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Swedish court upholds Assange order

Sweden's highest court has upheld a court order to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for questioning over claims of rape and sexual assault.

The 39-year-old Australian is believed to be in hiding in England as the latest publications on his whistle-blowing website fuelled global uproar.

The Metropolitan Police refused to discuss whether officers from its extradition unit were preparing to detain Mr Assange.

A spokesman said: "We do not discuss any purported communication regarding extradition cases unless a person has been placed before City of Westminster Magistrates Court."

It is understood police have exchanged information with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which oversees extradition requests.

Detectives in Sweden want to question Mr Assange after two women claimed they were sexually attacked when he visited the country in August. The Supreme Court upheld a court order to detain Mr Assange for questioning. He has not been formally charged.

Mr Assange had appealed two lower court rulings allowing investigators to bring him into custody and issue a European arrest warrant. The sex case is Mr Assange's most pressing legal issue, but may not be his last as several countries chew over the impact of his diplomatic cable disclosures.

Since leaving Sweden, the computer hacker has appeared in Britain and Switzerland but disappeared below the public radar after a press conference in Geneva on November 5.

Mark Stephens, who represents Mr Assange in Britain, said his client would challenge any arrest warrant in court.

He said: "The process in this case has been so utterly irregular that the chances of a valid arrest warrant being submitted to me are very small."

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