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Wikileaks founder denied Swedish residency permit

Scandinavian press freedom plan thwarted

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been denied in his bid for a Swedish residency permit, part of the Australian's effort to gain protection for the whistleblower site under Sweden's press freedom laws.

On August 18, Assange applied to live and work in Sweden, where Wikileaks maintains some of its servers, and on Monday, his application was denied by Sweden's migration board, according to the AP. He has three weeks to appeal.

Wikileaks is applying for a Swedish publishing certificate that would protect the site under the country's press freedom laws. If Assange can't obtain a residency permit, someone else would have to serve as the site's official publisher in the country.

The Swedish immigration authority declined to provide a reason for the denial of Assange's application, saying the reason is confidential. It's unclear whether the decision is related to ongoing investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct against Assange. The claims were revealed in late August, not long after the Pentagon demanded that Wikileaks return roughly 92,000 mostly classified documents related the US war in Afghanistan, and Assange later contended that the investigations could prevent his residency application from moving ahead.

In late July, Wikileaks published about 77,000 records from its haul of 92,000 Afghan war documents covering the period of January 2004 to December 2009, and though the move was met with harsh words from the US military, Assange said the site still intended to release additional documents once names and other sensitive data had been redacted.

According to editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based not-for-profit, the organization is working with Wikileaks to unload an even larger collection of documents related to the US war in Iraq.

About a month after the initial release of the Afghan war documents, Swedish prosecutors revealed they were investigating allegations of rape and molestation against Assange. Two women – aged 20 and 30 – made the claims about two separate incidents to Swedish police. The rape case was closed almost as soon as it was revealed, but it was later reopened. At the time, Assange suggested that the investigations were the result of a "smear campaign" related to the ongoing controversy over Wikileaks.

“As I have said before, there was clearly a smear campaign, and who was behind this, we do not know,” he said. “Now, whether that turns out to be a smear campaign done by a couple of people for personal motives or ideological motives, or that is larger and involves geopolitical concerns, or whether it is a mixture of all those, we do not know.” ®

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