Sweden Reopens Rape Case Against Julian Assange, Will Seek Extradition

Erika Holt
May 14, 2019

Prosecutors in Sweden have reopened their investigation into a 2010 rape allegation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, a first step toward seeking his extradition to Sweden.

He'd lived there for almost seven years to avoid being extradited to Sweden over the nine-year-old allegations and later to the US for his alleged role in a massive leak of classified materials, which the US Justice Department called "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States".

- March 2015: Swedish prosecutors ask to question Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Sweden has until mid-August 2020, when the statute of limitation expires, to press charges.

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is set to be investigated over allegations of rape.

The assault allegations relate to complaints made by two Swedish women who said they were the victims of sex crimes committed by Mr Assange in 2010. "They also obfuscate critical facts, such as the fact that the United Kingdom and Swedish authorities had actively prevented Assange from responding to the allegations, which is contrary to basic principles of due process".

- April 11, 2019: London police arrest Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy for breaching bail conditions in 2012, as well as on behalf of USA authorities, shortly after Ecuador's government withdrew his asylum status.

Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in British jail for skipping bail in 2012. That Assange would be extradited to Sweden is not certain, however, as he also faces charges in the US for leaking classified military documents obtained by Bradley Manning (now "Chelsea Manning"), a former Army intelligence officer who was convicted in 2013 of violating the Espionage Act.

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In November 2016, Assange was interviewed by Ecuadorian prosecutors after an agreement was reached between Sweden and Ecuador to co-operate in criminal investigations. "It is also my intention in the near future [to ask] that the district court order Mr Assange remanded in absentia", said Persson, speaking in Stockholm.

Following the announcement, WikiLeaks said the investigation would give Assange a chance to clear his name. The prosecutor stated that London would decide which country's request will have priority.

Persson said a European arrest warrant will be issued for Assange.

Assange's Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelsson, told The New York Times that Sweden's decision is "not proportionate", saying, "He has been sentenced to 50 weeks".

A United Kingdom court ordered Assange should face extradition to face these charges, before he sought political asylum in the embassy. "The circumstances now allow for extradition to Sweden based on a European arrest warrant".

Australian-born Assange faces a charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in the US.

Assange, 47, has previously spoken to Swedish authorities about the sexual allegations against him; Persson says new questioning is needed. It was reopened after Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the woman who accused Assange of rape, said her client still wanted to seek a conviction. "We both hope that justice will win". The whistleblower denied the accusations, insisting that the sexual relations had been consensual.

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