Sweden reopens rape case against Assange

Swedish prosecutors announced Monday that they would reopen their rape investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence in Britain for jumping bail on an arrest warrant stemming from the sex-crimes case.

Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecution, told reporters Monday that the investigation would be resumed. “I have today taken the decision to reopen the preliminary investigation,” she said at a news conference, adding that authorities believe there to be enough “probable cause” in the case for it to proceed.

Reopening the investigation became an option after Assange was arrested April 11 in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he had been holed up for nearly seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden to face the sexual assault accusations against him. Officers from Scotland Yard moved in on him on after the government of Ecuador revoked his asylum, saying that it had had enough of Assange and what they called his rude, aggressive and unsanitary behavior inside their embassy in London’s upscale Knightsbridge neighborhood.

16 PHOTOS
Sightings of Pamela Anderson visiting Julian Assange in London
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Sightings of Pamela Anderson visiting Julian Assange in London
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Pamela Anderson seen at the Embassy of Ecuador to take a vegan lunch to her friend Julian Assange on January 22, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Pamela Anderson seen taking a vegan lunch to her friend Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy on July 6, 2017 in London, England. Pamela was in St Tropez earlier this week opening up her new vegan restaurant, 'La Table du Marche by Pamela'. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Pamela Anderson seen at the Ecuadorian Embassy visiting her friend Julian Assange on June 15, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Pamela Anderson seen arriving at the Ecuadorian Embassy to visit her friend Julian Assange on December 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Pamela Anderson seen at the Ecuadorian Embassy visiting her friend Julian Assange on October 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: *EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS* Pamela Anderson seen visiting her friend Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy on September 19, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02: Pamela Anderson seen arriving at the Ecuadorian Embassy to visit Julian Assange on May 2, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ricky Vigil/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Pamela Anderson seen arriving at the Ecuadorian Embassy to visit Julian Assange after attending Coco de Mer: Icons Collection - launch party at Albert's on April 3, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ricky Vigil M/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: Pamela Anderson seen arriving at the Ecuadorian Embassy to visit her friend Julian Assange on March 30, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Pamela Anderson seen arriving at the Ecuadorian Embassy after Nightly Show to visit Julian Assange on March 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Ricky Vigil M/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07: Pamela Anderson seen at the Ecuadorian Embassy taking vegan cheeseburgers to Julian Assange on February 7, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Pamela Anderson seen arriving at the Ecuadorian Embassy to visit her friend Julian Assange on January 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Pamela Anderson seen at the Ecuadorian Embassy visiting her friend Julian Assange on December 12, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Pamela Anderson seen at the Ecuadorian Embassy visiting her friend Julian Assange on December 7, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Milan/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Pamela Anderson is seen at the Ecuadorian Embassy showing support for Julian Assange by bringing him a healthy vegan breakfast on November 13, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Danny Martindale/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Pamela Anderson delivers lunch to Julian Assange at Embassy of Ecuador on October 15, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)
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The WikiLeaks founder, who is an Australian national, was found guilty of breaching his bail conditions, and was sentenced May 1 to nearly a year in jail. He is expected to serve at least 25 weeks of the sentence before he can be released, Persson said. Following his arrest, the lawyer for one of the two women who have accused him of sexual assault asked for resumption of the investigation, which had been shelved because Assange was unavailable for questioning in person. He denies the allegations.

Assange is also facing an extradition request from the U.S., which wants to prosecute Assange on charges that he conspired to help U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning download and leak a massive trove of classified military documents.

Sweden’s decision to revive its investigation into Assange raises the issue of which country’s extradition requests takes precedence. Stockholm had first issued a European warrant on Assange in 2010 after two women accused him of sexual molestation and assault, and British police arrested him. But before his scheduled extradition to Sweden in 2012, he bolted into the Ecuadorean embassy.

Assange and his supporters have called the Swedish investigation a pretext for his extradition to the U.S., where they say he could face the death penalty. The charges so far prepared against him in the U.S. carry a prison sentence of five years, but more charges could be in the offing.

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