Swedish court maintains arrest warrant for Julian Assange

Copenhagen, Sep 16 (IANS) A Swedish appeals court on Friday decided to maintain the arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape accusation.

Swedish authorities began investigating Assange in 2010 on allegations of sexual assault and rape against two women. The sexual assault allegation was dropped after time ran out to bring charges last year, but officials said they would continue to pursue the rape investigation. Assange denies the allegations.

His defence team requested the warrant be annulled in February after a United Nations report concluded that the order for his arrest was arbitrary, Efe news agency reported.

“After reviewing the existing investigative material and what the parties have stated, the Court of Appeal finds that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape,” NBC news cited the ruling issued by a three-judge panel in Stockholm.

The ruling, which can be disputed before the country’s Supreme Court, also stated that active measures are being taken to interrogate Assange, referring to Ecuador and Sweden’s deal to have him interrogated by an Ecuadorian prosecutor on October 17.

Two years ago, an attempt to annul the arrest warrant, also failed.

Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuador embassy in London since 2012 after a long trial ruled in favour of him being extradited to Sweden.

His intention is to avoid being deported, as he could then be sent to the United States, where he would have to face a military trial for leaking American security documents on Wikileaks.

–IANS

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