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No Break for Julian Assange: Swedish Court Upholds Arrest Warrant

By: Belén Marty - @belenmarty - Jul 17, 2014, 7:53 am

EspañolA Swedish court on Wednesday upheld the arrest warrant issued against Julian Assange, on the charges of sexual abuse and rape. The defense at the public hearing, which had requested the withdrawal of the international arrest warrant, will appeal.

The Australian hacker and founder of WikiLeaks was not present, and he continues to live as an asylee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“The Court has decided that there is still probable cause concerning the suspicions directed towards Julian Assange (unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape) … there is still a risk that he will fail to appear or in some other way avoid participation in the investigation,” states the official press release.

In turn, the prosecution sought to uphold the arrest warrant and affirmed that the hearing had to take place in Stockholm, because “it was not viable” in London, where Assange is at the moment.

According to the news website Falkvinge, which offered live coverage, the prosecution remarked that the hacker is staying in the embassy at his own will, so his time there can’t be seen as a sentence served. They also cited a “risk of flight” if the warrant were to be lifted.

After exhausting all legal avenues regarding his 2010 charges of rapes and sexual molestation in Sweden. Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has lived in a room since June 2012.

After the prosecution made their case, the defense responded that by not allowing Assange to make a statement from the embassy, the extended timeframe of the trial has become a violation of his right to due process.

The defense also directed attention to Article 5.3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which establishes the presumption of innocence. They added that Assange have never rejected participation in the hearing, although presumably only in a remote manner.

“This investigation is in the exact same state today, in 2014, as it was four years ago, in 2010. This [could] lead to one or more hearings. But it’s not a complex investigation. After this hearing, it’s time for the prosecution to decide whether to press charges or not,” said Assange’s defense.

Assange’s lawyers have also asserted that the political asylum provided by Ecuador is designed to avoid an extradition to Sweden, because he risks further extradition to the United States. Ecuadorian authorities allege that he could then be subject to rights violations.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with a Swedish legal case,” the defense continued. “The conclusion is that the assertion from the prosecution that Assange only has himself to blame is nonsense on a pure legal basis; there are good reasons for political asylum which Ecuador has listed.”

“In case that the court [were to grant] the defense request, the arrest warrant would be lifted, but the charges [would] not be dropped,” told AFP Camila Murray, chief administrator of the court.

The Australian hacker knows that this hearing is just a battle in a bigger legal war that forces him to be locked in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In a press conference in June, Assange declared: “I still have a major issue, which is the pending trial and the probable extradition order to the United States.”

Julian Assange became famous after publicly releasing classified files, including the real number of soldiers killed in Iraq, tortures and abuse that took place during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and even a report on the mental health of the president of Argentina.

Translated by Adam Dubove.

Belén Marty Belén Marty

Belén Marty is the Libertarian Latina, a journalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has lived in Guatemala, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States and is a former candidate for local office with Argentina's Libertarian Party. Follow @BelenMarty.