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Swedish Probe: How Assange Sexual Assault Case Unfolded Over the Years

© AFP 2023 / STEFFI LOOSJulian Assange, founder of the online leaking platform WikiLeaks, is seen through the eyepeace of a camera as he is displayed on a screen via a live video connection during a press conference on the platform's 10th anniversary on October 4, 2016 in Berlin
Julian Assange, founder of the online leaking platform WikiLeaks, is seen through the eyepeace of a camera as he is displayed on a screen via a live video connection during a press conference on the platform's 10th anniversary on October 4, 2016 in Berlin - Sputnik International
Mr. Assange has remained at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, stating fears of being extradited to the United States for espionage charges after publishing classified documents from US veteran whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will face prosecution after Swedish authorities announced on Monday that they would reopen an inquiry on rape allegations against him, two years after the case was dropped in May 2017.

At the time, prosecutors were unable to pursue the case whist Mr. Assange was in the embassy. But one of the alleged victims has demanded to reopen the case following Assange's arrest and the Ecuadorian government withdrew guarantees for the Wikileaks founder.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London (File) - Sputnik International
LIVE UPDATES: Sweden Reopens Inquiry Into Rape Allegations Against Assange
Swedish authorities have one year to pursue the case, according to Swedish law, and will now determine whether to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden or the US for trial. Assange is currently detained at Belmarsh prison in London. 

Separately, US authorities have been seeking Assange's extradition for publishing Ms. Manning's leaks, which in 2010 revealed war crimes committed by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, which could carry up to five years imprisonment, according to the US Department of Justice. 

Timeline of Assange Sexual Assault Case

18 August 2010: Assange applies for work and residence permit in Sweden.

1 September 2010: Swedish director of public prosecution Marianna Ny resumes preliminary investigation on rape allegations.

27 September 2010: Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, stated that Assange had been asked to be interviewed by Swedish prosecutors, who later said that he could leave Sweden without an interview. Later, the day that Assange had left Sweden, Assange's Swedish lawyer Björn Hurting announced an arrest warrant had been issued for Assange.

18 November 2010: Ms. Ny orders detention of Mr. Assange based on allegations of rape, including three cases of unlawful coercion and sexual molestation, with the Stockholm District Court issuing an European Arrest warrant. The warrant was later appealed to the Swedish Supreme Court, who denied the case.

February 2011: Extradition hearing takes place in an English court which considered an application from Sweden to extradite Assange to Stockholm, with the hearing outcome announced on 24 February and the extradition request upheld. Assange would later appeal to the UK High Court.

2 November 2011: The UK High Court upholds its extradition decision and rejects all four of Assange's appeals, with the Court later denying Assange an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court later granted permission for the appeal to proceed, with hearings taking place on 1 and 2 February 2012.

12 June 2012: Assange seeks refuge at the Ecuardorian embassy in Knightsbridge following the hearing and is later grated asylum the Rafael Correa administration on 16 August. 

READ MORE: Wikileaks: Assange to Have Chance to Clear Name as Sweden Reopens Rape Inquiry

12 August 2015: Swedish prosecutors stated that they were unsuccessful in interviewing Assange and that the statue of limitations for the less serious offences had expired, prompting them to end their investigation.

18 August 2015: Three of the less serious rape allegations against Assange are dropped, with the statute of limitation on the more serious allegation remaining until the end of 2020.

November 2016: Swedish authorities interview Julian Assange on the more serious allegation.

13 January 2017: Wikileaks announces that, should the Obama administration pardon Ms. Manning, Assange would agree to extradition to the US. Former US president Barack Obama agrees to grant clemency to Manning on the US president's last day in office.

READ MORE: Assange's Defence to Protest Ecuador Move to Pass Docs From UK Embassy to US

19 May 2017: Swedish chief prosecutor requests the Stockholm District Court to cancel Mr. Assange's arrest warrant, but the UK arrest warrant against Assange on violations of bail terms continues.

What Were the Initial Sexual Allegation Charges?

Following a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010, two women accused Mr. Assange of rape, which he denies and asserts the sex was consensual.  

Assange also faced molestation and unlawful coercion investigations after he allegedly "done something" to a condom resulting in it being ripped, allowing him to ejaculate into one of the victims without withdrawing, according to one prosecutors.

Assange agreed in an interview with Stockholm police that he had consensual sex but did not damage the condom, adding that he had continued his sexual relationship with the alleged victim for the week and she made no mention of the torn condom. 

The case was dropped in 2015 after time had run out for prosecutors, whom were trying to resume it before the statute of limitations was set to expire in August 2020. 

What Happens Now?

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid is currently mulling a limited number of options, including ordering an extradition, but must consider whether the defendant is at risk of the death penalty in the US in accordance with the Vienna convention, according to a his 11 April speech in Commons.

The Crown Prosecution Service's former head of extradition, Nick Vamos, stated as quoted by Reuters that UK proceedings would not last longer than 18 months. As Assange objected to US extradition on 1 May, courts may not agree that the US's extradition requests were politically motivated, Mr. Vamos said, adding that Assange could argue that his treatment in US prisons could violate his human rights and he would not receive a fair trial in the US. 

The Lenin Moreno administration and Ecuadorian attorney general Diana Salazar have said they will turn over all of Assange's personal equipment, including mobiles and computers and hard drives, to US authorities, allowing US prosecutors access to his files used since 2010 in published leaks, in addition to sensitive contacts and data, El Pais reported on Monday.

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