Interpol has placed the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks on its most-wanted list after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape investigation.
Stockholm District Court approved a request on November 18, 2010 to detain Julian Assange for questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion. Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny, who had reopened the investigation in September, said she had requested the warrant because, “so far, we have not been able to meet with him to accomplish the interrogation.” He is wanted as a witness, but has not been formally charged with a crime. Assange’s British legal counsel, Mark Stephens, disputed this, saying “we were willing to meet at the Swedish embassy or Scotland Yard or via video link” and that “all of these offers have been flatly refused by a prosecutor who is abusing her powers by insisting that he return to Sweden at his own expense to be subjected to another media circus that she will orchestrate.”
Sweden’s National Criminal Police force issued an international arrest warrant for Assange on November 20 via Interpol. An EU arrest warrant was issued through the Schengen Information System or SIS — a governmental database used by several European countries to maintain and distribute information on individuals and pieces of property of interest. “We made sure that all the police forces in the world would see it”, according to a spokesman for the National Criminal Police.
Stephens, Assange’s attorney dismissed the charges, issuing a statement in which he called the allegations “false and without basis” and said “even the substance of the allegations, as revealed to the press through unauthorized disclosures do not constitute what any advanced legal system considers to be rape”.
Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Björn Hurtig, claimed that the evidence against Assange was “very meager. It’s not enough to get him convicted for crime.”
On 24 November 2010, Assange lost an appeal against his detention. He considered under arrest in absentia and under an arrest warrant. The Svea Court of Appeal rejected his appeal and upheld the decision to remand him by the Stockholm district court. In late November, Assange escalated the process by appealing to the Supreme Court of Sweden.
Interpol issued a red notice against Assange for questioning on suspicion of sex crimes on November 30, 2010.
Svea Court of Appeal (Svea hovrätt in Swedish), located in Stockholm, is one of six appellate courts in the Swedish legal system.
A RED NOTICE requests (provisional) arrest of wanted persons (fugitives), with a view to extradition. An Interpol Red Notice is “the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today” (Interpol does not have the authority to issue arrest warrants in the formal sense of the word, as this is the domain of the sovereign member states)