Swedish prosecutors on Monday announced they would reopen their investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, The Guardian reported. Assange is in jail in the United Kingdom at present, having been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison on May 1 for skipping bail in 2012 and seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange had skipped bail to avoid extradition to Sweden in connection with sexual assault allegations levelled by two women in 2010. The alleged incident had occurred at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm. Prosecutors stopped the investigation because of his absence. Now, the lawyer for one of the women has asked for the inquiry to be renewed.
“After reviewing the preliminary investigation carried out so far, I find that there still exist grounds for Julian Assange to be suspected on probable cause of the charge of rape,” said Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecutions. “It is my assessment that a new questioning of Assange is required.”
In a statement, the whistleblowing website said the reopening of the case would give Assange “a chance to clear his name”. Kristinn Hrafnsson, the website’s editor, said the “widespread media assertion that Assange ‘evaded’ Swedish questioning is false”.
The WikiLeaks founder was arrested from the embassy last month after Ecauador revoked his political asylum. The complainant’s lawyer said the arrest came as a shock but they had been “waiting and hoping since 2012” for it to happen. “No rape victim should have to wait nine years to see justice being served,” the lawyer told BBC.
Soon after his arrest from the embassy, the United States requested Assange’s extradition in a case related to the release of thousands of confidential information about the activities of the United States military.
Assange faces the allegations along with former United States Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Manning was convicted by court-martial of espionage and other offences for disclosing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks. She was recently released after being in jail for 62 days for refusing to testify before a grand jury.