Prosecutors in Sweden said they would seek an international arrest warrant for Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk) in a rape case, after a court ruled he should be held for questioning.
In August an initial inquiry had been dropped.
Assange, 39, does not live in Sweden but visited the country in August. He denied the allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion and said they were part of a smear campaign.
Confidential material relating to US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan has been released on the whistleblowing website.
In August a Stockholm prosecutor started an investigation, but the case was dropped by the chief prosecutor a day later.
The investigation was reopened in September by Sweden’s Director of Prosecution, Marianne Ny. But at the time it did not request Assange’s detention.
Now Ny says Assange needs to be questioned. “So far, we have not been able to meet with him to accomplish the interrogations,” she says.
An order to detain him was ordered by the Stockholm District Court on Thursday.
According to Ny, “to execute the court’s decision, the next step is to issue an international arrest warrant”.
Assange’s lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, said his client “maintains his complete innocence”.
Although Hurtig would not say where Assange was, he added: “Sooner or later he has to come to Sweden if this continues.”
The allegations first emerged when Wikileaks had been criticised for leaking Afghan war documents, which led Assange to say that their appearance was “deeply disturbing”.