Assange asks Sweden to drop arrest warrant now US has expressed intent

Assange asks Sweden to drop arrest warrant now US has expressed intent
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: AP
Julian Assange’s lawyer has filed a request at Stockholm District Court on Wednesday asking for an immediate end to the arrest warrant against his client, arguing it should be dropped now that the US has openly expressed a desire to charge the 45-year-old.

The WikiLeaks founder is currently remanded in custody by Sweden ‘in absentia’ over a 2010 rape allegation, and has been taking refuge inside Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 in order to escape the warrant, citing fears he may be extradited to the US to be tried over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified documents.

The Swedish warrant should now end, according to Assange's lawyer Per E Samuelson, as the US has openly declared it intends to imprison Assange. US attorney general Jeff Sessions recently said that arresting the WikiLeaks founder is “a priority”.

“The remand issue has to be reassessed on the basis that there is a real risk that the US wants him extradited,” Samuelson told Swedish news agency TT.

According to Samuelson, changing the Australian’s remand status would not necessarily mean an end to the Swedish case against him.

“If the prosecutor wants to continue with her pre-trial investigation and bring charges that’s completely fine. The difference is it gives Assange the chance to leave Ecuador’s embassy and travel to Ecuador. The big difference is that Sweden would refrain from restricting his freedom of movement and give that back to him,” the lawyer argued.

This is not the first time that Assange has attempted to appeal the Swedish arrest warrant against him. In September 2016 a Swedish appeals court ruled against his request to lift the warrant.

Assange was questioned at the Ecuadorian embassy last November about the 2010 rape allegation against him, which prosecutors are still investigating.