A Swedish court on Friday rejected WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange's appeal to have an arrest warrant against him in a 2010 rape case quashed and ruled that he was "still detained in absentia". The court said it shared the "assessment of the [lower] district court that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape" and that there was a possibility that he will "evade legal proceedings or a penalty", according to The Guardian.

Lawyers representing Assange had filed the petition in February after the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention held that the 45-year-old was "arbitrarily detained" in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and should be allowed to walk free. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid questioning in Sweden, which wants him extradited, on allegations of sexual misconduct made by two women. He has not been charged with any offence yet.

The length of his stay at the embassy and the "earlier passivity" of police investigating the matter were the reasons given to set aside the warrant. The appeals court said his four-year stint at the embassy was "not a deprivation of liberty" and will not be "given any importance". "The relatively serious offence of which he is suspected means that there is a strong public interest [in] the investigation being able to continue," the court ruled.

Hours after the United Nations panel's verdict, the Wikileaks founder had claimed he had been unlawfully detained without charge for five-and-a-half years. "The lawfulness of my detention is now a matter of settled law. It is the end of the road for legal arguments being presented by Sweden and UK," he had said.