WikiLeaks founder appeals Swedish arrest warrant: lawyer

STOCKHOLM, Nov 19, 2010 (AFP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appealed Friday against a Swedish court order for a warrant for his detention for questioning on allegations of rape, his lawyer said.

"I have just filed an appeal," his Swedish lawyer Bjoern Hurtig told AFP.

The Stockholm district court ordered Thursday an arrest warrant for Assange for questioning on "probable cause suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion" in Sweden in August.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's lawyer Bjorn Hurtig (L) meets the media after an international arrest warrant was issued against Assange, in a rape investigation, at a District Court in Stockholm, on November 18, 2010. AFP

The court order allowed prosecutor Marianne Ny, who had requested Assange's detention, to prepare an international arrest warrant for the 39-year-old Australian, who is believed to be in Britain.

Swedish police were expected to issue the warrant late Friday.

Ny insisted Thursday that arresting Assange was the only way she could be sure of questioning him about the allegations, which he has denied.

Hurtig's appeal does not automatically suspend the Swedish order or delay the international warrant.

However, Swedish media reported the petition would likely be treated quickly by the appeals court, which could rule on the warrant's legitimacy in days.

Assange has been accused of raping one woman in Sweden and sexually molesting another.

He has strongly denied the charges and hinted that they could be part of a "smear campaign" against his whistleblower website for publishing classified US documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks last month published an unprecedented 400,000 classified US documents on the Iraq war and posted 77,000 secret US files on the Afghan conflict in July.

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