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Sweden Is Not Backing Down on Its Julian Assange Arrest Warrant

Julian Assange extraditionJulian Assange extradition
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, left, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speak during a press conference inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2014.Photograph by John Stillwell — AP

A Swedish lower court has upheld an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for questioning in a 2010 rape case.

Assange, 44, has been wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities since 2010 over the alleged rape of one woman and the molestation of another—which he has denied. He fled to an Ecuadorean embassy in London during 2012, fearing further extradition to the U.S., where there is currently an ongoing criminal investigation into WikiLeaks, the website that published multiple confidential U.S. files including those about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and a 2007 Baghdad air strike.

A U.N. panel later decided in February that Assange’s flight to an Ecuadorean embassy and subsequent three-and-a-half-year stay was a form of “arbitrary detention”—arresting or detaining an individual without sufficient evidence or due process. The guidance has no force of law, however, and the Swedish lower court has decided that Assange’s asylum in the embassy does not constitute “arbitrary detention.”

“The district court finds that there is still probable cause for the suspicion against [Julian Assange] for rape, less serious incident, and that there is still a risk that he will depart or in some other way evade prosecution or penalty,” the Swedish district court ruled on Wednesday, according to a statement.

 

Assange’s lawyers sought to have his warrant for arrest in Sweden overturned after receiving the U.N.’s backing, despite having another appeal rejected by Sweden’s Supreme Court a year earlier. He could potentially stay in the embassy until 2020, when the two remaining allegations of sex offenses against him expire under Swedish law.

In January, Assange and Ecuador gave Swedish authorities permission to question the WikiLeaks founder at the embassy. Sweden submitted a request that was then rejected by Ecuador “for formal reasons.” Ecuador has also suggested that it conduct the interview with a list of questions from Swedish prosecutors.

Fortune has reached out to representatives for Assange and will update this story if they respond.