Photograph: Photo by Espen Moe, used under CC BY

A Swedish appellate court Friday rejected a request by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to repeal a detention order in relation to a suspected rape in 2010, an allegation he denies.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. He fled there after losing a legal battle in Britain against extradition to Sweden.

The Svea Court of Appeal said the arrest warrant should remain in place, upholding a ruling in May by the Stockholm District Court.

The appellate court said it made the ruling on the fact that Assange is still a suspect and remains a flight risk, as well as because there is "a strong public interest of the investigation being able to continue."

The Australian national has already challenged the warrant seven times without avail.

Marianne Ny, director of public prosecutions who is leading the probe, welcomed the ruling saying it allowed the investigation to continue.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum after he said he feared extradition to the United States, where he is wanted in connection to WikiLeaks' publication of top secret diplomatic cables.

Defence attorney Per E Samuelson told dpa his initial reaction was "disappointment," adding that "the Swedish courts and authorities have not taken into account the total situation Assange is in."

Samuelson, who said he had not yet spoken to Assange, said it was likely they would appeal to the Supreme Court citing the importance of the case.

Assange's defence team argues the prosecution has not acted in a timely manner, and that the long period in the embassy has impacted his health.

Samuelson said that Assange can only exercise his right to asylum in the embassy, and therefore his "quality of life is very poor."

The district court in May also rejected an opinion from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a panel of independent legal scholars, that Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention.

Three other cases of alleged sexual assault against Assange were dropped a year ago due to a Swedish statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations on the 2010 case expires in 2020.

Ecuador this week announced an October 17 date for a formal interview of Assange inside their embassy in London. An Ecuadorean prosecutor will conduct it, but a Swedish prosecutor and an investigator will be allowed to be present.

Swedish prosecutors long argued there was no value in questioning him in London, but changed that stance last year after criticism from the Svea Court of Appeal.

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