WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange: Sweden Reopens Rape Case, U.S. Preps for Extradition Proceedings
Actions occur a month after his eviction from Ecuadorian Embassy
At the request of the alleged victim’s attorney, Swedish prosecutors said on Monday they will reopen a rape case against Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks.
The action comes a month after Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been holed up.
Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions, announced the news at a press conference in Stockholm, as multiple outlets reported.
“There is still a probable cause to suspect that Assange committed a rape,” she said.
“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 added.
Assange has denied the charges.
Swedish prosecutors filed preliminary charges against Assange after he visited the country in 2010.
Assange avoided extradition by taking refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for more than six years; he was granted asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in August 2012.
A case of alleged sexual misconduct against Assange was dropped when the statute of limitations expired, but what remained was a rape allegation — though it could not be pursued while Assange remained at the embassy.
The statute of limitations on that case expires in August 2020.
Assange, 47, was removed from the embassy last month and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for violating his bail.
The United States has also begun extradition proceedings for his alleged role in leaking diplomatic and military secrets in 2010.
In a statement, WikiLeaks said the reopening of the rape case would “give [Assange] a chance to clear his name.”
“There has been considerable political pressure on Sweden to reopen their investigation, but there has always been political pressure surrounding this case,” its editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, said in a statement, as the BBC reported.