Swedish court rules against Julian Assange’s detention
This will make it hard for prosecutors to question the Wikileaks founder on rape allegations, but could open the way for extradition to the US
Stockholm — A Swedish court ruled against detaining Julian Assange, complicating efforts for prosecutors seeking to question him over allegations of rape.
The ruling by the Uppsala district court on Monday may also remove a potential hurdle for the Wikileaks founder to be extradited to the US, where he faces charges over endangering national security by conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information.
Assange will need to serve 25 weeks of a 50-week sentence in the UK for skipping bail before he can be extradited.
Swedish prosecutors have yet to decide whether to charge Assange, but have said they need to question him before making a decision. They last month reopened the case based on nine-year-old rape allegations after Assange was ejected from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had sought refuge.
Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said in a statement following the ruling that the preliminary investigation will continue and that a European investigation order will be issued to question Assange.
Assange denied the charges and also contested that there were grounds for detention, his lawyer, Per Samuelson, told the court. There is no flight risk at the moment since Assange is being held at Belmarsh jail, he said.
The only reason for Sweden to detain Assange is to compete with the US, he said, arguing that he can be questioned in prison via a video link.