Swedish prosecutors will re-open an investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Deputy director of prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson announced in Stockholm yesterday that circumstances had changed following Assange’s arrest last month when he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had lived for almost seven years.
Swedish prosecutors filed preliminary charges – a step short of formal charges – against Assange after he visited the country in 2010 following complaints from two Swedish women who said they were the victims of sex crimes committed by the WikiLeaks founder. Assange left Sweden for Britain in September 2010 and took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition.
Swedish prosecutors dropped the rape investigation in 2017 because they were unable to proceed while he remained inside the embassy.
Assange has denied both allegations.
Ms Persson said: “To be able to execute a detention order, the prosecutor will issue a European arrest warrant. An application for a detention order will be submitted to Uppsala District Court as the suspected crime took place in Enkoping municipality. On account of Julian Assange leaving the Ecuadorian embassy, the circumstances in this case have changed. I take the view that there exists the possibility to take the case forward.
“Julian Assange has been convicted of a crime in the UK and will serve 25 weeks of his sentence before he can be released, according to information from UK authorities.
“I am well aware of the fact that an extradition process is ongoing in the UK and that he could be extradited to the US.
“In the event of a conflict between a European Arrest Warrant and a request for extradition from the US, UK authorities will decide on the order of priority. The outcome of this process is impossible to predict.
“However, in my view the Swedish case can proceed concurrently with the proceedings in the UK. Re-opening the investigation means that a number of investigative measures will take place.
“In my opinion a new interview with the suspect is required. It may be necessary, with the support of a European Investigation Order, to request an interview with Julian Assange be held in the UK. Such an interview, however, requires Julian Assange’s consent.”
Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, said: “This case has been mishandled throughout ... Assange was always willing to answer any questions from the Swedish authorities and repeatedly offered to do so, over six years. The widespread media assertion that Assange ‘evaded’ Swedish questioning is false.”