Swedish prosecutors reopen rape case against Julian Assange

Swedish prosecutors reopen rape case against Julian Assange

Sweden's deputy director of prosecutions has announced that prosecutors will re-open the 2010 sexual assault case against Julian Assange.

The woman who accused the Wikileaks founder of rape called for the case to be revisited after he was extradited from the Ecuadorian embassy in London last month.

With Assange currently in jail in the UK for jumping bail, and with the United States pushing for him to face federal charges in the US, the Swedish case adds another layer to this already complex situation.

Here's everything you need to know.

What has happened?

Eva-Marie Persson announced at a press conference in Stockholm today that the investigation would be reopened because, following his removal from the Ecuadorian embassy, his extradition to Sweden is now a possibility.

Persson said:

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

Ms Persson said that her office would issue a European arrest warrant in order to bring Assange back to Sweden at the end of his 50-week prison sentence in the UK.

What were the original allegations?

On 16 August 2010, while Assange was living in London he was accused of rape by one woman and sexual assault by another.

Shortly after, Assange was interviewed by the Swedish police, where he denied that the encounters had been non-consensual.

Prosecutors seemed to be initially satisfied with Assange's answers, but the case was soon reopened and Swedish prosecutors issued a European warrant for questioning on suspicion of rape, three cases of sexual molestation and illegal coercion.

He was apprehended in London in December that year and the UK's supreme court ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face the charges.

Why was the investigation dropped?

While on bail in 2012, Assange checked himself into the Ecuadorian embassy, which granted him asylum on the grounds that his human rights could otherwise be violated.

As a result of running out of time to question him, Swedish police were forced to drop their sexual molestation and sexual coercion investigations in 2015. The rape investigation was dropped in 2017.

What happened since then?

A lot.

After almost 7-years, Assange was unceremoniously ejected from the Ecuadorian embassy in April, and was arrested for skipping bail by the Metropolitan Police.

Officials at the embassy cited "discourteous and aggressive behaviour" as the reason for Assange's removal.

The Ecuadorian President elaborated somewhat, saying the WikiLeaks founder had smeared faeces on the embassy walls, while video footage also revealed him skateboarding in a lacklustre fashion.

He was sentenced to 50 weeks for skipping bail at Southwark Crown Court.

He's currently held in London's Belmarsh prison, but this hasn't stopped his close admirer, Pamela Anderson, from visiting.

What happens now?

Assange's lawyer, Per Samuelsson, called the decision to reopen the investigation "not proportionate".

He told the New York Times:

He has been sentenced to 50 weeks. He faces extradition for revealing the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To force him to concentrate on this old investigation is highly unreasonable.

The lawyer of the woman accusing Assange, Elisabeth Massi Fritz, told a press conference that she hoped the prosecutors would move quickly with their investigation.

“She is going to be forced to take steps quickly to ensure that we have time to get a potential criminal charge in this case,” she said.

“My client feels great gratitude and she is very hopeful about getting restitution and we both hope that justice will win.

What was the reaction?

While people aren't that arsed about America, many have been demanding Assange be tried over the allegations in Sweden.

But some suggested there could be other motives.

Either way, the alleged victim has waited seven years for Assange to stand trial.

Read more: Six times Julian Assange annoyed the Ecuadorian embassy

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