Swedes oppose repealing Assange warrant

Swedish prosecutors say they oppose repealing an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which his defence team argues is necessary so that he can receive medical care in Britain.

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The Australian has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. He fled there after losing a legal battle in Britain against extradition to Sweden.

In their five-page reply to the Stockholm District Court, the prosecutors said on Thursday Assange was still suspected of a serious crime and there was a risk of flight.

The prosecutors added they still want to question Assange in connection with a suspected rape in 2010, an allegation he denies.

The defence recently requested that the court repeal the arrest warrant, saying the long period in the Ecuadorian embassy has affected his health, and that Assange needs a shoulder X-ray as well as dental treatment.

The defence also cited an opinion from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a panel of independent legal scholars, which stated that Assange had been subjected to arbitrary detention since his arrest in London in 2010 on allegations of rape and sexual harassment.

The prosecutors, however, noted that both Britain and Sweden have dismissed the UN panel’s findings, adding that it was up to Britain to decide whether Assange could be given “safe passage” to receive treatment.

The prosecution said it did not oppose a new hearing on repealing the arrest warrant but questioned if an oral hearing was necessary, citing that the Swedish Supreme Court in May 2015 ruled that Assange should still be detained.

Sweden was waiting for a reply from Ecuador on a request to question Assange that was sent in March, Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny said in a statement.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum because he was afraid of a possible extradition to the United States, where he is wanted in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of top secret diplomatic cables.