Swedish court upholds Julian Assange’s arrest warrant

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 16 (UPI) — WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange‘s arrest warrant on suspicion of rape will not be dropped, a Swedish appeals court ruled Friday.

The request by Swedish prosecutors to detain and question Assange, 45, will remain in force. He has not been indicted and the statute of limitations on the alleged crime ends in 2020, and the ruling slows efforts to have the case against him dropped.

Swedish authorities began an investigation in 2010 after Assange was accused of sexual assault and rape by two women. He denies the allegations. The statute of limitations on the sexual assault allegation ended in 2015 but he remains wanted for questioning over the rape allegation. Assange, an Australian, has maintained a return to Sweden could lead to his extradition to the United States to face questioning over WikiLeaks’ exposure of secret U.S. documents.

He avoided extradition from Britain to Sweden by receiving asylum in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012. Swedish prosecutors said Wednesday he would questioned by an Ecuadorian official at the embassy in October, adding they need to question Assange before deciding whether to formally charge him and seek his extradition to Sweden.

“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. The Court of Appeal also shares the assessment of the District Court that there is still a risk that Julian Assange will flee,” a three-judge panel in Stockholm ruled Friday.

Assange can appeal the new ruling in the Swedish Supreme Court.

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