STOCKHOLM, Sweden, 14 May 2019
Swedish prosecutors said Monday they were reopening a 2010 rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, hoping to bring him to justice before the statute of limitations expires in August 2020.
“I have today decided to reopen the investigation… There is still probable cause to suspect that Mr Assange committed rape,” the deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, told reporters.
“The previous decision (in May 2017) to close the investigation was not based on difficulties related to evidence, but on difficulties that blocked the investigation.”
The Australian whistleblower, who holed himself up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London for seven years to avoid a British extradition order to Sweden, was arrested on 11 April after Ecuador gave him up.
A London court sentenced him on 1 May to 50 weeks in jail for breaching the British order.
“Now that he has left Ecuador’s embassy, the conditions in the case have changed and I am of the opinion that the conditions are in place once again to pursue the case,” the prosecutor said.
The 47-year-old has always claimed the Swedish allegations were a pretext to transfer him to the United States, where he fears prosecution over the release by WikiLeaks of millions of classified documents.