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Sweden Reopens Rape Case Against Julian Assange
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=1716"><span class="small">Al Jazeera</span></a>   
Monday, 13 May 2019 08:38

Excerpt: "Julian Assange is to be investigated in Sweden over a rape case dating from August 2010, prosecutors announced on Monday."

Julian Assange. (photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Julian Assange. (photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Sweden Reopens Rape Case Against Julian Assange

By Al Jazeera

13 May 19

Sweden will reopen a preliminary investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

ulian Assange is to be investigated in Sweden over a rape case dating from August 2010, prosecutors announced on Monday.

The WikiLeaks founder, currently held in Belmarsh prison in London, now faces possible extradition from Britain.

"My assessment is there is still probably cause [to investigate] rape and a lesser offence," Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions, said.

Sweden had first issued an arrest warrant and declared Assange an "internationally wanted suspect" in November 2010.

But after Assange skipped bail in the UK and went into hiding at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the extradition order was impossible to enforce.

In November 2016, Assange was interviewed by Ecuadorian prosecutors after an agreement was reached between Sweden and Ecuador to cooperate in criminal investigations.

"Mr Assange was recently sentenced to 50 weeks in prison [in the UK]," Persson said. "He will serve 25 weeks before he is eligible for release.

"My intention is to submit to the district court today to appoint a public defender. It is also my intention in the near future [to ask] that the district court order Mr Assange remanded in absentia.

"I will proceed to issue a European arrest warrant providing for him to be extradited to Sweden after serving his sentence in the UK," she said, at a press conference in Stockholm.

The US also wants to extradite Assange over his publishing of leaked military videos showing the killing of civilians in Iraq, as well as thousands of other documents. Persson said she expected the US to submit a formal extradition request to the UK no later than June 14, 2019. A decision on which extradition request would be given greater priority "will be left entirely to the British authorities".

"If he's extradited to Sweden, he must not be extradited to a third country without the consent of the British authorities," she said.

"A future Brexit will not, according to available information, impact on the case."

Julian Assange's Swedish lawyer said he was "very surprised" by the decision and said his client was innocent.

"I do not understand the Swedish prosecutor's... reasoning for reopening a 10-year old case," Per E Samuelsen told Swedish broadcaster SVT.

Swedish prosecutors had filed preliminary charges in 2010 after two women said they were victims of sex crimes committed by Assange when he visited the country.

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 could not 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 does not expire until August 17, 2020.

"The reason the previous investigation was closed was not through lack of evidence, but because Julian Assange was in the Ecuadorian embassy," said Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan.

Swedish prosecutors could interview Assange in prison via videolink, they said. "While Mr Assange is serving his sentence in the UK, I intend to further the investigation as much as possible," Persson said. 

"I would like to make the following very clear: My decision to re-open the preliminary investigation is not an indication of whether to file an indictment with the court," Persson added.

In a statement, WikiLeaks said there had been "considerable political pressure" on Swedish prosecutors to reopen their investigation. "Its reopening will give Julian a chance to clear his name," Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief, said in a statement.

Assange has denied the allegations against him, asserting that they were politically motivated and that the sex with the two women who have accused him was consensual.

The 47-year-old Australian met the women in connection with a lecture in August 2010 in Stockholm. One was involved in organising an event for Sweden's centre-left Social Democratic Party and offered to host Assange at her apartment. The other was in the audience.

Assange left Sweden for Britain in September 2010. In November that year, a Stockholm court approved a request to detain Assange for questioning. 

He was arrested by British police on April 11 after a change in leadership in Ecuador revoked his political asylum. A letter signed by more than 70 MPs, across the political divide, urged Home Secretary Sajid Javid to prioritise any extradition request to Sweden over any from the United States.

"There are a couple of factors Sajid Javid has to consider," added Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan. "There is the relative seriousness of the offences - for the American case, that's about official secrets and treason - and in the Swedish case, an allegation of rape - and it's up to the home secretary to compare those and decide which is of greater seriousness.

