WikiLeaks founder's plea rejected

Sweden upholds order to arrest Assange as court issues new international arrest warrant over alleged sex crimes.

    Assange is accused of sex crimes allegedly committed during his visit to Sweden in August [EPA]

    Sweden's highest court has refused permission to Julian Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, to appeal against an arrest order issued over alleged sexual crimes.

    Kerstin Norman, a court official, told media on Thursday that the court had decided against hearing an appeal from Julian Assange.

    The website founder's lawyer had earlier this week appealed against an arrest warrant issued over allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion committed against two women in Sweden this summer.

    The allegations have led to an Interpol notice, and the latest court decision means that domestic and international arrest warrants still stand.

    Speculation over whereabouts

    Swedish police have also said they would be issuing a new international arrest warrant for the 39-year-old Australian to replace one that could not be applied in Britain.

    "We have to refresh the warrant. It's a procedural fault, we agree. The prosecutor Marianne Ny has to write a new one," Tommy Kangasvieri of the Swedish National Criminal Police told the AFP news agency.

    "The procedure demands that the maximum penalty for all crimes Assange is suspected for is written" in the warrant, he said.

    "We described it only for the rape."

    Assange is widely believed to be residing in southeast England, according to media reports. 

    Mark Stephens, his lawyer, said that British police and the security services of several nations knew his whereabouts, but did not confirm his location.

    "The [British] police are being slightly foxy in their answers, but they know exactly how to get in touch with him, as do the Swedish prosecutors," he told the AFP news agency.

    "Both the British and the Swedish authorities know how to contact him, and the security services know exactly where he is,'' he said in a separate interview to the the Associated Press.

    However a spokesperson for the Swedish prosecution office said they had no information on Assange's location.

    Britain's Independent and Guardian newspapers have both cited police sources who said they knew Assange's whereabouts. But they said he had not been arrested because Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency needed clarifications about the original arrest warrant.

    Assange is in the limelight after WikiLeaks released more than 250,000 cables at the weekend, exposing the inner workings of US diplomacy and including candid assessments of world leaders.

    On Wednesday the website said it would also be publishing disclosures from the corporate world.

    "I believe that in the future we are going to have more material that is pertaining to the corporate community," Kristinn Hrafnsson, a WikiLeaks spokesperson said.

    Earlier a spokesperson said that Assange had faced assassination threats and had to remain out of the public eye.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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