Prosecutors in Sweden have reopened an investigation into rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and will seek his extradition after he has completed his prison term in the United Kingdom, The New York Times reports.
Assange was arrested and convicted of jumping bail earlier this year. He is serving a 50-week prison term. The United States has already begun trying to extradite Assange to face charges for allegedly trying to help Chelsea Manning hack into classified documents but British officials will now have to determine whether Swedish rape case takes precedence over the United States’ wishes.
If Assange is extradited to Sweden, he could not be sent to the United States without Britain’s consent, Swedish prosecutors said Monday.
Assange was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last month after seven years.
He is charged in the United States with conspiracy, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, but some analysts believe the US will tack on more charges if Assange is handed over to the US.
Assange was accused of rape in 2010 by two women:
Assange was accused of sexual assault by two women in separate encounters in Stockholm in 2010.
Swedish authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of “rape, three cases of sexual molestation and illegal coercion.”
Assange was arrested by British police in 2011 and then fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid extradition while out on bail.
Sweden dropped the investigation in May 2017 because the case could not proceed while Assange was at the embassy.
Swedish prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said Monday that the investigation into the allegations was reopened because authorities believe there is still probable cause to believe Assange committed the crime.
“I take the view that there exists the possibility to take the case forward,” she said, adding that a European arrest warrant will be issued for Assange.
Though the statute of limitations has run out on some of the charges, Assange still faces a possible rape charge.
Assange’s lawyer complained to The Times that the decision to reopen the investigation is “not proportionate.”
“He has been sentenced to 50 weeks,” the attorney said. “He faces extradition for revealing the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To force him to concentrate on this old investigation is highly unreasonable.”