Swedish court upholds Assange arrest warrant
The Stockholm district court held a public hearing this afternoon to determine if an arrest warrant against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for alleged sexual assault should be dropped. Assange has spent the past two years holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden.
The Stockholm District Court decided on Wednesday to uphold the arrest warrant against Julian Assange.
The court said in a statement: "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."
"This was not the decision we asked for, so we will have to ask the Court of Appeals to try the case," attorney Tomas Olsson told the media representatives that had been waiting for hours outside the courthouse.
In her comments to the court decision, prosecutor Marianne Ny said that the arrest warrant against Julian Assange will stand and that there is still probable cause concerning the suspicions against him, including unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape.
Ny said that the court has weighed the imposement in Assange's rights and did not find it disproportionate to uphold the arrest warrant and that the court does not have any objections to the way the case has been handled so far.
The Wikileaks founder is wanted for questioning over alleged sex offenses in Sweden. He currently has diplomatic asylum in the Ecuador embassy in London, with British police waiting outside to enact the Swedish warrant and arrest him.
"It is unreasonable for this arrest warrant to continue, seeing as it has been going on so long and how much suffering it has caused Julian Assange," one of Assange's lawyers, Tomas Olsson, told Swedish Radio News.
Everything began almost four years ago. Two women, who had sex with Assange during a visit of his to Sweden, went to the police wanting to get Assange to take an HIV test.
Then, Assange became suspected by the police of, among other offences, rape.
He fears that if he is held in custody by Sweden he may be the victim of extradition or rendition to the USA, in order to be tried there in relation to his work with Wikileaks revealing American secrets, something Swedish legal experts have questioned.
The defense showed the court videos with clips of American politicians and political commentators, all asserting that Assange should be brought to the USA to be tried.
Among those in the video, from the Wikileaks channel, are Vice President Joe Biden and other American politicians like Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich, who describe Assange as a criminal and terrorist, among other things. One clip is of American president Barack Obama saying that Assange broke American law, when Wikileaks published secret documents.
After losing his appeals against the Swedish arrest warrant Julian Assange sought asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London, where he has been living for the past two years.
His lawyers say his refugee status relates to potential US attempts to seize him, and is not a way of avoiding the Swedish warrant.
A police officer in London says to newspaper Dagens Nyheter that they still have a warrant for Julian Assange's arrest, for breaking the conditions of bail.