A Swedish court has upheld the arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Assange, 44, is wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over allegations, which he denies, that he committed rape in 2010.
“The district court finds that there is still probable cause for the suspicion against JA (Julian Assange) for rape, less serious incident, and that there is still a risk that he will depart or in some other way evade prosecution or penalty,” the court said in a statement.
Assange avoided possible extradition to Sweden by taking refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London.
A statement from Assange’s legal team said: “In defiance of the UN, Sweden’s lowest court is keeping Assange detained.
“We are appealing and are confident Sweden’s higher courts will enforce its international obligations and put an end to this terrible injustice, which has seen Mr Assange detained, without charge, for the last five-and-a-half years.”
Last year, Sweden’s Supreme Court rejected a previous appeal by Assange to revoke a detention order.
Following a statement by a UN panel that his stay in the embassy amounts to arbitrary detention, Assange’s lawyers again in February asked the Stockholm District Court to overturn the warrant for his arrest.
“Unlike the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention the district court does not consider JA’s stay at the Embassy of Ecuador in London a form of detention,” the court said.
In 2010, WikiLeaks released more than 90,000 secret documents on the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan, followed by almost 400,000 US military reports detailing operations in Iraq. Those disclosures were followed by release of millions of diplomatic cables dating back to 1973.