Sweden to re-open rape investigation against Assange

15 May, 2019, 01:50 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Swedish prosecutors filed preliminary charges against Assange after he visited the country in 2010

Sweden will re-open itsinvestigation into an allegation of rape against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the country's deputy chief prosecutor announced on Monday.

Eva-Marie Persson said: "The prosecutor will shortly request that Julian Assange be detained in his absence suspected on probable cause for an allegation of rape from August 2010". Fritz said on Monday that her client was "very grateful" for the prosecutors' decision and that "today she has regained confidence in the Swedish justice system".

The US also wants to extradite Assange from the United Kingdom over his alleged role in the release of classified military and diplomatic material in 2010.

Assange said he would welcome Swedish prosecutors coming to the embassy to question him, and prepared a written statement, but documents uncovered in a FOIA request by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi showed heavy pressure from the British government on Sweden not to come to London. The 47-year-old had been avoiding extradition to Sweden for seven years by taking refuge in the embassy.

Earlier this month, Assange refused to surrender to a U.S. extradition request during a London hearing.

In 2010 an arrest warrant was issued for the Australian for two separate allegations - one of rape and one of molestation - after he visited Sweden for a speaking trip.

Meanwhile the U.S. is also seeking to extradite the whistleblower on charges that he conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack a Pentagon computer and steal state secrets.

Chelsea Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst and source for online publisher WikiLeaks, could be jailed again if she refuses to comply with a new grand jury subpoena, said a US law enforcement source, as well as Manning herself.

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The British courts will have to rule on any extradition request and Home Secretary Sajid Javid would decide which one takes precedence once Swedish prosecutors file theirs.

According to the BBC, Assange's lawyer told Swedish broadcaster SVT that the decision to reopen the case was "embarrassing for Sweden".

If convicted in Sweden, Assange could face a prison sentence of up to four years. "When deciding which has precedence, a Swedish or US extradition request, this decision will be left entirely to the British authorities", Persson said according to NBC. It may be necessary, with the support of a European Investigation Order, to request an interview with Julian Assange be held in the UK.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses the media holding a printed judgement of the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on his case from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in central London on February 5, 2016. "I will continue to support him in whatever way I can", the Duchess said.

Assange is facing a court hearing over a USA request to extradite him for alleged computer hacking.

But before his scheduled extradition to Sweden in 2012, he bolted into the Ecuadorean embassy.

On May 19, 2017 the Swedish chief prosecutor unexpectedly dropped the investigation into the allegation of rape against Assange.

With two countries seeking to extradite Assange, it will be up to British officials to decide which request, if any, to prioritize.

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