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Sweden to reopen rape case against Julian Assange

The prosecutor announced the decision today.

Image: Victoria Jones/PA Images

SWEDISH PROSECUTORS HAVE announced that they are reopening an inquiry into a rape allegation made against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange.

The Wikileaks founder, who was arrested last month in the UK after spending seven years in Ecuador’s London embassy, was jailed in the UK for 50 weeks earlier this month for breaching his bail conditions.

Swedish prosecutors filed preliminary charges – a step short of formal charges – against Assange after he visited the country in 2010.

Seven years later, the case of alleged sexual misconduct was dropped when the statute of limitations expired.

That left a rape allegation, and the case was closed as it couldn’t be pursued while Assange was living at the embassy and there was no prospect of bringing him to Sweden.

Prosecutors today announced they were reopening the investigation. 

“I have today decided to reopen the investigation… There is still probable cause to suspect that Mr Assange committed rape,” the deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, told reporters.

The case

The case was originally opened following complaints from two Swedish women who said they were the victims of sex crimes committed by Assange. He has denied the allegations, asserting that they were politically motivated and that the sex was consensual.

A police officer who heard the women’s accounts decided there was reason to suspect they were victims of sex crimes and handed the case to a prosecutor.

Neither of the alleged victims has been named publicly.

Separately to the case, the US has sought to extradite the Australian whistleblower to face charges of “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

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The indictment, which was only revealed following Assange’s arrest, accuses him of helping crack a password stored on US Department of Defence computers in March 2010.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing US military wrongdoing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about dozens of countries.

With reporting from AFP and Associated Press

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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