Sweden refuses to withdraw arrest warrant for Assange over rape allegation

Sweden is refusing to give up its pursuit of fugitive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. A court in Stockholm on Wednesday rejected his lawyers’ plea to lift a European arrest warrant for the 44-year-old over a 2010 rape allegation. “The court considers that Julian Assange is still suspected of rape… and that there is still a risk that he will abscond or evade justice,” it said in a statement. Assange, who denies the allegation, will appeal the ruling, his lawyers said.

I just spoke to him, and like us he is not surprised but very critical and angry

Assange lawyer Per Samuelsson

Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012 after exhausting all his legal options in Britain against extradition to Sweden. He fears being extradited to the U.S. where he faces a long prison sentence or the death penalty over the WikiLeaks publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents. His lawyers requested the lifting of the warrant after a UN panel said his confinement in the UN in the Ecuadorian embassy amounted to arbitrary detention by Sweden and Britain. They say the latest ruling in a district court has not addressed the bigger issues at stake in the case.

We are appealing and are confident Sweden’s higher courts will enforce its international obligations and put an end to this terrible injustice, which has seen Mr Assange detained, without charge, for the last five and half years.

Assange legal team