Sweden looking at re-opening rape case against Julian Assange

Julian Assange, 47, Wikileaks co-founder who had been granted asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy for seven years, was arrested on Thursday 11 April.

Swedish prosecutors said they were examining the case at the request of the alleged victim’s lawyer, Assange could face a renewed investigation into an allegation of rape in Sweden.

The US also wants to extradite him from the UK over his alleged role in one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets in 2010.

Australian-born Assange faces a charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in the US for his alleged role in one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets in 2010, which could result in a prison term of up to five years.

Lawyer Elizabeth Massi Fritz said she would do “everything we possibly can” to get the investigation reopened in Sweden.

Assange sought refuge in the Knightsbridge embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges. But Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum and invited the police to arrest him on Thursday.

After his dramatic arrest, he was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court and found guilty of a British charge of breaching bail. He spent Thursday night in custody and is facing up to 12 months in prison for that conviction.

The United Nations has called for his right to a fair trial to be respected during any extradition process.

Assange was accused of rape following a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. He has always denied the allegation, saying the sex was consensual.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation into Assange in 2017 because they were unable to proceed while he remained in the Ecuadorean embassy.

Assange also faced two other charges of molestation and unlawful coercion, but these were dropped in 2015 because time had run out.

Prosecutors will now re-examine the rape case to decide whether to resume it before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020.

Assange is due to face a hearing over his possible extradition to the US on 2 May.

The US Department of Justice has accused him of conspiring with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to commit “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”.

Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, including a video of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq. She was recently jailed for a second time for refusing to testify in an investigation into Wikileaks.





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