Assange, who was last seen in public a month ago, acknowledges having sex with two Swedish women who were WikiLeaks volunteers last summer but says his relations with them were consensual. He's described the allegations against him as part of a global conspiracy to discredit his website's work. Washington is angry at WikiLeaks for publishing three huge bundles of secret U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables, exposing embarrassing details from diplomats' conversations and potentially jeopardizing U.S. relations around the world.
The 39-year-old Assange appealed two lower court rulings ordering him detained for questioning. Those rulings also prompted Interpol to issue an international "Red Notice" for Assange, urging authorities anywhere to arrest him. While he hasn't surfaced yet, the notice makes it difficult for Assange to travel internationally.
Today's high court ruling in Sweden rejects those appeals and solidifies Assange's detention order. "The High Court has not granted a leave to appeal, so the Svea Court of Appeals ruling still stands," High Court official Kerstin Norman told Reuters.
Assange has not been formally charged. Meanwhile, there's some confusion over what authorities should do if they do indeed catch him. Assange was last seen publicly on Nov. 5 at a press conference in Geneva, The Associated Press reported. Rumors have swirled about his whereabouts since then.
But The Independent newspaper reports today that British authorities know where Assange is. In fact, it says Scotland Yard has been in touch with Assange's legal team for more than a month but is awaiting further instructions before arresting him. Police sources told the paper they've got Assange's phone number and know exactly where he's staying in southeast England.
Mark Stephens, Assange's London-based lawyer, told Agence France-Presse that "Scotland Yard knows where he is, the security services from a number of countries know where he is. The [British] police ... know exactly how to get in touch with him, as do the Swedish prosecutors."
Even though Interpol's Red Notice went out to all police forces, an anonymous British official told The Times of London that the arrest order is "not a properly certified warrant, so we can't act on it."
Stephens told The Guardian that the reason British police haven't taken action against his client is because the warrant was issued incorrectly -- not because they don't know where he is.
But Stephens spoke to the Guardian before the Swedish high court announced its ruling today. It's unclear whether the court's new action clears up any alleged mistakes in the original arrest warrant or whether the problem Stephens cited still remains.