Swedish appeals court upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Assange | News | DW | 16.09.2016
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Swedish appeals court upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Assange

While Julian Assange battles to get rape charges lifted, he is threatening to upend the US presidential election. WikiLeaks' founder has promised an email dump that will raise questions about the Democratic Party.

A Swedish appeals court on Friday has upheld an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in connection with a 2010 rape allegation.

The court announced in a statement that Assange "is still detained in absentia," adding that, "The Court of Appeal shares the assessment of the (lower) District Court that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape... and that there is a risk that he will evade legal proceedings or a penalty."

Friday's decision by the Svea Court of Appeal means the 45-year-old Australian will likely remain holed-up in the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been since 2012, to avoid extradition.

This is the latest court ruling in a series of appeals, all of which have gone against Assange.

Originally, Assange was facing four allegations of rape or sexual assault. Charges were dropped in three of those cases last year due to Sweden's statute of limitations. The statute of limitations on the remaining rape charge expires in 2020.

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Assange has rejected all of the sexual assault allegations, insisting the encounters were consensual. It is expected that he will also appeal Friday's ruling, although neither he nor his lawyer has yet said so.

Meanwhile, Ecuador has announced that a formal interview of Assange inside their London embassy will take place October 17. An Ecuadorean prosecutor will question Assange in the presence of a Swedish prosecutor and an investigator.

Rebuked by appeals court

Swedish prosecutors had long argued there was no value in questioning him in London, but they changed their position last year after being criticized by the Svea Court of Appeal.

A Swedish prosecutor issued a European arrest warrant for Assange in November 2010, to bring him back to the country for questioning.

British police arrested him in early December 2010 but didn't imprison him. Having exhausted all of his appeals to avoid extradition to Sweden, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2012, and has been there ever since.

Assange has said the rape allegations are a pretense for him to be extradited to the United States.

The small South American nation offers protection to people sought by the United States to face charges for crimes "of a political nature."

The FBI has acknowledged that it is investigating Assange, with an eye towards prosecuting him under the Espionage Act, but it has denied there is already an indictment against him.

Meanwhile, Assange is threatening to upend the US presidential election by releasing "significant" information related to the Democratic Party and its candidate, Secretary Hillary Clinton, before the November 8 election.

Watch video 01:19

Assange speaks from embassy balcony (2012)

bik/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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