Swedish court upholds Julian Assange arrest warrant
Decision clears the way for Wikileaks founder to be questioned about rape allegation
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: a Swedish appeals court has upheld a warrant for his arrest over an allegation of rape, which he denies. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
A Swedish appeals court has upheld the arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, prolonging the six-year long legal stand off with prosecutors and clearing the way for him to be questioned in London next month.
Mr Assange (45) is wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over allegations, which he denies, that he committed rape in 2010.
“The court of appeal shares the assessment of the district court that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape,” the court said on Friday.
Mr Assange avoided possible extradition to Sweden by taking refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012. He says he fears further extradition to the United States, where a criminal investigation into the activities of Wikileaks is ongoing.
Per Samuelson, a Swedish lawyer representing Mr Assange, said he had not yet talked to his client. “I assume we will appeal, it would be strange if we did not,” he said.
The court said the lengthy deadlock and the previous passivity of Swedish prosecutors in pursuing the investigation were arguments for setting aside the warrant, but there remained a strong public interest argument for it remaining in place.
“At present, continued detention therefore appears to be both effective and necessary so as to be able to move the investigation forward,” the court said.
Ecuador has set an October 17th date for questioning Mr Assange at its London embassy.
Swedish prosecutors have said the questioning will be conducted by an Ecuadorian prosecutor.
The latest request by Mr Assange to have the warrant for his arrest overturned came after a UN panel in February said his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy equalled arbitrary detention, that he should be let go and be awarded compensation.