A district court in Stockholm yesterday upheld the arrest warrant issued for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted for questioning related to alleged sexual offenses dating back to 2010.
“The Court has decided that there is still probable cause concerning the suspicions directed towards Julian Assange (unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape, less serious incident) and that there is still a risk that he will fail to appear or in some other way avoid participation in the investigation and the following proceedings,” the court said in a statement.
The ruling came as a major setback for the Australian programmer who is currently holed up in London's Ecuador Embassy. Thomas Olsson, one of Assange's Swedish lawyers, said he would appeal the verdict.
Although no charges have been brought against Assange, he is wanted for questioning by Swedish police for allegations that he raped one woman and molested another (both WikiLeaks volunteers) during a visit to Stockholm in 2010. Assange denies the allegations, accusing police of making up the charges.
While prosecutors have declined to question him in London, Assange refuses to go to Sweden over fears that Sweden could in turn extradite him to the United States, where he could face charges over the release of thousands of secret documents by Wikileaks.
Assange fought a long legal battle in the UK to avoid his extradition to Sweden, but he ultimately lost the case, following which he sought and was granted political asylum at Ecuador's embassy in London in 2012. The embassy is constantly surrounded by London Police to keep an eye on him, and detain him as he steps out.