Copenhagen: Swedish prosecutors on Monday requested the detention of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over allegations of rape. Assange had evaded these charges by seeking diplomatic asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost seven years.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson requested the Uppsala District Court to detain the Australian. Eva-Marie Persson was quoted by Efe news as saying, “I request the District Court to detain Assange in his absence, on probable cause suspected for rape.” Persson added that she would issue a European Arrest Warrant concerning surrender to Sweden in case the court decides to detain Assange.
Currently, Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in UK’s Belmarsh prison after he was found guilty of breaching the terms of his bail relating to allegations, including “lesser-degree rape,” lodged in Sweden. An investigation in the case was reopened following his dramatic arrest in London on April 11, 2019. The investigation was reopened at the request of Swedish lawyer Elizabeth Massi Fritz who represents one of the women who accused Assange of rape when she hosted him in Stockholm in 2010.
Meanwhile, the investigation has been put on hold. Following Assange’s arrest, the US unsealed an indictment against him to face a charge of conspiring to commit computer intrusion linked to his cooperation with Chelsea Manning, a US soldier turned whistle-blower behind a massive dump of classified or sensitive government documents.
“In the event of a conflict between a European Arrest Warrant and a request for extradition from the US, UK authorities will decide on the order of priority,” said Persson adding, “The outcome of this process is impossible to predict. However, in my view, the Swedish case can proceed concurrently with the proceedings in the UK.”
The statute of limitations for three lesser allegations against him expired. However, the allegation of “lesser-degree rape” is not due to expire until 2020. Ecuador lifted Assange’s asylum in 2019 and he was arrested by the UK police in a little-anticipated operation that grabbed international headlines.
(With agency inputs)