Sweden reopens rape investigation involving Julian Assange

Sweden reopens rape investigation involving Julian Assange

An investigation by Swedish prosecutors into a rape allegation made against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2010 has been reopened.

The inquiry was revived at the request of the alleged victim’s lawyer.

Mr Assange, who denies the accusation, has avoided extradition to Sweden for seven years after seeking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012.

The 47-year-old was evicted last month and sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions.

He is currently being held at Belmarsh Prison in London.

Swedish prosecutors originally decided to drop the rape investigation two years ago, saying they felt unable to take the case forward while Mr Assange remained holed up inside the embassy.

But on Monday (local time), Sweden’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, announced the case would be reopened because there was still “probable cause to suspect” that Mr Assange had committed the alleged rape.

“Now that he has left Ecuador’s embassy, the conditions in the case have changed and… the conditions are in place once again to pursue the case,” she said at a news conference, adding that a European Arrest Warrant would now be issued.

His removal from the embassy, and the subsequent decision to reopen the inquiry, is likely to raise the question of which extradition request should take precedence: that of Sweden or the US.

The US is seeking Assange’s extradition from the UK over his alleged role in the release of classified military and diplomatic material by WikiLeaks in 2010.

Mr Assange faces a charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in the US.

He is accused of participating in one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets, which could result in a prison term of up to five years.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) contributed to this report.

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