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Swedish court upholds warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on rape charge

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange still has a warrant out for his arrest after a Swedish appeals court upheld a detention order on Friday for a 2010 rape investigation.

The Svea Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling, saying that, “Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape …and that there is a risk that he will evade legal proceedings or a penalty.”

Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Assange in August 2010, after two female Wikileaks volunteers accused the 45-year-old of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. An allegation of sexual assault and one of coercion were dropped against Assange last year after the statute of limitations to bring charges expired.

The rape allegations, involving one of the women, will expire in 2020, if Assange isn’t charged by then. Assange has denied the rape allegations and has challenged the detention order multiple times, the Associated Press reported.

The Australian computer hacker has avoided extradition to Sweden by sheltering himself in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. Assange feared that Sweden would extradite him to the U.S. where he believes he could face espionage charges for his role in the mass publication of secret U.S. government documents.

The most recent request by Assange to overturn the detention order came after a United Nations panel in February said that his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy was “arbitrary detention” and that he should be awarded compensation.

The appeals court dismissed this argument, saying, “His stay [in London’s Ecuadorean embassy] is not a deprivation of liberty and shall not be given any importance in its own right in the assessment of proportionality.”

The court also said that there is a strong public interest in continuing the investigation and that the ongoing detention is necessary to move the investigation forward.

Assange’s legal team issued a statement, saying Assange is disappointed with the court ruling.

“Mr. Assange will appeal the decision and remains confident that his indefinite and unlawful detention will cease and that those responsible will be brought to justice,” the statement said.

Ecuador also responded to the ruling by reaffirming the asylum it has granted Assange. The country said its actions are “true to its long tradition of defending human rights, particularly those of the victims of political persecution.”

An agreement was made allowing an Ecuadorean prosecutor to question Assange at its London embassy on Oct. 17, Reuters reported.

On Thursday, Wikileaks tweeted an exchange offer that would involve Chelsea Manning, the former army intelligence analyst who leaked thousands of government documents to Wikileaks, who published them.

“If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange — despite its clear unlawfulness,” the tweet said.

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