A Swedish appeals court upheld Friday the European arrest warrant against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who has lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012.
The Court of Appeals, in its ruling, said:
The Court of Appeal shares the assessment of the District Court that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape (less serious offense) and that there is a risk that he will evade legal proceedings or a penalty.
Assange’s legal team, in its response, said it was disappointed.
The UN ruling to which Assange’s lawyers are referring is a nonbinding decision by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, which called his detention arbitrary.
Friday’s ruling is a setback for Assange, who’d received a fillip last month when Ecuador’s foreign ministry said it will allow Swedish prosecutors to question him inside its embassy in London. The move was the first sign of the beginning of the end of the legal impasse involving the WikiLeaks founder.
Here’s background to the case, from our previous reporting:
Assange was arrested in 2010 under a European Arrest Warrant issued by Sweden over claims of sexual assault—claims he denies. But in 2012, while on bail, he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London so he could avoid extradition. Last year, Swedish authorities dropped two cases of sexual assault against him, though the allegation of rape still stands—and it’s in connection with that case the Swedish prosecutor wants to question him. Assange says he fears that if he’s sent to Sweden he’d be extradited to the U.S., whose secret diplomatic cables were published by Wikileaks. The U.S. says there’s no sealed indictment against Assange.
This week’s news about Assange comes amid developments related to two people whose names are closely associated with Assange’s: Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
Manning, the transgender soldier who was arrested in 2010 for passing classified material to WikiLeaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison, announced this week that she was ending her hunger strike after the U.S. Army agreed to let her have gender-reassignment surgery. Snowden, the subject of an Oliver Stone biopic due out Friday, appealed, along with his supporters, to President Obama for a pardon—one that appears to be unlikely.
WikiLeaks became famous for publishing classified information from the U.S. and other countries online. More recently it published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).