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WikiLeaks founder loses bid to have arrest warrant scrapped

AFP-JIJI

Julian Assange on Wednesday lost a court bid to get an arrest warrant against him scrapped, leaving the WikiLeaks founder marooned in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he sought refuge more than two years ago.

The 43-year-old Assange fears extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation, which he denies.

At the hearing in Stockholm District Court, prosecutors demanded that the warrant, issued in late 2010, should be upheld to secure Assange’s return to Sweden.

They rejected Assange’s suggestion that they question him in London.

“It would involve questioning a number of people a second or third time, among them possibly Mr. Assange,” prosecutor Marianne Ny told a press conference. “To what extent this questioning can be carried out with the help of judicial assistance from our colleagues in Britain is difficult to say.”

Assange’s defense team, which had maintained that the investigation had been unreasonably long, said it would appeal the ruling. “The last word hasn’t been said yet on this,” said Thomas Olsson, a member of Assange’s defense team. “We will appeal this, and we expect it to change.”

The WikiLeaks founder sought refuge with Ecuador in June 2012 after exhausting all legal options in British courts to avoid being extradited to Sweden.

He has said he fears that his being sent to Sweden would be a pretext for his transfer to the United States, where WikiLeaks sparked an uproar with its publication of thousands of secret documents.