COPENHAGEN – Swedish prosecutors requested on Monday that the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, be detained to face questioning over rape allegations he had originally evaded by seeking diplomatic asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost seven years.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson submitted an application for a detention order to Uppsala District Court in which she requested the court to detain the Australian who is currently in custody in the United Kingdom.
“I request the District Court to detain Assange in his absence, on probable cause suspected for rape,” Persson said. “If the court decides to detain him, I will issue a European Arrest Warrant concerning surrender to Sweden.”
The Australian is currently serving a 50-week sentence in the 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, where an investigation was reopened following his dramatic arrest in London on April 11, 2019.
Sweden had put the investigation on hold and revoked its arrest warrant in May 2017.
Following Assange’s arrest, the United States 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,” Persson said. “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 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.
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.
Swedish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant in 2010 and began judicial proceedings.
The Supreme Court ratified the warrant in June 2012, when Assange decided to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy over fears extradition to Sweden could lead to his eventual extradition to the US.
Ecuador lifted Assange’s asylum in 2019 and the Australian was arrested by UK police in a little-anticipated operation that grabbed international headlines.