Lawyers say Assange needs urgent medical care

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. © Toby Melville
Lawyers for Julian Assange have urged Stockholm to repeal his arrest warrant, citing health concerns. The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, dodging extradition to Sweden and possibly the US.

Attorneys Thomas Olsson and Per Samuelsson said Assange is suffering from shoulder pain and is in need of urgent dental care, Sweden's TT news agency reported.

The lawyers say the WikiLeaks founder cannot receive adequate medical attention at the embassy, where he has been living for almost four years after being granted asylum by Ecuador in the summer of 2012.

The Stockholm court will rule on the request after the prosecution delivers its verdict no later than April 13, the agency said.

It's the latest move by Assange's defense team to have his arrest warrant over sexual assault allegations overturned. A similar request was made in February.

The move comes two months after the UN ruled that the WikiLeaks founder has been “arbitrarily detained” in the embassy in London, and called for the UK and Sweden to end his “deprivation of liberty.”

Although Assange welcomed the ruling as a “victory,” both the UK and Sweden rejected it, and the British Foreign Office has since written a letter to the UN which alleges that its opinion is “deeply flawed.” In February, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Assange to leave the embassy and bring an end to the “sorry saga.” 

The 44-year-old is wanted in Sweden for questioning in connection with allegations of sexual assault against two women in 2010, an accusation which he has always denied. Several additional charges against Assange were previously dropped because their statute of limitations were reached. However, the current charge is not due to lapse until 2020.

The WikiLeaks founder fears that if he goes to Sweden, he will then be extradited to the US, where he is wanted on espionage charges related to publishing classified US military and diplomatic documents in 2010 – a move which amounted to the largest information leak in United States history.