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Court upholds Assange arrest order

November 20, 2014

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal against a Swedish arrest order. Assange, stuck in Ecuador's London embassy, is wanted for questioning on alleged sexual misconduct, but currently faces no charges.

Julian Assange PK in London 18.08.2014
Image: Reuters

An appeals court in Stockholm on Thursday rejected an appeal by Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblower website Wikileaks, that called for his arrest order to be lifted. Prosecutors issued the arrest warrant in 2010, with Assange wanted for questioning on alleged sexual assault.

Seeking to avoid extradition from London, Assange took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in Britain in June 2012, where he remains under daily police supervision.

"In the view of the Court of Appeal there is no reason to set aside the detention solely because Julian Assange is in an embassy and the detention order cannot be enforced at present for that reason," the Svea Court of Appeal said in a statement.

Assange had said last month that he was confident of his chances at appeal, after saying in August that he expected to leave the embassy "soon." Unconfirmed reports have suggested that the Australian national is suffering from a heart condition and other ailments.

The 43-year-old does not face formal charges in Sweden and denies the allegations; he had called on Swedish prosecutors to travel to London to question him, or to do so via video link. Prosecutors rejected this, however, saying that it was not normal legal practice and would hamper the investigation.

Assange argues that if he were extradited to Sweden, he would soon be shipped on to the United States to face trial over Wikileaks' publication of classified military and diplomatic documents. Wikileaks began publishing some 250,000 American diplomatic cables and around half a million classified military reports in 2010, in large part based on information provided by former US military analyst Bradley Manning, who has since adopted the name Chelsea Manning in a gender transition.

According to estimates on the UK website govwaste.co.uk, the public costs of monitoring Assange were approaching 8 million pounds (10 million euros, $12.5 million) on Thursday; a government response to a freedom of information request on the issue in June had put the cost of the operation at over 6 million pounds.

msh/tj (AFP, Reuters)