Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives for a court hearing in London in 2012. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
May 13 (UPI) -- Swedish prosecutors on Monday reopened a sexual assault investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, seven years after he sought refuge from the case at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Ecuadorian authorities turned Assange over to British police April 11 and he was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching bail in connection to the Swedish case. Swedish prosecutors re-opened the investigation Monday.
"On account of Julian Assange leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy, the circumstances in this case have changed," Swedish prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said. "I take the view that there exists the possibility to take the case forward."
No charges had been filed.
"I would like to make the following very clear: My decision to reopen the preliminary investigation is not equivalent on whether or not to file an indictment with the courts," Persson said. "This is the matter we'll have to revisit."
Swedish authorities closed the initial investigation in 2012 when Assange went into the embassy and dropped the charges two years ago. They left open the possibility, however, that the case could be revisited in the future. Officials said last month they were looking at re-examining the case.
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, an attorney for a woman who accused Assange, said this month she intends to pursue the case again.
U.S. authorities want Assange extradited to the United States on charges he conspired with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack Department of Defense computers. He faces up to five years in prison.
With extradition warrants from the United States and Sweden, it will be up to British authorities to decide who gets priority. In court last week, Assange signaled he will fight extradition to the United States.
"The outcome of this process is impossible to predict," Persson said in a statement. "However, in my view the Swedish case can proceed concurrently with the proceedings in the U.K."
The statute of limitations would expire next year for the sex assault charges, which date back to 2010.