Julian Assange appears certain to face questioning by Swedish authorities over rape claims following a court’s rejection of his bid to have an arrest warrant overturned.
A Swedish appeals court has decided to uphold the arrest warrant for the Wikileaks founder, prolonging the six-year legal stand off with prosecutors and clearing the way for Assange to be questioned in London next month.
Assange, 45, is wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over allegations, which he denies, that he committed rape in 2010.
“The Court of Appeal shares the assessment of the District Court that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape,” the court said.
Assange avoided possible extradition to Sweden by taking refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012.
People were yesterday seen loading items into a white truck outside the Ecuadorean Embassy, fuelling speculation Assange could be on the move.
He says he fears further extradition to the United States, where a criminal investigation into the activities of Wikileaks is ongoing.
Per Samuelson, a Swedish lawyer representing Assange, said he had not yet talked to his client.
“I assume we will appeal, it would be strange if we did not,” he said.
The court said the lengthy deadlock and the previous passivity of Swedish prosecutors in pursuing the investigation were arguments for setting aside the warrant, but there remained a strong public interest argument for it remaining in place.
“At present, continued detention therefore appears to be both effective and necessary so as to be able to move the investigation forward,” the court said.
Ecuador has set an October 17 date for questioning Assange at its London embassy.
Swedish prosecutors have said the questioning will be conducted by an Ecuadorian prosecutor.
The latest request by Assange to have the warrant for his arrest overturned came after a UN panel in February said his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy equalled arbitrary detention, that he should be let go and be awarded compensation.
Assange said he would appeal the decision.
A statement by his legal team said: “Mr Assange is disappointed that the Swedish Court of Appeal today declined to uphold Sweden’s binding international human rights obligations.
“The United Nations has already determined that Mr Assange’s six-year detention without charge is unlawful and that he must be released and compensated. Today’s domestic decision shows that Sweden is not yet prepared to abide by its international obligations.
“Sadly, Sweden has a long history of compromising its rule of law where the perceived interests of the United States are concerned.
“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.”