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WikiLeaks founder loses bid for Swedish residency

Sweden's immigration authority has rejected a request for residency by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a potential setback in his efforts to gain protection from Swedish press freedom laws.

The Australian has been exploring ways to take advantage of legal protection for whistleblowers in the Nordic country, where WikiLeaks has some of its servers. He applied for residency on 18 August.

"His application has been denied," said a Migration Board spokeswoman, Gunilla Wikstrom. She declined to give the reason. Assange has three weeks to appeal.

Ms Wikstrom wouldn't say whether the decision was influenced by the allegations against Assange of rape and sexual molestation brought by two Swedish women. Assange has denied the allegations.

WikiLeaks is said to be preparing to release a large set of classified documents on the Iraq war.