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

dbjohnson+voanews.com

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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid