Sweden reopens Julian Assange’s rape case

Joint press conference between Cancillar Ricardo Patino and Julian Assange. Photo by Cancillería del Ecuador.

CBS News reports that prosecutors in Sweden have reopened the rape case against Julian Assange and plan on issuing a European warrant for his arrest.

State Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson announced that her office will seek to extradite Assange, according to NPR. The rape case that was pending was dropped after the WikiLeaks founder sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in order to avoid extradition to the US. There was no possibility of bringing him to Sweden to face trial while he was living in the embassy. The sexual assault case was dropped in 2017 after the statute of limitations expired but the statute of limitations on the rape charge will not expire until August of 2020.

Persson told reporters that “there is still a probable cause to suspect that Assange committed a rape. It is my assessment that a new questioning of Assange is required.” Assange has denied the accusations, maintaining that the sex was consensual and the accusations are politically motivated.

WikiLeaks released a statement saying that Sweden is reopening the rape investigation under “considerable political pressure” from the US after Assange’s removal from the embassy and subsequent arrest in April.

Assange faces a prison term of 50 weeks for jumping bond in London in 2012. The US seeks his extradition, as well: Julian is being held on a US extradition warrant having been accused of hacking a Pentagon computer with Chelsea Manning. London officials will have to decide how to prioritize competing extradition requests. Per NPR, Sweden’s request for extradition could be granted after Assange serves half of his 50-week sentence.

Assange faces a maximum of four years in prison in Sweden. A lawyer for one of the accusers says the decision to reopen the case is “very gratifying” and hopes prosecutors move quickly to serve justice.

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