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Julian Assange sex case: Warrant for Wikileaks founder upheld

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaking to the media inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, ahead of the first anniversary of his arrival there on 19 June 2012. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Julian Assange has spent two years holed up inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London

A Swedish court has ruled that an arrest warrant against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on charges of sexual assault will stay in place.

Mr Assange, who denies the allegations, has sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for the past two years to avoid extradition.

If he is sent to Sweden, he says he fears charges in the US over the leaking of secret government documents.

A warrant for Mr Assange's arrest was issued at the end of 2010.

Two women in Sweden accuse him of sexual assault.

Appeal

The court in Stockholm agreed with prosecutors who had argued that the warrant should be upheld.

"All in all, the district court makes the assessment that the reasons for the arrest warrant offset the infringement and adverse effects the measure entails for Julian Assange," Judge Lena Egelin said.

"He should therefore continue to be wanted for arrest in his absence," she adds.

Mr Assange's lawyers say they will appeal against the decision taken by the district court.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many of Mr Assange's supporters view his legal battles as defending freedom of information

The Ecuadorean government granted asylum to the Wikileaks founder after the UK Supreme Court refused to reopen his appeal against extradition.

Mr Assange fears that if he were extradited to Sweden, he would be extradited again to the United States, where he could face charges over the release of thousands of secret documents by Wikileaks.

Chelsea Manning, an American soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in the US for passing documents to Wikileaks.

The leaks caused intense embarrassment of the US and other governments.

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