Demonstrators protest outside of Westminster Magistrates Court, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a US extradition request hearing, in London, Britain, on May 2, 2019. Picture: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS
Demonstrators protest outside of Westminster Magistrates Court, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a US extradition request hearing, in London, Britain, on May 2, 2019. Picture: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS

 

Stockholm — Sweden’s state prosecutor will announce on Monday whether she will reopen a preliminary investigation into a rape allegation against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange is in prison in Britain after his seven years in hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London ended in April  when police arrested him. The US  wants to extradite him in a case relating to Wikileaks’ huge release of sensitive military and diplomatic documents.

Sweden’s legal tussle with the Australian Assange has dragged on for nearly a decade after he was accused by two Swedish women of sexual assault and rape in 2010.

The statute of limitations ran out on the sexual assault allegations in 2015 and the prosecutor dropped the investigation into the rape allegation in 2017 because Assange was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had taken refuge to avoid extradition.

The prosecutor said at the time that the investigation could be reopened if the situation changed.

After Assange’s arrest, the lawyer representing the women who accused Assange of rape asked for the investigation to be reopened.

“At [a] press conference, the prosecutor will announce her decision, which will formally be made immediately before the press conference,” the Prosecution Authority said.

Assange, who denies the allegations against him, fought through the British courts to get the extradition order and the preliminary investigation dropped. His lawyers said he feared that should he go to Sweden, authorities could hand him over to the US to face prosecution over the WikiLeaks’ case.

In April, Ecuador withdrew its grant of asylum and Assange was arrested by British police. Hours later, US officials announced he had been charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and requested his extradition.

Last week a British court sentenced Assange to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail.

Reuters