Julian Assange: Sweden to announce decision on rape case
[May 13 2019]
arrested in London last month after Ecuador abruptly
withdrew its protection
Swedish prosecutors are set to announce whether they
are reopening an inquiry into a rape allegation against Wikileaks
co-founder Julian Assange.
The investigation may be revived at the request of the
alleged victim's lawyer.
Assange, who denies the charges, has avoided
extradition to Sweden for seven years after seeking refuge at the
Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.
But the 47-year-old was evicted last month and
sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions.
The US also wants to extradite Assange from the UK
over his alleged role in the release of classified military and
diplomatic material in 2010.
What happens now?
On Monday, Sweden's deputy director of public
prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, will announce her decision on whether
to revisit the sexual assault investigation after it was dropped two
Swedish prosecutors said at the time they felt they
were unable to take the case forward while Assange was inside the
However, the woman who made the allegation now wants
the case reopened, and since Assange's arrest last month - Ecuador
abruptly withdrew its protection and invited the police to arrest him -
Swedish prosecutors have been considering their options.
Under Swedish law, they have until next year to pursue
the case. If they do re-open the investigation, it is likely to raise
the question of which extradition request should take precedence: that
of Sweden or the US.
Australian-born Assange faces a charge of conspiracy
to commit computer intrusion in the US. He is accused of participating
in one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets, which could
result in a prison term of up to five years.
After his dramatic arrest last month, he was taken to
Westminster Magistrates' Court and found guilty of a British charge of
breaching bail. He is currently being held at Belmarsh prison in London.
The United Nations has called for his right to a fair
trial to be respected during any extradition process.
What is the Swedish investigation about?
Assange was accused of rape and other sexual offences
against two women following a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010.
He has always denied the allegations, saying the sex was consensual.
He also faced investigations for molestation and
unlawful coercion, but these cases were dropped in 2015 because time had
Prosecutors have been re-examining the rape case to
decide whether to resume it before the statute of limitations expires in
The alleged victim's lawyer, Elizabeth Massi Fritz,
said Assange's arrest came as a shock but "what we have been waiting and
hoping for since 2012 has now finally happened".
She said: "No rape victim should have to wait nine
years to see justice be served."
How does the extradition process work?
Lawyer Rebecca Niblock, who specialises in extradition
cases, said decisions lie primarily with the courts and that only a
judge can decide whether an extradition breaches an individual's human
The home secretary can consider a limited number of
issues when deciding whether or not to order an extradition, including
whether the person is at risk of the death penalty.
However, if Sweden made an extradition request, Ms
Niblock said it would be for the home secretary to decide which request
would take precedence, considering factors such as the seriousness of
the offence and which request was made first.
Nick Vamos, former head of extradition at the Crown
Prosecution Service, said the UK proceedings should not take more than
Considering Assange's potential objections to
extradition, Mr Vamos said that he did not think courts would accept the
US case was politically motivated.
But he said Assange may be able to argue that his
likely treatment in the US prison system would breach his human rights
and that could not receive a fair trial due to his notoriety and links
to political scandals.