Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to the story of the WikiLeaks saga.

The Guardian newspaper, one of the five original media outlets used by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to publicise the tranche of thousands of classified US documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and diplomatic cables, reported that Spielberg's studio, DreamWorks, was expected to make a movie based on a book about the covert leaks.

WikiLeaks: Julian Assange's War On Secrecy, was written by two reporters at the newspaper, David Leigh and Luke Harding. Dreamworks has also bought rights to another book by WikiLeaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Inside WikiLeaks.

Both accounts have been criticised by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Inside WikiLeaks offers a perspective of the highly secretive group from a former spokesman. It also reveals disputes between Domscheit-Berg and Assange, and lays out Assange's "personal foibles". WikiLeaks has denied many of the allegations and claims Domscheit-Berg sabotaged its site.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger thinks a Spielberg film could be a hit. "It's Woodward and Bernstein meets Stieg Larsson meets Jason Bourne. Plus the odd moment of sheer farce and, in Julian Assange, a compelling character who goes beyond what any scriptwriter would dare to invent."

WikiLeaks was less impressed. Its Twitter feed complained: "This is how bull**** ends up as history. Spielberg lines up WikiLeaks film based on books by opportunists."

But Assange has bigger battles on his plate. The office of his lawyer Mark Stephens this week confirmed Assange had officially lodged his intention to appeal a British magistrate's order that he be extradited to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.

The grounds have not been made public and the lodgement is understood to be simply an intention-to-appeal to meet a seven-day deadline set last week. But it comes as no surprise as Assange indicated before the ruling was made that, if he lost the hearing, he would challenge the result.

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle last week directed the 39-year-old should be extradited to Stockholm where he is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault claims by two women.

The order came after more than two days of a colourful hearing when witnesses called by Assange's representatives gave evidence of why the extradition was invalid.

The allegations against Assange include three counts of sexual assault and one of rape against two women on two separate occasions in August.

- AGENCIES