Assange appeal lodged with Swedish Supreme Court in bid to end embassy stand-off

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (above) said Wednesday they filed an appeal to Sweden's Supreme Court seeking to quash the 2010 warrant for his arrest on accusations of rape and molestation. -- PHOTO: AFP
Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (above) said Wednesday they filed an appeal to Sweden's Supreme Court seeking to quash the 2010 warrant for his arrest on accusations of rape and molestation. -- PHOTO: AFP

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday they filed an appeal to Sweden's Supreme Court seeking to quash the 2010 warrant for his arrest on accusations of rape and molestation.

Assange lawyer Per Samuelsson said he lodged the appeal with Sweden's top court Wednesday afternoon to end the stand-off in which the WikiLeaks founder remains holed up Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid arrest and extradition, while Swedish prosecutors refuse requests he be questioned there.

"We have to end this - the situation is completely stalled, and that's the point we raised in our appeal," Samuelsson said in criticising what he called the "total passivity" of prosecutors who he said "have done nothing in four years."

With the law now requiring judges to decide if they are legally competent to accept the appeal, Samuelsson said "the Supreme Court now has the ball."

The arrest warrant was issued in 2010 by Swedish prosecutors investigating a case based on accusations by one woman accusing Assange of rape, and another alledging sexual molestation.

Assange, 43, refused to return to Sweden to refute the charges he adamantly denies on fears Stockholm would extradite him to the US to be tried for his role in WikiLeak's publication of huge stores of classified diplomatic, military and intelligence documents.

In 2012, he sought refuge in Ecuador's UK embassy to avoid arrest and likely forced extradition to Sweden.

While he has proposed to testify in the Swedish inquiry from inside that mission, prosecutors insist Assange must return to Stockholm to be interviewed.

Little has evolved since then, and after a lower Swedish court rejected the warrant appeal in November, Assange's attorney took the motion to the Supreme Court.

"We are asking the court to give us access to the phone text messages that the two plaintiffs exchanged, and which (prosecutors) possess," Samuelsson said, saying he was certain contents of the messages would prove Assange's innocence.

Samuelsson says Assange's embassy exile costs €11,000 (S$17,000) a day.

Moreover, he argues that in making it impossible for Assange to leave the mission without near certain arrest, the Swedish warrant has effectively denied Assange his civic rights before he has even been tried.