News ID: 252775
Published: 0351 GMT May 13, 2019

Sweden reopens rape investigation against Assange

Sweden reopens rape investigation against Assange

Swedish prosecutors have decided to reopen an investigation into a 2010 rape allegation against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who is serving a prison term in Britain for skipping bail, as the US seeks his extradition.

“I have today decided to reopen the investigation… There is still probable cause to suspect that Mr. Assange committed rape,” the deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, told reporters.

Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London last month by the UK police and promptly taken into custody after Quito abruptly stripped him of his refugee status, seven years after he sought refuge at the mission to avoid extradition in an earlier Swedish investigation into the same rape case, Presstv Reported.

The case was dropped in 2017 with no charges being brought against Assange because the Swedish judicial officials were not able to proceed while the Australian national remained in London.

Following Assange’s arrest in the UK, a lawyer for a woman involved in the case asked for the investigation to be resumed. The journalist had also faced a probe surrounding a second sex-related allegation, which was dropped in 2015 because time had run out. 

Assange has denied both allegations. He is currently facing a 50-week jail sentence in the UK for skipping bail.

‘Embarrassment for Sweden’

In a separate case, the US wants the UK to extradite Assange, 47, over his alleged role in the release of classified military and diplomatic material in 2010.

British officials should now determine which extradition case takes precedence.

Reacting to the news, Assange’s lawyer expressed surprise at Sweden’s decision, which he described as an “embarrassment” for the Scandinavian country.

Per E Samuelson told Sweden’s state TV that Assange wants to cooperate with Swedish authorities in the case of the rape accusations, but he fears extradition to the US.

“He has always wanted to help solve this Swedish issue, his big predicament in life is that he risks being extradited to the United States because of his journalistic work,” he added.

The WikiLeaks' editor also said the reopening of the case will give Assange “a chance to clear his name.”

Kristinn Hrafnsson also said in a statement that there had been “political pressure” on Sweden to reopen the case.

Ecuador to send Assange’s files to US

Meanwhile, Spanish media have reported that Ecuador is set to transfer to the US all personal belongings and electronic devices of Assange, which he left at Quito’s London embassy prior to his arrest.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ecuador has informed Assange’s lawyer Carlos Poveda in an official notice that the journalist’s files, computer, mobile phones, memory sticks, CDs and other electronic devices will be seized during a search of Ecuador’s Embassy slated for May 20, according to Spain’s El Pais newspaper.

The mentioned files contain troves of sensitive information that deprive Assange of the right to a proper defense, according to his lawyers.

They argue that the transfer of the documents will potentially allow the US to “build and create new charges” to extradite Assange in violation of Ecuador’s own asylum policies.

 

 

   
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