News / Europe

Swedish Court Rules Wikileaks Founder to Remain in Detention

Julian Assange's lawyer Tomas Olsson, center, talks to media prior to a public court hearing in Stockholm, Sweden, July 16, 2014.
Julian Assange's lawyer Tomas Olsson, center, talks to media prior to a public court hearing in Stockholm, Sweden, July 16, 2014.

A Swedish court has ruled that Julian Assange will remain in detention in abstentia over allegations of sexual misconduct and molestation.
Attorneys for the Wikileaks founder had asked the Stockholm District Court to lift a Swedish arrest warrant to bring Assange to trial for allegedly committing two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape while visiting Sweden in 2010. Assange’s legal team has challenged the warrants on grounds of insufficient evidence, and Assange himself has said the charges are politically motivated.
The court ruling means that Assange will remain, for the moment at least, holed up at the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he has spent the last two years. Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in August 2012, but he has been forced to remain inside the embassy on fears that if he were to leave for the airport, he would be taken into British police custody and extradited to Sweden.
In its verdict, the court ruled that “neither does the prosecutor’s handling of the case nor the fact that Assange has been granted a political asylum and is presently residing in an embassy lead to the conclusion that the order should be revoked.”
Assange has repeatedly said he would voluntarily go to Sweden, but only with guarantees that Stockholm would not in turn extradite him to the United States, where he could face trial for publishing classified documents leaked to him by Bradley Manning.
At the hearing, Assange’s defense counsel said their client was “justified” in his concern that the warrant was politically motivated, and created largely to get Assange to stand trial in U.S. court.

As reported by the Swedish website Falkvinge, his attorneys told the court, “it becomes clear that Ecuador is protecting Assange from Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Australia, from persecution in the United States,” his attorney told the court. “This has absolutely nothing to do with a Swedish legal case.”
The Swedish prosecution argued the warrant was needed because Assange represents a flight risk and that a trial on the Swedish sexual charges could not be held on British soil.

“This kind of allegation [does not] work well for leaving public defenders or prosecutors on foreign soil, and we can’t apply force for taking DNA samples and similar if we consider it necessary,” the prosecution told the court. “Besides, we can’t hold a trial in London.”
Dozens of advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild and others have voiced support for Assange’s work with Wikileaks, but few have taken a specific stand on the charges of sexual misconduct.
Reached by VOA for comment, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others declined to comment on the ruling. However, in a previous letter to President Barack Obama, CPJ urged the U.S. Justice Department “to protect freedom of speech and the press, along with the country's global reputation as a beacon of those values, by standing back from any prosecution of WikiLeaks or Assange for publishing classified documents.”
Late in 2010 following the publication of the Manning documents, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that there was an “active, ongoing” investigation into possibly bringing charges against Assange, but no official charges have yet been made public.
Assange’s attorneys say they will appeal the decision.

Doug Bernard

Doug Bernard covers cyber-issues for VOA, focusing on Internet privacy, security and censorship circumvention. Previously he edited VOA’s “Digital Frontiers” blog, produced the “Daily Download” webcast and hosted “Talk to America”, for which he won the International Presenter of the Year award from the Association for International Broadcasting. He began his career at Michigan Public Radio, and has contributed to "The New York Times," the "Christian Science Monitor," SPIN and NPR, among others. You can follow him @dfrontiers.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs