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Saturday 21 September 2019

Swedish officials to decide on whether to reopen Assange rape case

Prosecutors filed preliminary charges against the WikiLeaks founder after he visited Sweden in 2010.

Julian Assange (Victoria Jones/PA)
Julian Assange (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Associated Press Reporters

Swedish prosecutors are set to reveal whether they will reopen a rape case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a month after he was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, is scheduled to hold a news conference in Stockholm at 10am BST.

If Sweden relaunches the case, that could leave the UK with a decision to make on whether to extradite Assange to the Scandinavian country or the United States.

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The WikiLeaks founder had stayed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for several years (Victoria Jones/PA)

Swedish prosecutors filed preliminary charges against Assange after he visited the country in 2010.

Seven years later, a case of alleged sexual misconduct was dropped when the statute of limitations expired.

That left a rape allegation, which could not be pursued while Assange was living at the embassy. The statute of limitations in that case expires in August 2020.

The case was opened following complaints from two Swedish women who said they were the victims of sex crimes committed by Assange. He has denied the allegations, asserting that they were politically motivated and that the sex was consensual.

A police officer who heard the women’s accounts decided there was reason to suspect they were victims of sex crimes and handed the case to a prosecutor.

Assange left Sweden for Britain in September 2010. In November that year, a Stockholm court approved a request to detain him for questioning.

The Australian took refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was arrested by UK police on April 11 after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, accusing him of everything from meddling in the nation’s foreign affairs to poor hygiene.

Currently, Assange is in London’s Belmarsh Prison serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in 2012.

He is also being held on a US extradition warrant for allegedly hacking into a Pentagon computer.

If there are competing extradition requests from Sweden and the US, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to have the final say over which claim takes priority.

PA Media

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