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Sweden's Supreme Court Refuses To Drop Arrest Warrant For Julian Assange

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 and refuses to return to Stockholm to face sexual assault charges for fear he will be extradited to the U.S., where he is being investigated for espionage.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday lost his appeal against the sexual assault charges he is currently facing in Sweden.

Assange vehemently denies the allegations, and claims the 2010 sexual encounters with the two Swedish women now accusing him of rape were consensual.

In a statement obtained by BuzzFeed News, Sweden's Supreme Court said it was in the "public interest" that Assange returns to Sweden to face the charges, and that it saw "no reason at present to change its decision."

Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, fears that if he returns to Sweden he will be extradited to the U.S., where his non-profit journalistic organization, which dedicates itself to exposing corporate and government malfeasance, is under investigation for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified military and government files.

If convicted of espionage by U.S. officials, Assange could be given the death penalty.

As the situation stands, the 43-year-old Australian citizen faces arrest by U.K. authorities as soon as he steps out of the Ecuadorian Embassy building.

In August 2014, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told Telesur he had decided to grant asylum to Assange on humanitarian grounds.

"He didn't have the basic guarantees for a fair trial," Correa said. "His life was in danger. There was the threat that the U.S. judged him under the anti-terrorist law, which can lead to death penalty."

BuzzFeed News reached out to the U.S. State Department and to Assange's representatives for comment via email and text message but hasn't received a response from either.

Felipe Araujo is the overnight homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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