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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid