Assange arrest warrant issued by Swedish court

A Swedish court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, on charges of rape and sexual molestation.

"It has been decided that he be detained in absentia," Alan Camitz, the Stockholm district court judge on the case, told news agency AFP.

Director of Public Prosections Marianne Ny, who this morning had applied for the order, confirmed in a statement that "an international arrest warrant will be issued".

The court order detains Assange in his absence "on probable cause suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion."

Confirming that an international warrant would be sought, she added: "To execute the court's decision, the next step is to issue an international arrest warrant."

Following the court hearing, Assange's counsel Björn Hurtig told reporters:

"Assange denies everything that the prosecutor alleges... We haven't been able to settle on a date for an interrogation and apparently the prosecutor ran out of patience."

Hurtig declined to give details of Assange's current whereabouts, but said that he would consult with his client before deciding on an appeal against the warrant.

Earlier today, Hurtig condemned the request for an arrest warrant, saying that Swedish authorities had breached the European Convention on Human Rights.