December 1, 2010 / 2:44 PM / 8 years ago

WikiLeaks founder appeals Swedish arrest order

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Julian Assange, the Australian founder of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, has appealed a Swedish arrest warrant for alleged sexual crimes, the country’s High Court said on Wednesday.

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, which has made public about 500,000 classified U.S. files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, holds a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva, November 4, 2010, the day before the United Nation's Human Rights Council examines the U.S. human rights record in its universal periodic review programme. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

Assange has denied the allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion which led to the Swedish arrest warrant.

His appeal against the arrest order was lodged with the High Court on Tuesday by his lawyer Bjorn Hurtig.

The former computer hacker is at the center of a global controversy after WikiLeaks released more than 250,000 cables at the weekend, exposing the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy and including brutally candid assessments of world leaders.

“Julian Assange demands that the High Court, after issuing a leave to appeal, changes the appeal court’s decision and immediately overturns the decision to detain Julian Assange,” the document said.

On Tuesday, international police agency Interpol issued a red notice for Assange. This allows arrest warrants issued by national authorities to be circulated to other countries. Interpol’s website said anyone with information on Assange, 39, should contact their national or local police.

Assange’s whereabouts are not known.

A Swedish court ordered Assange’s detention on November 18 as a result of an investigation begun in September by the prosecutor’s office into allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.

Assange has called the allegations baseless and criticized what he has called a legal circus in Sweden, where he had been seeking to build a base in order to benefit from its strict journalist protection laws.

In October, WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war, which Assange said showed 15,000 more Iraqi civilian deaths had occurred than thought.

Experts say U.S. authorities could face insurmountable legal hurdles if they try to bring criminal charges against Assange over the leaked documents and cables.

Reporting by Patrick Lannin; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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