A month after he was ousted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Swedish prosecutors are reopening a preliminary investigation into a nine-year-old rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, news agency AP reported.
Sweden’s decision to relaunch the case means Britain could decide whether to extradite him to the Scandinavian country or the United States.
Swedish prosecutors had filed preliminary charges against Assange after he visited the country in 2010. Seven years later, a case of alleged sexual misconduct was dropped when the statute of limitations expired. That left a rape allegation, and the case was closed as it couldn’t be pursued while Assange was living at the embassy and there was no prospect of bringing him to Sweden. The statute of limitations on that case expires in August 2020.
The case was opened following complaints from two Swedish women who alleged they were the victims of sex crimes committed by Assange. He has refuted the allegations and asserted that they were politically motivated and that the sex was consensual.
The Australian secret-spiller took refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden. He was arrested by British police April 11 after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, accusing him of everything from meddling in the nation’s foreign affairs to poor hygiene.
At present, Assange is lodged in London’s Belmarsh Prison serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in 2012. He is also being held on a US extradition warrant for allegedly hacking into a Pentagon computer.
With AP inputs