Julian Assange Fails To Overturn Swedish Arrest Warrant

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Wikileaks founder to remain inside embassy after failure of legal attempt to overturn Swedish arrest warrant

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has failed to overturn his arrest warrant, and remains confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, after a Swedish court rejected his appeal on Wednesday.

Assange has spent two years holed up in the Ecuadorians’ residency, to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual misconduct which were made more than three years ago. He claims that he would likely be sent on to the US for trial over Wikileaks publication of US government material – although he has not as yet been charged in America.

Warrant Upheld

Assange’s lawyers filed a petition in a Swedish court to withdraw his arrest warrant, which was issued after allegations of sexual misconduct. So far, no official charges have been filed in Sweden, and Assange insists that the Swedish warrant is nothing more than a political ploy, which would see him eventually extradited to the United States, to face criminal charges there over Wikileaks’ release of thousands of confidential US government documents.

Those leaks were highly embarrassing to the US government, and a Federal Grand Jury is currently preparing a criminal case against WikiLeaks.

Assange gaggedAssange’s lawyers argued that the Swedish arrest warrant should be withdrawn, because it is not legally enforceable whilst Assange resides within the grounds of the embassy of Ecuador.

Assange’s lawyers also highlighted that Swedish prosecutors are refusing to travel to the UK to interview him about the allegations, so they can decide whether to actually file criminal charges.

But the Swedish court dismissed Assange’s legal attempt.

“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,” District court judge Lena Egelin was quoted as saying by Reuters. “He should therefore continue to be wanted for arrest in his absence.”

Thomas Olsson, one of Assange’s Swedish lawyers, was quoted as saying that he would appeal the Swedish court verdict.

Ecuador granted Assange political asylum back in August 2012, and Assange wants a guarantee of ‘safe passage’ to Ecuador before he will leave the embassy, as he fears the United States will have him arrested if he leaves.

British police continue to surround the London residence of Assange, at an estimated cost of £6m (from June 2012 to March 2014).

Political Prisoner?

Last month Assange held a press conference at his residence to mark the two-year anniversary of his residence at the embassy.

At the press conference, Assange said asked US Attorney General Eric Holder to dissolve the Grand Jury investigation into Wikileaks or resign.

Assange also insisted that he is reasonably comfortable within the residence, despite not being able to leave it, and he continues to work on Wikileaks.

That June press conference was held just days after 59 international organisations signed a letter, calling on the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review to stop Swedish authorities from seeking Assange’s extradition without any charges.

The letter calls the situation “Sweden’s longest running case of pre-trial deprivation of liberty” and refers to Assange as a “political prisoner”.

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