Sweden reopens rape probe against Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Assange was dramatically expelled from the London embassy in April, and was sentenced to 50 weeks in a British prison for breaching bail conditions dating back to 2012.

Sweden is resuming its investigation of Julian Assange on rape allegations and will issue a European warrant for his arrest, state prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said Monday.

The US has laid out plans to extradite Assange from the United Kingdom on charges related to hacking classified US government computers. Assange is now in a British prison, where he's being punished for eluding a similar warrant in 2012.

Swedish prosecutors on Monday will announce whether they are reopening an inquiry into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who is now lodged at a high-security jail in the UK.

Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelsen told Swedish broadcaster SVT on Monday he was "very suprised" by the decision to reopen the case.

That pressure, WikiLeaks says, came from the USA, which has charged Assange with helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning crack a password on Department of Defense computers that allowed access to a network of classified documents and communications.

While a case of alleged sexual misconduct was dropped in 2017 when the statute of limitations expired, a rape allegation remains.

Under Swedish law, they have until next year to pursue the case.

Assange insists the sex was consensual.

Others fear that since Assange has embarrassed the Americans by revealing its military secrets - United States air crew laughing as they kill a dozen Iraqis, for example - Trump is determined to get him and will find it easier to do so once he is Sweden.

There was no immediate reaction from Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the woman who reported being raped by Assange.

Wikileaks said the reopening of the Swedish investigation would give Assange a chance to clear his name.

The British extradition process is not swift, and Assange could appeal several times if decisions go against him. All the documents, cell phones, computers and other devices are expected to be handed over to the United States.

He said in a statement that Swedish prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson had been under "intense political pressure" to reopen the case, and criticized authorities for "mishandling" it from the start.

"Since Julian Assange was arrested in 11 April 2019, there has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen their investigation, but there has always been political pressure surrounding this case", he said.



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