STOCKHOLM: A Swedish court Wednesday upheld an arrest warrant against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for alleged sexual assault.
The decision is a setback for 43-year-old Assange, who has been holed up at the Ecuadoran embassy in London for over two years in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden. At the hearing in Stockholm District Court, prosecutors demanded that the warrant, issued in late 2010, should be upheld. Assange’s defence team, which had maintained that the investigation had taken an unreasonably long time, said it would appeal the decision, according to Swedish news agency TT. As a result of the ruling Assange will remain at the Ecuadoran embassy in London fearing extradition to the United States, said defence lawyer Per Samuelson, quoted by TT.
The warrant was issued over allegations of rape and sexual molestation which Assange has denied. The WikiLeaks founder sought refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in Britain in June 2012 after exhausting all legal options in British courts to avoid being extradited to Sweden.
He has said he fears that his being sent to Sweden would be a pretext for his transfer to the United States, where WikiLeaks sparked an uproar with its publication of thousands of secret documents. WikiLeaks repeatedly drove the global news agenda with startling revelations of the behind-the-scenes activities of governments around the world. From confidential assessments by US diplomats of Chinese leaders to revised body counts in Iraq, the WikiLeaks documents provided the public with an unprecedented look under the hood of international politics.
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