A Stockholm District Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, which has cleared the way for a European-wide arrest warrant to be issued.
Australian-born Assange has steered clear of Sweden in recent months was not at the hearing.
Prosecutor Marianne Ny said that an international arrest warrant would be issued for Assange, according to news agency AFP.
Assange’s lawyer Bjorn Hurtig would not disclose his client’s whereabouts, according to a report by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, however Assange’s British lawyer had told AFP that Assange was in London on Thursday.
The warrant was for probable cause of one charge of rape, three charges of sexual assault and a further charge of unlawful coercion, according to Hurtig’s video interview with the paper.
Hurtig has played down the severity of the arrest warrant, and while agreeing that there were grounds for his arrest, he said the warrant was only possible due to problems with the Swedish legal system.
“This shows that we have problems with the Swedish system and that it is extremely easy to arrest someone on probably cause. It is not right to detain someone just because you want to interview the person when they want,” he said.
Ny confirmed to AFP that the arrest warrant was issued “so we could carry out an interrogation with Assange.”
Hurtig told Sweden’s TV1 news Rapport that Assange had made several attempts to meet with the prosecutor to tell his side of the story.