WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied permanent residence in Sweden by the National Migration Board. The Australian citizen applied for a residence and work permit in August in an attempt to gain legal status as the publisher of the controversial whistle-blower website.
As the website has several servers based in Sweden, the move would have afforded WikiLeaks’ sources better protection under Sweden’s press freedom laws. A person must, however, have a residence permit to secure legal responsibility as a publisher in the country.
“We have made the decision to reject his application. He has received the notice today by email,” Gunilla Wikstrom, from the Migration board in Norrkoping, told Aftonbladet. The board refused to elaborate further on the details the case.
Assange applied for a residency permit during the summer when visiting Sweden to lecture on his website’s publication of thousands of secret documents about the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon has been fiercely critical of the publications, however, and the lectures were abruptly overshadowed when allegations of rape and molestation against Assange began to circle in the international media.
An arrest warrant was issued for Assange and withdrawn the next day before the rape charges were dropped. The case was, however, reopened again later by another prosecutor.
Assange has admitted that he knows the two Swedish women who have made allegations against him but maintains his innocence, saying he is the victim of “dirty tricks” aimed at discrediting him and his website. He is still under investigation in the country but is not barred from leaving Sweden if he wishes.
A spokesman for WikiLeaks, which released thousands more secret documents about the Iraq war this week, refused to reveal Assange’s current whereabouts.