Julian Assange is called a hero by some, a traitor by others and continues to be called an alleged rapist by the Swedish court system. Stockholm’s District Court will not stop its pursual of the Wikileaks founder, with Assange’s warrant upheld on Wednesday, according to Russian TV news source RT.
Julian fought against extradition to Sweden while living in the United Kingdom when the rape accusations first surfaced in 2010. When Assange lost that court battle, he took asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He has remained in hiding there ever since, up until today when the Swedish court confirmed the Assange warrant upheld, according to The Wall Street Journal. A month ago, Julian’s legal team brought forward an appeal to repeal the arrest warrant.
Using the web-savvy tools that brought Wikileaks to prominence, the organization attacked both the trial and the media through Twitter following the Assange warrant being upheld. French news agency Agence Free-Press and BBC News were both specifically called out for calling the rape accusations “charges” as opposed to alleged acts, indicating that guilt had already been found.
Media note: Assange has not been charged at any time. He has an arrest warrant for an interview but no charges. Professionalism please.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 16, 2014
Julian’s legal team has made repeated offers to do interviews for the court deposition from England, but the Swedish courts have said that sexual assault cases are not suitable for such a deal. For example, the need for DNA samples was cited by prosecutors as a key reason for keeping the Assange warrant upheld. Marianne Ny, the case’s chief prosecutor, released the following statement to journalists following the upheld arrest warrant announcement.
The progress of this case is very much in the hands of Mr. Assange now. He decided to take refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London and how this moves along depends on what he decides to do.
Two of the key talking points of Julian’s defense hinge not on Sweden, but on fear that the United States will detain Assange to bring him up on espionage charges in the U.S if leaves for Sweden. Assange has a chronic lung condition that has also been difficult to treat from inside the embassy, sparking decries of human rights abuses from supporters. Additionally, Wikileaks has been quick to point out the more than $11.5 million already spent by the British government to keep Julian on the premises of the Ecuadorian embassy.
The rape allegations that resulted in keeping the Assange warrant upheld are also mired in controversy. In February, Julian’s lawyers released screenshots of alleged Twitter posts and text messages from the alleged victims that claimed they were bullied into making the complaints to the Swedish court system, reported the International Business Times. However, other media have been critical that liberal supporters of Assange have been quick to dismiss the rape claims in light of Julian’s other activism, including a 2010 editorial in Slate.