A Swedish court has upheld an arrest warrant for Julian Assange. The Wikileaks founder has been spent the last two years in Ecuador's London embassay to avoid extradition for questioning over sexual assault allegations.
The warrant was upheld by the Stockholm District Court on Wednesday. Prosecutors in the Scandinavian country have been seeking to question Assange over sexual assault allegations made by two former Wikileaks volunteers. No charges have been brought against him.
Assange's lawyers said they would appeal the decision.
The 43-year-old Australian denies the allegations and has been fighting extradition since his arrest in Britain in December 2010.
Assange says Sweden could in turn extradite him to the United States, where he could be tried for his role in one of the largest ever leaks of classified information in US history.
He has been living since 2012 in the London embassy of Ecuador, where he has been given political asylum.
Ongoing legal battle
"All in all, the district court makes the assessment that the reasons for the arrest warrant offset the infringement and adverse effects the measure entails for Julian Assange," said District Cout judge Lena Egelin said. "He should therefore continue to be wanted for arrest in his absence."
Assange's legal team has argued that the warrant should be repealed because he cannot be questioned while in the Ecuadorian embassy and prosecutors have not considered talking to him in London.
Ecuador wants Britain to assure Assange safe passage to Quito. British police have instead stationed a guard outside the embassy on orders to arrest him should he leave. The 24-7 police presence there has cost the government 6 million pounds (7.6 million euros, $10.3 million) from June 2012 to March of this year.
dr/ipj (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)