WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain, on Feb. 5, 2016.
Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange in rape case. In picture: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain, on Feb. 5, 2016.Reuters

A Swedish court on Friday upheld the arrest warrant in a rape case issued in the name of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London fearing he could be extradited to the United States to face trial for leaking online confidential documents through WikiLeaks. 

Interestingly, the official Twitter handle of WikiLeaks had on Thursday said Assange was ready to go the U.S. to face trial for the leaking of documents if Chelsea Manning, who had facilitated in WikiLeaks getting their hands on the documents, was pardoned. Manning, born a boy named Bradley, has been sentenced to 35 years in jail for her act. 

The warrant against Assange pertains to complaints by two women that he raped and sexually assaulted them. The time limit to indict Asange for sexual assault ended last year, and so it is only for rape that he will be investigated. 

"After reviewing the existing investigative material and what the parties have stated, the Court of Appeal finds that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape. The Court of Appeal also shares the assessment of the District Court that there is still a risk that Julian Assange will flee," said the court in Stockholm on Friday while upholding the arrest warrant against him. 

Assange was first accused of rape in 2010 in Sweden, when the investigations began. Had he been detained or arrested, he could have been extradited to the U.S. for trial in the document leaks case. To escape that fate, he had taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks has said Assange was prepared to turn himself over to the U.S. if Manning, who helped WikiLeaks get many restricted documents, was pardoned. It said on its official Twitter handle: "If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange -- despite its clear unlawfulness [sic]."

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