been released on bail, Assange is already mounting a defense against possible U.S. charges under the Espionage Act. He claims not to know Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence private who is allegedly behind the leak of the trove of classified diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.

The timing of the arrest earlier this week led a WikiLeaks spokesperson, Assange's lawyer, and hundreds of Assange's supporters to claim the sex charges were part of a political effort to marginalize the WikiLeaks founder in the face of the document drop, which has proved an embarrassment and potential security risk for the U.S. government. But a lawyer for the two Swedish women accusing Assange said the charges are in no way politically motivated and the woman are angry at that suggestion.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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