"Then there's also the issue of chronology - which extradition request came first. And it also seems in the Extradition Act that there is a distinction between European and non-European requests - the suggestion seems to be that a European arrest warrant request would get precendence over a non-European one, but given the close relationship between Britain and the United States, it's entirely up to the home secretary to make a decision at his discretion."

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+6 # No Go 2019-05-13 09:48
Julian is an insufferably amoral narcissist, who attempts to hide his misanthropic worldview behind bogus claims of being a "journalist". He is no more a journalist than the rabid commentators on Fox News.
That is Assange, and it is not clear that those traits are criminal.
However, If there are credible accusations of rape, Assange should be no more immune from investigation and potential prosecution than Weinstein or Crosby.
-9 # Moxa 2019-05-13 14:08
As for the truth or falseness of the sexual misconduct charges, I can say nothing. But Assange was never averse to facing the charges. His objection was that he was (reasonably) afraid that Sweden would hand him over to the U.S. once he had gone to Sweden. He offered to testify out of the Ecuadorian embassy, or to go to Sweden if he could be promised he would not be extradited to the U.S. Sweden refused both these requests.

I, for one, consider Assange to be a political hero, for risking his safety to get information out to the world which has been kept hidden--such as the crimes against humanity that our country commits in our name.

And you are completely off base in comparing him to the "rabid commentators on Fox news." Assange is a journalist par excellence, in as much as he brings to light the important news that all other news agencies are afraid to touch. Of course, once he does so, the others eagerly reprint his discoveries, hiding in the cover created by his "guilt." And while the Fox news people (and CNN and MSNBC and the Post and the Times) will tell lies and distort the news) Wikileaks has the unique virtue of NEVER having been accused of inaccuracy. Just the fact, ma'am.
+8 # No Go 2019-05-14 08:52
[quote name="Moxa"]As for the truth or falseness of the sexual misconduct charges, I can say nothing. But Assange was never averse to facing the charges.

Well, he can face the charges (that you claim he was never averse to facing)
from England, where he is doing time now,
or from Sweden, if he is extradited to Sweden.
If he is convicted of rape in Sweden, the punishment is bound to be humane.
-11 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-05-13 12:29
I've read that some judges in Britain are expressing doubt that Assange can be extradited to the US. They cannot ignore what will certainly happen to him and they see that the current charges are only a fig leaf. So Sweden is probably the American Plan B. He can be extradited to Sweden and then to the US.

But that may not be necessary. Karen Kwiatkowski reports that Assange is being interrogated by the Pentagon, FBI, and CIA. They are giving him the same psychoactive drugs they use on prisoners at Guantanamo, including BZ, 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate.

“Soldiers on BZ could remember only fragments of the experience afterward. As the drug wore off, and the subjects had trouble discerning what was real, many experienced anxiety, aggression, even terror,” the New Yorker reported. “…The drug’s effect lasted for days. At its peak, volunteers were totally cut off in their own minds, jolting from one fragmented existence to the next. They saw visions: Lilliputian baseball players competing on a tabletop diamond; animals or people or objects that materialized and vanished.”

She writes, Assange is being chemically lobotomized. There may be nothing left of him to extradite. He will be reduced to a mindless body, still technically alive but intellectually dead.
-11 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-05-14 08:05
Obviously, the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon want to know WikiLeaks' sources. The CIA wants to know who leaked the Vault 7 materials. That was probably the most significant leak in the history of journalism and the CIA wants payback for it.

They will get this information out of Assange by one means or another. I'm sure everyone who has ever communicated with Assange, all leakers, and everyone who works with WikiLeaks are now very scared. The most vicious police forces every on earth -- the FBI and CIA -- and the most murderous military in all human history are after them for telling the truth about these institutions. WikiLeaks will be shut down and its memory totally erased.

This is not a good day for democracy or our freedom/right to know what our government is doing.