World News

Sweden looking at re-filing sex assault case against Julian Assange

By Nicholas Sakelaris   |   April 12, 2019 at 9:01 AM
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London Thursday after his arrest. Photo by EPA-EFE

April 12 (UPI) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could still face sex assault charges in Sweden in the case that led to his living at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Britain, officials said.

The accusation was first made against Assange in 2012 and led to charges from the Swedish government. The case was later dropped, but Swedish officials said Assange's arrest Thursday may lead to a re-filing of the charges.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson said prosecutors will examine the case before determining how to proceed.

"The investigation has not yet been resumed, and we do not know today whether it will be," she said. "We cannot set a timetable for when any such decision will be made."

The accuser contacted Swedish authorities after seeing Assange's arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange is in British jail and faces extradition to the United States on charges he conspired to reveal government secrets and hack into Pentagon computers.

The sex assault case can be re-opened any time before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020. The case would be handled by the Swedish Prosecution Authority's Development Center in Gothenburg.

Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson said his arrest was a "free speech issue" that sets a dangerous precedent for all media organizations and journalists.

U.S. prosecutors say Assange was part of a criminal conspiracy to hack and steal information harmful to the United States. He faces up to five years in prison on the hacking charges.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Assange would get no special treatment from his native country or consular offices. He also said Assange has to deal with "whatever comes his way in terms of the justice system."

British Prime Minister Theresa May applauded Assange's arrest, but Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the British government should oppose the U.S. extradition request because WikiLeaks exposed "evidence of atrocities" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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