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Assange fights rape probe ruling

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has filed another appeal against a court order to detain him in a rape investigation, Swedish officials said.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Tove Levelind said the appeal was received by the court on Tuesday. Earlier this month, an appeals court rejected Mr Assange's first appeal, upholding a district court decision to detain him for questioning.

Mr Assange, whose whereabouts are unknown, is wanted concerning allegations against him that include rape and sexual molestation. They stem from his encounters with two Swedish women during a visit to the Nordic country in August. He has denied the allegations.

WikiLeaks made another disclosure of classified documents over the weekend, including diplomatic cables and sensitive US State Department documents.

Earlier, Ecuador's deputy foreign minister said the country would be happy to offer Mr Assange a home.

Kintto Lucas said in audio posted online by the EcuadorInmediato news site that "we are open to giving him residence in Ecuador, without any kind of trouble and without any kind of conditions". He continued: "We think it would be important not only to converse with him but to listen to him," Mr Lucas added, saying Ecuador wanted to invite Mr Assange to "freely expound" and see what it's like in "friendly countries".

Mr Lucas also praised people like Mr Assange "who are constantly investigating and trying to get light out of the dark corners of (state) information".

He went on to say Ecuador's government was "very concerned" by revelations that US diplomats were involved in spying in the first of the more than 250,000 American diplomatic cables and directives that WikiLeaks has begun to release. WikLeaks said it has 1,621 cables that originated in the US Embassy in Quito. Their contents have not yet been disclosed.

Ecuador expelled two US diplomats in early 2009, accusing one of directing CIA operations in Ecuador and another of interfering in police affairs.

The government continues close counter-narcotics co-operation with the United States but a year ago President Rafael Correa, a US-educated economist, refused to renew the lease on what had been Washington's only base for counter-narcotics flights in South America, the Manta airfield. He said that if Washington would grant Ecuador an air base in Florida, he would be happy to host US flight operations.

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